Friday, August 29, 2008

Concerning Rankings

All in all, a solid day at the US Open - on the whole, the favourites getting through, but with a bit of drama along the way. The one exception was, of course, Svetlana Kuznetsova, who crashed out pretty violently. Ivanovic yesterday, Kuznetsova today... all of the top players on the women's draw are crashing out like flies. Jelena Jankovic got through, but she didn't look especially solid doing it - she played Jie Zheng, who upset Ivanovic at Wimbledon and ended up making the semis, and while she did it in straights, it was not a comfortable win at all.
Let us reassess this women's quest for #1. Ivanovic and Kuznetsova are gone. Ivanovic, presumably, has very little hope of holding onto #1, unless everyone else loses very, very soon. Serena has quarter final points from last year's US Open to defend, so if she does better than that, and/or wins the tournament, she's a real shot. I read somewhere that Elena Dementieva has a shot as well - she only has third round points to defend, so she's a shot. Sharapova, obviously, cannot gain any points. And hey, maybe Dinara Safina can get it after all - she has fourth round points to defend, but who knows what could happen if she wins the thing - which I think she will?
The one to beat, however, is obviously Jelena Jankovic. She has a quarter final to defend, but if she gets past that, one imagines that she'd be pretty hard to catch, as far as the race for #1 is concerned. I'm not a mathematician, but she must have already overtaken Ivanovic - Ana had fourth round points to defend, so she's got to drop for sure. I suppose it depends on how well Jelena does - because if she doesn't make the quarters, then she'll drop points too, and it will be a whole big thing.
So who knows? maybe Ana will still be #1 after this tournament. I'm sure I could sit down and work it out if I had the inclination, but what the WTA really needs is a Greg Sharko-type to do all the breakdowns and so forth. If everyone crashes out like, now, then maybe Ana can keep it. And maybe Julie Coin will win the US Open.
Federer won today in fine style, which I was pleased with. He didn't play ninja tennis, but he didn't really need to. As he said in his presser, he was never really in danger from Alves, and it looked like he enjoyed the challenge in the second set. I personally was very glad to see he was wearing red and not that awful beige number he wore when he played Gonzalez. We all know how much I love Roger, but even I have limits.
But still, I was very pleased with what I saw from the Roginator. Played well when he needed to, got the job done quickly, etc, etc. I'm not particularly happy with his next round opponent - Stepanek is not only dangerous, he's scary and weird and freaks me out. With any luck, Roger will put him in his place soon enough. I'll not have Stepanek anywhere near the fourth round, thank you very much.
It was sad to see Safin lose - I think that inclement weather thing really wrecked his concentration, because he was doing really well up till there. Still, if you're going to be that mentally fragile, then you don't deserve to do well. So sorry, Marat, but back to the drawing board with you. I still hold out hopes for a bit of a Marat renaissance - Wimbledon's not going to be his last hurrah, not by any means.
I was also sad to see my beloved Ernests Gulbis lose, but he certainly didn't disgrace himself. He took it to Andy Roddick, and if only he'd been able to hang onto to that second set, I think he would have destroyed Roddick's will. But this is why, I suppose, he is still a Star of the Future and not one of the present yet. He's had a lot of these very-nearly-almosts, especially at Slam level. When he starts converting those consistently, that is when the world is going to have to look out for Ernests Gulbis. There's a lot he can work on - he's still very raw and unsophisticated as a player - but the potential is just enormous. Be fabulous, Ernests. I believe in you. (By the way, I think it's his twentieth birthday tomorrow - the whole team from Tennis From The Backseat... ie. me... wishes you a happy birthday!)
Marin Cilic had a nice win as well - yay Marin! - which I think might throw him into the path of Novak Djokovic in the next round. Now THERE will be a match. Djokovic's game is great on hard court, but he hasn't been THAT impressive of late - even his bronze medal was a bit mediocre - and I wouldn't be surprised if Cilic snuck in there and pulled the upset. I mean, if I were betting, I'd put money on Djokovic, but Marin Cilic is not someone you count out. He'll push Djokovic for sure - I'm thinking at least four sets - and he might just come away with the win, if he plays his cards right. Who knows? Maybe Djokovic will mysteriously become 'injured' again. Cough cough.
The other really interesting third round match is going to be Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - who mowed down Carlos Moya - against Safin-slaying Tommy Robredo. Robredo is the higher seed, but if Jo-W finds some of that Australian form, Robredo will be running scared. Wouldn't it have been great to have seen Tsonga against Safin? Now that would have been a match of hard hitting. But Robredo/Tsonga will also be pretty good.
Another player I'm keeping my eye on is Kei Nishikori, who plays Ferrer. I don't think he'll get through Ferrer, but he's an intriguing young guy... and if I were him, I might just start filling out an application form for the Tennis From The Backseat Stars of the Future program, where all young tennis guns hang out!
Today's Results
US Open (Flushing Meadows)
Men's Draw
Roger Federer def. Thiago Alves, 6-3 7-5 6-4
Andy Roddick def. Ernests Gulbis, 3-6 7-5 6-2 7-5
Novak Djokovic def. Robert Kendrick, 7-6 (10-8) 6-4 6-4
Fernando Gonzalez def. Bobby Reynolds, 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-4
Tommy Robredo def. Marat Safin, 4-6 7-6 7-4) 6-4 6-0
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga def. Carlos Moya, 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-4
Marin Cilic def. Robby Ginepri, 6-2 2-6 6-2 7-5
Nikolay Davydenko def. Agustin Calleri, 6-4 6-4 7-6 (7-2)
Jarkko Nieminen def. Ivo Minar, 6-7 (2-7) 3-6 6-4 6-3 6-2
Igor Andreev def. Jeremy Chardy, 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 6-3
Andreas Seppi def. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 6-2 4-6 6-2 6-2
Dmitry Tursunov def. Victor Hanescu, 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-4 6-2
Gilles Muller def. Tommy Haas, 2-6 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-3
Fernando Verdasco def. Rui Machado, 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-0
Nicolas Almagro def. Sam Warburg, 6-3 6-4 6-4
Radek Stepanek def. Chris Guccione, 6-4 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 6-2
Women's Draw
Marion Bartoli def. Lindsay Davenport, 6-1 7-6 (7-3)
Jelena Jankovic def. Jie Zheng, 7-5 7-5
Elena Dementieva def. Anne Keothavong, 6-3 6-4
Katarina Srebotnik def. Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-3 6-7 (1-7) 6-3
Caroline Wozniacki def. Victoria Azarenka, 6-4 6-4
Sybille Bammer def. Tatiana Perebiynis, 6-3 6-0
Patty Schnyder def. Magdalena Rybarikova, 7-6 (7-4) 6-4
Li Na def. Ekaterina Makarova, 6-1 4-6 6-2
PS. Does anyone know where Marcos Baghdatis is these days? He's certainly not playing this tournament and I haven't seen him about for a while, now I think of it. Is he injured or what?


