Sunday, September 2, 2007
Day 6: A good day to be a teenager.
Alright, got to start with the big news. Defending champion and #2 seed Maria Sharapova was ousted in three sets by Polish teenager Aggie (yeah, I'm not even going to try how to remember spelling her first name) Radwanska. Radwanska, interestingly enough, doesn't appear to have a clothing sponser. She was all decked out in Nike, but the top was last year's and her visor said 'US Open'. It just goes to show that all the endorsements in the world don't matter a lick when you're out on the court (got that Maria? Now, go practice that serve and find a real coach.) Maria threw in 12 double faults, and Radwanska caught a bit of fired for moving in really close to the service line for Maria's second serves. I'm not sure why some people (Jim Courier) had such a problem with that...it is perfectly legal, you can stand as far in as you want. Most pros don't because their opponents are bombing away with their serves, but Maria was clearly not doing that yesterday. And, AnaIvo did the same thing to her in their French Open semi, and it worked really well there too (though AnaIvo wasn't criticized for it like Aggie). If Maria gets so unnerved by her opponents moving so far in for her second serve she needs to do one of either two things...#1 - Stop playing professional tennis or #2 - Get her head and serve together once and for all. To Maria's credit, in her post match interview, she said that she had no excuses for her performance and was very gracious to her opponent.
It is almost like the 'next generation' of teenagers got together and made a pact to take out a whole bunch of seeds yesterday. Schnyder was taken out in a third set tiebreaker by Tamira Paszek. Petrova received so much on court treatment that they should have relocated the match to an ER, and lost to New Haven's Hungarian darling, Agnes Szavay. After winning the first set, Martina Hingis won only ONE game in the last two sets and got obliterated by Viktoria Azarenka. Maria Kirilenko, a cute youngster herself, found herself on the short end against Kimmie Killer Julia Vakulenko. So who did win who was seeded? Kuznetsova and Chatvetadze, both strong bets to make it out of that bottom half of the draw now. But wouldn't it be cool to see someone else, like Szavay, come through? Like I mentioned before, Jon Wertheim picked Szavay all the way through to the semis...doesn't look so crazy now, does it?
But there was still one more match from that half of the draw to be decided last night: Peer vs. Vaidisova. Two seeded players going at it to keep their hopes alive in a very open draw.
This was the best women's match of the evening session so far. Highly competitive and some really good tennis. In the first set Vaidisova, in her first tourny since collapsing mentally against AnaIvo at Wimbledon, came out really strong, winning three straight games before Peer could blink. But Peer is scrappy, and never gives up. Down 1-4, she won the next 6 games to take the first set. Nicole hit way too many errors in that first set, and her FH, when she gets it in, is great. But too often, she sprays it all over the place. Are these young ball bashing women never taught any control? Anyway, it was clear from the get go who was the aggressor (Vaidisova) and who was defending (Peer). The thing is, Peer is a really good defender, and from the commentators discussions, it became clear that Peer and her camp are working on turning her into a more aggressive player.
The second set started out exactly like the first...with Vaidisova up 3-0 really quickly. But again, Peer climbed back in, but this time, Nicole cleaned up her errors and hung on to win the set 6-3. Peer was effectively using a low backhand slice against Nicole, but may have started using it too much and spending too much time playing defense.
The third set was not as streaky. Peer got a break and was serving for the match when she went back to defense, and let Nicole break her right back. Peer needs to learn to go out and take the match, don't wait for someone to hand it to you. They evened it all the way up to a third set tiebreak, in which Vaidisova just donated a few too many points, and Peer took it 7-5. Vaidisova has a beautiful forehand, but she's got to learn to control it. That and her mental game, which is pretty widely known as immensely fragile by now. Temper, temper!
One the guy's side, today was the day of the widely anticipated Federer/Isner match up. True to form the first set went to a tiebreak, and unbelievable, Isner won it! Roger pulled out his champion's play, though, and pressed down ever so slightly on the accelerator and that was it for the rest of the match. Roger wins in four. But Isner acquitted himself well...somehow, this guy just doesn't get nervous! Yes, yes, he still has things to work on, but he took a set, something that other players either have never done, or haven't done in a real long time. When Isner gets more solid on the rest of his game to back up that serve and can last five sets, look out.
This was a fun picture:
The men's night match featured Stefan Koubek (who?) and James Blake. You want to know a bit about Koubek? Well, he is Austrian. I think he is 30 or 31, so in tennisland, an 'old' guy. He is short. He is....a lefty, caucasian, really blonde version of...James Blake!!! Only on speed. This guy came out ready to play. He is as fast as James, and the match up pitted his FH against James' BH. Not good for James. They split the first two sets, and I drifted off to sleep somewhere in the third. This morning I find out that James won in four sets, and it looked like Koubek faded a bit in that fourth set. But man...this was entertaining to watch.
And, there were lots of service breaks. Both of these guys were good returners. But when there are lots of service breaks in a women's match, they get called mentally weak. *sigh* The double standards, they drive me crazy, yes they do. There is, and always has been, just as many mental head cases and chokers on the men's tour as there are on the women's tour. Got it? GOOD!
But a great day of tennis was had, and today looks to be just as fun, only maybe with less upsets on the women's side. But today, either AnaIvo or Venus will be dismissed from the tournament, which is a tragic shame, because both should be going futher and not meeting so early in a GS. So Venus, get your damn ranking up already, would you? Ok, thanks!