Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Top seeds advance to 3rd round at U.S. Open

For Kim Clijsters, Venus Williams, Sam Stosur, and Francesca Schiavone, the second round of the U.S. Open was a straight-set affair. Clijsters, the second seed and defending champion, defeated Sally Peers in the night match, and 5th seed Stosur--who I thought would have more trouble dealing with her countrywoman--defeated Anastasia Rodionova. Schiavone defeated Maria Elena Camerin.

Venus Williams' match was interesting. For many of us, it was a first look at Rebecca Marino, the Canadian qualifier who had never before competed against a top-50 player. Marino is six feet tall with long legs, and she can fire a forehand in a most impressive way. Her serve looked good, too. She hit eight aces, and her kick serve was high enough to reach Williams' head on at least one occasion. Also, Marino's demeanor was calm and composed throughout the match; even when she became a little upset, she got past it quickly.

The match, not surprisingly, presented a scenario we have seen many times before: Marino was good enough to force a first-set tiebreak, but when she failed to win it, a straight-set loss was practically an inevitability. In fact, it was hard to imagine her winning the tiebreak because of the speed, efficiency and experience of her opponent. Williams knew how to win the tiebreak, reeling off six points in a row, and she knew how to get through the second set pretty quickly. I wouldn't say that Marino wilted--"wilted" just doesn't seem to fit her persona--but she became less sure-footed after she lost the first set.

She did have a bit of a comeback, though, getting a break point when Williams served for the match at 5-3 in the second set. Marino hit a wild forehand, though, and that was the end of her break chance. Marino hit 27 winners and made 23 unforced errors, compared with Williams' twelve.

Williams won, 7-6, 6-3, and moves to the third round, in which she will not play Tsvetana Pironkova. It can't hurt the 3rd seed's mood that Pironkova, a nemesis on the court, was taken out (and served a New York bagel) by qualifier Mandy Minella. Minella defeated Polona Hercog in the opening round, so she's having a nice run. As for Marino--I hope I get to see her again soon. She played well, and she had a great attitude.

Elena Dementieva, Flavia Pennetta and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also advanced in straight sets. Pavlyuchenkova was troubled by an elbow injury (it's always something, lately), but it didn't appear to be very serious.

Wild card Virginie Razzano upset 13th seed Marion Bartoli, and Sara Errani upset 28th seed Alisa Kleybanova. Ana Ivanovic ran over 21st seed Zheng Jie, 6-3, 6-0...and then there was Daniela Hantuvhova. She and Vania King went at it for two hours and 51 minutes, with King taking the first set 7-5. I enjoy watching both of these players because they throw in a little bit of everything. Hantuchova, the 23rd seed, won the second set 6-3, and served for the match at 5-2 in the third, but was broken. She eventually won the set 6-4, and hit a lovely drop shot for match point. Hantuchova served nine aces and hit 50 winners.

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