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Rafa's Hoffa (the new Pain in his Knee); Other Big News

Serena ousted; Venus Advances


August 17, 2012 | 08:17 PM

The most talked about knee in sports since Joe Namath was the top story today, and this angle was a new one for Rafa and most of us: Hoffa's Syndrome (aka. interpatellar inflammation). This was not the same thing he suffered with in 2009 (he insists that problem is manageable). Dying to know more?

Apparently there's a fat pad known as Hoffa's that sits between the distal thigh bone and the patella (or knee cap), which when it gets pinched between the two and is inflamed creates anterior pain in the knee joint. Rafa's Hoffa inflammation started at Indian Wells, where he lost to FED in two sets in the semis. He withdrew from his semis with Murray in Miami, and the pain worsened through the spring and became unbearable by Wimbledon. He hopes to be competing by the Davis Cup tie in Spain on clay with the USA, September 14-16.

Big News ON COURT

SERENA's 19 match win streak ended in her quarterfinal with #7 Angelique Kerber getting her biggest win in an important event, 6-4, 6-4. For Serena, this was just not her day - she missed all kinds of shots for no apparent reason, including routine looking overheads, backhand volleys and easy forehands. She had nothing to prove, except that even at her worst she's tough to beat (and that was proven long ago). It took an ace from Kerber on her 3rd match point for the 24 year old German to finish her off, though the signs of Serena's exit had all preceded that.

Kerber has already beaten most top players and several former #1's, including Sharapova, Kvitova, Wozniacki, Venus and Na Li. Missing only from her skins this year are are Azarenka and Radwanska. If someone new is to win this event, she's a good pick if she doesn't have a let down in her semis against Kvitova (a 6-3, 7-7 winner over Pavlyuchenkova). This would be Kerber's first Premier event title and would elevate her to #5 in the rankings behind Serena (ahead of Kvitova and Stosur). The secret to her rise in the rankings has been consistency and a lot of tournament play (she is 53-15 in 18 events this year).

Venus created a small buzz and some good news in the Williams kingdom by hanging on to upset #6 Sam Stosur, surprising everyone by beating one of the fittest players on the tour 6-4 in the 3rd on a humid Cincy day. Venus held match point on her serve in the 2nd set, double-faulted and lost the set in a breaker 7-2. Those who wrote off the 33 year olds chances in the 3rd missed a surprise. And those who bet on the other Williams to play tomorrow ate their wagers. Venus will play #9 Na Li in the semis after Li destroyed Radwansk 6-1, 6-1. Venus hasn't beaten her in their two previous matches. Were she to do so and go on to take the title, she would move from #64 into the top 30 and earn a seed at The Open. It would also be her first titles in 2.5 years since Acapulco and Dubai.

MEN's Quarters

Once again, I've got the feeling the top couple of seeds are consistently their most dominating and best in the quarters. It seems by then they are into the tournie, onto the surface and ready to move into the 'business' end of the event. They ramp up their play enough to destroy competition which is not quite top 4 level, but had played well to get into the quarters.

Cases in point today:

1. Joker def. Cilic 6-3, 6-2

2. FED def. Fish 6-3, 7-6 (4)

3. Del Potro def. Chardy 6-1, 6-3

In the 4th quarter, Wawrinka came back from 2-6 to beat Milos Raonic 7-6 (5), 6-4, converting his one and only break opportunity in the 3rd. Stan's reward: a chance to let one of his own countrymen take him apart like a Swiss watch, which is what he did to Mardy Fish today in spite of the American's solid efforts.

Fed's match appears to have been close, but he held the upper hand throughout, breaking Mardy in the first game and again for a two break set.

How good was Fed today?

Serving at 5-3 in the 2nd set breaker and at the net, Mardy's two handed laser up the line caught the net strap, bounced fast and high and was put away by Fed with a 3/4 lights out smash. Mardy could only smile - there was nothing more he could have done today. Fed reached his 12th semi-final of the year in 13 events (he's 7 and 5 in semis, and 5 in 7 in finals).

Cilic wasn't nearly as good or as game against Joker, looking beaten by the time the 1st set was over. Joker may have to play harder tomorrow to keep Delpo out of the match. A long semis for Joker, like the one Delpo dragged Fed into in London, could slow down the Serb for what promises to be an exciting 1 v 2 final affair.

Rick

Cincy quarters 8.17.12 (men, women)


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