Saturday, September 12, 2009

Before the semis start...

Just a quick review of the results just before the semifinal matches start... (it's been raining here in Manila the whole day and looks like it's been raining in NY too, the Kim-Serena semifinal match has been delayed by rain.)

On the men's side, Andy Murray followed the other Andy in an early exit, losing to the 16th seed Croatian Marin Cilic. Though Murray has had good results the past months (and even overtook Rafa for the #2 ranking), he hasn't been playing his best tennis (in the matches I've seen him play, at least). Losing to Cilic in straight sets in the 4th round might be a sign that he's not coping well with the "Can he win a Grand Slam"/"He's #2 over Rafa" pressure, or it might just spur him on to lift his game to match Roger and Rafa in the Grand Slams. The bottom line for him though is 0 Grand Slams for 2009.

But you know what the best news here is? We won't have to see this face while watching the US Open Men's Final:
































/cheapshot


Cilic went on to lose to JMDP (who is my pick as the finalist who'll play Roger in the final) in the quarters. Roger will face Novak Djokovic in the first semis, while JMDP is still waiting for Rafa and Fernando Gonzales' match to finish (suspended last night due to rain.) Rafa's knee injury has flared up again, so Gonzo might sneak that one in...

For the women's draw, the news has been all about Melanie Oudin's huge run (with a little bit of Kim's great comeback sandwiched in the news). She beat 4 Russians to get to the quarters (former Junior #1 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva, 3-time Grand Slam champ and Screaming Shriekster extraordinaire Maria Sharapova, and former #3 and current top 10 player Nadia Petrova.) Unfortunately for her, current French Open champ
Svetlana Kuznetsova lost to #9 Caroline Wozniacki, and Oudin's tennis powers apprently doesn't work out as well versus blonde Danish tennis players. Caroline won their quarterfinal match easily, 6-2, 6-2.

I've been waiting for Caroline to get a big grand slam result since last year, but she would usually lose in the 3rd or 4th rounds, to the point that I was starting to think she won't make it and the Azarenka really was this year's teen queen... But now Caroline has made the semis (Azarenka's best was a QF at the French Open and Wimbledon), and has a pretty good chance to reach the finals. She'll be facing the other surprise of the tournament, unseeded Belgian Yanina Wickmayer. With Dinara and Jelena getting the upset axe, Yanina sneaked in to the semis playing big, aggressive tennis. It's great to see another Belgian coming up the ranks, a year after Justine retired. And speaking of Belgians, Kim Clijsters' comeback is officially a success. She beat Venus Williams in the 4th round 6-0, 0-6, 6-4 and will now be up against Venus' little younger sister, Serena for a place in the final. I want Kim to win, if only to spur Justine Henin to make a comeback of her own, but this match (and the whole tournament) will probably go to Serena.

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I'm using Google Chrome right now instead of Firefox... And while I'm liking some of it's features, I don't think it can handle the US Open website too well. The browser hangs a lot, especially when I open the Live Scores page. Boooooo Google Chrome!

Monday, September 7, 2009

US Open Men's Draw, Update #1

While the women's field has been decimated, there are no such upsets on the Men's side. No teen-aged sensation to talk about either (I think that spot may be reserved for Grigor Dimitrov next year...) All the top 16 male players made it to the 3rd round, the first time in Open-era history, and in the Round of 16, the 14 of the top 16 made it.

The only two casualties? #9 Frenchman Gilles Simon, who had to retire in his 3rd round match vs former #1 (and former King of Clay before a guy named Rafael Nadal came around) Juan Carlos Ferrero. JCF was a finalist here a few years ago, so it's not like he's a pushover on the hard courts. Too bad for Gilles, who was in a bit of a slump during the clay season... he was starting to get good results again, the knee injury came at a really bad time for him.

