Seeds Fall, New Growth Springs Forth
June 28, 2010 -- A mixture of an unforeseen upsets and steady hands entertained fans today on the second Monday of the fortnight... the traditional introduction of all sixteen men and women singles players that have advanced to week two at The Championships Wimbledon.
Kim Clijsters (#8 seed) defeated countrywoman Justine Henin in a tight three setter. Clijsters looked nervous at the start but revved up her power baseline game in the second set. Once she found her rhythm she was a train screaming down the tracks.
"I was very overwhelmed in the beginning by the speed of her game, " Clijsters began. "She was serving extremely well, returning extremely well. I started to focus a little bit more on trying to, whenever I had the chance, to go for the lines. Obviously, I had to do that."
Henin took a spill in the first set, which possibly harmed her ability to play all out. The diminutive Belgium woman told the press she didn't feel comfortable on her backhand, but that her elbow was good enough to continue the match.
"It's been mentally not easy to deal when I fall down and the few games after," Henin said. "But, after that, it was warm and I could play."
She and her team thought she might have hyper-extended the joint, but won't know until tests are run.
This was Clijsters second win over Henin, since both women returned to the WTA Tour. The first was in the semifinals at the Sony Ericsson Open this Spring -- another 3-set thriller. Clijsters victory today tipped their head-to-head record in her favor: 13 - 12.
Clijsters defeated Henin 36 62 63.
With a curtsy and a wave, minus her toothy smile, Serena Williams bid farewell to Centre Court Wimbledon and the threat of Maria Sharapova after a straight set win over the Russian.
Sharapova looked, by far, the best since her return. She mounted a determined assault on the younger Williams, extending the first set to a tiebreak, their first. But for one error in that tiebreak -- a misguided volley -- Sharapova would have had a real chance at victory in the third. However, 'what ifs' and 'if she only had' and 'if she didn't double fault' are all conversations with no teeth. The fact remains... Miss Sharapova lost the match 76 (9) 64.
Stopped by the BBC on her way to the locker room, Serena praised Sharapova for her efforts, "She played really well." Serena is not known for complimenting opponents whether she won or not. However, Serena continued her adulations in her press conference.
"She's so good and mentally focused," Serena started. "Even on match point, she's really trying 200%."
Big Sister Venus Williams' confidence, mental toughness and serve guided the second seed past a bold, gutsy and unseeded Jarmila Groth, who was appearing in her second consecutive quarterfinal at a major. She was the first woman from Australia in twenty years to make it to the round of sixteen. Groth didn't need a script to know she had to play exceptional tennis to get by the five-time champion.
Groth took the ball early, deducting valuable time from Williams' returns. The Aussie served well, but Venus served better at the crucial moments -- most notably in the second set tiebreak.
"She serves so well," Groth said. "I got a chance in the breaker, as well, again. Ended up hitting a double fault. So that doesn't help."
Venus looked beaten and shaky several times in the match. Groth pinned Venus to the baseline, strategically keeping the tall American away from the net where she can be offensively dangerous with volleys and practically impossible to pass on her left and right sides.
Venus defeated Groth 64 76 (5).
As far as upsets go, none could pop more eyes than Andy Roddick's loss to unseeded Yen-Hsun Lu. Ranked #82 on the ATP Southwest Airlines Rankings, Lu gave Chinese Taipei its biggest gift of the fortnight when he broke Roddick's serve for the first time in the entire match to win 46 76 (3) 76 (4) 67 (5) 97. It's the same way Roddick lost to Roger Federer in the 2009 Wimbledon final -- one break of serve.
Lu's serve and ability to move the ball around the court kept Roddick off balance throughout the match. Lu could have closed the match in the fourth set, but shaky hands opened the door for the American.
"He did a good job controlling the middle of the court all day," Roddick began. "I thought he served better than he has against me before. I think the fifth set was probably the best set that I played as far as making him struggle to actually get through service games sometimes."
Lu's confidence, rhythm, and steady execution came back to life in the final set, providing all that he needed to move on to his first-ever quarterfinal at a major.
"Today I just take a time, serve regular, and stay with him," Lu said. "[I] try to find a chance and to win the set, set by set, until end, I shaking hand and I win."
Lu turned pro in 2000, the year his father passed away.
"I really thankful for my family," Lu began. "I'm really upset because my father's already pass away. I make this result. I'm really proud myself to share this victory with him in the sky. I hope he see this match."
Roddick is the highest seed to lose so far -- #5.
Upset number two went by in a flash -- 46 minutes to be exact. That's the amount of time Petra Kvitova needed to blast #3 seed Caroline Wozniacki off the court -- 62 60.
Wozniacki didn't look amused by the power and depth that came off the lefty Kvitova's racquet, but her domination wasn't that much of a secret, either. The Czech bludgeoned Victoria Azarenka (#14 seed) in the third round and Jie Zheng (#23 seed) in the second round.
"I play very well on the grass, and I play fast," Kvitova said. "The serve was great."
Wozniacki served 79% on her first serves, but won only a third of those points a telling tale of Kvitova's return game. Miss Wozniacki didn't attend her press conference and was not, therefore, available for comments.
Kvitova has never ventured this far in a draw, let alone at a major. She's cognizant of her whereabouts and senses the occasion. However, it is her tennis, quite simply, that has placed the six-foot twenty-year-old into the spotlight of the Wimbledon quarterfinals.
Her next opponent is Kaia Kanepi -- the qualifier that just won't quit. Today marked the Estonian's seventh win of the tournament. Had she entered through the front gates at Wimbledon -- into the main draw -- she'd be hoisting the Venus Rosewater Platter far over her head. But... she will first have to get past Kvitova.
One last upset ... Tsvetana Pironkova defeated the 11th seed Marion Bartoli quietly on Court 5 first thing this afternoon, 64 64. Pironkova has every hope of going beyond the quarterfinals, if she can duplicate a win she had over Venus Williams way back in 2006 at The Australian Open.
Venus didn't seem particularly worried. "She's one of those players that can come up with a win. I have to be on watch for that."
Loose canons have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Beware the up-and-coming stars.