Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Opportunities Seized, Opportunities Awaiting

Bravos, big standing bravos to those who've seized a semifinal berth! First the ladies: Though seeded fifth, no one (except the Tipsy Historian) had Maria Sharapova besting #1 Justine Henin. But best her she did, and in fine style! Hard to remember the top seed in a Grand Slam getting bageled, but Henin got dealt just such an ignominous blow by Sharapova. An unreal performance by the Russian.
Her opponent in the semis, Jelena Jankovic, recovered from being 3 match points down in her first round match to make it to a quarterfinal match with defending champ Serena Williams. In their clash, Jankovic did something that is exceedingly rare: she broke Serena down from the baseline. Serena was dealing with pace and vigor that she just didn't seem ready for, and Jankovic just ground her down. The semifinal between these two looks like an epic
Bravo as well to Ana Ivanovic, who topped Venus Williams, and Daniela Hantuchova, who is 5 years out from her last Grand Slam semi. They will face off in the other semi for the privilege to lose to Sharapova in the final. (I'm sticking by my initial prediction)
From the men, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has had the breakthrough tournament we've been talking about since my preview post. He's into the semis against #2 seed Rafael Nadal. #3 seed Novac Djokovic looks ready to close out his match against David Ferrer, up 2 sets to love. Should he hold on, he'll face the winner of the marquee quarterfinal in the men's draw; James Blake vs Roger Federer.
Though he's the prohibitive underdog, Blake has the chance of a lifetime sitting right in front of him tonight (the match starts just after midnight tonight on ESPN2) He's going to need another level to beat Federer, who has had his number for years, but what a time to seize the initiative and create a career-defining moment! Stay tuned!

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