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Doha Day Two: Safina Withdraws, Azarenka Implodes, Serena Beats Venus

Posted by gauloises1 on October 29, 2009

Agonising day of tennis in Doha today. I think I went off tennis altogether, and I only watched two matches.

Caroline Wozniacki (4) d. Victoria Azarenka (6) 16 64 75

caroline wozniacki dohavictoria azarenka doha 2009

Just thinking about this match makes me want to kill myself. But let’s get this out of the way: hugely impressive win by Wozniacki. There is no way she should have won that match, and they should invent a new word to describe how mentally tough she is. OK? I also noticed some stuff in her game – specifically, her ability to generate pace off her forehand when she’s given time on the ball – which I’ve not seen before. Which was very good. Or whatever.

That being said, there was pretty much no excuse for Azarenka losing this match. Don’t get me wrong, I love her (hence the *pain* of it all). But this was yet another of those matches that shows how far she has to go. She played a brilliant first set, very calm, very cool, showing a nice blend of patience and aggression, and completely shut Wozniacki out of it. Which is how it should have gone on. But something happened in the second set – I don’t know what – but she lost it. Instead of dictating points and opening up her court with the forehand, she started more or less pushing it in, giving Wozniacki (who has a hamstring injury, let’s not forget) acres of time to set up for her shots, which allowed the Dane to dominate play. I mean, Wozniacki actually had more winners. You can’t tell me that’s right.

I was hoping the ten-minute heat break after the second set would let Azarenka get herself together, but it seemed to have the opposite effect. She was visibly struggling with the conditions, and although she broke Wozniacki every time she served for most of the set – sometimes to love, and often playing quite brilliantly to do so – she simply couldn’t hold serve herself. Often she worked the point nicely, set herself up – and then made a hash of what should have been an easy winner. She even had the chance to receive it out at 5-4, and of course that would be the first time Wozniacki held serve in the set. There was an air of inevitability after that, and when she smacked a ball out of the stadium and then smashed her racquet when she went break point down, with the resulting code violation costing her her serve, that was it.

The more I think about it (and certain aspects of Azarenka’s bone-headed play will be flashing before my eyes every time I close them until I’m ninety), the more I think that this match really came down to confidence. Azarenka has had a poor second half of the year, ever since being demolished by Serena in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, while Wozniacki has won an absurd number of matches this year. It showed. Not that that’s an excuse. Not that there really are any excuses for a loss like that. Yuck. Azarenka is in the dog house with me.

Jelena Jankovic (8) d. Dinara Safina (1), 1-1 (ret.)

jelena jankovic doha 2009dinara safina doha 2009

“What, is her last name Jankovic? Oh.”

Sad sad scenes as Dinara Safina was forced to retire at 15-40 down in her second service game with a back injury she’s been suffering from for some time:

“I’ve been playing on in pain, on anti-inflammatories, on everything. It’s been about three months. My body just gave up.

“I did everything possible to play here. I went yesterday to put injections, cortisone, but I could not handle this pain any more.

“I think I should have taken a break after the US Open but I was chasing this number one, so I was fighting with my body.

“Maybe I had to stop after the US Open.”

[…] “It’s under question the beginning of next year,” she said. “When I speak to the doctors it doesn’t sound so nice. So it’s possible that I might not be 100 percent fit for the Australian Open. Maybe I’ll have to skip it.”

“At this stage my health is more important. Until I recover fully, until my back is recovered and I can feel that I have no pain, no fear, then I’ll not play.

“Definitely there is no surgery. It’s just time. This is going to be a very long procedure.”

dinara safina withdrawal doha 2009

Presumably, Vera Zvonareva will be tapped as first alternate. It’s a truly low note to end a season which, with all its tribulations, has been a career-best for Dinara and pretty amazing by anyone’s standards. Major, major sad face.

Serena Williams (2) d. Venus Williams (7), 57 64 76(4)

serena williams doha 2009venus williams doha 2009

I was too depressed after the aforementioned two matches to watch this. All I can say is that I’m surprised it went to three after watching their first matches, and that Serena now presumably has a lock on the year end no. 1 spot and a semifinal place in Doha. Oh, and that Venus presumably won’t get out of the round-robin stage.

Anyone have any thoughts on this one?

5 Responses to “Doha Day Two: Safina Withdraws, Azarenka Implodes, Serena Beats Venus”

  1. greenhopper said

    It’s funny, the first set where Vika won comfortably, she had less winners than Woz. And had more winners and errors for the rest of the match. Like I said on TW, I think she’s really trying super hard to win matches she should be winning that she’s not really going for her shots. She’s probably not used to defending so much and getting a lot of balls back. With an attacking game like hers, it’s hard to make few/no errors like JJ, to effective execute that game plan. Also, when you let Wozniacki impose her game, it can frustrate you. Enough to bring out some ball bashing, racquet smashing tantrums. (That was the ultimate low point.)

    [I might be completely wrong, but just throwing it out here.]

  2. Atoti said

    i think azarenka still has alot of growing up to do game wise, very sad Venus lost again, the writer always seems like you dont like serena williams!

  3. lira vega said

    “certain aspects of Azarenka’s bone-headed play will be flashing before my eyes every time I close them until I’m ninety”

    So much word, G. I cannot even begin to explain how frustrating that girl is…She started off so well leading to silly me entertaining thoughts of her winning this whole thing. And then for no bloody reason at all, she starts just rallying without any purpose at all waiting for Caro to roll over for her? Ridic.
    Credit to Caro on the way she played that second set though, I’ve never seen her so aggressive, she went from 2 winners in the first set to 22 (!) in the second. That has to be record for her. At 5-3 in the third I said that I’m disowning Vika if she loses her serve again and it would prolly be good for my mental health if I could carry out that threat

  4. lauren said

    Imagine Vika the drama queen living through the year Dinara’s had? It would be a miasma of eye-rolls, tears, screams, theatrical forced laughs and racquet smashes.

    I’m really sorry for Dinara. Yes, she’s brought it on herself by not winning a slam – in fact, spectacularly losing one of them – but I can’t think of any other player who has been subjected to such public personal ridicule whilst posting such great results. I thought she was handling things well enough, but here’s the evidence it got in her head. She’s one of the fittest women on tour, but does her back in chasing points to retrieve her reputation. I’m hoping that the long rest will do her psyche some good.

  5. naughty T said

    Van Grishan kept twatting that they were in Minsk training… err why would you not be somewhere hot to train to play somewhere that is …err HOTTTTTT!!… seemed to me fitness had a part to play here too. Stoopid.

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