Asian Finale: SO PROUD. SO PROUD!
Under Sam Stosur’s cool shades, there’s a slightly shy girl with a sweet smile. Love it.
For Sam, Osaka presented a chance for her to not only qualify for Bali, but cap off what’s been a breakthrough comeback for her in 2009 with her first singles title. But coming into the final with a title win/loss record of 0-5, I wondered if the pressure would get to her.
Of course, it helped that she was facing an opponent whose own title win/loss record was 1-9.
But despite a double fault on her first championship point, Sam pulled it off. Perhaps getting the title monkey off her back is the first step to a more productive singles career for my compatriot.
Let’s hope so, because it couldn’t happen to a nicer person.
Over in Shanghai, it was all dimples and man-love between Jo-Wills and Julien Benneteau, who defeated Fyrstenberg and Matkowski 62 64 for the doubles title, and got themselves some blades of glory.
More blades of glory in store for Davydenko, who took out Nadal 76 63 for his first Masters 1000 title this year.
What can I say? For the second time in the last two days – just too good. Davo took each balls ridiculously early in his trademark fashion and rushed Rafa around like a rabbit with acute angles.
Rafa had a chance to wrestle the first set, after Davo wasted 2 opportunities to go up an insurance break with some easy forehand errors, and then promptly conceded his next service game to Nadal. But not typically known for his tiebreak records, Davo found his mojo again, just in time to close out the set 73 in the tiebreak.
From then on, it was free-flowing, cruise-control tennis. When Davo’s on, it’s thrilling to watch, and damn hard to beat. Unless of course, you happen to be some potato-nose from Switzerland.
And please, let’s get one thing clear: this whole “blades of glory” thing doesn’t make Davo eye-candy. My limits stop at Robin Soderling and Ivan Lendl, y’all.
Some could argue that it shouldn’t even extend that far.
Okay, so maybe a leeetle bit cute.
As for Rafa, sometimes I wonder if players ever really change. You can make improvements, add to your game, change strategies. But when you’re under attack, when you’re low in self-confidence, or in Rafa’s case, coming back from several injuries, there is always a tendency to revert back to what you know. Ground zero.
Unfortunately for Rafa, it means that the changes he made to his hard-court game in the 12 months prior to his injury – improvements to the serve, aggressive play, and flatter groundies – have been largely missing since his return. Allowances have to be made for the fact that he hasn’t been physically 100%, but that’s no reason to receive serve from all the way back in Majorca.
9 winners to Davydenko’s 35. That says it all really. It’ll take a bit more time.
That concludes the “Asian swing” this year folks. And Lordy, it has been anything but swingin’.
Half-empty stadiums, numerous injuries, upsets plaguing both the WTA and the ATP, some rather frightening tennis cheerleaders… and all the while, the Marat Safin Heartbreak Train is still headed for that cliff edge.
But through it all, we also ended up with the triumphs of two massively under-appreciated Russians, Davo and Kuzzy.
Perhaps it’s not a complete fail afterall,