We’re now into Day 4 at the U.S. Open and it’s hard to sum up the chain of events that has occurred. Half (or 16) of the seeded players are now gone. And except for Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, the rest of the seeds still in it don’t look like they may survive much longer.
Take for example Dinara Safina. She survived yet another error-filled match against Kristina Barrois to win it 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3. Barrois, who had flashes of serve and volley brilliance, couldn’t seize the moment. Safina deserves credit for just “winning ugly” but one wonders how long it can go on before someone catches her. The only good news for Safina is that no other seeds remain in her side of the draw until the semis, but again, that doesn’t mean she is a sure bet.
Someone whose game and mind held up very well was American Melanie Oudin who pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year by defeating favorite Elena Dementieva 5-7, 6-4, 6-3. Oudin matched Dementieva’s power game shot for shot but what impressed me the most was that she wasn’t afraid to go after the winner and her continued belief that she would win the match. Oudin did get tight serving for the second set at 5-3 where she lost her serve, but then was able to break back to win in. The third set was all Oudin despite suffering from a leg injury that almost seemed to derail her. Dementieva did not help her cause by failing to hold serve until her last service game at 2-5 when it was too late. Oudin, hitting a big serve at 40-30 match point, jumped for joy to the roar of the twenty plus thousand on hand.
The next match was just as dramatic but again more for the blown opportunities by both players rather than stellar play. Number five seed Jelena Jankovic lost to Yaroslava Shvedova 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-7 (6). Jankovic, though playing her trademark defense, never could gain momentum throughout the match while Shvedova would go from hitting amazing winners to committing silly errors. Jankovic had two match points but blew them and lost the match when Shvedova finally ended the misery by serving an ace.
Svetlana Kuznetsova and Caroline Wozniacki both won easily today setting up a potential fourth round encounter.
Maria Sharapova, if she wins tonight, would face Oudin in the next round. One would have to think the winner of that match would be the favorite to reach the semis.
Could the stars be aligning for another potential Serena/Maria final ala the 2007 Australian Open when Sharapova, then number one, was completely beaten down by the resurgent Serena? Is it time for some karmic/tennis payback?