Friday, June 27, 2008

Free to a good home, Part II: Women's Wimbledon title

Funny, I was just telling my poolboy yesterday that it was so odd that it hadn't rained so far at Wimbledon. I can think of one certain world No. 1 female player who wishes it had rained a bit longer today.
So, Ana Ivanovic lost in round three to a card-carrying member of the Lollipop Guild. The people at home call her Jie Zheng, and seriously, I was impressed. I'm just going to say what everyone's thinking: It's easier to play on grass when you're that much closer to the ground. OK, no more short jokes. Zheng didn't blink at all while Ivanovic was shanking balls everywhere. She played a solid match, and this should be a nice pick-me-up for someone who had a long injury layoff last year.
Like most of the female favorites for the title, Ivanovic played no warmup on grass. She clearly needed it. If it weren't for the tight nets at Wimbledon, she'd have lost in the second round to Nathalie Dechy. But I'm not too worried about Ivanovic. She's still a kid, and she'll learn two things from this: (1) PLAY A WARMUP IF YOU'RE NOT COMFORTABLE ON A SURFACE! and (2) 'Taint easy being at the top. New pressure, higher expectations -- everyone's aiming at you. Ivanovic alluded to this in her press conference after the match. It takes that veteran mental toughness -- the Fed/Nadal kind -- to adjust so quickly between the French and Wimbledon. If she's the real deal, she'll catch on.
Another notable result: Bethanie Mattek took out Marion Bartoli in straight sets. Could it be that along with an, um, interesting, fashion sense, Mattek could have some game? Yes, she could, but Bartoli's not that great a test. Now, if she can beat Serena Williams in the next round ...
Marat Safin didn't flake out for the third straight match. Bona fide miracle.

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