Julia Vakulenko of Ukraine lost her nerve and missed a chance to eliminate Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round
Today was "Close Call Day" at Wimbledon, when two important players teetered at the edge of upset. The first was Venus Williams, who faced Russian upstart Alla Kudryavtseva in the Graveyard Court of Champions, and almost left with a Round 1 burial. Kudryavtseva was up and down, and given to a lot of court emotion (which is not necessarily a bad thing), but when she was up, she was deadly. Kudryavtseva had several episodes of free-swinging success, and she was also able to take advantage of the errant Williams forehand and the fact that the ball coming off of the Williams racquet was often flying all over the place.
Williams' sister, Serena, was yelling encouragement at her, and Williams said that was what got her through. It didn't hurt that the young Russion was so inconsistent. With a bit of maturity, though, she could become dangerous. Final score: 2-6, 6-3, 7-5
Number 5 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova had her own problems in an injured Julia Vakulenko, who took the first set and looked poised to take the second until things turned around with a break at 4-all. Vakulenko's service game--both first and second serve--was outstanding, and she often stood in the middle of the court and pulled Kuznetsova back and forth repeatedly as though she were on a string. In the end, though, she caved, presumably from nerves, and Kuznetsova used her athleticism and experience to take the match. This was a clean, exciting, very well-played match--they should all be this good. Final score: 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
Player of the day: Julia Vakulenko, who should have stood her ground and taken Kuznetsova out, but who nevertheless put on yet another display of wonderful tennis.