Although I missed the morning and afternoon session of Day Three, Brian Taylor snagged a few key photo opportunities. From Center Court, there are shots of the match between Svetlana Kuznetsova versus American qualifier Jill Craybas. The results, with Kuznetsova cruising 6-3, 6-4 into the second round, speak to the stout power of the talented Russian, who happens to be one of the more formidable hitters on the women’s side. Off court, Taylor captured Rafael Nadal during his press conference, where he likely faced questions about the ongoing meteoric rise of Novak Djokovic who is in the midst of a phenomenal run, the likes of which the game hasn’t seen, possibly ever. Will it continue here, or will Rafa or reigning champion Roger Federer (the only player to have beaten Djokovic so far this year) or someone else slow him down before the U.S. Open?
(View Brian Taylor's photos here.)
The night-time session was the right time for Ana Ivanovic on Center Court. Her tournament opener against American Alexa Glatch provided a fitting showcase of the work captured during her weekend practice. Ivanovic broke Glatch immediately with good all-around shot placement and simple patience because Glatch proved quite error-prone, and once frustration set in, her will, what little was in evidence, evaporated. After losing the first set without taking a game, Glatch looked broken during the early games of the second set, even though she found ways to hold serve twice. She was so obviously demoralized that she failed to respond to a crowd eager to back an underdog. In the end, it was Ivanovic, smiling and swinging away en route to a 6-0, 6-2 victory.
The follow-up match on the main court featured fan favorite Andy Roddick, another player we were able to catch during one of his weekend practice sessions. Roddick, for all his explosive talent, has a temperamental streak, overrunning passion that can sabotage his best efforts, which means that staying with his matches throughout is a must.
He opened up last night dropping service bombs all over, losing only a handful of points in the first set, while challenging the radar gun. His high-end service range was in the 130 mile per hour zone. His off-speed — if you can call it that — was between 108-117. His opponent, Phillip Kohlschreiber, a feisty and crafty player with deceptive power from both wings and his serve, found the sweet spot in the 120s when he needed to win a big point, but he certainly mixed things up more, confusing Roddick with serves as low as the mid-80s and shifting placement. Kohlschreiberm though, in the opening set, appeared to be working harder to hold serve and in the first set tiebreak, succumbed to the blitzing Roddick.
Game over, right?
Guess again. The testiness sets in and Roddick falls 7-5 in the second, mainly for a flameout that included throwing his racket to the court and launching a ball into the stands, which resulted in a game-ending point penalty. From there, the 6-1 third set by Kohlschreiber sealed the deal and raises the alarm once again for the supremely skilled Roddick as he slinks his way towards the U.S. Open. Can he focus enough to catch fire one more time and claim a second major?