Let’s be honest, Day 5 Down Under kind of sucked.
I typed that sentence before listening to Kim Clijsters’s press conference. She confirmed it:
“I was completely off. Just, you know, I think tennis‑wise, I didn’t feel the ball at all. . .It sucks that it has to happen at this stage of this tournament at least. If it happens in another tournament, then you can say, ‘Okay, you know, it’s not a big deal, just keep working hard.'”
So that was Kim after losing 0-6, 1-6 to a zoning Nadia Petrova on Friday night in the worst loss of her career (5 winners, 26 unforced errors, 53 minutes.) Now here’s Jelena Jankovic after her lackluster 2-6, 3-6 third round loss to Alona Bondarenko earlier in the day:
“It’s just beginning of the year. It’s no big deal. It’s, you know, only my second tournament of the year. . .I just have to stay positive, keep my head up high. Just, you know, I know what I have to work on.”
Hmmmmm. . . What do you think folks, either of these losses qualify as a good old fashioned tank?
Justine Henin admitted that she just “survived” her three-set third round match vs. Alisa “the Clubber” Kleybanova, She squeaked through 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 after being down 3-1 in the second, explaining that she “suffered” both from an inflammation in her leg and an emotional hangover after her big win vs. Elena Dementieva on Wednesday. But the new, self-actualized Justine says it’s all good:
“It’s a big challenge to come back. And I think I love challenges. That’s the way I am. I cannot live like normally. I need always to push myself and to push the limits back. And I feel, again, that, well, I’m very proud of what I’m doing right now. I enjoy my game out there. That’s the most important thing.”
Justine may be enjoying herself off-court, too, though she’s less forthcoming on that score:
Q. Is there a story behind the new diamond ring you have on?
JUSTINE HENIN: Well, it’s not coming from a lover, if that’s the question (laughter).
Q. Is it just something you’ve treated yourself with?
JUSTINE HENIN: It’s a gift from a friend. But nothing else, yeah (smiling). I was surprised the question didn’t come earlier actually.
I admit it, I’m intrigued:
Reuters photo via Daylife
Yanina Wickmayer was the third shaky Belgian on Friday, stretched to three sets vs. Sara Errani. Wickmayer took pain killers during the match for some ongoing back pain. This bodes well for Justine Henin, who will be Yanina’s next opponent.
Juan Martin del Potro continued his hot/cold play vs. Florian Mayer on Friday, winning the match in a weird 6-3, 0-6, 6-4, 7-5 scoreline. I have no idea what to make of del Po’s game at this point. Is he feeling good, bad, happy, sad? He says he’s “pressioned”:
Q. Pat Rafter said you could be the next man to dominate men’s tennis in the world. What do you think of that?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: I don’t know. He knows about this sport. But I don’t want extra pression. I have too much pression with me. So thank you to Patrick, but I have a long way to be the next No. 1 or to be better.
Del Potro will play Marin Cilic in the Round or 16. Cilic beat Stan Wawrinka on Friday night.
Now on to more positive stuff – like Dinara Safina! Remember way back in October when Dinara Safina was No. 1 in the world and would spend her press conferences alternating between defending the WTA’s ranking system and telling reporters what a terrible tennis player she was? Now that she’s No. 2 and nobody’s pick to win the tournament, she’s rating her game a “7” out of 10 and leaving the self-deprecation for her homemaking skills:
Q. Are you a good cook?
DINARA SAFINA: I’m just starting, you know. Until now nobody got sick, so this is the positive (smiling.) They might like, not like, but if they have problems with the stomach, it’s not good.
But until now, nobody would complain about the stomach (laughter)
Dinara Safina pounded Elena Baltacha 6-1, 6-2. She plays Maria Kirilenko next. Zheng Jie scored a minor upset against 11th seeded Marion Bartoli.
The American men had a good day, too. John “Babyface” Isner played a Big Boy game against Gael Monfils, coming through in a tricky four sets. (He’ll have to take it up a notch against Andy Murray in his next round – the Scot’s moving through the draw with his signature stealth.)
Andy Roddick beat Feliciano Lopez in four sets, which included the now requisite officiating drama (via tennis.com)
Holding match point in the fourth-set tiebreak Friday, Andy Roddick thought he had won his third-round contest against Feliciano Lopez when his heavily spun ball landed on Lopez’s side of the court and bounced itself back over the net.
Lopez reached over the net to hit the ball, a no-no in tennis — with one exception. Players are allowed to reach over if the ball has already crossed over to their side and then bounced back over the net.
Roddick, who was either unaware of or had forgotten the rule, appeared aghast when the point was awarded to Lopez. But the American shrugged off his surprise and clinched a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (3) victory a couple of points later.
Click here for ESPN2’s “Why are you so angry, Andy?” video, featuring a potty-mouthed koala. Roddick faces the always fiery Fernando Gonzalez in the Round of 16.
I’m posting this before the conclusion of Nadal vs. Kohlschreiber which is turning into a dog fight in the fourth set. Rafa provided me with the final bit of my headline – shanks. Rafa’s forehand went through some rough patches tonight. The winner of this match will play the winner of Ljubicic vs. Karlovic, which is grinding along. Sveta Kuznetsova goes on after Rafa.
Day 5 just doesn’t want to stop. . .