I stayed up very, very late last night to watch the quarterfinal match between 3rd seed Dinara Safina and wild card Jelena Dokic, and my reward was to observe each player seemingly begging her opponent to take her out of her misery. Double faults, puffy second serves, wild second serves, netted balls, desperate strategy--it wasn't pretty.
I'm going to cut Dokic some slack, though. She hasn't played on the tour at this level in many years, and she hasn't played in a major for 5 1/2 years. She is also the first woman in history to play five consecutive three-set matches at the Australian Open.
I can't cut Safina any slack, though. All the head-case characteristics of old came back last night, and after match point, Safina briefly acknowledged the crowd, then sat down with a disgusted look on her face and hit her racquet to the ground. The one thing she can be proud of, however, is that when things looked really dangerous--serving at 5-4, 15-40--she pulled off a win. That is the tough part of Safina, but she has to call on it way too often.
I imagine that Dokic feels worse than she is letting on--not so much for losing the match, but for thinking back over the almost countless opportunities she had to put Safina away.
Safina def. Dokic, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4