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Doha Day One: Azarenka, Serena Win; Dementieva Downs Venus

Posted by gauloises1 on October 28, 2009

I literally couldn’t look away today and the matches weren’t even that great. That’s how much I love Doha. Apart from the emptiness of the stands and the fact that’s it held in Doha. Still, Istanbul from 2011, I think.

White Group

Victoria Azarenka (6) d. Jelena Jankovic (8) 62 63

jelena jankovic doha day onevictoria azarenka doha day one














Clean kill for Azarenka on her debut in Doha, a tournament which is not traditionally kind for first-timers. Let’s make no bones about it, JJ was not playing well by any stretch of the imagination. She was obviously working on hitting with plenty of depth, to keep Azarenka pinned behind the baseline, and trying hard to be aggressive, but she simply couldn’t find her range. Or, frequently, the court. But I thought Azarenka played a very mature match – which is not something you can often say about her – doing an excellent job of keeping her cool when JJ started hitting out in the second set, and generally earning the win.

After the match, JJ wasn’t easy on herself in evaluating her performance:

“I basically gave her everything. I beat myself. That was really unfortunately the case. My game was completely off […] I would hit one or two balls and then the third one would go everywhere except in the court. I was a shadow of myself.”

I rather enjoyed Azarenka’s response:

“I’m glad she gave me the match and she was not in the mood. It worked out pretty well for me.”

Well played.

Maroon Group

Elena Dementieva (5) d. Venus Williams (7), 36 76(6) 62

elena dementieva doha day onevenus williams doha day one

Didn’t see this coming. Neither women started well, but Venus was playing that bit better and when she was 61 31 up I thought that was it. So much so that I wandered off and missed Dementieva breaking back for 3-3. From that point, though, Venus more or less imploded. I really can’t think of any other word for it. Both women were living and dying on their first serve percentage, and Venus’ dropped steadily throughout the match (getting foot-faulted ten times probably didn’t help). Once Dementieva found her rhythm from the back of the court, she was winning every long exchange as Venus inevitably was the first to make the error. More than anything else though, Venus didn’t seem clear about her game plan or what she was trying to achieve. She was getting nothing done from the back of the court and having great success moving forward, but missed opportunity after opportunity to do so. Her hitting partner was shouting for her to stay positive, but she did the absolute opposite. It’s becoming a bit of a familiar story for the defending Doha champion.

Great win for Dementieva though, who stayed resilient and kept fighting despite being plagued by double faults. By the third set, she was playing some fearsome tennis. After the way her year has panned out (remember back in January when she was winning everything?), a big win like this has to feel good. And it was certainly well-earned.

Serena Williams (2) d. Svetlana Kuznetsova (3), 76(6) 75

serena williams doha day one svetlana kuznetsova doha day one2

I only saw the first set of this, but I imagine the second set was fairly similar. I get the feeling that these two have a huge amount of respect for each other’s tennis, which unfortunately often translates into an unseemly haste to get the first strike in, well, first, and results in a lot of UFEs. Svetlana had much better results when she took a little off her shots and played with more patience, and that approach in fact got her to the point where she was serving for the first set, but she reverted to her default mode of play and it cost her.

Serena looked very impressive, though, considering she seems to have barely played since the U.S. Open (I don’t even remember who she lost to in Beijing – some randomer?). My initial Venus-for-the-title feeling is shifting inexorably towards a Serena-for-the-title feeling, as it goes.

And that was day one in Doha.

8 Responses to “Doha Day One: Azarenka, Serena Win; Dementieva Downs Venus”

  1. Bismarck said

    serena lost in beijing to the surprisingly well-playing petrova, we both just caught the very end of it cause we had to sit through bepa-flavi first.

    after having watched most of today´s play i´d say serena has made the best impression.
    kuz wasn´t that bad overall, just too often too headless when it *really* mattered. still with chances for the semis and beyond imo.
    if venus doesn´t find some more form (and her serve) she´s toast.

    btw myskina was a guest on “Crofty & Babsi”, saying she is in doha as a friend of dinara.
    reported that safina has back problems and prolly won´t practise tomorrow before her match, but still will “surely be ready for her match”.

    • gauloises1 said

      Of course, Petrova, I remember now.

      Thanks for the info. I have to change the channel whenever Crofty & Babsi pop up. Originally I was just muting it, but I found that I can’t even look at Barbara Schett’s face without imagining the sound of her voice, so …

      Ouch. Poor Dinara.

  2. Bismarck said

    also, one specific result of your poll is cracking me up quite a bit.
    and i´m not talking about safina getting 11/61 votes. (i´d be all 😯 if she bags this title)

  3. AmyLu said

    Azarenka may be growing on me — I loved her response to JJ’s comments. 🙂

    One of my Sociology undergrads is doing an honors thesis on college students’ perceptions of female athletes. Before she interviews students, she’s having them complete a “trivia” survey — and see whether they can name male and female athletes in sports, etc. In the honors thesis writing seminar (we’re offering feedback on the interviews and surveys they’ve created), I was the only person who knew the number one player in the WTA and could name 5 other female tennis players (the class did better with males). I was then told I’m an “outlier,” which made me laugh. Clearly my students need to interact more with people here at NBs.

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