At The Open
With Marcia Frost...
Tuesday, August 30th
Main Draw, Day Two
My original plan was to write my story right after the Andy Roddick match. After Andy quickly dismissed Gilles Muller I would do a column on how a junior player could evolve into a champion given time. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out the way I expected. Andy did not win, and instead I'm here promoting the thought that any player can beat any other player on any given day.
There is so much expected of a tennis player. Starting with the seeding and ending with the "past results" and "head-to-head statistics," many of us have our minds made up as to who is going to win even before we see a match. Many times our expectations hold true.
I sat down yesterday at Court 8 to watch Vania King win another three-setter. She was going to lose the second set, take a break and come back to win the third I told myself and the person sitting next to me (top junior player Elizabeth Kobak.) I had seen it three times in a row last week. As I predicted it happened again yesterday. Sixteen year old Qualifier Vania King defeated Klara Koukalova, 6-3,3-6,6-1.
Now, of course, Vania's win is incredible and shouldn't be considered predictable. Klara is the No. 41 player in the world and Vania is a Southern California junior who received a wildcard into the qualifying. Still, I think she'll be very happy to be predictable if she can keep up this pace in her next match against fifteenth-seeded Natalie Dechy.
Alexa Glatch, Vania's doubles partner, may have stunned Uliana Fedak, but those of us who have seen her play were not surprised by the outcome. Alexa got a slow start, losing the first two games. She quickly came back to play her own beautiful game which includes a backhand with more grace and perfection than I have yet to see on anyone else. It was straight sets for Alexa against the Czech native (6-4,6-3). The fifteen year old will face seventeenth-seeded Jelena Jankovic next.
In between the California girls, I caught up with Rajeev Ram, who is playing his fifth U.S. Open even though he is just out of his teens. The tall serve and volleyer had done a stint at the University of Illinois before turning pro, winning the NCAA doubles crown and helping win the team event. Yesterday he needed all the support as he could get as he lost a heartbreaker, 2-6,6-4,7-6(6),6-7(2),7-5, to Stanislas Wawrinka. It was a match that had everyone on the edge of their seat and, no, I could not predict the outcome. Rajeev will have another chance for a win here when he teams with long time doubles partner Brian Baker.
The Wednesday schedule is very light in junior players so I'm going to check out some of the players who have come through the college and junior ranks in the last few years. Maybe I'll get to see some exciting matches. Most of all, I'll try to expect the unexpected.
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