Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Flushing Meadows: Swings, Roundabouts and See-Saws too

Safina d. Rogowska 6-7, 6-2, 6-4

I'd like to say that
Safina's dismal first round showing is the early round wobble the top seeds sometimes suffer as they try and acclimatise to Slam conditions.

Unfortunately that's not what I think we are seeing. She's been in turmoil ever since she lost that final in
Cincy to Jankovic two weeks back.

To be fair to her, her young Aussie opponent really did play out of her skin, but her game is now bordering crisis mode, and though I sometimes like to see her grit her way through, I could do without the see saw encounters I expect in the next few rounds.

A see-saw I wouldn't be
that surprised to see her fall off before week two.

Yes, as early as that.

Sharapova d. Pironkova 6-3, 6-0

Shaza's one way smackdown of Pironkova yesterday was as much about the great disparity in the standards of their serves as it was down to any difference in class.

Andy Murray could do far worse than watch replays of that second set as a source of motivation to improve his
Pironkova-like second serve. Shaza dealt with it like I sometimes deal with stray spiders on my ceiling.


The good news is that Shaza's serve is beginning to look more dangerous and leaking less double faults. It's still not, and may never be the wonder of the world it was three years back.

But a side profile in a slow-mo replay yesterday showed that it's a robust, sound and repeatable action - not the
atrocity some would have you believe. If there's any remaining rust, it's solely down to match practice, not to any fundamental mechanical flaw you might ascribe to -- oh I dunno -- Dinara Safina?

Djokovic d. Ljubicic 6-3, 6-1, 6-3

So much is always made of the coach they used to share three or so years back. And how that shared relationship might play mental gymnastics with both their thought processes during the match.

It didn't yesterday, and I daresay never has, especially considering
Djoko's ascent more or less followed (by nearly a year) Ivan's decline.

Murray d. Gulbis 7-5, 6-3, 7-5

After a very promising first set in which
Gulbis showed us once again why he's so many people's pick for the top ten, this match descended into an exhibition of Murray more or less watching and waiting for Gulbis to leak errors which he did. Which he tends to do an awful lot of.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Murray was as passive as ever, especially during set two, but I don't honestly believe he'd be better served by playing Gulbis in any other way - not unless Ernie plays an absolute corker from beginning to end, which I only ever saw him do once in RG.

It's the reason I think Ernie has only ever managed to take a single set off of Andy in three meetings.

Jankovic d. Vinci 6-2, 6-3

I didn't see much of this but
JJ looked to be in control, just the way the scoreline suggests. Though it must have helped that Vinci didn't seem to display the Rogowska-like resistance Safina had to contend with.

K. Bondarenko d. Ivanovic 2-6, 6-3, 7-6

I only caught the last few moments of this and Ana's forehand
looked horrible.

That probably serves as a good indication of the way this match went, and of where her tennis is right now, for her forehand once used to be my favourite in the
womens game.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Going down in the first round of a Slam also marks her official installation into the tier-two of
womens tennis. I can't find anything more hopeful or understanding to say right now so I won't.
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