Thursday, May 31, 2007

Day 5: When Sunny Gets Blue

by Craig Hickman

Another day in Paris, another spring shower.

The day started well. The sun hung high in the sky-blue sky, but by afternoon, the clouds blew in, broke water, and delayed play for the fifth straight day. Pushed three second-round matches into Friday.

Gaston Gaudio performed like the weather. He started brilliantly against Lleyton Hewitt, hitting his tour-best one-handed backhand into the corners and took a two set to love lead. Played like the man who snuck through the draw and snatched victory right up from under the pre-coronated king on this very court in 2004. But then the foot-faults betrayed this imposter on that throne. Backhand winners disappeared like sunlight. Double faults splattered like rain from his racquet. Dropping his opening service games in the final three sets and never recovering, El Gato was sent home to ponder whether or not he'll continue to prowl dusty baselines around the world.

Say hello to Guillermo Coria when you get there. Let him touch that trophy one more time. Dance, together, round your illusory thrones.

No upsets today. Though Meghann Shaughnessy seemed poised to inspire new songs by ousting No. 3 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova when the American raced to a 5-0 lead. But when sunny gets blue, her eyes get gray and cloudy.... Meghann lost 5 straight games and the match in straight sets. Simply amazing how she refused to hold serve again till the pressure of actually winning a damn set disappeared from her right arm. And did I mention she had two set points on the Russian's serve at 5-0? Well, she did.

Could you imagine if more players, American and otherwise, on both tours had even just a touch of Serena's Will? Downright indignant in her victory over Venezuela's Milagros Sequera today.

Serena Williams, of the United States, reacts after winning a point to Milagros Sequera, of Venezuela, during their second round match of the French Open tennis tournament, at the Roland Garros stadium, in Paris, Thursday, May 31, 2007. Williams won 6-0, 7-6. (AP Photo)

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