We came back to Los Angeles yesterday, fresh off a great long weekend covering the men in Toronto. And we already feel completely behind! The Cincy/Canada double header is one of the most grueling two week stretches on either of the tours’ calendars, for bloggers and players alike. Wrap a tournament, catch a flight, clear the moldy salad out of the fridge and suddenly it’s the round of 16 all over again.
The first round byes help out the top players. All four of last week’s Rogers Cup semifinalists – who also happen to be the top 4 players in the world – won their second rounds in Cincy on Wednesday. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal managed straight set wins over Troicki and Dent, respectively, and Roger Federer, who complained of muscle soreness after the final in Toronto, benefited from the first-set retirement of his opponent, Denis Istomin. Andy Murray needed three sets over Jeremy Chardy.
Andy Roddick appears to be recovering okay from a case of mono, winning his second match of the week on Wednesday in straight sets over De Bakker. Robby Ginepri will be drowning his sorrows in Waffle House maple syrup after a three set loss to Nikolay Davydenko. American hopes – and hype – at the US Open took a dip when newly minted media darling, John Isner, was forced to retire with a sprained ankle during his match vs. David Nalbandian. Get well soon! Mardy Fish (def. Verdasco) and David Ferrer (def. Querrey) are also through to the Round of 16.
Here’s what we have to look forward to on Thursday in Cincy, besides a mild case of heatstroke and a chili dog:
ATP CINCINNATI ROUND OF 16
Andy Murray vs. Ernests Gulbis - this is Ernie’s big chance to score his first victory in five tries over the Scot
Mardy Fish vs. Richard Gasquet – this match up reminds me of when I was in Hungary and tried a red wine and Coke cocktail. Really, it does.
Rafael Nadal vs. Julien Benneteau - crazy, but the head-to-head is 1-1
David Nalbandian vs. Novak Djokovic - oppressive heat, allergies and David Nalbandian. My work day suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.
Roger Federer vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber – one-handed porn match
Marcos Baghdatis vs. Tomas Berdych – shotmaker vs. shotmaker
Robin Soderling vs. Andy Roddick – a great test for Andy
David Ferrer vs. Nikolay Davydenko – mmmm. . .I got nothing.
Dinara Safina’s won back-to-back matches in Montreal – a feat she hasn’t accomplished since way back in January. (Gosh, what a strange year this has been!) And these were quality wins for her, too – a first round vs. rising star Andrea Petkovic and a from-behind three-set victory on Wednesday vs. Nadia Petrova. She’ll face Francesca Schiavone next, who is enjoying her most successful run since winning the French Open.
Funny, this pairing just reminds me of how crazy, cruel and unpredictable tennis can be. Dinara’s had a couple really good chances at French Open glory – she was even the favorite in 2009 – but let her golden moment run through her fingers like sand in the proverbial hourglass. Old Francesca Schiavone shows up at Roland Garros on championship Saturday this year, pinches destiny by the cheeks and gives it a big, juicy kiss. Speaking of kisses, this Italian’s been enjoying one long love fest since winning her major. Via the WTA:
Schiavone was asked about visiting Little Italy in the city: “Today I met many Italian fans and they followed me saying, ‘We love you, we love you!’ There are so many Italian restaurants. They gave me a list of them to go to. I can’t go everywhere but I’m finding the good ones. We’ll see if I can go to the others!”
Click here for more smiley, happy Schiavone stories. (Really, someone should make a Schiavone-smile-of-the-day desk calendar.) Oh, and click here for a nice feature on Safina’s and Ivanovic’s budding friendship.
Dinara talked about her new buddy, Ana, to the press in Cincy last week:
DINARA SAFINA: Well, actually, the funny thing, we been so long on the tour and we never talked with each other, because I thought that she was more protected. But then we had a practice with her in San Diego — in Stanford first, then San Diego. I mean, I didn’t knew her, so this was the problem.
And then like, Okay, so let’s go like for a drink or dinner. So we went for dinner, and really she’s a very nice girl. I’m surprised, because really I felt she was much more protected or like closed. But not really. We had so much fun. We went for dinner together.
I just wish her like really good luck. I knew she been going through tough moments, so that she comes back because she’s really playing good. She also has a coach that I used to work a little bit, so that’s why we’re practicing many times together. I saw she’s playing much better, so just that she keeps on going and that she comes back.
Go Team DinAna!
Back to Stade Uniprix: top seed Jelena Jankovic was shocked out of the tournament by qualifier Iveta Benesova in the second round on Tuesday. Last weekend’s Cincy champ, Kim Clijsters, almost followed J.J. out of Montreal on Wednesday night, as Bethanie Mattek-Sands stretched her to three sets.
Time to gawk at Bethanie’s latest look. Love the shameless attempt to curry Canadian (Canadiens) favor!
. . .and shameless grandpa-pandering with the black knee socks!
Photos via: FIJI Water, the official water of The Rogers Cup
Kim Clijsters overcame the distraction of the tattooed, Canadiens jersey wearing American, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 and lives to play the Round of 16 in Montreal. Here’s who else you’ll see on Thursday:
WTA MONTREAL ROUND OF 16
Victoria Azarenka vs. Li Na – grrrowl!
Iveta Benesova vs. Marion Bartoli
Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova
Agnes Szavay vs. Vera Zvonareva
Kim Clijsters vs. Kaia Kanepi - a great opportunity for the mildly resurgent Estonian
Zheng Jie vs. Elena Dementieva – can the defending champ stay the course?
Flavia Pennetta vs. Caroline Wozniacki - a replay of their fantastic round of 16 match at Roland Garros this year. Woz leads the head-to-head 3-0.
Francesca Schiavone vs. Dinara Safina – a fascinating and fun match-up between two crowd favorites (Safina leads 3-2, but they haven’t played since the 2007 French Open.)