Sunday, June 3, 2012

Azarenka out of French Open

As bad as Victoria Azarenka must feel about losing today in the round of 16 of the French Open, there's reason to believe that another player feels almost as bad. If 3rd seed Agnieszka Radwanska could have just hung on through the storm of Svetlana Kuznetsova's clay court game, she might still be standing today, and without having to worry about facing her main nemesis, Azarenka. (Her other nemesis, Petra Cetkovska, is gone, too).

But a tennis draw, especially at a major tournament, is a deceptive thing. Not that it was such a surprise that Azarenka fell to Dominika Cibulkova; it wasn't. All that Cibulkova had to do was gather her nerve about her to avoid another Miami meltdown--and she did. Cibulkova's return game is huge, and today, Azarenka's service game let her down.

From the first round, the world number 1 has looked like an accident waiting to happen, and if anyone was up to the task of putting her out of her misery, it was Cibulkova. The 15th seed now plays 2010 finalist Sam Stosur in the quarterfinals. Stosur fended off a spirited Sloane Stephens, who had opportunities to make the 6th seed's progress difficult, but Stosur's experience was clearly a factor in the taming of her opponent. All the same, the affable young player from the USA had a distinctive run in Paris, and she gets better with every tournament.

In the meantime, Svetlana Kuznetsova couldn't repeat the brilliance she showed against Radwanska in the third round, and she was defeated 6-0, 7-5 by Sara Errani, one of the fighting Italians. Errani is enjoying a wonderful clay court season in singles and doubles, and her next assignment is to face down Angelique Kerber, one of the most dangerous players on the tour these days. Kerber beat Petra Martic in straight sets.

In doubles, 2nd seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik advanced, as did 3rd seeds Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova. In mixed doubles, Peschke and Mike Bryan advanced to the third round, as did top seeds Liezel Huber and Max Mirnyi.

And now for your weekend French Open quiz question: What do Martina Navratilova, Monica Seles, Varvara Lepchenko, and my mother all have in common?

Answer: None of them was born in the USA, but all of them became USA citizens. NBC and ESPN commentators, however, are continuously hitting us on the head with the fact that Lepchenko is a naturalized citizen. So. What.

And by the way, NBC commentators--since you obviously weren't paying attention--Ukraine is not part of the Soviet Union because there is no Soviet Union. That all ended in 1991, which was over 20 years ago. I know it's hard for you to keep up, but this is ridiculous.


Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, I don't know what the NBC/ESPN commentators' "game" is with Lepchenko. I suspect we'll get virtually overloaded with it again tomorrow. Do they secretly want people to root against her so that she doesn't "steal" an Olympic berth from a "real" American?

Now, that said, I won't really be rooting for her to win tomorrow, either. But for entirely different reasons.

(Psst, don't say it too loud... Petra, Petra, Petra.)

Dougie Messenger said...

The American commenters are a sad bunch, trammelled, tied and throttled by their own petty pragmatism. They're always putting all of their marbles on finding a 'story' with a juicy element or two. It's pitiful. The main exception among them is Richard Pagliaro, who is remarkably objective about what he has seen. In fact , he pays attention to the ebb and flow, changes of tactics and crucial points. He does not merely recite the set scores and a stat or two. He does a lot more. Three cheers for him. And cheers to you as well, Diane! Petra Petra Petra.... ooh yeah.

Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm, the ESPNers pulled back early today. Never once bringing up the "n"-word when it came to Lepchenko, and instead focusing on how great a story her's was (inclduing showing a nice video segment).

I think there might have been a whole lot of "make good" work going on there.

Diane said...

Thanks, DM.

I enjoy Richard Pagliaro, too.

Dougie Messenger said...

See Richard's piece on the Lepchenko/Kvitova match. It's clean, crisply incisive and hits the essentials. It's hysterically funny too, but even the jokes stick to essentials.

Anonymous said...


Eric said...

Pagliaro's good, but doesn't hold a candle to Diane (and Todd). :)

All jokes aside, tennis fans are lucky to have so many tennis-savvy, gifted journalists to follow.



No posts today? Shame on you for having a life outside of tennis.

Diane said...

It was a bad day, but a post is coming later :)

Diane said...

Thanks, Dougie. I enjoyed, and a line will appear later in the quotes section.