Yesterday was a bloodless coup. Today was very nearly almost not so.
Sure, we lost a couple of seeds. We lost Marcos Baghdatis. We lost Li Na. We lost Nadia Petrova. We lost Juan Monaco and Radek Stepanek and Lucie Safarova and Yaroslava Shvedova. But on the whole, these seeds are relatively minor. With the exception of Petrova and maybe Li, these seeds were not major title contenders. There were three seeds today we came to the verge of losing that were very definitely major title contenders.
Let's start with the ladies - more particularly, with Maria Sharapova. I would be lying if I said I was not cheering for Jarmila Groth in this match - I was cheering my lungs out for here. I really like Jarka, and not just because she is Australian - she has awesome, awesome game. But she crumbled big time in the third here and let Maria out of the cage in a big way, because Maria was in real trouble here. I've ranked her among my favourites for this title, but if she plays like this, she is going to get big fat nowhere. Groth was quite a big test for the first round - maybe her second round will be a little less intense. But make no mistake - MaSha has to pick up her game.
This is nothing, however, compared to what Jelena Jankovic went through today. She should have lost that match against Simona Halep. It is testament to nothing more than Halep's youth and inexperience that she choked that match away - I have every confidence that in a few years, this will be the kind of match that Halep does not lose. Jankovic got very, very lucky today - her passive play eventually paid off against an opponent so young and naive she was almost afraid of winning. She should have lost this match. If she plays this passively, she is not going to go very far. She has the talent to win a Slam, but if she plays like this, she never will.
Which brings us to her countryman, Novak Djokovic.
Viktor Troicki definitely bears a little blame. He should have won this match in the fourth set, and it is to Novak's credit that he toughed it out. But seriously? A match this intense? This early on? I suppose Federer did it against Falla at Wimbledon... but in the long run, that didn't really work out so well, did it? Djokovic is proving that he is not a major contender more and more with every match he plays like this - particularly matches he plays in tough weather conditions, where it becomes painfully obvious that he just cannot deal. Dude, when you're comparing the brief respite of shade in the fifth set to sex, it is painfully obvious that there is something wrong. That is all I'm saying.
I feel like there is something more I should be saying in my Day 2 wrap, but I can't for the life of me tell you what it is, so I'm leaving it there. Catch you on the flip side!
Roger: older and not quite out
2 weeks ago