Re: Estoril Open reports, photos and stuff
Venue hasn't changed much from last year. The girls at the sponsor booths look like crap compared to previous years though.
Insanely packed OOP; play began at 10:00 AM with 8 (eight) women's matches being played simultaneously. I suspect the organizers panicked at the prospect of rain delays and tried to finish as many matches as possible as soon as possible by using as many courts as possible. In the end, there was no rain, all the hapless Portuguese went down in about 15 mins average, and so the schedule cleared pretty quickly; by 16:15, only a few ATP Q matches were still being played, and there really wasn't much else to do other than go watch Fed's practice session with the Portuguese scrubs, which was what I did for the rest of the afternoon.
Got there and confirmed my suspicions that Courts 13 and 18 didn't have stands, or any place where you could sit or even stand watching. This ruled out some of the matches I was more keen on watching, namely Hlavackova vs Pivovarova. Disappointed, I headed to Court 1 to see Soler-Espinosa, only to find out she had been replaced by ALT Tochilovskaya (ALT for the second year running). Not the match I had in mind to watch, but by then I couldn't be arsed to go elsewhere to find something more interesting, so I stayed and took out camera, pen and clipboard.
Hrdinova d. Tochilovskaya 6-0, 7-5
Got there at 3-0 Hrdinova. Played under dark, heavy clouds.
Hrdinova looks impressive. Tall, at around 1,85m, and very powerfully built. After she won the match, the kids were all over her, and with good reason - in Portugal, a woman of that size is a wonder in itself. She was all patched up though. She has a big serve for this level, as is to be expected (hit some aces); her groundstrokes were more powerful than Tochilovskaya's by a wide margin, and she hit quite a few wrongfooting winners. Her BH looks weird, and she often attempted cute dropshots (both BH and FH) off Tochilovskaya's puffballs, almost always successfully since her opponent was playing from so far behind the baseline. Her big wingspan is helfpul on defense, and she has the kind of reliable defensive slice you can expect from a seasoned veteran.
As for the diminutive Tochilovskaya, she was completely outgunned. Even those serves she managed to place well risked getting blasted away. She couldn't get any kind of depth on her shots, save for the odd BH (her best shot by far), and she wasn't moving well, lunging or leaning into many of her shots instead of placing her feet properly. She tried defensive slices on occasion, and botched all of them.
1st set went according to script, with a few amusing incidents - both players let aces go by because they thought the serve would be out, Hrdinova complained to the clueless umpire (weird accent - said "duce", as in Mussolini, instead of "deuce", often forgot the score) about Tochilovskaya taking too little time between serves, and Tochilovskaya's racquet was thrown around quite a bit. Early on the 2nd set, Hrdinova seemed to become impatient, and began netting FHs. Tochilovskaya also managed to stay in rallies longer. By the middle of the 2nd set, the match was much more balanced, and Hrdinova's FH was still leaking errors, but her serve bailed her out on a few occasions. Hrdinova up a break 4-2, and then all of a sudden she stopped moving, dumping all of her groundstrokes into the net. Tochilovskaya, to her credit, isn't stupid; she realized all she had to do was to keep the ball in play, and this she tried to do; but she wasn't consistent enough to pull it off and ended up losing the set and the match. Hrdinova closed it out with a dropshot + lob combo.
Headed out to Court 2 right beside to watch
Zec-Peskiric d. Gerasimou 62 36 76(4)
Got there late on the 2nd set. There was a gentleman, impeccably dressed in a suit and tie, sitting nearby myself politely cheering Zec-Peskiric (ZP) on. Match was slightly better than the previous one. Less wild errors out of the blue, at least.
Gerasimou isn't the greatest of scramblers, but she's tactically savvy, playing a high % game but nearly always picking the right moment to go for her shots, particularly the FH. Some good touch shots - but often hit at the worst possible time. Serve is crap, and retreated kms behind the baseline to return serve. She has some interesting variety on that ugly ass FH of hers; hit a few FH slices, can hit it with loads of topspin, and flattened it out to take over points when she had an opening. Her BH is teh suck though; rarely cleared the service line.
ZP has absolutely no weapons and no variety. Her only tactical option is to move the ball from corner to corner, and she had to hit 5-6 good FHs to win a single point. But she realized Gerasimou had very little to hurt her with, and her patience eventually paid off.
