Saturday, September 4, 2010

They call the wind Maria

Conditions were so windy at the U.S. Open today that players had to tone down their best shots, stay away from the lines, and deal with both with-the-wind and against-the-wind pressure. This seemed to do Jelena Jankovic in; however, I once saw Jankovic play expertly in post-tornado winds that were worse than what we saw in Flushing Meadows today. Granted, that court was slower, but that was also another Jankovic.

Today, Jankovic had to handle not only the wind, but also her opponent, Kaia Kanepi. The Tall One from Tallinn manged the wind, if not expertly, with considerably more control than Jankovic, and ran over her in a second set tiebreak. Kanepi, who was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon, defeated the 4th seed 6-2, 7-6. To say that Jankovic has been "out of sorts" in this tournament would be to teeter on the brink of understatement. She's been rolling her eyes, yelling at the people in her box, and--more unusual (we are talking about JJ)--missing shots, even in good weather conditions, that are usually her keys to victory.

Top seed Caroline Wozniacki had an easy time of it--again--today, defeating Chan Yung-Jan 6-1, 6-0. Dominika Cibulkova  also had an easy match, defeating Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-0, 6-1.

And then there was Maria Sharapova, who blew Beatrice Capra over, 6-0, 6-0. The wind was really strong, of course, making the occasion especially difficult for Capra. Sharapova's next task is to play Wozniacki. Neither player has had any real difficulty so far; Sharapova's first match became easy when Jarmila Groth self-destructed.

Sharapova is seeded 16th, but the number--in this case--is not relevant. The 2006 champion appears to have overcome both her shoulder injury and her consequent service issues. Of course, under pressure, she could have problems again, and we won't know about that until she is standing across the net from Wozniacki. The two have played each other twice, and Sharapova won both matches in straight sets. However, these matches were played in 2008, and in tennis time, that's very old news. One thing is practically certain--the Sharapova-Wozniacki clash is going to be an exciting one.

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