July 26, 2013

Even More Upsetting

There seems to be a strange new trend in tennis these days, where players, even the most favored ones, prove they're fallible time and again. We saw it happen throughout the fortnight at Wimbledon, and the phenomenon resumed posthaste once the trophies were presented.

Here's the thing, though: it's not enough to simply poke a hole or two in the draw -- you've got to follow through after that. That was less the case at the All England Club, with the vanquishers of both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both losing one round later. Things weren't much better on the ladies' side -- while Sabine Lisicki rode her upset of Serena Williams all the way to the final, Michelle Larcher de Brito couldn't do much more after defeating Maria Sharapova in the second round.

That same trend has also manifested itself in the current tournaments. Daniel Brands, having scored a huge upset over Federer in his Gstaad opener, subsequently lost to Victor Hanescu a day later, while Albert Montanes ousted top Umag seed Richard Gasquet and then lost a long battle Friday to Gael Monfils. And Ons Jabeur, who ousted defending Baku champion Bojana Jovanovski on Wednesday, suffered an ankle injury during her match today, allowing qualifier Magda Linette -- ranked #226 in the world -- into her first ever Tour semi. But hope is not lost for everyone, and a couple players still have a shot at proving their early successes this week were no fluke.

Nineteen year old Elina Svitolina won her first Tour title last year in Pune, beating Andrea Petkovic in the process, and in 2013 she's made the semis in both Cali and Bad Gastein. This week she took to the hard courts of Baku as the seventh seed and earlier today took out Birmingham finalist Donna Vekic in a quick two sets. In the semis she'll face Alexandra Cadantu, the only other seed left in the draw -- the Ukraine native lost the pair's only previous meeting, but that was some two years ago when she was ranked outside the top four hundred. A win on Saturday -- and, dare we speculate, maybe on Sunday too -- would not only underscore her performance so far, but might just push her into the higher tiers of the sport.

Meanwhile in Gstaad, Robin Haase is trying to make a similar move up the rankings. The Dutchman, who returns to Kitzbuhel next week to defend the title he's won the past two years, has yet to manage a sustained stay in the top forty. But after dominating third-seeded Janko Tipsarevic in Switzerland, the twenty-six year old survived a two-and-a-half hour battle against Marcel Granollers to make the semis. With world #29 Feliciano Lopez the highest seed remaining, the field is wide open for Haase to add a new trophy to his case and maybe give him the oomph he needs to really establish himself in the sport.

Of course upsets have been known to bring tears to the eye, but while both these players have caused their opponents woe this week, they'll want to make sure their own cheeks stay dry throughout the summer. It'll be a hard task, to be sure, but after the performances they've already put up there's no reason think it's impossible.

And with the way things are going this summer, there may be no better time to get stuff done.

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