Can this dark horse cross the finish line? Her stunning, come-from-behind win over Maria Sharapova today makes her the Russian to beat at Roland Garros. It was the match of the tournament so far, with both players showing real grit and incredible power as they bashed their way through match points, breaks and momentum-shifting rain delays. Even knowing that Safina’s pulled her way out of trouble before (against the same opponent in the same round two years ago), I really didn’t think she could pull it out again. But the possibility did keep me from turning off the television at 5-2 in the second set. What’s most shocking to me is that Maria was the one to falter both physically and mentally as the match went on. That’s not supposed to happen.
I’d like to see Dinara go all the way. An Ivanovic/Safina final has a lot of potential, not only because I’d love to see Marat cheering from the stands. (I imagine he’ll go ballistic!) Unfortunately, Dinara faces a trap in the quarterfinals, where she will meet her dear friend Elena Dementieva. The lovely Elena knows Safina from way back – like the Pampers years – and can recall Dinara playing with tennis balls (no racquets) on the sidelines while she took lessons from Dinara’s mother. Playing a good friend when you’ve just scored a big upset and are now the favorite coming into the quarterfinals, compounds the pressure for Safina. And it’s not like Dementieva can’t play. (For more on this story, click here.)
I’ll spare a kind thought for Maria Sharapova. The Glamazon played hard today (as always), and she came up with this Bartlett-worthy quote in her press conference, after being asked how she felt about the tough French crowd booing her for her relentless shrieking:
“I can’t please everyone. It’s not in my job description.”
Hell, yeah! I’m committing that one to memory. Thanks, Maria.