Monday, January 22, 2007

Day 8: Monday, January 22

I saw parts of a lot of different matches on Monday, most of which were doubles. I will just highlight some of the best matches. Overall, the matches I saw some or part of were as follows:

WD: Elena Dementieva (RUS)/Flavia Pennetta (ITA), #14 seeds vs. Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL)/Martina Sucha (SVK)... This match did not capture my interest since it was pretty one-sided, with Dementieva and Pennetta winning most games that I saw.

[After watching a few games of the above match, I thought about getting a ticket in RLA where three of the Women's Singles were being played, but the line was way too long and the prospects did not look good. I did get a ticket for Tuesday so that's when I will see Serena vs. Peer and Roddick vs. Fish!]

WD: Dinara Safina (RUS/Katarina Srebotnik (SLO), #5 seeds vs. Yung-Jan Chan/Chia-Jung Chuang (TPE) played the next match that I watched and it was a much closer match. In fact, it turned out to be one of several three set matches that I got to see Monday. The two teams were a contrast in styles. I really wanted to see Safina (Marat Safin's sister) since I had heard much about her. The first thing I must say is that she is TALL--not just taller than me (most people are) but even taller than Sally Ross and Erianne Weight, two of my good colleagues at BGSU:-) I have heard commentators say that Safina really looks up to Marat and her mannerisms definitely show that. In terms of firepower, the seeded team of Safina and Srebotnik had far more than the young players from TPE, but the steadiness and team work of Chan and Chuang were really good, and they ultimately prevailed in three sets. Watching this match made me realize how much I have always loved playing doubles, and I wondered why more people do not watch doubles at the Grand Slams. After all, most club players probably play more doubles than singles. I think tennis needs to do a better job of marketing doubles.

WD: Maria Elena Camerin (ITA/Gisela Dulko (ARG) vs. Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER)/Meghann Shaughnessy (USA), seeded #7. I had wanted to see more of this match but the previous one kept me from getting there until they were well into the third set. As a result, I saw only about 3 games, but I was glad to see that Shaughnessy won and hope to see this team play again.

WD: Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP)/Sania Mirza (IND), 10th seeds vs. Daniela Hantuchova (SVK)/Ai Sugiyama (JPN), seeded #6 turned out to be a great match, and lasted nearly 3 hours! When I arrived at Show Court 2 where they were playing, Hantuchova and Sugiyama were up 5-0, but Medina-Garrigues and Mirza were beginning to come back. They got it all the way to 6-all before losing the first set in a tie-break, but it was obvious that these two teams were well-matched and very competitive. Medina-Garrigues won the second set, also in a tiebreak, but then lost the third set 6-2. There was much more hard-hitting in this match compared to the previous doubles matches, but not as much strategic positioning as Chan and Chuang's match. When it ended, I had seen plenty of tennis for one day and was ready to head for home.

But there was one more match going on Margaret Court Arena that caught my attention before I could leave. I could hear the crowd chanting during the match that was going on there so I wanted to check it out. It turned out to be a Men's Singles match between #3 seeded Nikolay Davydenko and #13 seeded Thomas Berdych (CZE). Berdych had a cheering section that was quite vocal and they were the ones I could hear from Show Court 2. There must have been about 18-20 fans who held up a Czech flag that said "Berdych's Army" and they had an assortment of cheers and songs that they chanted between almost every point. If they covered the match on ESPN, I am sure you would have heard "Berdych's Army!" It was really fun to watch them and hear what they came up with, so I stayed for the end of the match as a result. When I got to the court, they had just started the fourth set, and Davydenko was up two sets to one. It soon became apparent that there was an element of the crowd that was not amused by Berdych's fan club and in fact, there seemed to be a "Berdych backlash." As it turned out, Davydenko prevailed to win the fourth set in a tie-break, but it was an exciting atmosphere and I was glad I had stayed for one more match. There were still a lot of doubles to be played but I had seen enough and decided it was time to get home so I would be ready for my big day in RLA on Tuesday. I will let you know if I am in a friendlier neighborhood than last time. Cheers till then:-)

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