brookev said...

Your blog came up when i was looking to see why Cipolla would not shake Wawrinka's hand today after the match. I didn't see it but my husband said it was weird. did you see it? we are huge tennis fans and play but your knowledge is amazing, love the blog.

Tennis Talk, Anyone? said...

Hey Jodi, what's up? Nishikori pulled off the upset, which really shocked me. I thought once it got to 5-all in the fifth against your man Ferrer that the veteran would pull it off. Kei definitely has to be added to the Stars of the Future lineup!

Too bad about Gulbis for you. Andy's still one of my guys, but I really didn't think he was going to pull it off when he got that far down.

Jodi said...

Hi Brookev! I didn't see the Wawrinka/Cipolla incident myself, but I've heard it was to do with injury - or the lack of it. Cipolla pulled up with cramp at some point and thought Wawrinka was accusing him of faking it and took offense. There's a good article about it here:
I'm glad you've been enjoying my blog, and I hope you keep reading! :)

Hey Van - Nishikori is now a card-carrying member of the exclusive Stars club. I like Ferrer, but Nishikori's performance was just so damn exciting it was hard not to go for him!

And it was too bad about Gulbis, but he clearly has the ability to put himself in a winning position - now he just needs to learn to close the deal. Then he'll stop being a future star and start being one of the big guys on tour!