Everyone knows Wednesday's are the worst. They're right in the middle of the week and the one day that's furthest from the weekend. Today was no different at Stanford. It was a fairly straightforward day, with a little added drama thanks to Lena and Kimiko. But really, it was a quiet one. All the seeds came through without too much trouble and as the field gets smaller, the practice courts aren't the buzzing hotbed of activity they were over the weekend.
- Despite all my seemingly extroverted rambling on the interwebz, I'm a pretty solitary person. I prefer to watch my sports, particularly when it's a game or match that really matters to me, alone. But there are moments that remind me that watching tennis with a group of like-minded, knowledgeable, funny people, can make the experience exponentially better. Yesterday was one of those times. Nick from Tennis Served Fresh and Chris (The Fan Child), who is here for On The Baseline were fantastic viewing companions. I watched both Sam's and Lena's matches with them and you know you're in good company when you're gasping, laughing, and ruefully shaking your head to the same shots.
- Kimiko looked gutted in her presser. It made me sad.
- An odd tidbit from the Lena match. Kimiko was serving in the second set when she hit a first serve that was clearly out, but there was no call. Elena hit it for a winner. Everyone was left staring at each other. Umpire Romero had no clue, either, which must have caused Lynn Welch, who was surely watching from the sidelines, to throw a Gatorade cooler and punch the wall. Romero then called for an "umpire's challenge", requesting Hawk-Eye to review the call. I've only seen that done one other time (rather recently, in fact. Someone help me out here). The ball was CLEARLY out by more than a few inches. It was a call that no chair umpire should miss. But Romero seemed to compound her mistake by then calling for a second serve. Am I wrong here? Shouldn't that be a let and the point replayed? I suppose if Kimiko called for the challenge, which she could have done, and the ball was called long, she would be granted a second serve. But maybe my understanding of the rules is off here. It still doesn't excuse the horrible non-call from the chair. A good minute had passed before Kimiko was able to serve again.
- Interestingly, Elena came in to the press area immediately after her match, sweaty and everything. She was still luminous and spoke highly of Kimiko. She also recounted her first tour win, which here at Stanford against Venus. I've said it before and I'll say it again, she's all class.
- I watched some Bethanie/Shaughnessy/Kleybs/Peer dubs. Really fun match to watch and I'm always surprised as to how much I enjoy watching doubles live. Bethanie was rocking some black knee highs this time, black shorts, and a black and white striped tank with hot pink trim. And of course, she rocked it. I love Bethanie. She owns everything about her and she's a fiery competitor. She's here with her hubby, Justin.
- Saw Shazza practice in the morning. She's all business now that the tournament's begun.
- Debated point during her match: Who's got a stronger base: Elena, Sveta, or Sam?
- Forgot to relay this Sam anecdote from Tuesday: Sam was shagging balls during her practice and someone from the stands yelled "Go Sam!" REALLY loudly. You would have thought someone fired a shotgun next to her ear based on her reaction. She searched the crowd and finally yelled "Thanks!" I laughed. DON'T SCARE HER!
- I caught a bit of Ana's practice before I had to run back to the media center to do the podcast for TSF. Marissa (@sblily) and I joked that her bandaid was a sign of solidarity for Serena. "It's like an AIDS ribbon!"
- A few of you asked how crowded Sam's autograph session was. From what I can see it was well-attended, and the 6:30 signing time (right when the day session lets out and the night session starts in) probably helped. But Sam's been quite popular among the folks on the grounds, particularly the kids. She didn't get the vocal crowd support during her match with Snooki, but I suspect that's more because of the partisan American/Underdog support. But she's been getting a lot of oohs and ahhs during her practice sessions. That power will do that. Oh, and she's been fantastic off-court also. She's really wearing the top seed/top five tag well.
- I was circling the grounds when I saw a tall woman walking away from the grounds, exiting the player lounge. I couldn't see her face but I recognize that white headband anywhere. Yup, Dinara's still here and she was heading to the gym across the street.
- During Sam's presser an email popped up from someone in the media center. "Dare you to ask 'Are those guns legal in California?" Don't fucking tempt me...
- One additional thought on Ana: In addition to her side to side agility she has been much improved on her ability to get low on her two handed backhand. If you remember her form from AO08 and RG08, she had no problem almost getting her knee to the ground when hitting her backhand and still leaning into the ball. Over the past year and half, she hasn't been doing that, instead reaching for the ball instead of getting parallel and driving off her back foot. So props on the increased strength, Team AI.
- The new Nike kit that Vika and Snooki are wearing is haaaaaaaahrible. I can never tell if Vika just isn't as fit as I think she is or if Nike is hosing her with their crap. I mean, ruffles? Pink? We get it, they're women.
That's the report from Wednesday. Excited Ana tonight. Ana's got a 3-0 H2H against Marion but they haven't played since her title run in Linz in 2008. It'll be another tough flat hitter. Her newfound agility is going to get tested. No result out of this match would surprise me.
But the match that everyone in the media center is buzzing about is Vika vs. Believe. Vika's got a .702 winning percentage on hard courts, which is 6th best among active players. I think that's stat is a little misleading. It has to have been accumulated during the first half of the season, from Australia through Miami. Vika's shown a clear tendency to peter off towards the end of the season. And Believe? Well...she believes. So look out for that one.
Ok, MaKiri's just taken the first set over Shahar 6-4. Going to go roam the grounds.