Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wimbledon day 6: How much drama can you stand?

It was a bad day for legs. Jelena Jankovic, to no one's surprise, injured her leg when she stretched out wide, and had to see a trainer. The trainer wrapped her knee to the hilt, and Jankovic said it restricted her movement so much, she could not play. So, to the trainer's dismay, Jankovic had the wrap removed, and she somehow got through the match, defeating a very feisty Caroline Wozniacki, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. An MRI is being done of the bad leg, and we should no more tomorrow. Needless to say, fans (like me) are not happy with this development.

Then there was Dinara Safina, who played an error-filled first set against Shahar Peer, and moved on to an error-filled second set. About the time that I said "Is Safina going to pull one of those Berlin/French Open numbers about now?"--she pulled one. Some switch got turned on, and once again, Safina picked up her game significantly, winning the second set. She was totally switched on for the third set, though it was still a tight contest because the skillful, indefatigable Peer was on the other side of the net. What began as a somewhat ugly match turned into a thriller.

But all was not well with the French Open finalist. During the third set of this marathon event (doesn't Peer have a tendency to create these?), Safina's thigh began to cramp. She saw the trainer twice, and when she had used up her medical time-outs, she massaged her thigh with an ice pack. Toward the end of the last set, she was unable to put any weight on her bad side, so her serve went all to hell. Tossing puffballs at Peer, she still managed to stay in the contest, but finally--in tears with pain and frustration, she double-faulted her way out of the match. It was hard to watch the fighting Russian fade away like this. On the other hand, if she had been awake during the first set, it would never have come to this.

And talk about adding insult to injury: After Safina's terrible and physically painful defeat, she had to go play doubles. There she was, on the doubles court, playing on one leg, and serving to...Shahar Peer.

I only hope this defeat does not cause Safina to return to her former mental state; she needs to continue seeing herself as a winner. Hear that, Dinara?

Peer def. Safina, 7-5, 6-7, 8-6

Another thriller was the match between grass veteran Tamarine Tanasugarn and rising star Marina Erakovic. The action was fast and the lines were penetrated again and again by both players. At one point in the third set, Erakovic hit four aces in a row. Tanasugarn played a cleaner match, however, and now goes to her seventh Wimbledon round of 16.

Tanasugarn def. Erakovic, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4

Also advancing to the round of 16 are defending champion Venus Williams (def. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez), Elena Dementieva (def. Gisela Dulko in a very close match), Nadia Petrova (def. Victoria Azarenka in an even closer match), Alla Kudryavtseva (def. Peng Shuai), and Alisa Kleybanova (defeated Ai Sugiyama).

I expected the Dementieva-Dulko match to be very close. I must have been the only one; it was all the commentators on ESPN could do to even acknowledge that she was on the court. Dementieva's victory was her first over Dulko.

Kudryavtseva is to be commended for not succumbing to the ususal fate of giant-killers.

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