Monday, June 30, 2008

Wimbledon day 7--the upsets continue

Nicole Vaidisova came from behind to defeat Anna Chakvetadze at Wimbledon today

Anna Chakvetadze's meltdown in her Wimbledon round of 16 match against Nicole Vaidisova was as tragic as anything in sports that you could call tragic (which is actually nothing, but this was pretty bad). Chakvetadze played a brilliant first set, with a service game--first and second serves--that would be the envy of any player on the tour. She also played a very clean set, disguised her shots beautifully, and used the court savvy that got her to the top 10.

In the second set, Vaidisova became more focused, and made it harder for Chakvetadze to make points. This should not have really bothered Chakvetadze that much, considering the level at which she was playing, but we are talking about Anna Chakvetadze here. Vaidisova took control and even handed her opponent a bagel in the tiebreak. One of the commentators said he expected Vaidisova to surge ahead in the second set, then wilt a bit, and we would see Chakvetadze take over again. That is exactly what I expected.

What actually occurred was that Chakvetadze went to pieces. We used to see Chakvetadze do this a long time ago, but--despite being perennially inconsistent--she had gotten more of a grip on herself. But since the traumatic event that occurred in her life in December, Chakvetadze has not been able to do much of anything. She continued her decline in the third set until near the end, when some switch was turned on in her head, and she began to be competitive again. When Vaidisova was serving at 4-2, I thought Chakvetadze would break her, but she didn't. She did hold, though, and managed to bring Vaidisova's next game to deuce. She had a great opportunity to get a break point, too, but she blew it, and in another moment, Vaidisova won the match, 4-6, 7-6, 6-3.

A few days ago, Chakvetadze told the press that she was no longer troubled by the violent break-in that occurred at her house the end of last year. Perhaps she said that so she would not sound like she was making an excuse for her problems. Always a bit fragile, Chakvetadze is now in really bad shape, and it is hard to believe that her current state is not a result of the terrible thing that happened to her and her family six months ago.

Meanwhile, the trainers worked overtime in the match between Jelena Jankovic and Tamarine Tanasugarn. Jankovic's knee was giving her trouble again, and Tanasugarn complained about her back. It looked like a walk-in clinic out there. It also looked like a disaster for Jankovic, who was never in control of the match. Tanasugarn, for her part, stayed steady and let her grass skills glide her to a straight set victory--6-3, 6-2.

So the number 8 seed and the number 2 seed went out, but that wasn't the end of it. Wild card Zheng Jie, who removd top seed Ana Ivanovic from the tournament, defeated number 15 seed Agnes Szavay, 6-3, 6-4. I didn't see any of this match, but Zheng's grass skills are considerable, so it was not a total surprise.

Later, number 14 seed Agnieszka Radwanska took advantage of a mentally fragile (imagine that) Svetlana Kuznetsova, and the fourth seed went out, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.

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