I’m not going to dwell on how frustrating it was to watch tennis today in Los Angeles. I basically had a 6 hour period where, thanks to time zones and match “embargoes,” there was no live tennis on t.v. – on the biggest tennis day of the year. Makes sense, right? Moving on: Manic Monday lived up to its name – both men’s and women’s Round of 16s were played and completed, we had rain, the roof, and an historic 10:39 p.m. finish as Stan Wawrinka stretched Andy Murray to a fifth nail-biting set under the Centre Court lights. What more could you want? (Besides Stan’s backhand and Andy’s defensive skills, of course.)
(Night) match of the tournament: Andy Murray vs. Stan Wawrinka: 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3!
First up on Centre Court was Roger Federer who beat Robin Soderling in three tight sets: 6-4, 7-6, 7-6. It was a good test – lots of tense moments, lots of patience required and some clutch play in the tie breaks.
Interesting admission from Roger about his problems earlier in the year:
Q. You said you’ve been quite pleased with how you’ve played, how you’ve made it through to this point. What have you been most pleased with so far in your game?
ROGER FEDERER: Just being relaxed out on court. You know, no signs of panics, what I maybe had, you know, six months ago when I played. I would just feel uneasy. I wouldn’t be exactly sure what the right plays were.
Now I feel perfect. You know, so from this standpoint it was great. I think I’m moving well, serving well. My rhythm from the baseline is well. So, you know, I’m just really, really pleased from this aspect.
Also feeling good on the men’s side: Lleyton Hewitt (who came from two sets down against Radek Stepanek), Juan Carlos Ferrero (over Gilles Simon), Tommy Haas (over Igor Andreev in straights), Novak Djokovic (easily over Dudi Sela) and Andy Roddick (in a surprisingly routine three-set victory over Tomas Berdych.)
On the women’s side, Venus Williams continued her march forward after Ana Ivanovic retired during their match. Venus Williams will face Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarters tomorrow, the Pole taking out the young American hopeful, Melanie Oudin in straights. Venus’s quarterfinal strategy is scary simple: “I’ll continue with my methods.”
It wasn’t Venus’s “methods” that brought Ana Ivanovic to tears on Centre Court but a sudden, searing thigh injury sustained while serving in the first game of the second set. And afterwards the poor woman was subjected to the DUMBEST PRESS CONFERENCE QUESTION EVER!
Q. Do you think female tennis players should be chosen to play on Centre Court because of their tennis rather than what they look like?
ANA IVANOVIC: I think on the Centre Court we always have interesting matches. You know, there is lot of interesting matches and lot of good players out there.
So, uhm, you know, they have chance only to play one or two women’s matches on the big courts, so it’s very hard for them to choose, I think.
The media keeps harping on these bogus “controversys” as if they aren’t the very ones fueling them. Can’t these reporters go cover rugby and stop treating women’s tennis like jello wrestling?
Serena Williams, who rolled over Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-1, threatened to take a swing at them:
Q. Is it better to be young and hungry or a little more elderly and savvy?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Be careful (smiling).
Q. I was trying to be careful.
SERENA WILLIAMS: We don’t want a scuffle.
Yes we do, Serena!
And I love her twist on the Centre Court “controversy”:
Q. There’s been some controversy about the Wimbledon playing committee perhaps picking players for their looks rather than their tennis talent on Centre Court. They are saying that good looks are a factor with who plays on Centre Court. What do you think about that as an extremely accomplished tennis player who should be on Centre Court?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think Roger’s hot, but he’s married, so…
The fan in me is sad Amelie Mauresmo couldn’t pull off the upset against Dinara Safina, especially when she was up 3-0 in the third. But Safina fans should be very happy to hear the Russian sounding positive:
DINARA SAFINA: I think in overall the match I enjoyed because I have been missing already these kind of matches, you know, for a while. Really she pushed me to play my best tennis. That I won the match playing my best, not that you win the match by fighting, you know, or overrun somebody. But I played my best to win this match, so I’m really happy.
Let’s hope Safina needs her best tennis tomorrow against Sabine Lisicki, who beat Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-4. Will this be the big upset?
Also on the women’s side, Elena Dementieva destroyed Elena Vesnina, 6-1, 6-3, “3rd favorite” Victoria Azarenka beat Nadia Petrova in three and Francesca Schiavone took out Virginie Razzano in straights.
As if the Williams sisters needed more to boost their confidence, they “bicycled” Zheng Jie and Yan Zi in the doubles today.
Click here for the full tennis results.