Tenaciously Tennis

Federer Escapes First Round Upset

Roger Federer beat Alejandro Falla, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1), 6-0, in a surprising uphill battle from the start. The six-time Wimbledon champion looked set for defeat after losing the first two sets. However, he started playing at a new level in the last three sets, deflecting Falla’s impressive shot-making. In the final set, Federer reigned supreme and didn’t lose a game.

The question is: Can Federer overcome this scare and make it to his eighth Wimbledon final in a row? It won’t be an easy route. I see him dropping more sets over the course of the tournament, especially in the projected match against Berdych in the quarterfinals. Being Federer, however, his game will continue to improve as the tournament progresses. Hopefully, there aren’t any more scares of the sort.

By the way, congrats to Federer for earning his 200th win. It was well deserved.

Other notable five set escape artists: Novak Dkokovic (over Olivier Rochus) anad Nikolai Davydenko (against Kevin Anderson).

Noteworthy Winners: Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, Taylor Dent, Florian Mayer (over Marin Cilic), Lleyton Hewitt, and Tomas Berdych.

In other news, the French Open champion Francesca Schiavone lost in the first round to Vera Douchevine, while Melanie Oudin reclaimed some Grand Slam success by breaking her first round curse at the majors. She beat Anna-Lena Groenefeld, 6-3, 6-0.

Speaking of young Americans, Alison Riske, who made it to the semifinals at her Wimbledon warm-up event lost to Yanina Wickmayer in three sets. I see a big future for her in the coming majors. The US Open perhaps?

Sadly, a personal favorite, Patty Schnyder, faltered against Yung-jan Chan of China in two sets.

Other noteworthy wins: Venus Williams, Marion Bartoli, Shahar Peer (over Ana Ivanovic), Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, and Ekaterina Makarova.


Djokovic Dismissed; Henin Heats Things Up in Miami

In not-so-surprising fashion, Novak Djokovic was defeated by Olivier Rochus, 6-2, 6-7(7), 6-4. This second round upset, Djokovic’s opening match of the tournament, will surely hurt his recent ascent in the rankings to number two, putting further pressure on the rest of the top ten to step of their games. Djokovic’s play these past few weeks has been nothing fitting of the second best player in the world, especially one trailing Roger Federer. Yes, he came out victorious at Doha, but he was taken to three sets in many of his matches.

At Indian Wells, the same shoddy play sent him out in the fourth round against the eventual winner of the event, Ivan Ljubicic. Despite a 15-3 record going into Miami, the three, now four losses, signify more in my mind than his wins, which have been lately three set spectacles. I predict Djokovic’s play to continue on a down slide, before this Aussie Open champion re-emerges as a real threat for a major title.

On the flip side, Justine Henin, who played a disappointing Indian Wells, reclaimed the top form that took her to the finals at this year’s Australian Open with some superb play against Russia’s Elena Dementieva, winning 6-3, 6-2. Henin needs a strong showing here, and I think she can take the whole tournament, to get herself back into the top ten in the world. Currently at number 33, Henin’s result thus far, which include a couple wins over Dementieva already, show she’s set for center stage. Maybe she’ll even take a shot at the Wimbledon crown, the one major that has alluded her so far.

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