At The Open With Marcia Frost...
Monday, August 30th
Court 11 was the place to be today as one match after another went into spectacular extra sets culminating with an unbelieveable match between seventeen year old American wildcard Jamea Jackson and Zimbabwe's Cara Black.
The "day" match between Jamea and Cara didn't start until seven pm thanks to a five-setter between Greg Rusedski and Cyril Saunier (Cyril won) and a three-setter with two tie-breakers between Daniela Hantuchova and Camille Pin (Daniella edged past Camille.) The last match of the day proved to be even more exciting than the previous. Even though she has been playing the US Open going back four years Jamea Jackson was rushing through the first five games, commiting constant errors. Cara was in control with a score of 4-1. As Jamea began to relax, though, the points got longer and before Cara knew it, the teen had her up to a lead of 6-5! From there the match continued at that pace with neither player giving an inch.
The first set went to a tie-breaker where Cara used her volleying (she's always been an incredible doubles player) for the lead and the set. The second set kept up on serve until 6-5 Jamea when she broke and took it. The third was a different story. The experience prevailed as Cara led it to a 6-4 win three hours after the start.
When you watch Amber Liu play, the word that comes to mind is steady. The two-time NCAA Women's Singles champion doesn't have a big serve or a spectacular forehand. She isn't a superb volleyer or an expert at the backhand. There is no one thing that you could say makes Amber's game. What makes Amber Liu is the fact that she does everything well and she is steady on her feet. She used that consistency to easily win the first set from Julia Vakulenko, 6-3. Unfortunately, the Ukraine native wasn't going down that easy. She perked up in the second, exposing a huge serve and series of winners that she kept up through the second 6-3 and third 6-1 set.
I spoke to Amber after her match about her plans. She was very relaxed about the loss and is looking forward to playing in the doubles with Sunitha Rao. As far as Stanford is concerned, she will play some USTA Pro Circuit events this fall with the intent of returning there in the spring. I asked Amber is she is thinking about winning that record-breaking third NCAA title and she replied, "Some people might be, but I'm not. My focus is to improve my game. It's easy to get caught up in the results. It catches up in the end if you play 100%." Amber also gave a lot of credit to her Stanford coach, Lele Forood, who she calls "very supportive."
After Amber's match I caught some of last year's men's NCAA winner Amer Delic's match. The former Illinois player (he turned pro last year) looked even better than he did last year when he lost a tough five-setter to Sargis Sargisian on a questionable call. Today Amer eliminated Janko Tipsarevic, 6-1,6-3,6-4. The next one won't be so easy, however, as he plays Carlos Moya.
Tomorrow the USTA National Hardcourt 18s winners will take the court. Jessica Kirkland faces Dally Randriantefy while Scoville Jenkins had the very unlucky fate of drawing defending champion Andy Roddick. I also hope to catch another former Illinois player who I have seen many times on these courts, Rajeev Ram battle Jan-Michael Gambill.
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