We'd like to buy a vowel
You probably haven't heard the name -- featuring an astonishing 10 vowels, 11 if you count the "y" -- but give her a few months and she might be known in your
Pavlyuchenkova is a 16-year-old Russian, the youngest player in either singles draw.
Her nickname is Nastia, and she defeated No. 17 seed Alize Cornet
on Monday in the first round at Wimbledon, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4). Technically, it was a surprise because Cornet, at 18, is a rising star and Pavlyuchenkova is the No. 137-ranked player on the WTA Tour.
But, really, neither player could have been surprised with this result. Pavlyuchenkova beat her last year -- in the Australian Open's junior.
"I beat her in the semifinals, 7-6, 6-1," Pavlyuchenkova said matter-of-factly. "It was maybe easier for me [Monday] because she's much higher-ranked. I have nothing to lose. But on the other hand, I beat her in the juniors, so I was better in the juniors. Why not I can beat her again?"
Cornet complained afterward that a lengthy injury timeout late in the match caused her to lose focus. Pavlyuchenkova tweaked her left ankle and shin when she tried to slide on the thin baseline grass on Court 15.
"Actually, it's quite her fault, I mean, her problem if she got disturbed," Pavlyuchenkova said. "I didn't want this, because my leg was quite bad.
"I'm sorry about this."
Pavlyuchenkova has a pedigree for success. She won the junior tournament here at the All England Club in 2006 and also added two Aussie junior titles. Pavlyuchenkova won three matches to qualify for the main draw both here and at Roland Garros. She started the season beyond No. 300 in the rankings, but if she achieves her year-end goal of the top 100 -- a distinct possibility -- she will no longer have to qualify for the Grand Slams.
She's won two $25,000 tournaments in Minsk and Moscow this year, beating the players she's supposed to beat. Her second-round match, against Na Li
of China, would not fall into that category. This year Li has already beaten Jelena Jankovic
, Anna Chakvetadze
, Patty Schnyder
-- and Cornet -- and is ranked No. 45.
"Anything can happen," Pavlyuchenkova said, "so I will just do my best and see how it goes."
-- Greg Garber
His ankle is still not 100 percent, but Mardy Fish says it is "much better'' heading into tomorrow's clash against puzzling Frenchman Richard Gasquet
, one of the tastiest first-round matches in the men's draw.
Fish, just outside the seedings at No. 39 in the rankings, retired against pal Andy Roddick in the third round at the tune-up Artois Championships upon losing a first-set tiebreaker.
He rested the ankle last week and proclaimed he was looking forward to an encounter against eighth-seeded Gasquet, the 2007 semifinalist who made the quarters at the Artois to snap out of a slump after splitting with coach Eric Deblicker.
Fish wasn't counting on a poor effort from Gasquet, who is now working with Guillaume Peyre, in the opener on Court 1.
"It's different when people get on grass courts and surfaces they enjoy,'' Fish said with fiancée Stacey Gardner nearby at Wimbledon's practice courts. "It's different, and your mind-set changes a little bit. I won't be thinking about his results in the past. I'll just be thinking that he's a top-10 player and a heck of a player.
"He can beat anyone, really, on any surface.''
Fish is no stranger to upsets, having memorably taken out Roger Federer, Nikolay Davydenko
and David Nalbandian at the Pacific Life Open in March.
-- Ravi Ubha
Thirteen years ago Tim Henman won his first Grand Slam match here, beginning a cycle of heartbreak and hysteria.
He never won the tournament, and an entire empire is still in mourning. The mantle of tennis savior now falls to Andy Murray, who plays Fabrice Santoro on Centre Court on Tuesday.
But there is another, darker side to England's hunger for a homegrown champion. There is the strange case of Alex Bogdanovic.
After Monday's predictable defeat, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), at the hands of Simone Bolelli, Bogdanovic is within a heartbeat of history. The loss tied Bogdanovic with Andrei Chesnokov for the second-worst record ever at Wimbledon -- 0-7. Only Patricio Cornejo (0-8) stands between Bogdanovic and immortality.
"I feel like every year I'm getting better and stronger," Bogdanovic said afterward. "I think it's just a matter of time. It's just laying the bigger points. I had two breakpoints to take it to the decider [fifth set].
"It's just that next step forward."
For Bogdanovic, who is 24, that next step may never come. Will he ever get another wildcard?
"No -- I mean, who knows?" Bogdanovic said. "The criteria could be different. I'm getting older. There's youngsters coming up. I'm not sitting here saying I need to have a wildcard.
"I believe I'm good enough to be top hundred and get into the tournament with no wildcard."
-- Greg Garber
James Blake caused a stir at the French Open.
His second-round loss to Latvian Ernests Gulbis wasn't overly surprising; his postmatch comments were. A frustrated Blake said he tried to play like media pundits wanted him to: a little more defensive rather than high risk.
A few eyebrows were raised.
Blake rebounded by reaching the semifinals at a grass-court warm-up in Halle, Germany, last week, the change of surface apparently not coming soon enough.
"I don't know what happened on that day at the French, but it's over and done with, and it's out of my memory,'' Blake said. "I wasn't happy with the way I played at the French, but grass definitely plays into my game a little more in terms of me playing more aggressive and just being confident in that.''
Blake took part in an intense practice session in the early afternoon with fourth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko, with his brother Thomas navigating around the court in sandals and mom Betty watching nearby.
At one point, much to the delight of the mostly female fans behind the court, Blake almost chased down a drop volley -- yes, Davydenko forayed to the net -- and pulled off a quick slide, stopping a few inches before touching the net and drawing a laugh from the Russian. Minutes later, fellow Americans Mardy Fish and John Roddick stopped by to witness the fierce hitting.
Blake faces a potential fourth-round battle against Andy Roddick. The Davis Cup teammates and good pals have never met in a Grand Slam. Blake triumphed in their lone match on grass two years ago in the semifinals of the Artois Championships.
"It would be interesting, I think,'' said Blake, who has never advanced past the third round at Wimbledon. "It'd be great for the American fans.
Blake has a nice-looking draw through the first three rounds, beginning with Belgian qualifier Christophe Rochus
-- Ravi Ubha
John Isner vs. Ernests Gulbis:
Gulbis, the ascendant Latvian, took out James Blake in the second round at Roland Garros on his way to the quarterfinals. It was a career tournament for the 19-year-old. Gulbis has some serious game and is more fluid and flexible than the 6-foot-9 Isner, who hits peas for serves, but has (as you might expect) movement issues. Expect a few bombs in today's match.
ESPN.com's prediction: Gulbis in 4.
-- Greg Garber