Odd that Gerasimou looks somewhat unfit, but by the end of the 2nd set it was ZP who was puffing and heaving. ZP began the 3rd set looking beaten, and she was down 0-3, but turned the match around by hitting some nice wrongfooting winners (and above all by running around her BH to hit her FH time and again), even though she often played the decisive points too tentatively. Served for the match but got broken at 30-40; then managed to break Gerasimou on her 3rd BP, a weird rally in which both players were exchanging groundstrokes while standing well inside the court. Served for the match again and again got broken in a CC BH duel, all the time taking ages between 1st and 2nd serves (nerves?). Prevailed in the TB mostly because Gerasimou played shite in it.
Went to eat something, eventually sat at a ATP Q match involving two Portuguese to wait for Dentoni and the aristocratically named Eloisa Maria Compostizo de Andres (EMCA), who were next on. Brie Whitehead and her mother were also in attendance.
In the adjacent Court 13, Hlavackova was blowing Pivovarova clean off the court with her FH. Eventually Pivovarova called in for the trainer and received medical assistance (left knee/thigh IIRC) for a while. Pivovarova's serve motion is majestic, so wide and ornate it makes Sharapova's look spartan. Simply wonderful stuff, to the extent that you don't really care if it's effective or not. Converted MP on Court 13, and not 10 seconds later converted MP in the court I was sitting at. What are the odds of that?
Dentoni d. Compostizo de Andres 63 64
Watched all of this.
Compostizo de Andres is a lefty (I've been seeing her name in challenger draws for ages and yet had no idea she was left handed) who doesn't fit the Spanish stereotype - she's blonde and has dark blue eyes. She has the most beautiful, toned, athletic legs you can imagine. I have some photos, which I'll eventually post, but no picture can do them justice. Too bad about her game though - 100% predictable, it consists of keeping the ball in play by hitting topspin CC FH into her opponent's BH side over and over again and not much else. She had countless opportunities to step in and be aggressive, but she remained resolutely glued to the baseline instead. Against some impatient ball basher, she might have done better, but to her misfortune Dentoni is very consistent herself.
Neither player could get any kind of depth on their BH shots. Rallies far too often degenerated in exchanges of moonballs, as both were reluctant to take risks.
Dentoni, who seems to have attended the Pierce/Golovin School of Prim Mannerisms but dropped out of it in time not to be wholly insufferable, is long - long limbs, long torso, long neck. Svelte rather than athletic though - I suspect not bulking up is a deliberate choice so as not to hamper her movement (currently acceptable for someone of her build), but she looked drained by the middle of the 2nd set, and complained of it to her coach afterwards, and adding some muscle would give some more bite to her shots and perhaps make her less vulnerable to big hitters.
Dentoni's game is a bit like Chakvetadze's in that it is impossible to label. The best I can come up with is that she's probably the most aggressive puffballer you'll ever see. Her swings are wide and effortless, her shots don't have much pace and look harmless at first sight, and her 1st serve is all placement (the 2nd serve is just an embarrassment, but it's not like EMCA would attack it anyway). But she hit a number of aces, and her serve is well placed enough to allow her to hit the first FH in rallies and take them over or even finish them off. At least at this level, she can play 1-2 serve + FH winner combo points without having much in the way of raw firepower - seen live it looks even weirder than this description would lead you to think. Her FH isn't a huge shot, but she hits it to both corners (more often in-out) with such depth, accuracy and consistency that it's easy to see why she runs around her BH ASAP to hit it.
Dentoni began the match completely off her game, and seemed on the fast track to be completely routed, but early on the 1st managed to close out a game in which she was for the most outplayed and took over the match from there. By the end of the 1st set, she was hitting one in-out FH winner after another. SP, and EMCA decides to commit suicide by rushing the net. On to 2nd set, with EMCA holding easily, and Dentoni having to hit a big winner to save a BP on the next game. But you got the feeling that any error from EMCA would be fatal since she was hitting no winners herself; and soon she was down two breaks. Dentoni served for the set and got broken; EMCA went into wall mode, and all the rallies now went on for at least 15 shots. EMCA lost an endless exchange of moonballs to give Dentoni her 1st MP, which she squandered. Dentoni was clearly becoming discomfited with EMCA's relentless pushing; again she served for the match, and after missing her 3rd MP on a botched volley she began sobbing uncontrollably and had to turn her back to the match for a while to recover her composure (got a warning from the umpire). Closed it out on her 4th MP.
On to Court Central and to Fed's practice session. Mirka was there as well, left for a while, presumably to eat (ice cream booth is the closest one to Court Central). Session started slow, then Fed began showing off a bit. His BH slice is scary - even on clay, it hardly bounces, and its depth and accuracy are remarkable. He also hit scores of perfect dropshots off Rui Machado's topspin junk, and made up a number of all-wrist touch shots as he went along.