Dreams Of The Many Stir Hope
August 28, 2008 -- Reverend Martin Luther King inspired a nation with his speech "I Have A Dream" forty-five years ago today. Julie Coin, the French qualifier who defeated the women's #1 seed Ana Ivanovic in three sets today, has probably dreamed of waking up one morning to see her name at the top of the list. It's not there yet, but Coin took one huge step forward with her victory over the Serb sweetheart.
Before she walked out on Arthur Ashe Stadium court, Coin was asked if she believed she could win. "No," was all she said. She had never played in such a large arena. She also had been told the match would be played on the Armstrong Stadium's court, a much smaller venue. One not so daunting for the qualifier. But who was Julie Coin to argue with the tournament director?
After the match got under way and her nerves moderated, Coin sensed Ivanovic was in trouble. Her forehand go-to shot wasn't consistent. She sprayed it wide, deep and screeched in frustration.
"I didn't think about winning the match," Coin said during USA's evening broadcast. "I took one point at a time. Then, all of a sudden, the match was over and I had won."
Julie Coin is currently ranked 188 in the world. Her win today came during her first-ever tour-level event. The Los Angeles Times reported, "'It's the largest upset of a No. 1 player by ranking since the women's tour began ranking players, and the earliest exit by a No. 1 seed in a U.S. Open since Julie Heldman felled Billie Jean King in the third round in 1973.'"
Certainly we can call Julie Coin's advance to the third round of the 2008 U. S. Open a breakthrough. We'll have to watch her next match, though. Typically players who defeat a top-ten player in a major fall apart in their next round. Her opponent will be the two-time Grand Slam champion Amelie Mauresmo, a competitor accustomed to big stages. But Coin has nothing to lose. If she can fight off her nerves early in the match, she has a chance to reach the elite round of sixteen. Easier said than done, Coin should remember that Mauresmo, too, is climbing her way back from an 18-month hiatus of recovery from injuries, surgery and mental conflicts about her commitment to the game. Mauresmo had a good week at The Pilot Pen, however. She left the tournament upbeat, emotionally charged by the game, and with a smile on her face.
Anna-Lena Groenefeld, the second of two qualifiers remaining in the draw, also advanced to the third round today after defeating Jessica Moore of Australia 6/1 6/3. In the first round Groenefeld ruined Daniela Hantuchova's dream of a Grand Slam victory. Groenefeld has been ranked as high as 19 in the world in 2006. Since then she has been sidelined with injuries to her left hamstring then to her right shoulder. In 2007 she didn't play for five months due to respiratory problems and additional injuries. If she can stay injury free, she has a good chance getting to the round of sixteen. But, first things first. Next up for the tall German is firecracker Frenchwoman Alize Cornet who took out American Bethanie Mattek today 7/6 (5) 6/1.
On the men's side, big dreamer and qualifier Robbie Kendrick will have his hands full when he faces Novak Djokovic tomorrow in the second round. They played once before at London's Queen's Club where Novak won. But who's to say Kendrick won't have a day on court like the one Marat Safin had at Wimbledon this year against the third seed Djokovic? Safin beat the Serb in straight sets, an upset no one saw coming and especially from the racquet of the enigmatic Russian.
Tonight, Ryler De Heart is fighting for his life on Arthur Ashe Stadium. He's battling Rafa. Ryler's scrambling might just get him a couple games plus lots of stories to tell his family, friends and fiancˇ who sat courtside with college teammate Rajeev Ram. Ryler can leave knowing that his dream has been lived, if only but a little. And to say Rafael Nadal was part of that dream will surely spirit the American along his tennis journey.
Qualifier Flavio Cipolla is into the third round, too. He took out Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei. Winning an amazing 64% of his second service points, Cipolla defeated his opponent 6/1 4/6 7/6 6/4. Lu is currently ranked #73. At the U. S. Open Series tournament in Indianapolis this July, James Blake said of Lu, "He's a dangerous player. I've seen him play real well in the past. I wanted to come out prepared." Prepared he was, too. He defeated the Asian in less than forty-five minutes.