Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 6: Mauresmo and Hewitt Draw From Past Experience

Once a champion always a champion.  

Amelie Mauresmo, Wimbledon Champion in 2006, and Lleyton Hewitt, Wimbledon champion in 2002, are both heading into the second week of the fortnight with a lot of confidence.

"Yeah, I guess when you're at the top of your game and you're No. 1 in the world, you kind of take it for granted." said a jubilant Hewitt, referring to his past glory at Wimbledon, after his 3rd round defeat of German Philipp Petzchner.   "When you're unseeded, it's not always that easy to get the easy draw to come through the Round of 16 and make the second week of these kind of majors."

"That's what's pleasing this week, is to come through and do it against worthy opponents. You know, and not drop a set so far is nice, as well."

In a grass court season that is so short that many players don't even play a single match on the surface before their first match at Wimbledon, past champions like Hewitt and Mauresmo have a distinct advantage over much of the competition, regardless of what the draws look like.  

Mauresmo, who defeated Justine Henin in the 2006 final, dealt with the pressure quite admirably today, as she fought off 9 of 10 break point opportunities against Flavia Pennetta.

The 7-5, 6-3 victory advances Mauresmo to the round of 16 for the first time since 2007. During her illustrious career, the no. 17 seeded Frenchwoman has reached the semi-finals three times ('02, '04, '05) in addition to her victory in 2006. 

Mauresmo will face the No. 1 seeded Dinara Safina in the round of 16 on Monday.  It is an intriguing match up, and Mauresmo may be able to take advantage of the Russian's relative inexperience on the grass surface.  Additionally, Mauresmo already has the one thing that Safina is dying to get:  A Grand-Slam title.  

Mauresmo, in the latter stages of her career, may be able to pull the upset.  She knows the pressure is not on her, and she knows how to play the grass.  

Meanwhile, Hewitt will face a very beatable opponent in Czech Radek Stepanek.  Hewitt is 2-0 against Stepanek in his career.  

For the moment, both Mauresmo and Hewitt are pleased as punch to be heading into the second week of Wimbledon.  

The 29-year old Mauresmo is all about keeping it in perspective these days, and her relaxed mindset has definitely helped her on the court.  

"To keep playing for me was really a matter of enjoying myself on the court and being able to live some other great moments of emotion on the court, which I had already a few times this year," she said. "Hopefully I'll have some more."


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