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INTENSE. That’s the only way to describe the evening hours in Melbourne park on Wednesday. And it’s how Justine Henin described it after beating Elena Dementieva, 7-5, 7-6, in 2 hours and 50 minutes on Rod Laver Arena. “My heart was there 200%” Justine said. We didn’t hear from Dementieva court side, but I’m sure she felt the same. I just hope her heart isn’t broken.
Meanwhile in Hisense Arena, Juan Martin del Potro was battling with James Blake, ca. 2006. There was absolutely nothing between them in the end – except a trainer or two during the last changeover – but the Argentine finally won it, 10-8 in the fifth set in over four hours. It was a gutsy performance by del Potro, who summed it up afterwards: “It was a great victory for my career. I have no words to explain this moment. I’m so tired.”
His final burst of energy:
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The gassed Argentine should still have enough in the tank to take down Florian Mayer in the third round. Justine gets Alisa “the clubber” Kleybanova.
Andy Roddick continues to struggle Down Under, not with his game but with the on court personnel. He tripped over a linesperson during his first round win, mumbling later about “one of those immovable objects called a referee.” On Wednesday, it was a straight sets victory over Thomaz Bellucci and some choice words for chair ump Fergus Murphy (who already got an earful in Sydney):
A reporter asked Roddick why he gets so “chatty” with officials:
“I don’t do it for entertainment. I do it because I strongly believe what I feel. That’s not just on the court. I think if I believe in something strongly enough, I’m pretty outspoken about it. I don’t think that has to do with me enjoying it. That probably goes back to, you know, childhood issues, which would be a longer conversation (smiling).”
Roddick also admitted to reviewing tape of the call right after the match and realizing that “I was more wrong than I thought I was out on court.”
Unseeded world No. 16 Yanina Wickmayer wants her racquet to do the talking. She blew past 12th seeded Flavia Pennetta 7-6(2), 6-1 in her second round match and was asked afterwards if she was trying to send a message:
Q. Did you feel like you had a point to prove, given that the tournament organizers wouldn’t give you a wild card, they made you play qualifiers?
YANINA WICKMAYER: No, not really. I don’t think I have to prove to anyone anything. But I think it’s good for myself to prove myself I’m worth being in main draw and winning matches in main draw. That’s the main thing. I’m really glad the way I handled the quallies, how strong I was on court. Yeah, I’m really happy the way I’m playing now. I’m really glad about my two matches already.
No, I don’t feel any revenge to anyone.
The press really, really wants to stir up something between Davydenko and Fedal, but it’s not working so far. Federer on Tuesday:
Q. Nikolay Davydenko said everyone in the draw is scared of him. Are you scared of him?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, respect the way he deserves. Yeah, sure.
Q. Not scared?
ROGER FEDERER: “Scared” is a bad word. I don’t like that word. Ask a boxer if he’s scared of the other guy. I don’t think he’s going to say yes.
Q. Do you fear him?
ROGER FEDERER: I respect him like I do over a hundred other players in the draw.
Here’s Rafael Nadal on Wednesday, after winning his second round vs. Lukas Lacko 6-2, 6-2, 6-2:
Q. Davydenko told us yesterday he never wants to be really famous like Federer or you. How do you feel about being so famous?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I think you are or you are not. You want or you don’t want, that’s not an answer, no? You are or you are not. That’s it, no?
I feel okay, no? I like my life. I’m feel very lucky to be where I am. And, sure, I work in my hobby. So not everybody can say the same. So I feel very lucky person.
Serena and Venus Williams made their doubles debut on Wednesday, drubbing the Australian team of Sophie Ferguson and Jessica Moore: 6-1, 6-1. Serena came on court with yet more tape around her legs – this time under her left knee. Nike should just make her a pair of bandage tights and save her the trouble.
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Now it’s time for my random doubles observation/musing: 23 of the 32 women’s singles seeds are also playing doubles, including the team of Kuznetsova/Azarenka. Think this duo could knock out the Williams sisters?
Svetlana Kuznetsova was called the forgotten No. 3 seed on ESPN today (hey, anyone know who No. 2 is?) but she doesn’t mind reminding people who she is. She was brimming with confidence and good cheer on Wednesday after beating No. 39 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-2 in the second round:
“I want to improve. I want to do more things. I want to come to the net because I think I can play different games and come outside, play outside, inside, come to the net. I want to be all‑zones player. I think I have a potential to do that.” And later: “I’m just enjoying. You know, I’m just being myself, being creative, doing things I have to do, and enjoying it.“
The fact that her 3rd round is against a German qualifier ranked 118 in the world won’t hurt Sveta’s outlook on life.
Li Na thumped Marina Erakovic 6-2, 6-0 on Wednesday. She was asked later:
Q. How do you rate your form at the moment? You went out early in Auckland, but you looked pretty good out there today. How are you feeling about yourself.
NA LI: Yeah, after bungee jump feeling much better, yeah. (Laughter.) Yeah.
Li says her goal for the year is to crack the top 10 – what goes down must come up, I guess:
Also in the winners’ circle on Wednesday: Andy Murray, Gael Monfils, John Isner, Feliciano Lopez, Fernando Gonzalez, Stanislas Wawrinka, Ivo Karlovic, Ivan Ljubicic. On the women’s side: Kim Clijsters, Caroline Wozniacki, Dinara Safina, Victoria Azarenka, Jelena Jankovic, Maria Kirilenko, Vera Zvonareva, Shahar Peer, Nadia Petrova, Marion Bartoli. Click here for more results.