Friday, September 04, 2009

Guts

Melanie Oudin of the US cheers after defeating Elena Dementieva of Russia during their 2nd round US Open match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center September 3, 2009 in  New York.
Getty

Another day, another young American pulls off an upset out of nowhere. Savannah says it all:

The American tennis establishment has caught Oudin fever. Melanie Oudin, the seventeen year old from Marietta, Georgia has shown potential for awhile now but whenever you talked juniors you heard other names that didn't begin with the letter "O". No more. Sure she beat Jelena Jankovic a few short weeks ago but until recently Jelena was looking as if she were headed in the wrong ranking direction.

Elena Dementieva is a different story.

Elena came into the US Open as the hottest woman on the summer hard court swing. She had played one of if not the best Women's match of the year against Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final. There was no reason anyone would suspect her momentum would come to a screeching halt when she took the court today.

I know Elena is a loose cannon, that when she opens her mouth there is absolutely no telling what will come out, but with all of her crazy statements she is one of the old guard. Along with Venus Williams and Serena Williams she is in her late twenties now and is arguably playing her best tennis after having worked hard to fix her serve which was her major liability. In my opinion she is the best player never to have won a major.

I thought that Oudin would take a set but that in the end Elena would win going away. Instead Elena, like many of us, looked befuddled as she contemplated the young woman across the net from her. Elena was never allowed to establish her presence, was not allowed to settle into her preferred style of play. Not that she didn't try. It was just that Oudin had the answer for every thing she tried.

And she didn't falter closing out the match, showing more guts than most of the women in the Top 10. Who knows where she goes from here, what with that sharp pain in her knee. Miss 100% will make mincemeat out of her poor serve, but Melanie's return can also cause The Shoulder some pain if her serve percentage is as as low as it was last night against Christina McHale.

We'll see...

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James Blake of the U.S. celebrates after defeating Olivier Rochus of Belgium during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 3, 2009.
Reuters

James Blake remembered how to play tennis. It took the better part of three sets, but better late than never. Let's see what he's got for Tommy Robredo, a pest for James if ever there was one.

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NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 03: Jelena Jankovic of Serbia reacts after a play against Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan during day four of the 2009 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 3, 2009 in Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
Getty

Jelena Jankovic, mourning the recent death of her grandmother, had nothing to give in her match and fell to an erratic Yaroslava Shvedova in a third set tiebreak after holding a few match points.

As pompelmo said, the way is being cleared ... but for whom?

The world No. 1 survives to miserate another day.

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Jesse Witten of the U.S. celebrates a point against Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York September 3, 2009.
Reuters

Lost in the celebration of the young American women is perhaps a more compelling story. 27-year-old Jesse Witten has advanced to the third round of a Slam for the first time in his minor-league career.

The former University of Kentucky player and 2002 NCAA Championships runner up needed a wild card just to get into qualifying. He destroyed Igor Andreev in the first round of the main draw and overcame a loose tiebreak against Máximo González of Argentina to take the final three sets.

Newsflash to Brad Gilbert and other commenators: hailing from Argentina doesn't make one an automatic claycourt specialist. Just ask David Nalbandian and Juan Martín del Potro. González is a big man with a big game who likes the forecourt.

But Jesse is bigger (I never knew a man with so much junk in his trunk could move so well), better, and bolder, and, as he said after the match, playing on house money with nothing to lose.

Novak Djokovic better not take him lightly...

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