"Goodnight world" was the last thing U.S. Open 14th seed Maria Kirilenko tweeted yesterday before she went to sleep. She wasn't kidding. I thought her match today against Simona Halep was going to be a must-see affair, proving yet again: What do I know? Kirilenko was barely even there. Halep, fueled by all her recent success and further fueled by her opponent's lack of focus and abundance of unforced errors, ran over Kirilenko, 6-1, 6-0. I could hardly believe what I was seeing. In just 51 minutes, it was over.
The New Haven champion's next task, as she advances to her first-ever major round of 16, will be to play Flavia Pennetta, who has found her old U.S. Open groove. Pennetta defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova for the first time in her career today, and advanced to the round of 16.
(Mike Crispino and Mark Woodforde were the commentators for that match, and what a pair they made. Woodforde gave us shades of Dick Enberg with his insistence on giving us his opinion about Pennetta's appearance, and his comments on grunting were close to hostile. Note to Crispino: The last time I checked, Sara Errani was still a woman.)
Someone had to do it, I guess, and Alison Riske performed the deed. She beat 7th seed Petra Kvitova 6-3 6-0. Ouch. Kvitova, suffering with a viral fever, was seen by a trainer and a physician toward the very end of the match, and at this point, I'm declaring her frail. She has not been able, either physically or mentally (and really, those two cannot be separated) to stand up to the pressure of competition for a while now.
Riske will play Daniela Hantuchova in the next round. Hantuchova had to put up quite a fight to get rid of qualifier Julia Glushko, who gave the Slovakian veteran all kinds of problems, including the opportunity to save four match points in the second set. This mach was kind of fun to watch, and Glushko--though she got careless at the end--showed some real fighting spirit throughout. Hantuchova won, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6. The players were on the court for 2 hours and 46 minutes, and Hantuchova got away with making 58 unforced errors.
Christina McHale served for the match against Ana Ivanovic, but it wasn't to be. Ivanovic wound up defeating her 4-6, 7-5 6-4.
(At her press conference, in reply to a question, Ivanovic mentioned that it's important to have a protein shake after a tough match. The last research, however, indicates, that--for women--ingesting protein after vigorous exercise is contra-indicated and should be avoided.)
2nd seed Victoria Azarenka had a real fight on her hands, too. Alize Cornet, the player who brings what Mary Carillo calls "French flair" to her matches, is now looking like she did several years ago, which is good news for France. The commentators were shocked that Azarenka didn't win easily, when really, Cornet is exactly the kind of player who can give someone like Azarenka trouble. (Do the commentators even watch tennis?).
Quick of foot and armed with a considerable shot repertoire, the Frenchwoman got creative instead of just standing there and hoping to outlast the 2nd seed in long baseline rallies. However, her serve--which helped her take the first set off of Azarenka--then became inconsistent. Cornet hit nine aces and double-faulted ten times, which kind of tells the story.
In the night match, Camila Giorgi of Italy defeated Caroline Wozniacki 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Giorgi, whose aggressive game had Wozniacki on the wrong foot more than once, lived on the edge: She hit 46 winners and made 45 unforced errors. She wasn't afraid to go for the big points, she recovered quickly from disappointment, and her forehand crosscourt was repeatedly successful. Wozniacki, on the other hand, had trouble with her second serve, made errors that she wouldn't have made a couple of years ago, and just wasn't moving the way she used to.
There are three Italian women in the round of 16, and they're all in the bottom half of the draw. Top-ranked Italian player, Sara Errani, of course, is not one of them. Flavia Pennetta defeated Errani in the second round. 10th seed Roberta Vinci defeated countrywoman Karin Knapp today, and in the next round,Vinci plays Giorgi. Why are all the Italians playing each other?!
The Williams sisters advanced to the third round of doubles competition with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears. Next for Serena and Venus are 11th seeds Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Safarova.
Speaking of doubles, the Mladenovic watch is on: The Frenchwoman and partner Galina Voskoboeva have advanced to the third round, in which they will play 3rd seeds Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik. In mixed doubles, Mladenovic and Daniel Nestor, the Wimbledon champions, have advanced to the quarterfinals.