Thursday, 30 August 2012

Early Exit as Kim bids another farewell

As the balls continue to be hit with menacing power and deft touch to various parts of Queens, the first few days of US Open 2012 have provided little to suggest that the major spoils at the end of the fortnight won't be shared amongst the very elite in both the women's and mens draws.
Roger and Novak are on winning runs of one match each, convincing their luckless opponents that an early surrender was the best way to secure a first round loser's cheque.  Of course the magnitude of that prize is in the news and to be fair to the 64 players who spoil us with displays of classical shot making on their polished routes to defeat, surely more money needs to be thrown at failure and mediocrity.  I suspect we will see the full field of men in Melbourne in January - this is an empty threat.

After her last three attempts to win the US Open were all successful, Kim Clijsters finally had her sequence of wins at Flushing Meadow terminated in the second round courtesy of Brit Laura Robson.  Clearly the two tie break success had come upon the left over Olympic spirit which British athletes are riding for all that it is worth.  Sad to see Kim retire in this fashion but Laura has saved her the problem of a third round clash with the shockingly in-form 9th seed Li Na.

Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick are into the second round, and the two former winners of this title are playing enough quality tennis to proceed a bit further until they run into serious trouble - David Ferrer is seeded number four due to Rafa's absence, and is waiting to eat the Australian in round three should they both reach that match up.

Tonight is the second round match from hell for Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber.  For fans it is potentially the match of the tournament so far - Kerber in stellar form all year and Venus finding much of her old magic just in time for her home major.  A three setter has to be the only way to find the winner from this, and I suspect  the big crowd will be disappointed as last year's semi finalist knocks the 2000-2001 champ out of the race.

Last year's surprise winner Samantha Stosur has begun her defence splendidly, dropping only 5 games in her first two matches and with it showing everyone some form and consistency sorely missing from most of her year.  Naturally it will be a more testing assignment should she reach the fourth round and a likely clash with Li Na.  However the head to head record is heavily in Stosur's favour.

Big name casualties from the first round have included men's 10th seed Juan Monaco, who surrendered a two set lead to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.  Also gone is 2010 French Open champ Francesca Schiavone, although her star has faded somewhat over the last several months together with her ranking.

My predictions for the singles remain as they were - Djokovic to successfully defend, and Serena Williams to go one better than last year.  Now that she and her sister have decided to enter the doubles comp, they will be my best bet to take that title as well, and if not certainly cause the most havoc along the way.

Friday, 24 August 2012

A Long Year It's Been BUT One Major To Go!

Well the show has begun and the first act consisted of the live draw - only the Internet age could allow something as simple as drawing names out of a US Open trophy to be as riveting as it was.

Copious amounts of press photographers on hand to zoom in on shots of an ever evolving Men's Singles Draw soon to be followed by... yes you guessed it the Womens Singles sheet.  I was hooked - in the early morning Australian Eastern time staring at the computer screen wondering whether Andy Murray would feature in the Federer or Djokovic half of the draw.  Who were going to face the dreaded floaters like Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters?  Both ranked lower than their capabilities (Venus unseeded altogether), but funnily enough the last 2 women to have won successive US Open crowns and not a joyful sight at the other end of the court for the top seeds early in the event.

The answers came quickly, and Roger could be heard somewhere swearing that the wretched Serb had received the better end of the stick by avoiding the Murray factor until the final, should both reach that far.  Mind you I don't believe that Andy poses too much of a threat to either of the 2 top seeds because the depth in mens tennis, whatever spin you might try to put on it, is fairly thin at the elite level.
True Murray played out of his skin at Wimbledon to reach his first final and then wipe out both Novak and Roger to win Olympic gold at the same venue.  However this is hard court and the ones that have actually won at Flushing Meadows love it to death.

Del Potro won here in 2009 and is playing well but unluckily again is under an injury cloud coming into this year's event.  Novak should dispense with him quite swiftly should he so be required.  I really cannot see anything else in this 128 field to change the final from being a number 1 and 2 seed benefit - Ferrer, Tsonga, Isner and the like will be mere sideshows along the way and the fun will be to see what upsets occur before the semis.

Novak will eventually exact his revenge on Roger for the Cincinatti incident - that bagel was not nice to taste even if it was made from Swiss ingredients - but more so for the Wimbledon semi defeat.  Defending his title will be a proud day for Mr Djokovic.