The best thing about being on the fresh end of a Major is thinking about the players who may just – barely – have a Chance In Hell to win the thing. The draws are so long and the players are so unpredictable (yeah, I’m talking about you, Andy M.), that for a few leisurely days at the beginning of the tournament it seems like almost anything can happen.
Of course I want Roger and Serena to win, but a girl’s gotta have a little fun, right?
Anyone who’s not Roger, Nadal or Djokovic officially qualifies for the Chance In Hell nomination, and I’m picking Mikhail Youzhny. He may have to go through Davis Cup teammates Davydenko and Andreev, but he’ll be motivated by the prospect of meeting Nadal in the semis. This guy had a great 2007 (meaning, mulitple wins over Rafa), and I think soldier boy’s poised for a Gonzo-like run.
Runners up (just for fun): Juan Monaco (if Rog really isn’t over that bad chicken), Jo-Dubya Tsonga, James Blake, (if-only-I-could-add Andy Murray to this list!)
Monkey in the Middle: Is Andy Roddick in the awkward position of being too good for the C.I.H. designation without being a real contender?
This is easy – Serena and Justine are the favorites, with Venus and Maria completing the quartet. If Maria and Justine weren’t destined to meet in a mouth-watering round of 16 match, we’d be able to pencil all four of them into the quarters. So I’m picking Serena, Justine, Venus and Hantuchova for the quarters (Hanty’s coming up from Koozy’s section.) But wait, I almost forgot about the C.I.H. award (no it’s not Hanty.) And the winner is. . .Lindsay Davenport! It should be crazy-talk, but after witnessing Serena’s mythic triumph last year and Lindsay’s early comeback successes, I think we’re all feeling it, right?
Runner’s up (just for fun): Hantuchova, Sania Mirza, Hot Pants Golovin (love her!), and the reclusive Amelie Mauresmo (wouldn’t that be fantastic?)
Monkey in the Middle: Svetlana Kuznetsova