I'm back from my hurricane-driven journey to Birmingham. On the return trip, I thought I'd watch the Radwanska vs. Jankovic and the Vinci vs. Cibulkova matches on my phone, but I had a problem with the Flash software, so all I could do was follow the scoreboard (Radwanska and Vinci won). I got home in time to catch the middle of the first set played between Serena Williams and Ekaterina Makarova. That set was competitive, but Williams ran away with the second.
I wrote a lengthy description of the match played between Maria Kirilenko and Andrea Hlavackova, and it disappeared; obviously, I'm having a bad technology day. I'm too tired to re-write, but the very short version is: What a match. It was hot, humid and windy, and they went for two hours and 48 minutes. Kirilenko backed off in the third set. Hlavackova was very impressive at the net. The Czech player served for each set at 5-4, and was successful twice. She defeated Kirilenko 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in a match that had everything I like to watch. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Sloane Stephens and Ana Ivanovic both seemed determined to let the other win the night match, but finally, Ivanovic grabbed the momentum and didn't let go of it. Angelique Kerber easily defeated Olga Govortsova, and Sara Errani made very short work of Olga Puchkova.
And then there was Tsvetana Pironkova. Has there ever been anyone else like her? She has such a big, tricky serve, and when I watch her, I just want to yell (Luke Jensen almost did yell at her) at her, "Keep up the serving--and pay attention!" She goes away--I don't know where--and appears to be thinking about something other than her shot selection.
Today, Pironkova did a nice job of taking the first set, 6-1, from Silvia Soler-Espinosa, but then practically gave the second set away in a tiebreak. She really did look like she might want to get out of the heat and move on to more interesting pursuits, but then she won the third set 6-3. This means that Pironkova is in the round of 16 at the U.S. Open. Who saw that coming? Somebody throw some sod down fast!
Kim Clijsters played her last U.S. Open match tonight. She and partner Bob Bryan lost in a super-tiebreak (12-10) match to Ekaterina Makarova and Bruno Soares in mixed doubles. Clijsters was having such a good time, I began having a good time along with her. Makarova and Soares, by the way, have pulled off something special in mixed doubles at this tournament: They also took out Mike Bryan, who--with Lisa Raymond--was seeded 2nd.
Round of 16 play begins tomorrow. Top seed Victoria Azarenka, who is playing really well, will face Anna Tatishvili, and in the night match, 2006 champion Maria Sharapova will play countrywoman Nadia Petrova. U.S. Open Series winner Petra Kvitova will compete against Marion Bartoli, and Official U.S. Open Upstart Laura Robson plays defending champion Sam Stosur.
Conditions do not favor Kvitova, but they don't particularly favor Bartoli, either. Tatishvili is a good mover, but shouldn't give Azarenka much trouble. The Stosur-Robson match could go to three sets, which would be fun (well, for viewers). Robson is not likely to have any kind of mental lapse, though one could hardly blame her if she did.
(Oh, and I'll just say this now and get a head start--Oh, Nadia!)