San Diego: Sometime foods.
Apologies for the shithouse ignorance of WTA tennis these days. I’m slowly picking up the pieces where I left off almost 2 months ago. (And clearly, until I get the rest of the blog under control, consider it an offseason for Federporn Fridays.)
So what’s going on the world of WTA these days? Wozniacki seems to be dodging bullets over at the Wozniacki Open in Copenhagen with a few close calls. A few players I had left for dead are showing signs of life again. Jelena Dokic is on a 17 match winning streak – albeit at the challenger level – after hiring new coach Glen Schapp (former coach of Nadia Petrova). Her wins put her back in the top 100, although she missed the cut off date for direct entry into the US Open. Anna Chakvetadze also appears to be capable of winning matches in a row again. She’s into the semifinal over at the Wozniacki Open after an easy win over Hercoq, and has yet to lose a set this tournament. The real question for these two players, however, is whether the signs of life they’re showing are symptoms of a resurrection or are they merely the last run of a headless chook?
The real WTA action of the week of course is in San Diego, where the Serbs sisters flailed, and Safina couldn’t start a run; where Oudin no longer BELIEVED and Wimbledon seemed so far away for Vera Zvonareva. But all that aside, the quarterfinals provided for some interesting action.
What is it about Flavia Pennetta that seems to bother Stosur? In their 3 meetings, Stosur has failed to take a set off Flavia, or even lose a set closer than 4-6. And like in their previous 2 meetings, Pennetta cruised to an easy 64 63 win with some solid serving.
Well, solid serving aided by some truly atrocious returning from Sam Stosur, who won a grand total of 2 points on Flavia’s serve in the second set. Pennetta on the other hand, made it look easy from the baseline, breaking Stosur twice in the first set, twice in the second.
Flavia is due to play Sveta for a spot in the final after Sveta fought through some gutsy resistance from teenager Coco Vandeblahblah, eventually winning the match 75 62. It’s been a good week for the 205-ranked American, who won back-to-back WTA Tour matches for the first time in her career, including an upset over Vera Zvonareva.
For the majority of the first set against Sveta, Coco dictated play with a rare combination of pace and accuracy. She led 5-2, had a set point on Sveta’s serve, and could neither break nor serve it out at 5-3 in the next game. Instead, Coco dished up a shiny 4 double faults (Wobbly Ana styled), including the final two points, to give the break advantage back. Once Sveta got back on serve, she cruised through the rest of the match with ease, but she still remembered her close call with defeat during the first set.
“Bombs were coming at me the first few games. I felt I was flying around the baseline like the ball. She was hitting and hitting and hitting.” – Sveta.
“Hitting and hitting and hitting” is an apt description. But as is often the case with overhyped teenagers hailing from slam-hosting nations, I am hesitant to jump on the bandwagon. But I am keeping an eye on this one.
In the third quarterfinal of the day, Hantuchova fought back from a 26 03 deficit to eventually outlast Alisa Kleybanova, 26 64 63. Uncharacteristically, this was the second time this tournament that Dani has managed to comeback from a losing position – she was down match points against Marion Bartoli.
“It came down to fitness again. I felt like I needed to get into longer rallies and make her tired. I worked hard before coming here. I think it’s going to pay off.” – Hantuchova.
While Dani could rely on her fitness to win the day, the opposite could be said of Kleybs. It has become increasingly pronounced these days that Alisa places herself at a distinct disadvantage if a match goes the distance because of her physical conditioning. But can we really have a serious discussion about weight and body types in women’s tennis without descending into political incorrectness? And does Kleybanova herself consider her physical conditioning a liability? Is she doing anything about it?
In the last match of the day, ARad took exactly an hour to destroy No.7 seed Shahar Peer, 62 60, winning 9 straight games from 3-2 in the first set to make her second semifinal in a row. It was one of those matches where the stats do tell a good story: Radwanska dispatched 19 winners to 9 unforced errors in 14 games (Peer: 15-19), providing entertainment in the form of a mixture of groundstrokes, lobs, drop shots and just generally superb shotmaking.
She can do it all, minus the raw power. The Martina Hingis analogies are overdone, but they emerged for a good reason. Much like the Swiss Miss, ARad is too prone to be blown off court, too easily dictated around like a puppet if her tennis is anything less than consistent and flawless.
And complain as I may about the same old baseline power tennis, I wonder if it is a really bad thing that the likes of Aga are considered a relative rarity in women’s tennis these days. Power tennis, for all its monotonous homogeneity, still provides for more riveting viewing to the “general public”, while the likes of Hingis and Radwanska may appeal to tennis connoiseurs with … let’s say a more purist taste.
Or, Hoots would tell the Cookie Monster, Aga works better as a “sometime food”.
Who are you sometime foods in tennis? And who are your cookies? Do tell.