Simona Halep served for the match today at 5-4 in the third set. She and her opponent, 4th seed Jelena Jankovic, played an error-filled mess of a match that Halep might have won had she been at a higher level of fitness and prepared to face the intense heat. But credit to JJ: When it came down to the end, something snapped into place, and she forced consecutive errors from her exhausted opponent to (finally) win 6-4, 4-6, 7-5. Halep was up 5-1 in the second set, and almost ran away with it, as Jankovic made a string of unforced errors. (During the third set, my mind wandered to that Australian Open first round in which Jankovic saved herself at the last minute from an upset by Tamira Paszek.)
8th seed Li Na, a semifinalist at the Australian Open, did not fare as well. She was defeated 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 by 2009 quarterfinalist Kateryna Bondarenko, who took advantage of Li's run of unforced errors. Also going out were 26th seed Lucie Safarova (def. by Tamira Paszek), 30th seed Yaroslava Shvedova (def. by Lourdes Dominguez Lino), and Bronx challenger winner Anna Chakvetadze (def. by Urszula Radwanska).
Jarmila Groth took a set off of Maria Sharapova, but then went to pieces mentally. She double-faulted 14 times--an unfortunate trend among big servers on the tour. Sharapova defeated her 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.
The Coco Vandeweghe Watch is over. Vandewegh won one game against
Sabine Lisicki, who is trying to put her game back together after
experiencing a series of injuries and illnesses and a consequent loss of
form and confidence.
The player who probably feels the worst today, though, is Magdalena Rybarikova. She believed that Aravane Rezai's last shot in a first set tiebreak was out, but it called good, and Rezai won the tiebreak 7-5. Rybarikova had the second set on her racquet at 6-5, but blew it with a forehand error. She then went down 0-5 in the tiebreak, and fought her way to 5-all. Rezai, the 18th seed, won that tiebreak 9-7.
As close as that contest was, however, I have to acknowledge the competition between John McEnroe and Chris Fowler over who can blather on the most while possessing the least amount of knowledge--not just about the women's tour, but even about U.S. Open procedures. ESPN, I have a deal for you: I'll do the job, and display a quarter of the ignorance for half the money. And I won't insult half of the players.