Posted by gauloises1 on February 28, 2011
Novak Djokovic d. Roger Federer, 63 63
You can’t spell “hat-trick” without “ha”.
Late to the party, I know, but what can we say except that Djokovic was outstanding in the final, and after a less than stellar route there, absolutely dismantled Federer? I don’t think Federer was on top form, but I really don’t think the match was about him. From the beginning, Djokovic was all over him with the return, that lethal forehand of death, and kept putting the ball in fairly impossible positions. No wonder Federer butchered a couple of shots. That’s Djokovic’s third Dubai title, and he’s now been unbeaten for fifteen matches. You may, you know, worship him.
Vera Zvonareva d. Caroline Wozniacki, 64 64
Pretty impressive for Vera Zvonareva in Doha, who hasn’t won a trophy in … ages, and beat Wozniacki 64 64 in a straightforward final. Wozniacki has had a good two weeks, picking up the Dubai title and beating a couple of former bugbears in Jankovic, Peer and Bartoli, so she was a bit fatigued and reportedly ill, but Zvonareva’s game had more than a little to do with a petulant final performance, so well done to the world no. 3.
Posted in doha, dubai, novak djokovic, titlists, vera zvonareva | Tagged: novak djokovic, vera zvonareva | 3 Comments »
Posted by gauloises1 on January 24, 2011
So looking forward to the quarterfinal between Petra Kvitova and Vera Zvonareva.
I’m more enamoured of Kvitova’s game every time I watch her. That swinging lefty can-opener serve out wide. That dead-eyed stare. The shots that consistently land inches away from the baseline. She’s beaten Samantha Stosur and now Flavia Pennetta to make it into the quarters, making her one of very few women who’ve gone into the second week of every Slam at least once in their career.
The problem with Kvitova is her lack of consistency, and that stems from having almost no margin for error in her game. She hits so deep and plays so aggressively that it can often take her a set to find her range and start hitting the lines. Like many in the women’s game, she isn’t particularly comfortable moving forward and that was fully exploited by Pennetta in the first set, who sliced and dropshotted and yanked Kvitova around, giving her no time to settle. The flaw in that approach for the Italian is that she’s only going to get the opportunity to do that if Kvitova handed it to her, and once the Czech lady settled and started hitting out, Pennetta was constantly on the back foot. It was a tough third set, but Kvitova’s big cross-court shots were landing and she won, 36 63 63. The only concern going forward is that she often seemed to be favouring her right hip.
Next up for Kvitova in the quarters is world no. 2 Vera Zvonareva, one of the few women who defends better than Pennetta. If Kvitova makes another slow start, as is her wont, she may not get the chance to get back in the match. Zvonareva wasn’t looking imposing in her defeat of Lucie Safarova, but she beat Iveta Benesova 64 61 last night and is as usual dangerously under the radar. Personally, I’d like to see Kvitova go all the way in this Slam, with her insane intensity and incongruously cute braces. It’s one of those matches where either woman is liable to grind up and spit out the other. Can’t wait.
Keep a weather eye on her.
Posted in australian open, petra kvitova, vera zvonareva | Tagged: petra kvitova, vera zvonareva | 1 Comment »
Posted by gauloises1 on July 5, 2010
Serena Williams d. Vera Zvonareva, 63 62
On Saturday, Serena Williams picked up her fourth Wimbledon title and her thirteenth Grand Slam over all, overtaking Billie Jean King in the all-time standings. And she did it without dropping a set and without facing a break in the final. That’s about as dominant a performance as you will ever, ever see. Gobsmacking stuff.
OK, so it wasn’t the most interesting final to watch, but if you consider Serena’s performance over the seven matches throughout the fortnight as the spectacle, then you know you’ve seen something.
It’s hard not to feel sorry for Vera, as there was basically nothing she could do; she could have played a good 15% better, and there still would have been nothing she could have done. Her run to the final was exceptional and she did her best on the day, although she must have hoped for so much more from it, but the way she handled herself after such a painful experience – the dignity and the depth of emotion she showed – was both impressive and endearing. And if she can kick on from this tournament and play with something approaching the same level of conviction, we could be looking at a whole different Vera Zvonareva in the latter phase of her career. Could be very interesting.
And she’s still got the hottest coach since Hugo Le Coq. So there’s always that.
Serena, though. I don’t want to belabor this angle, but it was the first Wimbledon title she’s won where she didn’t face Venus in the final (which I tend to feel always makes her the underdog, at least in her own mind), and to produce that kind of performance as the overwhelming favourite is quite something. Presumably I’m very late to the party on this (I prefer it that way, you don’t have to stay as long), but I find I’m having to readjust my thinking on Serena. For the first time, I’m truly placing her in the context of history, and not in a vaguely patronising breaking boundaries sense; in the sense of having a legitimate claim to being considered one of the greatest players of all time. Things look a lot different with those interpretive lenses on, and I’m curious to see whether, as I partly believe, Serena’s biggest accomplishments might be yet to come.
There was just such a, well, serenity about her in this tournament. Even when she barely drops a set on the way to other titles, there’s always a turmoil, a struggle that fuels her performances. While she was tested – that first set against Sharapova springs immediately to mind – I never felt like she was battling herself. She seemed, I don’t know, centred. Even in the BBC interviews I saw her give, she was totally at ease with herself and what she was trying to achieve, never more so than when she was laughing at herself. Perhaps I’m completely off-base, but I honestly feel right now like Serena could win three Slams a year for the next three years, because she’s found her groove. I don’t know, what do you think?
Anyway, she nabbed a Wimbledon this weekend, and that’ll do to be going on with.
Posted in serena williams, titlists, vera zvonareva, wimbledon | Tagged: serena williams, vera zvonareva | Leave a Comment »
Posted by gauloises1 on July 3, 2010
Did I mention these two ladies are in the final? They are.
Best of luck with that, Vera.
Posted in serena williams, vera zvonareva, wimbledon | Tagged: serena williams, vera zvonareva | 3 Comments »
Posted by gauloises1 on June 30, 2010
Feast your eyes on this semifinal lineup.
Then probably rub them a bit. OK, we expected Serena, despite the fact that Li Na Na Li (still can’t do it) has played her close and in fact beaten her in the past. But Serena has looked fearsome in these championships, with impenetrable serving (she served at an average of 111 mph today), and Na Li couldn’t really do too much about it. 75, 63, job done.
Curtsey still needs work though.
But what about her opponent, little Petra Kvitova? Well, not that little; she’s six foot. But she is quite young; 20. And you know how I know that? Because I am looking her up on the WTA website. It’s not that I didn’t know who she was – she’s had big wins in the past – I just never thought it would be that important. After all, when has a left-handed Czech ever done anything noteworthy?
And really, who thought that Vera Zvonareva would beat Kim Clijsters? Especially when Kim took the first set 63 and appeared perfectly comfortable, moving Zvonareva beautifully from side to side and finishing points off with a beautiful touch at net. She appeared totally relaxed; maybe a little too relaxed, as Vera really took it to her in the second and third sets and Kim had no response. Vera paid tribute to her own newfound maturity and emotional serenity on the court in her presser, which was perhaps fortunate, because probably nobody else was going to do it.
And now we come to the most surprising result of the day, Tsvetana Pironkova’s straightforward demolition of Venus Williams, 62 63. Except … was it? I watched it while it was happening, and then just to be sure I watched it again after work, and I still don’t know how it happened. I do think Pironkova played an excellent match and brought a high degree of guile to the court; knowing she couldn’t compete with Venus on raw pace and power, she concentrated on confounding Venus with no-pace balls and scrupulously accurate placement, working the five-time champion into a frustrated lather which resulted in enforced errors time and again. Most importantly, she brought a high degree of self-belief to the court, and not the manufactured sort which melts away under pressure; having beaten Venus once before, as she said to the BBC, “I actually thought I could win.” A praiseworthy attitude.
But Venus definitely contributed to beating herself. For one thing, she consistently failed to attack Pironkova’s serve, particularly her frankly nothing second serve. She simply made too many wild errors. And her choice of tactics was baffling, especially with regards to her stubborn insistence on serving and hitting to Pironkova’s backhand, which stung her time and again. I understand that a part of Venus’ ethos is a focus on her own game and a belief that the result rests largely if not exclusively on how well she executes that game. But when a relatively simple adjustment in tactics could have swung the match in her favour … Well, I suppose even five-time champions have their off-days.
Pictured: an off-day.
That sounds ungracious towards Pironkova, and I don’t necessarily mean it that way. It might just be my own annoyance that a player who I’ve never really thought of as a potentially big talent confounded my expectations so thoroughly. She did play a great match, she really did, and pulled off the upset of the tournament so far – which is a neat trick when Yen-Hsun Lu beat Andy Roddick in five sets. And she was sweet afterwards. So good on you, Tsvetana.
Nickname suggestions gratefully accepted.
Posted in petra kvitova, serena williams, tsvetana pironkova, venus williams, vera zvonareva, wimbledon | Tagged: petra kvitova, serena williams, tsvetana pironkova, venus williams, vera zvonareva | 1 Comment »
Posted by gauloises1 on June 29, 2010
On the ladies’ side, three somewhat surprise packages join the usual suspects in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. First up, Petra Kvitova, who beat Caroline Wozniacki 62 60 to book her spot. Wozniacki won just five points in the second set.
Kvitova, who had never won a grass court match coming into this tournament, will meet Kaia Kanepi, who will insist on occasionally being a thing. She took out Klara Zakopalova in straights.
The third unpredictable entrant is Tsvetana Pironkova, who defied my prediction by taking out former finalist Marion Bartoli in straights. Her reward is a meeting with Venus Williams, who – despite a little trouble finding her court – beat a feisty Jarmila Groth to book her spot in the quarterfinals.
Elsewhere, it was a sad day for fans of Jelena Jankovic, as she was forced to retire with a back injury when trailing Vera Zvonareva 16 03. Wimbledon just isn’t her tournament, is it?
Rounding out the last eight is Li Na, who demolished Agnieszka Radwanska in a reversal of last year’s round of sixteen to face Serena Williams, and then offered some wise words for us all:
Q. What have you done well this week and last week and in Birmingham, do you think?
NA LI: After I win in Birmingham, I was feeling more confident, more positive thinking on the grass court. But because my coach didn’t come to Birmingham, so after I meet him, he was like, Just forget Birmingham. This much different tournament.
So every time, he always talk like. Every time he talk like, Forget, forget, forget that one. I was like, Okay. I couldn’t forget. I played five rounds of match, win tournament. How I can forget that? But he always like, Forget. This is much different game.
On the men’s side, guess who is in the quarterfinals! Yeah, you guessed it.
What depth. They will be joined by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who put out Benny in four, and Andy Murray, who was frankly sensational against limited opposition in his victory over Sam Querrey.
Not a bad quarter-finals lineup on either side, is it?
Posted in andy murray, caroline wozniacki, jelena jankovic, kaia kanepi, petra kvitova, rafael nadal, roger federer, tsvetana pironkova, venus williams, vera zvonareva, wimbledon | Tagged: andy murray, caroline wozniacki, jelena jankovic, kaia kanepi, petra kvitova, rafael nadal, roger federer, tsvetana pironkova, venus williams, vera zvonareva | Leave a Comment »
Posted by gauloises1 on June 28, 2010
And now for the distaff side.
Serena Williams v Maria Sharapova
Strawberries-and-cream vs. upturned rose (apparently), one of these women has looked in devastatingly awesome form so far, and the other is Maria Sharapova. Admittedly Maria has won all her matches in straight sets, but the only one I’ve watched (against junior nemesis Barbora Zahlalova Strycova), she looked clumsy, sluggish and tentative. I’ve no doubt that she will get it up against Serena, but I still think this match might turn out to be a bit of a damp squib. Prediction: Serena in straights.
Winner to meet …
Na Li v Agnieszka Radwanska
It’s been a quiet Wimbledon for both these ladies so far and I haven’t seen either of them play (although we all owe Na Li a vote of thanks for getting rid of Anastasia ‘toys so far out of the pram they have been adopted by other kind homes’ Rodionova). I’m going with Agnieszka, because her game works beautifully on grass and she’s a two-time quarterfinalist in SW19. Prediction: Radwanska in three.
Caroline Wozniacki v Petra Kvitova
Kvitova has had one of the most eye-catching results at this tournament so far, coming back from a break down in the first to not just defeat but bagel Victoria Azarenka (oh, Vika). That will have given her a lot of confidence, but you can’t really bet against slow-and-steady Caroline, can you? Sadly. Prediction: Wozniacki in straights.
Winner to meet …
Klara Zakopalova v Kaia Kanepi
There are some players that I just get irrationally annoyed when I see them win. These are two of them; Zakopalova because she’s got a sour expression on her face even when she’s winning, and Kanepi because you can never tell from tournament to tournament which one of her is going to turn up (and when it’s Good Kaia, she generally announces her presence by beating one or more of my favourites). However, both of them are on excellent mini-runs. Zakopalova has beaten Meusberger, Rezai and Pennetta; Kanepi, Sam Stosur, Edina Gallovits and Alexandra Dulgheru. On the basis that the former is a shade more impressive and I don’t really care, I’m going with Zakopalova. Prediction: Zakopalova in three. She won’t smile.
Kim Clijsters v Justine Henin
H2H: 12-12 (3-1 on grass)
The other match to look forward to, particularly if you’re one of those who bemoans the last few years in the WTA. Kim has cruised so far and looks in some ways ripe for an upset, while Justine has played as well as anyone in the tournament in her defeat of Nadia Petrova. Still, I think that Justine wants this too much and that, coupled with the changes she’s made to her game this year which still don’t seem to sit right, will cost her. Prediction: Kim in three.
Winner to meet …
Vera Zvonareva v Jelena Jankovic
Vera has been quietly coming through in the bottom of the draw, largely unheeded with solid wins over unspectacular opponents until the third round when she demolished Yanina Wickmayer. The buzz is that she finally feels that she’s got her form back. JJ, meanwhile, after her win over Laura Robson, dropped a set to Aleksandra Wozniak and called the trainer after bagelling Alona Bondarenko. Not to mention that this court will be played on court 12, which JJ will need a helicopter or at least a team of Sherpas to find. Prediction: Zvonareva in two.
Tsvetana Pironkova v Marion Bartoli
Every Slam I reckon there has to be one round-of-sixteen match-up which makes you go, “… how did this happen?”. This is mine. Er, Pironkova beat Dushevina who beat Schiavone, and Bartoli is a former finalist, so …. I don’t even know. Prediction: Bartoli in straights.
Winner to meet …
Jarmila Groth v Venus Williams
It’s been a very nice tournament for the adorable Jarmila. Shame it’s over. Prediction: Venus in straights.
So that’s what I think. What do you reckon ..?
Posted in agnieszka radwanska, caroline wozniacki, jarmila groth, jelena jankovic, justine henin, kaia kanepi, kim clijsters, klara zakopalova, li na, maria sharapova, marion bartoli, petra kvitova, serena williams, tsvetana pironkova, venus williams, vera zvonareva, wimbledon | Tagged: agnieszka radwanska, caroline wozniacki, jarmila groth, jelena jankovic, justine henin, kaia kanepi, kim clijsters, klara zakopalova, li na, maria sharapova, marion bartoli, petra kvitova, serena williams, tsvetana pironkova, venus williams, vera zvonareva | Leave a Comment »
Posted by gauloises1 on May 9, 2010
Top Seeds: Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Dinara Safina, Venus Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Elena Dementieva, Jelena Jankovic, Samantha Stosur
Notable absences: Kim Clijsters (foot), Yanina Wickmayer (elbow surgery)
First-round matches to watch: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova-Daniela Hantuchova, Maria Sharapova-Lucie Safarova, Justine Henin-Aravane Rezai, Sorana Cirstea-Flavia Pennetta, Samantha Stosur-Gisela Dulko, Agnieszka Radwanska-Maria Kirilenko
Yep, this shit is going to be bananas. In fact, it already slightly is. Fifth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova lost to Shahar Peer in three sets (including a bagel), Elena Dementieva dropped just one game against Aleksandra Wozniak, and Andrea Petkovic beat Sara Errani (who I have been talking up recently, so that’s probably why) 75 in the third. Oh, and Vera Zvonareva won a match in straights. Against Melanie Oudin.
