Saluting The Women Into Second Week
June 26, 2010 -- In celebration of Armed Services Day in England here's a salute to those sixteen women who have made their way to the second week of the 2010 Championships Wimbledon.
All four top seeds remain: Serena Williams and sister Venus Williams, along with Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic. Francesca Schiavone, The French Open Champion and fifth seed, dismally was defeated in the first round. Schiavone reached the quarterfinals last year and was disappointed she couldn't find a 'good feeling' on the grass.
The runner up at this year's French Open, Samantha Stosur, also expected a good fortnight at The All England Club. But the transition from slow clay to speedy grass coupled with a first round match against a hot resurging player -- Kaia Kanepi -- shortened Stosur's quest.
Agnieszka Radwanska, seed #7, pulled through today to take her spot in the fourth round. Kim Clijsters has risen to the occasion of a major, the way of a true champion. She hasn't dropped a set, but will face countrywoman Justine Henin on Monday. Mrs. Na Li, as the chair umpire called the ninth seed, showed her powerful ground game and tight mental capabilities today, as she defeated Australian Anastasia Rodionova.
And, finally, Flavia Pennetta, the second Italian in the top ten lost today to Klara Zakopolova, a powerful lefty who also put an end to heavy-hitter hopeful and Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai, the #18 seed.
So who are the women who snuck past the seeds? Who outplayed the projected winners? Three relative unknowns wait in the top-half of the draw. They are poised to launch their biggest campaign at a major.
Unseeded Petra Kvitova upset Jie Zheng in the second round and stepped on the gas in the third, stomping on Victoria Azarenka (#14 seed), 75 60. The Belarusian woman made it to the quarterfinals in 2009.
Unheralded Kvitova, from the Czech Republic, has played two prior times at Wimbledon in 2008 and 2009, not advancing past the first round either year. She is ranked #62 on the WTA Sony Ericsson rankings. She showed great tenacity and patience today against the lately-streaky Azarenka who seemed to have nothing in response to Kvitova's lefty craft. Azarenka lead in the first set 5/3, but went all jittery and lost all the remaining games in the match: 13.
Twenty-eight year old Klara Zakopalova, another woman hailing from the Czech Republic, is responsible for ending Flavia Pennetta's hopes, 62 63, in a cool hour. In the land of the giant dominating tennis players -- the Williams' sisters, being the two best known big babes of tennis -- Zakopolova is an anomaly at five-feet-five. She has played seven Wimbledon Championships, her best result coming in 2004 when she made it to the second round. Currently, she is ranked #66. She has never traveled past the 3rd round of any major and only penetrated that deeply at the 2003 U. S. Open. After eleven years on the WTA Tour this could be her moment. She has a tough customer on Monday, though, Caroline Wozniacki.
Kaia Kanepi should get a medal for her week's performance. This qualifier not only shocked the tournament when she defeated Samantha Stosur in the first round, she extended her command taking out unseeded Edina Gallovits next and then #31 seed Alexandra Dulgheru today 61 62 in fifty-six minutes. Kanepi has remained healthy, which is astonishing given that today's match was her sixth of the tournament.
Kvitova, Zakopalova, and Kanepi all sit in the bottom bracket, with Wozniacki the only seed anchoring that quarter of the draw. That means one of these unsung heroines will advance to her first-ever quarterfinal at Wimbledon.
Two surprises are poised for Monday's sweet sixteen on the top half of the women's draw: Tsvetana Pironkova and Jarmila Groth.
Pironkova benefited from the loss of two seeds in her quarter: Schiavone and Shvedova. The Bulgarian has played four prior Wimbledon Championships. She has never advanced beyond the second round of any major, and has no WTA Tour titles. Her opponent on Monday is Marion Bartoli, the 11th seed.
Pironkova turned pro in 2002 at the young age of fifteen. Her father coaches Tsvetana and has since she came on the Tour. Both her parents are former athletes. Pironkova has one claim to fame -- she defeated Venus Williams at The Australian Open in 2006. She has no Tour titles.
Australian hopeful Jarmila Groth meets her biggest challenge on Monday -- Venus Williams. Groth pushed past 2009 quarterfinalist and Georgia sweetheart Melanie Oudin in round two, and then defeated Angelique Kerber yesterday. She is the lowest ranked player left in the draw -- #92.
Jarmila, nicknamed 'Jarka,' came on the scene in 2005. Her name became more widely known after she went through to the fourth round at this year's Roland Garros when she lost to Jelena Jankovic.
Groth has played Bartoli twice and lost both times. However, their last meeting was on clay in Prague three years ago.
Tomorrow... the sixteen men into week two at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships.