Tu has date with Ivanovic, not Russia
Meilen Tu won her opening match at Wimbledon and now has a date with No. 6 Ana Ivanovic in the second round. However, not everything went the American's way on Wednesday, writes Bonnie DeSimone.
WIMBLEDON, England -- Demand for tickets for the Fed Cup semifinal between the U.S. and Russia in Stowe, Vt., next month has been heavy enough to justify expanding the planned temporary stadium to 4,000 seats, the U.S. Tennis Association announced Wednesday.
One person who was hoping for an all-expenses-paid trip there was disappointed, however. Veteran Meilen Tu, who at No. 38 is the fourth-ranked American on the WTA Tour, has been open about her desire to be invited -- or at least get wait-listed.
She's been checking her voice mail and e-mail daily during her 10-week stay in Europe, but as of Wednesday afternoon Tu hadn't heard from Fed Cup captain Zina Garrison, and she knew no news was bad news.
Tu found her footing after a choppy first set to beat Romania's Edina Gallovits, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, and earned a second-round shot at sixth-seeded Ana Ivanovic, whom she has never played.
"It's a pity," Tu, 29, told ESPN.com before the team was officially announced. "Whether they still liked me or not, I just think if they'd given me a call and said, 'Hey, we don't know who we're going with, but would you be available if we decide to ask you if you want to play?' That would have been great.
"I think I deserve it, but I think there's a lot of other players that deserve it, as well."
On paper, it would be foolish to argue with Garrison's first three choices: Serena and Venus Williams to play singles and Lisa Raymond, half of the world's top-ranked doubles team with Australian Samantha Stosur. Garrison said she selected Vania King to fill the final spot because she was pleased with the team chemistry in Delray Beach, Fla., where those same four players constructed a quarterfinals victory against Belgium in April.
"They have been on board since Delray," she said of the Williams sisters. "Each one of them has definitely expressed some interest that they want to bring the Cup back, that it's been too long. They knew this year is a great year to actually go for it if everybody's healthy. That's always pretty much been the biggest concern.
"Venus, in ... like, October, November, she told me she wanted to play. Serena told me in December. When I called Lisa, she was just ecstatic about playing, wanting to once again bring the Cup back. I think Vania, for her, it's been great to be around all these true champions."
The 18-year-old King turned pro almost exactly a year ago and finished the season at No. 50 after winning her first WTA title in Bangkok. The going has been rougher in her sophomore season. She's 13-15 in 2007 and has lost in the first round of all three Grand Slam events this year. She was never in her first-round match here against 11th seed Nadia Petrova of Russia, losing 6-0, 6-3.
King did put in a valiant effort in the clinching singles victory against Belgium, but her opponent was No. 132 Kirsten Flipkens. Russia will pose a far sterner challenge. Even if No. 2 Maria Sharapova doesn't play -- she has said her presence will depend on the state of her fragile shoulder and how deep she goes here at Wimbledon -- her country has six other players in the top 20.
Tu is 20-14 this season. Her best showings were appearances in the semifinals at Memphis and the round of 16 at Amelia Island.
She was one of two U.S. women to win at Wimbledon on a rainy Wednesday. Laura Granville notched one of her most encouraging victories in a while by knocking off 20th seed Sybille Bammer of Austria 6-1, 6-4.
Bammer, whose 5-year-old daughter Tina was courtside Wednesday, has had a breakthrough season, but that wasn't apparent in her patchy, uneasy play in blustery conditions.
By contrast, the 26-year-old Granville moved smoothly and played with confidence. She made a surprise run to the fourth round here on her first visit here in 2002 and said it has been her favorite tournament ever since.
The Chicago native is ranked 77th and recently endured a six-match losing streak. She said last fall and again Wednesday that if she can't push her way into the top 40 this year she would consider retiring and going back to Stanford University, where she completed half her undergraduate degree while winning two NCAA singles titles.
For the last couple of weeks, Granville has been working part-time at tournaments with Raj Chaudhuri, who coaches U.S. veteran Jill Craybas, and said he has already made an impact on her attitude and play.
"For a while, I was kind of in a rut with my game and just not quite sure where to go with it," Granville said. "He's really changed my perspective and got me thinking about ways to improve. He's great about saying you can't expect results next week, that it might be three to six months before you see results. It's a process."
Granville's third-round opponent is ninth seed Martina Hingis, who steamrolled Aiko Nakamura of Japan 6-1, 6-2 on Wednesday. Hingis defeated Granville in their only previous meeting in the first round of the 2001 U.S. Open.
With Shenay Perry's three-set loss to Aravane Rezai of France, Tu, Granville and the Williams sisters are the only U.S. women left in the singles draw.
Bonnie DeSimone is a freelancer who is covering Wimbledon for ESPN.com.
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