Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Australian Open so far: Sharapova almost exits, Hingis puts on a clinic

We're still in the first round, and there's already enough drama to fill a Brit newspaper. Number one seed Maria Sharapova, stuck by heat illness and an accompanying painful abdominal stitch, almost got taken out in her first round by French journeywoman Camille Pin, who rose to the occasion when she saw blood. After taking a heat break (longer than what is allowed, in fact) and getting treatment, Sharapova was the lucky recipient of a great big choke by Pin. But if Pin hadn't caved, Sharapova would be on a plane headed for Florida. And this after Sharapova led 5-0 in the third set.

Martina Hingis played perfect tennis against Natalie Dechy, a Frenchwoman who isn't Camille Pin, by a long shot. A former world number 11, Dechy's counter-punching, kill-the-giant style of tennis had no effect on a revved-up Hingis, who served better than she has served perhaps in her entire career, and did everything else in classic Hingis style. If Hingis can keep this service game up, she's a contender.

In other news, Serbian and Croatian Australians got into it with each other and 150 of them had to be ejected from the stadium. Several matches were postponed because the extreme heat rule, such as it is, went into effect, so only two courts (with retractable roofs) could be used. Some day, when someone dies, the heat rule will be made sensible.

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