Thursday, June 5, 2008

Day 12 : two girls left and a new #1!

I just witnessed some incredible tennis. I was crying at times. There is something about the amount of mental anguish a tennis player must endure in order to prevail on this grand stage. Trying to impose your will upon a tennis ball for over two hours on hard red clay is no small task. There were 15 k at Chatrier today, and I doubt any of them want their money back.

Oh, and by the way, we have a new #1 in the world! Sassy Ana aka squeaky shoes Ivanovic has walked through the valley of the shadow of death. She needed every ounce of petrol in her tank against Jelena aka houdini Jankovic, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. But those are just numbers. They can't tell you the story of how both these girls fought. Of how they were able to recover from blows that would have left most players stunned.

The worlds new #1 (at least for the time being) is a Serb. Congragulations to the Serbs! I'd like to take time out right now to give thanks to all the members of the tennis programs in Serbia - the coaches, the management, the little people - for making the sport that much more interesting.

Sadly, I must admit I was pulling for Jelena. She is such a fighter - the kid is all heart - She was two games away from taking this match. And she played some truly gutsy tennis to find herself up a break, leading in the third and final set at 4-3. But you know what? Watching the way Ivanovic stormed back to completely control the final 3 games has given me a new respect for her. This girl can crush the ball. And crush the ball she did. And valiant she was. She had the courage and the wisdom to know that it was all or nothing and she somehow became free and effortless out there, in front of 15 k at Chatrier, with everything to gain and nothing to lose.

On the other side of the draw, Svetlana aka pitbull Kuznetsova (another favorite of mine) was easily cast aside by the wrecking ball known as Dinara Safina. As I watched Safina put Sharapova to bed earlier in the tourney, I couldn't help but think that Dinara might have a face that only a mother could love. But there is something so lovable and real about the way that she conducts herself, and about the way that she has accepted her recent ascent. She is full of charm and courage and passion. She isn't all perfect like Ivanovic, and that's what ingratiates her to me.