Singles – First Round
Shahar Peer (ISR) d. (5) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 63 26 60
(6) Elena Dementieva (RUS) d. Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) 60 61
(12) Marion Bartoli (FRA) d. Polona Hercog (SLO) 36 64 64
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) d. Melanie Oudin (USA) 63 64
Alona Bondarenko (UKR) d. Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) 26 61 64
Andrea Petkovic (GER) d. Sara Errani (ITA) 67(3) 61 75
(WC) Sybille Bammer (AUT) d. Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 64 36 63
Doubles – First Round
Dekmeijere/Kleybanova (LAT/RUS) d. Grandin/Spears (RSA/USA) 64 64
Singles Qualifying – Final Round
(2) Iveta Benesova (CZE) d. (12) Alberta Brianti (ITA) 64 75
(9) Alizé Cornet (FRA) d. (3) Tathiana Garbin (ITA) 36 75 61
(5) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. (13) Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) 75 61
(7) Stefanie Voegele (SUI) d. Anastasia Rodionova (AUS) 64 76(3)
(8) Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) d. Karolina Sprem (CRO) 63 62
Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB) d. (14) Ayumi Morita (JPN) 63 62
(WC) Beatriz García Vidagany (ESP) d. (15) Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 57 76(3) 63
(16) Klara Zakopalova (CZE) d. Mariana Duque Marino (COL) 46 62 64
Manolo Santana (from 11.00hrs)
1. Maria Kirilenko vs. Agnieszka Radwanska
2. Maria Sharapova vs. Lucie Safarova
3. Justine Henin vs. Aravane Rezai
4. ATP: Ferrer vs. Chardy (NB 17.00hrs)
5. Stefanie Voegele vs. Venus Williams
Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario (from 10.00hrs)
1. ATP: Alcaide vs. Muñoz-de la Nava
2. Francesca Schiavone vs. Alizé Cornet (NB 11.00hrs)
3. Safina/Szavay vs. Amanmuradova/Hsieh
4. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Daniela Hantuchova
5. Ruano Pascual/Shaughnessy vs. García Vidagany/Soler Espinosa
Stadium 3 (from 10.00hrs)
1. ATP: Chela vs. Cipolla
2. ATP: Korolev vs. Karlovic
3. ATP: Mónaco vs. Greul
4. Chan/Zheng vs. Black/Vesnina
5. Errani/Vinci vs. Chuang/King
Court 4 (from 10.00hrs)
1. ATP: Dolgopolov Jr. vs. Fish
2. ATP: Rochus vs. Hernández (NB 12.00hrs)
3. Dominika Cibulkova vs. Iveta Benesova
4. Govortsova/Kudryavtseva vs. Rodionova/Schnyder (after suitable rest)
Court 5 (from 10.00hrs)
1. ATP: Anderson vs. Navarro
2. Olga Govortsova vs. Tathiana Garbin (NB 11.00hrs)
3. Vera Dushevina vs. Kirsten Flipkens
4. Alexandra Dulgheru vs. Melinda Czink
Court 6 (from 10.00hrs)
1. ATP: Giraldo vs. Volandri
2. ATP: Russell vs. Gimeno-Traver
Posted in madrid, vera zvonareva, wta week ahead | Tagged: dinara safina, vera zvonareva | 5 Comments »
Posted by gauloises1 on April 19, 2010
Congratulations to Samantha Stosur, who won her second (and biggest) career title at the Family Circle Cup this weekend. I’m afraid I didn’t see any of it, but it doesn’t seem like I missed too much, after Daniela Hantuchova and Caroline Wozniacki were both forced to retire during the semifinals.
Wozniacki’s injury in particular does not sound good, in any sense. Hopefully it won’t set her back too much.
Anyway, Stosur demonstrated that she was not in the final by chance by putting the absolute smackdown on Vera Zvonareva, 60 63. I’ve hastily skimmed through and it seems like it was a ruthless performance by Sam and a reminder of just how dominant her game can be when she’s got it all together. Vera could do absolutely nothing to take control of the match, which is a shame for her, but good for us, because it brings the giggles.
Cool, calm and collected.
… Really not.
(thanks to Jacko for the link)
It was Sam’s show, though, despite Vera’s best efforts to steal it, and well done to her. She had Lyme disease, you know.
She’s in there somewhere.
Posted in charleston, samantha stosur, titlists, vera zvonareva, video | Tagged: samantha stosur, vera zvonareva | 4 Comments »
Posted by gauloises1 on April 13, 2010
I don’t know if it’s the photography (good job, Chris Smith!) or the light or the food or what, but how lovely are these off-court pictures from the Family Circle Cup?
JJ actually looks like she’s having genuine chilled fun.
A Vera sandwich.
(That’s Galina Voskoboeva in the middle, by the way. I’m sure you know that … but I had to look it up.)
Dani’s always lovely, but how often does she look relaxed?
Yes, that is Alona Bondarenko. Looking normal. Looking pleasant. Smiling.
Mallory and Melanie.
I have just realised how pretty Nadia is.
So I think we need to ask ourselves … is Charleston the friendliest, most laid-back tournament on tour, or just the one that serves the most booze with lunch?
Either way, it’s working.
Posted in alona bondarenko, charleston, daniela hantuchova, galina voskoboeva, jelena jankovic, mallory cecil, melanie oudin, nadia petrova, vera dushevina, vera zvonareva | Tagged: alona bondarenko, daniela hantuchova, galina voskoboeva, jelena jankovic, mallory cecil, melanie oudin, nadia petrova, vera dushevina, vera zvonareva | 2 Comments »