as you know, I attended the USO Q today ... Unfortunately I was not able to get out of work early so could only attend the evening
I was rushing to the grounds after they moved Yan v Laine to follow Marta v Pironkova but when I got there, Marta & Tsetvi were still in 3rd set so I wandered around the courts
On Armstrong Stadium, Nadal was playing a practice set w/ Lopez ... the stadium was about a quarter full
of fans just watching them practice and oohing and ahhing over their shots but it was kind of boring because Lopez was aceing Rafa right and left. Uncle Tony was watching. Then someone walking from the Grandstand court said to someone else, "Jelena Jankovic is playing on the Grandstand" ...
Being a fan of Jelena
, I went over to the Grandstand to see her practice but it was actually Ana Ivanovic
practicing with Sven Groenefeld and a hitting partner ... there was probably around 100 people watching ... Sven was at the net, feeding Ana a forehand, a backhand, then a short forehand, then short backhand for her to put away. I got great pics of her swinging away, follow thru above her head, with her hair flying
Then I went over to the Zi Yan v Emma Laine match. I sat with coaches from the CTA and Shuai Zhang
They told me Na is out for the rest of the year (but you already know from my other thread) and that the rest of the 1st ladder will play Beijing, Guangzhou, Tokyo, Bangkok, Zurich and Linz to finish 2007
Zi and Emma were wearing identical Nike outfits but Emma's was about 4 sizes bigger
sorry but Emma seems like she gained some weight since I saw her defeat Peng Shuai and that may have cost her the match today. Zi dictated many points and ran Emma all over the court with her drives that barely grazed the net. Emma has solid groundstrokes too but with much more topspin that cleared the net by a bigger margin. It was a match of great contrast, with Emma's lefty topspin game against Zi's righty double handed game
In the first set, Emma saved 2 SP with her lefty forehands on the line but on the third SP, Emma dictated the point by running Zi all over the court ... she came in on a short ball but got lobbed by Zi to lose the set
In Zi's first service game of the 2nd set, she was down 0-30 but came up with big serve / forehand putaway combos to get to 30-30 ... the combo reminded me of Mary Pierce
, although obviously Zi's puttaway was double handed ...
Zi was up 5-3 in the 2nd set and wasted 5 MP ... to Laine's credit, she played with nerves of stell on those MP ... she just would not miss from the baseline
and game up with some unbelievable gets ... There was a packed mostly Asian crowd on hand by this point ... Emma had almost no supporters
Anyway, Emma was up 6-5 and Zi had to save SP before forcing a tiebreak ... On the SP, Emma missed first serve and Zi absolutely clobbered the 2nd serve
After the match, Zi was surrounded by Asian kids for autograph and pic requests
Then I went to watch the end of Tian Tian Sun v Kops Jones ... TT was down 36 15 when I came ... I don't know what is wrong with TT but she just did not look that into this match ... Raquel's game is basically poor woman's Aga Radwanska but TT was making too many mistakes ... she was trying to play like Mary Pierce or Lindsay Davenport, trying to serve big and hit winner on next shot
and while she is the biggest of the Chinese girls, she can't play like that ...
Raquel sort of choked a little combined with TT painting the lines and TT came back to 4-5 but it was too late and Raquel served it out