First, a gigantic shoutout to the diminutive American Melanie Oudin. The 17-year-old ball of fire dismissed the Drama Queen of all tennis drama queens in three sets. I had hoped she had the belief to put that poor excuse for a tennis player out of her misery and my wish came true.
Some posted the Drama Queen's ungracious post-match interview in the Day 6 Open Thread. I won't repeat any of it here except to say she's the pot calling the kettle black. I simply won't waste much ink on her.
Oudin becomes the first qualifier to make the second week of Wimledon in a decade. She's feisty, tenacious, and I'd say that her forehand is her insidious weapon. She doesn't hit it that hard, but the angles she creates out of nowhere remind me of the ones Anastasia Myskina used to create.
And she's so cute, isn't she?
Jesse Levine gets kudos as well. He was up a set and a break before he finally got tight and surrendered the match to Stanislas Wawrinka. But like Oudin, he was also a qualifier, and before this week, hadn't won a single main draw match on the ATP tour this year.
Some of you may remember that Roger Federer flew Levine to Dubai a few years back to practice with the up-and-coming lefty.
Former champion Amélie Mauresmo has returned to the second week of Wimbledon. How cool is that? I know I've called for her retirement. But so has she. It's wonderful to see a veteran player at the twilight of her career dig deep and remind the world who she is. Perhaps she's this Wimbledon's Marat Safin and will make it all the way to the semifinals. Or even go one better. I'd love to see it.
Tommy Haas made a fool out of me, and I couldn't be more pleased. I thought for sure he would find a way to lose to Marin Cilic, but he persevered and took the epic match 10-8 in the fifth.
Along with Radek Stepanek over David Ferrer, Sabine Lisicki over Svetlana Kutznetsova, Tomas Berdych of Nikolay Davydenko, Haas provided one of the "at least" four upsets I foresaw in yesterday's order of play. Juan Carlos Ferrero over Fernando Gonzalez was on my radar, but I thought the Chilean would still pull it out. Ferrero's resurgence continues. I also thought Samantha Stosur would topple Ana Ivanovic and Li Na would take down Agnieszka Radwanska, but it wasn't to be. Oudin and Mauresmo's victories more than made up for them.
All in all, the first week of this Wimbledon was a bore. Most of it had to do with Rafael Nadal's absence. Like him or not, when the world No. 1 and defending champion can't even attempt to defend his title, it's a big cloud hanging over the event, unless, of course, you're the kind of Raja fanatic who couldn't be more pleased. The year Justine Henin couldn't contend to defend her Melbourne title because of her impending divorce, I missed her presence, despite my dislike of her. Slams need their defending champions. Period.
ESPN should return all of its rights to air Slams in perpetuity. Too much in-studio bliovating, too little live tennis. Could you imagine NFL or NBA coverage where the talking heads are hosting "The View" of the sport instead of showing live action on the field or the court? If you must bore us with narcissistic commentators musing about nothing, then at least use the split screen to show on-court action. And save the player interviews, in-studio or otherwise, for after live tennis ends.
Brad Gilbert must be fired. He flatout refuses to pronounce players' names correctly simply because he's American (his excuse); refuses to call Dinara Safina the No. 1 seed even though she is; and doesn't know enough about players results to proclaim shock that someone like Ferrero is into yet another second week at SW19.
And if Gilbert doesn't crawl out from deep up in Murray's ass, I'm fully expecting to see Murray's stomach tissue all over Gilbert's entire body in the coming days. Can't he find somebody, anybody, to coach?
And why does it always seem that Patrick McEnroe actually wants the American players to lose their matches? I don't need patriotic cheer leading from the commentary booth. But one would think on a network full of American commentators who make no attempt whatsoever to hide their fandoms for so many of the non-American players that McEnroe could at least talk a bit more about how good it would be for American tennis, both for the players and the casual fans, to have players other than Andy Roddick and Venus and Serena Williams advance to the second week of a major. McEnroe would rather talk about the lack in the games of the American players and seems to take delicious joy in watching them flame out to their "superior" non-American competitors.
Speaking of Roddick and ESPN. I've become increasingly perturbed by the lack of coverage of his Slam matches in the past few years on the American network. It's as though the more he has tried to improve his game and the better his resurgence has advanced, the less ESPN shows his tennis. For the record, all of his matches have been aired in their entirety on ESPN Deportes and I was able to catch them on free live stream. Go figure. It's almost as if the the "Worldwide Leader in Sports" doesn't want US television viewers to know that its top American male player is more than a big serve and loopy forehand, more than Federer's whipping boy, more than the failure he became when he didn't become Pete Sampras. Since 2002, Roddick's been ranked outside of the Top 10 for an entire 4 weeks. I'm going to say it again: Since 2002, Roddick's been ranked outside of the Top 10 for an entire 4 weeks. One would think ESPN would show a little more respect for his longevity in the top rung of the sport, his commitment to Davis Cup, his commitment to his improvement in the changing landscape of men's tennis. But no. He didn't become Sampras after they said he would. Build them up. Tear them down. The American way.
I'll preview tomorrow's matches in the forthcoming Day 7 Open Thread.