Thursday, January 20, 2011

16 Thoughts on the First Two Rounds

It was good to see Juan Martin del Potro in action again, but doubts about his long-term health are still a concern.

1. Juan Martin del Potro - The gentle giant from Tandil reminded us all how dynamic his game is, of how moving it can be to watch him, and of how humble he can be in victory. But right now it's hard not to wonder if his body will ever be up to the task of sustaining the sheer force of his game. Every time he unleashes one of those gloriously massive forehands I cross my fingers.

2. Vera Zvonareva - If you thought Vera was going to revert to saved, and become a headcase as soon as things got tough, all you needed to do was witness the calm, cool, and collected way she dispatched the youngster Bojana Jovanovski after losing the first set to know you were wrong.

3. Jelena Jankovic - Jelena, the sooner you realize that we don't care if you don't care, the sooner you will pick your game up and start playing like a top-ten player again. Lindsay Davenport was accurate in her assessment of Jelena's uninspired 2nd round performance today when she stated that Jelena doesn't have the type of game that can overcome laziness. Davenport feels Jankovic needs to work the points, hustle around the court, and stay patient. Pouting and going for winners from behind the baseline won't work. Of course, Shuai Peng didn't mind.

4. Bernard Tomic - Dude, cool shades. Some very crafty and creative tennis as well. I can see why the Aussies are all jacked up about this kid. Let's see if he can make a dent in Rafa's game now.

5. Lovable losers - Michael Russell lost the first ten games of the match against David Ferrer. He didn't hang his head (at least not too much) and he found a way -- in spite of chest pains -- to make the third set a very compelling set. It was a very good effort for the 32-year-old journeyman.

6. When will Rafa be tested? - Well, I don't expect Tomic to do it, but his fourth-rounder with the winner of Isner-Cilic could be a tricky one.

7. Top-5 matches of the tournament so far (very subjective) - 1. Venus Williams-Zahlavova 2. Nalbandian-Hewitt 3. Schiavone-Marino 4. Federer-Simon 5. Tsonga-Petzschner

8. Venus Williams, I love you - Venus won me over with her gritty three-set come-from-behind victory over Sandra Zahlavova in round 2. I don't know what she'll have left for Petko, but I have a feeling that she'll once again have more than we expect.

9. Oh, Canada - Two of the biggest boomers in the tournament are from Canada. Milos Raonic and Rebecca Marino are still works in progress, but if they continue to develop we could be hearing more from these two tall maple trees from north of the U.S. border.

10. Oh no, America - I am a firm believer that American tennis is on the right track with Patrick McEnroe at the helm, Jose Higueras as Director of Coaching, and Jim Courier as Davis Cup captain. That being said, apparently things will get worse before they get better. It has been a very dismal showing by the stars and stripes but Venus, A-Rod, and Iz could come through and save the day.

11. Solid Returning - Through two rounds, Gael Monfils, Roger Federer, and Viktor Troicki each have converted 15 break points. Wow. That is not a typo. Klara Zakopalova had 17 on the women's side, but sadly, her road ended at the hands of Lucie Safarova yesterday.

12. Ace Leaders - Men's: Ivo Karlovic's 48 aces in the first round got him nowhere. Milos Raonic's 48 aces over two rounds got him his first ever third-round appearance in a Slam. Raonic also has the tournaments fastest serve at 142 M.P.H. Venus leads the ladies with 16 in two matches.

13. Aggie's Opportunity - Who did Agnieszka Radwanska have to pay to get Simona Halep, Shuai Peng, and Ayumi Morita standing between her and the quarters? Not one of those three is in the top-50, and Halep and Morita aren't in the top-70.

14. 5 Women's 3rd-Rounders to die for - Henin-Kuznetsova, Wozniacki-Cibulkova, Stosur-Kvitova, Pennetta-Peer, Williams-Petkovic

15. 5 Men's 3rd-rounders to die for - Berankis-Ferrer, Dolgopolov-Tsonga, Isner-Cilic, Troicki-Djokovic, Roddick-Haase

16. Biggest disappointments - Davydenko (I thought he was coming in hot), Tipsarevic (didn't like the way he bailed in the 5th set), Date-Krumm (was up 4-1 in the third when Radwanska took her injury time).

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