Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Be Afraid...

I'm sort of thinking I evil-eyed Sharapova out of this tournament, by observing how mind bending it would be if she managed to go all the way by actually winning this thing (which would have meant, amongst other things, a Career Grand Slam). She went out to Cibulkova today in a match where she only very narrowly averted the double bagel eventually losing it 6-0, 6-2.

(Photo: PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)

Plenty to be proud of me thinks, coming in with all of the three(?) matches she got in at Warsaw. It also looks like her shoulder is in great working order, and the amount of tough three setters she played here should prove invaluable, even though they were largely responsible for putting her out.

But I'm actually a little worried now, since I also talked about the possibility of a Serena-Slam and a Sorana Maiden Slam in the same breath as Sharapova (Can I just trademark the phrase
'Serena v Sorana', in advance of their possible semi final meeting?).

Here's why:

I also predicted a Slam final for Kolya: Kolya got dumped out today in straight sets by a red-red-Robin Soderling intent on bob-bob-bobbing his way to victory on Lenglen today. This RG script continues to screw with my sense of order.

I had thought Kolya was the best equipped player left standing in the top half of the draw to bring down 'The Unsightly Forehand', especially after his straight sets dismissal of Nando in his last match, but it was not to be. First set won 6-1 in 23 minutes. Double the amount of winners Kolya hit. I could go on but my eyes are watering. A bad day at the office?

I also predicted a possible first Slam for Murray: He went four sets with Gonzo, and was strangely effective for at least two of those, and except for some inexplicable punking out in set three, played a match that added further fuel to my growing belief that there may be something to that strategy of 'playing them as they come'. Still, it doesn't bode well.

I must remind you that these were made in a slightly crazed
"well if that can happen" post-Rafa state of mind.

Even so, it's perhaps best not to reiterate my predictions for that Swiss player that hits a good forehand.

He plays La Monf tomorrow, the second consecutive semi they've played here.

I'm afraid.

Monfils bagged a set last year and he's only grown as a player since then.

He energises the crowd with his hypnotically acrobatic displays and curious French take on 'Living Theatre'. In turn, feeding off their reciprocated affection, leading to an intensely successful symbiotic relationship that spells trouble.

Toulouse Lautrec would have had a field day.

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.


The match of the day though involved Dinara and Victoria. One in which Vika presented a curiously 'cozier' version of her usual angst-ridden self. A lot of smiles followed up the rare errors she coughed up earlier on - a valuable tip from her team I'm guessing, to keep the crowd from mauling her to bits.

And it all looked great until a few games into the second set. The funny thing was I thought it was Vika that was the better player out there - for the first set she might well have played the best I've ever seen from her. But the way Safina pulled through arguably one of the most difficult matches she might play here suggests real maturity.
"Look - No Zeljko".

I want to let you in on a guilty secret. Ever since Vika booed back at the crowd a couple of matches ago, I've sort of forgiven almost all of her past misdemeanours. There's only one thing more intimidating than Rafa at RG and that's the crowd. Anyone foolhardy enough to do something like that gets the thumbs up from me.

I'm even beginning to develop an appreciation for her style of play, I've previously derided as 'one dimensional'. It's not that I've changed my mind about that - I've just made my peace with the reality that that's just the way most womens tennis is played nowadays, apart from the odd anomaly like Carla Suarez Navarro.

She might rein in the histrionics a bit, if only for her own sake.

But it's mostly self-directed - she's never been overtly offensive to any of her opponents as far as I know, and it seems an essential part of her makeup. Like those stunning groundstrokes that seem to home in on the lines. Can't have one without the other I suppose.
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