The other casualty is #5 Andy Roddick, who got served out of the court by the unseeded 6'9'' giant John Isner in another heart-breaking (for Roddick) scoreline of 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 7-6 (7-5)

The only match I saw Roger play so far was the first one, against 18yo American Devin Britton. He played well enough there, but according to some reports I read, he didn't seem to be as precise in his match against Hewitt. Same thing with Rafa, I only saw his first round match. He easily dumped the just-returning-from-my-coccaine-ban Richard "Reeshard" Gasquet and I was really impressed with his shots and his movement. It didn't seem like he came from injury at all. It will be interesting to see if Roger can hang on to his good pre-US Open form, and if Rafa can keep his body injury-free even while playing 5-set hardcourt matches.

Dark horses? Last year's US Open runner-up Andy Murray and Juan Martin Del Potro. Murray didn't play well Wimbledon, where the hometown pressure may have been a factor. This time he doesn't have as much pressure to win, so he might be able to pull this off. On the other hand, JMPD doesn't have to deal with much pressure. In fact, not much attention has been given to him since most of the contender spotlight still falls among the top 4. That may be good for him (I predicted that he'll go all the way to the finals... so he better not screw this up, at least for my sake.)


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Sunday, September 6, 2009

US Open Women's Draw, Update #1

Ok, so far half of the players I picked to make the quarters in the women's draw have already lost. Olats. Including Elena Dementieva who I was rooting for to win it all... Booooo!!! The silver lining is it was 17-year old Melanie Oudin who beat her.

It's a silver lining to me because Oudin actually has a nice, thinking game (and not the brainless baseline ball-bashing style that makes the WTA Tour so booorrrriiing to watch.) She also reminds me a lot of Martina Hingis and Justine Henin, she's like a 17 year-old hybrid of the two (ok, ok, with less talent and less firepower than Hingis and Henin, but hey, she's got time to improve on that.) And also, she's got a hot fraternal twin watching her matches from the stands. (edit: wait, that hot girl isn't her twin sister, says this article)

Maybe Melanie just happens to play really well against tall, blonde, pretty Russians, because she followed her win over Elena with another win in the 3rd round against Maria Sharapova (who was serving awfully... 21 double faults in the match!) Their match lasted for almost 3 hours, but I only got to see the second half of the last set. Masha was really serving badly, but when her serve landed in, her groundstrokes looked as big as ever. Melanie did what she did against Elena, which was hit the ball deep and find the angles at the right moments. She was really able to control the rallies despite not having the same power that Shazza has. She also had great footwork, which was a good advantage to have over the taller-by-8-inches Shriekapova. (yes, I collect Maria Sharapova nicknames)

#1 Dinara Safina is also out, after barely surviving against Australian teenager Olivia Rogowska in the first round, and barely surviving again in the 2nd round, she finally fell to 19-yo Czech Petra Kvitova in the 3rd round. Last year's runner-up, Jelena Jankovic has also been booted out by Kazakh (by way of Russia) Yaroslava Shvedova, who could really pass for Scarlett Johansson's athletic sister. This year's tall blonde teen phenom, Victoria Azarenka, also fizzled after some good Grand Slam results earlier this year, losing in the 3rd round to the Italian Francesca "Sapakan Tayo sa Kanto" Schiavone.

In other, non-upset related news, Kim, Venus and Serena are all still in it, and Flavia Pennetta is ripping through the draw. She's lost just 6 games in 3 matches (though that didn't help Dinara at the French Open...) Caroline Wozniacki is also still in it, and she faces Svetlana Kuznetsova for a place in the quarters. If she doesn't choke, she's got a good chance to reach the finals. Interestingly enough, I think Melanie Oudin will be her biggest obstacle there.

And, in other, weird news: one of Yanina Wickmayer, Gisela Dulko, Kateryna Bondarenko and Petra Kvitova will reach the semis. This is not a prediction, this is an actual fact. A WTF how-the-hell-did-that-happen fact.

Lastly, and more importantly, Daniela Hantuchova is in the 4th round! Woohoo! She'll face Serena next, where she'll most likely lose, but I'm just glad that Daniela looks to be getting back her form and is getting to the 2nd week of the Grand Slams.


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