Torrential downpours meant that play was delayed and matches piled up on what turned out to be a stormy Day 5 at the Olympic Green Tennis Center. As of midnight, Beijing time, Roger Federer’s dreams of Olympic gold were squelched (washed up?) but all three of the other men’s quarterfinal matches were still being played. They finally shut down the tournament at 1:30 a.m., leaving three matches uncompleted: Safina/Jankovic, and Fed’s and the Williams sisters doubles matches.
More after the jump…
Roger Federer lost in straight sets to James Blake after waiting out the three hour rain delay. James was kind enough to say something afterwards like “Play a guy enough times and he’s bound to have a bad day, eventually,” but we all know he meant “year,” not “day.” At least we have a reason, now: it’s the curse of the Gillette ad! (Click here for an explanation.) Or maybe it was the curse of Bill Gates, who was reportedly in the crowd cheering for Team U.S.A. Thank goodness Rog and Stan are still in the doubles – a medal there could put the “consolation” in “consolation prize.”
On the women’s side, both Venus and Serena were upset, by Li Na and Dementieva, respectively, putting an end to Team U.S.A.’s hopes of dominating the women’s singles medal podium. (The most shocking part of these upsets? Dementieva served out the match!) Like Roger, the sisters are now looking to the doubles for redemption.
Let’s look ahead to the semifinals.
Blake vs. Gonzalez: I had an inkling before I went to bed last night that this might be my favorite American man’s moment against Federer. And that if it was, Blake could go for the Gold. Unfortunately, his toughest task might be getting past Gonzo tomorrow, who has beaten him five straight times since Blake’s third and last victory over the Chilean in 2003! Gonzo also has the big time Olympics experience and the less mentally taxing quarterfinal win (he took out P-H Mathieu 6-4,6-4) If Blake can pull it out over over Fernando, he still has a positive record against Rafa (3-2 head to head) and he and Djokovic have never played. I’d love for Blake’s first time playing against Novak to be for the Gold!
Here’s a funny bit from James’s post-match press conference, where he reveals that he’s rooming with Lindsay Davenport in the Olympic Village:
“Well we’re not in the same room, we have two bedrooms, but Lindsay being the woman has her own bathroom,” said Blake laughing. “I was sharing with Sam (Querrey) and Robby (Ginepri) but they left and Lindsay has moved in.”
Asked who snores, Blake said Lindsay doesn’t but added that he has been hydrating himself so much that he wakes up a few times during the night for nature calls. “I guess I am the one who’s been disturbing them,” he added.
Perhaps the roommates will both bring home the Gold!
Djokovic vs. Nadal: As recently as yesterday I was thinking Novak would be a lock for Gold medal contention, given Rafa’s admitted and well-deserved fatigue after winning two straight slams and a slew of Masters Series events. But Novak’s now coming off an exhausting 2.5 hour quarterfinal match against Gael Monfils, while Rafa destroyed Jurgen Melzer in about an hour. I feel with this pairing, it’s all about fitness on the day. Either way, I’m psyched for this match!
On the women’s side, we’re still looking at the definite possibility of a Russian medal sweep in singles, with one all-Russian toss-up semi in Dementieva vs. Zvonareva and Dinara Safina still waiting to complete/start her quarterfinal match with Jelena Jankovic. Dinara/Kuznetsova and Zvonareva/Vesnina are still alive in the doubles, too, so we’re looking at a possible 5 out of 6 medals being won by the Russian women. But before I get too ahead of myself, I can’t underestimate the great Chinese hope Li Na, who’s into the semis after a rousing straight set win over Venus Williams and could ride a giant wave of support all the way to the medal stand. Oh yeah, and the world’s No. 1 player, Jelena Jankovic, is still hanging around. I keep forgetting about her.
Li Na photo: Paul Zimmer/Sergio Carmona