Friday, September 26, 2008

All the time in the world

You know what's kind of cool about the action over in Asia?

It's before noon Eastern time and all your semifinal matchups are already set! You can plan for a nice lunch, go get your dry-cleaning, actually do some work at the office—all of those options are available. You don't have to stay glued to your desk following the live scoring on the ATP and WTA Web sites! (My whole day isn't devoted to following the scores, but definitely some of it is.)

Anyway, both the men and women are back in Beijing (that is, if they were Olympians) for the China Open. The men's draw got pretty rocked by upsets with the only seed among the top four getting to the semis is Andy Roddick. The women's side has kind-of held form with the biggest upset happening today being Ana Ivanovic getting knocked off again. (Can someone PLEASE tell her to take two weeks off, practice hard, and get her mind and body right?) Some of the guys are also competing in the Thailand Open, where the top four seeds have gotten through, led by Novak Djokovic. And more women are playing at the Hansol Korea Open. The number-two seed there, Shahar Peer, lost in the quarters to Jill Craybas, making for the biggest upset.

Since I have so much of my day left, I figured I'd give a semifinal breakdown for each tournament. Amazing what you can do with a little extra time!

• In Beijing (women, then the men):
Jelena Jankovic (1) vs. Vera Zvonareva (5): These two have both been playing well of late, with Zvonareva just picking up a title last week. I'm going with Jankovic in this one, mainly because there's something I don't get: Why does Zvonareva play so many small tournaments like she did last week? She should've been in Japan with all the big guns. I don't think she's going to be prepared for a player of Jankovic's caliber.

Svetlana Kuznetsova (4) vs. Jie Zheng: All right, Kuz, like I said last week: Get it done! Zheng's a tough one, though, (as Ivanovic can attest to) but I'm still going with the top-tenner on this one. And maybe, just maybe, she can pick up a title!

Dudi Sela vs. Rainer Schuettler (7): Sela's had a great run this tournament, particularly knocking off David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo back-to-back. But the veteran Schuettler has also had a pretty good win, beating Richard Gasquet in the quarters. I'm going with Schuettler in this one.

Andy Roddick (2) vs. Bjorn Phau: A-Rod really showed me something today (well, virtually: I was following the score online!) with his win over Juan Carlos Ferrero. He was down a set, but rallied, when he could've bailed and not many would have blamed him after his long Davis Cup weekend. He should be able to blow past Phau, who should be a little tired by now from running down the big shots of Sam Querrey and Fernando Gonzalez, two players he upset to get this far.

• In Thailand:

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Tomas Berdych (3): If you were to make a list of the top 10 underachievers in the game today, I think you'd have to have Berdych on it. For some reason, it just hasn't come together for him. He should be right up there with Djoko, but isn't by any stretch of the imagination. Djoko in straights.

Jo-Wilifried Tsonga (2) vs. Gael Monfils (4): This is one I'd definitely like to see! There's going to be some serious shotmaking going on here, crazy gets being made … you name it, this one will have it. I like Tsonga in this one, based on his ability to generate more firepower.

• In Korea:

Maria Kirilenko (1) vs. Kaia Kanepi (3): Now, as I mentioned above about Zvonareva, I have the same issue with Kirilenko: Why doesn't she play in bigger events where better players are? You know if it's an event where she's the top seed, she's going to win. That's why you don't see her in later stages of Slams: She's not used to going up against the best. Anyway, I think she'll take out the big-hitting Estonian Kanepi.

Jill Craybas vs. Samantha Stosur: You know, I actually like both of these players: Craybas because she keeps grinding, and Stosur because she hasn't fallen under the lure of just becoming a doubles specialist: She's just a player. This one's a toss-up, but I'm going to pick Stosur.

That wraps up my semifinal previews: I'm going to grab that lunch I was talking about!

You gotta love the Asian swing!

(Photos: Getty Images)


Vava said...

Just discovered your blog. Very nice! I am a casual tennis fan, and enjoy reading through your posts. I'll be back to see if your crysatl ball gazing proves correct on R-Fed winning the Aussie Open and then breaking Pete's mark at Wimbledon. Cheers!

TopSpin said...

Im only getting isolated coverage of the womens event in Beijing here in the UK but I wish the A-Rod well - it would do him the world of good to pick up a title here and will set him on his way to hopefully securing a spot in the year end Championships.

As far as the women go, you've probably guessed I'm rooting for Kuznetsova. I'm also backing Jankovic though, as I think she's one of the few players that doesn't simply bash her way out of a problem and can also defend well - I think we're kind of missing that currently.

Tsonga and Monfils - now that's some matchup provided both players play to their potential. I sometimes feel Monfils has become a tad too defensive since the FO, but hey, I'm all for it if it means more thoughtful play and less unforced errors that were such a feature of his game. Its just he may need more of his old aggression if the
'real' Tsonga (the one from the AO) decides to turn up,

I believe Nole's brother Marko is also playing in Thailand - Djokovic has said on many an occasion that he believes his kid brother has more talent than him. They are due to play doubles together - interested to see how that pans out.

Shelia said...

I was really surprised at the end result of the Tsonga vs. Monfils showdown. I know that they are good friends, but I thought that this would be a knock-down-drag-out. If I recall correctly it was 0 and 3 Tsonga. What in the world happend to Monfils?

hcfoo said...

Hi there Van!

Now that the players are playing in Asia, I still don't get to watch them live on TV. Just live score in between work.

So I prefer to see them play in the Europe.

I get to watch the Thailand Open match live yesterday though. Great match and a great win for Tsonga. And I'm so glad that the friendly and cheeky Nole is back!

freakyfrites said...

Hey Van!

Nice break down. Did you think Tsonga would take the whole thing? I for one was pleasantly surprised, thinking that Nole was the big time favorite, given the Aussie Open victory and Tsonga's surgery. I'm oh so happy to have Jo-Dub back in the mix! I'm hoping he and del Potro get into the Masters Cup (it's weird to me that Blake and Davydenko are still in contention.)

Looking forward to Stuttgart this week - the Williams sisters will be in action, along with most of the other top gals. Should be interesting.

van said...

• Hey Vava, thanks for stopping by and for the comment. Check back before then; I think I'm gonna pick R-Fed for the Masters Cup!

• Hey Topspin and Sheila: I thought the Tsonga-Monfils match was going to be a little tougher, too. I think Monfils has the potential to be one of the biggest hitters out there, but he still falls into that defensive style. I knew Tsonga could bring more heat, but I didn't expect that much!

• Hi HCFoo, how are you? I thought for sure the matches would be broadcast live somewhere near you. That was a great win for Tsonga, and you're right: It was good to see the good-spirited Nole!

• What's up, Freakyfrites? I didn't think Tsonga was going to win the whole thing. I really hope he stays healthy because he's really enjoyable to watch. I wouldn't mind seeing him and JDP in the Masters Cup, either. It's funny you mention that about Blake and Davydenko; I was just thinking about Nik's chances this morning. He hasn't done anything Slam-wise this year, but he did win Miami, so I guess that helps. It would be nice if JB could win one title before he got the opportunity to go.

Stuttgart should definitely be a good one.