Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lena Under The Radar

It's the day before Jodi's Epic Tennis Trip Mk 2 starts - I'm flying off to Sydney tomorrow night for the men's and women's finals of the Medibank International before heading down to Melbourne for the first week of the Aussie Open. And boy, am I excited!

I'm even more excited now that we should have a half decent women's final for me to watch. I was a bit worried for a moment there that we'd have Aravane Rezai vs an exhausted Victoria Azarenka. Dementieva, to her credit, never gave me a moment's worry - she disposed of Azarenka quickly. But Rezai really should have won that match against Serena - and Serena should not have had to pull a Houdini to get out of it.

To Serena's credit, she did pull the Houdini, and I wouldn't be surprised to see her win the final tomorrow (though I really do have my money on Dementieva - she's definitely been the steadiest player all week). These two girls were responsible for the Best Match Evah of 2009 on the women's side (though in my humble opinion, it didn't have anything on Clijsters vs Henin in Brisbane - I WAS THERE I WAS THERE). And here's hoping they can pull out another big one tonight.

I've seen a lot of Dementieva in the last couple of weeks - I saw her play live at the Hopman Cup, and I was sitting quite close to her. There's things you can tell in real life that you can't off a telecast, and let me tell you, Dementieva is looking good. I don't want to pull the big claims and say that oh yes, Lena D will win her first Slam in Australia? but you know what? she has a pretty good shot. I think it's in her favour that Clijsters/Henin, with a side of Serena, will take the spotlight. Lena does her best work when she's under the radar, in my opinion, and I'll be interested to see how she performs.

I'll also be very interested to see how Serena performs when she runs up against a Belgian, but that will be a whole other story.

The men's final is on Saturday, and will feature either Gasquet or Benneteau against either Baghdatis or Fish. (Fish has just beaten Peter Luczak in a tight one - Lleyton Hewitt totally crashed out to Marcos Baghdatis after being up a set and a break). Personally, I'm pulling for Gasquet/Baghdatis - that could be totally entertaining, and good for both of their respective comebacks as well.

Before I go, a shout out to my boys John Millman and Matt Ebden in Melbourne, who are both through to the final round of qualies. If we can get just one of these boys through to the main draw, that will be awesome... but you know what? I reckon we can get both.


Karen said...

Jodi, I love your posts, but sometimes girlfriend, I swear you are being delusional. Last year Lena did fly under the radar at Wimbledon, the French, and the Australian. She still never made the final. At the USO she came in as the hot favourite to win, and we all know what happened. I have never liked LenaD's game as I think she is one of the ugliest counter-punchers ever (the game that is, beautiful girl), but come on, there is a reason why Serena has won 11 of these. As to your thing about Serena meeting the Belgians. Hmm, she does have a winning h2h against both Belgians. A win against her at the USO last season is just that, a win last season. Not saying that Serena will repeat, but it would be good if those doing the picking give her at least an outside chance to repeat.

Jodi said...

Hey Karen - thanks for reading!

I don't Lena flew under the radar at all in Australia last year - she'd won two tournaments on the trot and was a totally trendy pick. She did pretty well, too - I think she just ran out of steam towards the end there and Serena was just too good. That said, she's had a different prep this year... but has a probable encounter with JuJu. If she is going to win a Slam, I think it'll be one of the hard court Slams - and as evidenced at the US, when she had the form, the pressure got her. If she had a different draw at the Open this year, I'd totally go with her as a dark horse - but there's too much Belgium around.

Speaking of the Belgians, I'm going to be interested to see how Serena fares against them in their second careers. We've already seen Kim take Serena out in the USA, and I'm going to be even more interested to see how she fares against Justine, because that rivalry, I think, ran hotter initially. There really isn't anyone who plays like Henin, and Serena's out of the habit now.

Serena's got as good a shot as she ever had at repeating. However, I don't think she will... purely because she never has in Australia. She's been a strictly odd-numbered years girl so far. :) To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see someone totally random win the Open this year - but what I would like to see (and what I am worried will not happen) is someone win it, not everyone else lose it. And if someone is going to go out there and win it, Serena's definitely on that shortlist.

Karen said...

Jodi, very good points on someone winning the AO, rather than everyone else losing it. In your other post you mention LenaD's game against Serena. The thing with LenaD is that when she plays Serena it is personal, which is why she goes all out against her. In addition, I think she has played Serena so many times that she has now become accustomed to her game, especially Serena's serve. Note that she has problems with Venus because Venus' game is just that much more faster and varied than Serena's (Venus' ability to come to net makes her a much better all court player). Serena's game is more first strike, big serve, put away shot. The thing with Lena is that she is a counter puncher, pure and simple. Her task is always to get a ball back in play and force the error. I watched her match against Azarenka and Safina and she mostly just kept the ball in play. This AO is going to be very good on the women's side as I think we may have a first time winner and not who we are all expecting