Monday, January 21, 2008

The magic 8


After Day 8, there's only 8 players left in the woman's draw.
It's a fantastic quarterfinal line-up for the first Grand Slam of the year.
Justine Henin will play Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams will take on Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic will face Venus Williams and Daniela Hantuchova will make an attempt to move past Agnieszka Radwanska.

It was a day of comebacks at the Australian Open.
The most stunning one came from the polish teenage superstar Agnieszka Radwanska as she came back from the brink against Nadia Petrova. The Russian looked to have the match under control as she raced out to a set and 3/0 lead. "I had a slow start but then I started to not play so aggressive - I'd just move the ball around and try not to make any mistakes. I think that was important. I also started serving much better than the first set." said Radwanska, who will be making her first Gramd Slam quarterfinal. It is a very important win for the ambitous Pole, whose aim is to become the No.1 player in the world. Petrova on the other hand must have had her memories revived, as this painful expirience marked the second consecutive loss at the Australian Open, where the Russian lost from a winning position (last year she lost to the eventual champion S.Williams after leading 6/1 5/3). Radwanska will now meet the No.9 seed Daniela Hantuchova for a spot in the semis. "She's a very tough player and very talented," the Slovak commented. "She is proving it here once again. I played her in Z├╝rich and lost, so obviously I'll have to change something and make sure I play my best tennis. I think we both have a good opportunity to get to the semifinals. It's going to be a very good match and I'm really looking forward to it."

The second incredible comeback came from Daniela Hantuchova. The Slovak used all her expirience to battle her way through the tentetive - Stella McCartney product - Maria Kirilenko 1/6 6/4 6/4. The Russian had the early initiative moving to a 6/1 3/1 seemingly safe lead. Both players showed signs of faultering under pressure with Daniela eventually showing a greater will to win and closing the match with her 4th match point (but letting a 5/2 lead slip away). The win will be Hantuchovas first Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance in five years!

Altough Venus Williams won her match against the polish qualifier Marta Domachowska in straight sets, she was made to work extremely hard. The Pole showed no signs of nerves playing on the big stage against the former world No.1 and six-time Grand Slam champion. Domachowska came out all guns blaising breaking Williams early in the first set and serving 3 aces in the first 5 serves. Williams often found herself on the defensive as Domachowska swung for winners at every opportunity. "The last couple of rounds I've definitely played some players who had some interesting strategies as far as going for broke and just (hitting) every ball as hard as they can a hundred percent, so I felt good about the match. She made a lot of good shots; I just tried to keep a steady level of play." Williams told reporters. The 22-year old from Warsaw time and again stunned Venus with magnificent forehands. The british former world no.5 Jo Durie went so far to say , that this might be the one of the shots in the womans game today. Williams will have to raise her level if she wants to make the next hurdle - Ana Ivanovic. The Serb beat Caroline Wozniacki from Denmark in straight sets 6/1 7/6.

From Domachowska's point of view the loss against Williams marks her first loss since November last year at the same time ending her 14 match winning streak. The Pole, who had to go to Australia without her couch, because she lacked money, will make an impressive jump in the rankings from 146 to 82.

~jachal

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