Birmingham 2008: Andrew's eyewitness reports & photos (third round added)
DFS CLASSIC (Edgbaston, Birmingham, England; grass; WTA Tier III)
1. My photos
2. Practice: VaidiöovŠ v KrajŪček
3. Second round: KrajŪček v Poutchek
Master-reports for Birmingham 2008:
Andrew's eyewitness reports & photos (Monday to Sunday)
1. My photos
Permission to copy my Birmingham photos is granted provided that:
(a) no money is exchanged;
(b) they are labelled as "Copyright 2008 Andrew Broad".
Please let me know if you do use them on another website.
I have uploaded all my photos in one big zip-file for each day:
Monday: http://www.divshare.com/download/5131504-de1 (4 of MichaŽlla)
Tuesday: http://www.divshare.com/download/5229165-ae6 (22 of MichaŽlla)
Wednesday: http://www.divshare.com/download/5232315-595 (7 of MichaŽlla)
2. Practice: VaidiöovŠ v KrajŪček (Monday 9th June)
After watching a match on an outside-court, I went to the practice-courts thinking how nice it would be to see Nicole VaidiöovŠ there: my favourite player at Birmingham 2008.
So when Nicole was the first player I spotted as I approached the practice-courts, I couldn't believe it was her at first! I thought perhaps I was just seeing what I wanted to see, and she looked so small... but that was just because she was so far away until I got there.
Nicole was hitting with another blonde girl on the nearest practice-court, so I immediately sat down by Nicole's end of the court, whipped out my camera and started taking photos.
Nicole was with her new coach David Felgate, and while she looked pretty much the same as in 2007, her grunt was now a low bellow like Daniela HantuchovŠ's.
This went on for about five minutes, then Nicole went to the net and shook hands with the other girl: it was only then that I realised she was MichaŽlla KrajŪček, and that they must have been playing a practice-set (previous clues being MichaŽlla throwing her racket, and the fact that Nicole was grunting).
Nicole had lost 6 matches in a row going into Birmingham, and MichaŽlla was in an even worse slump, having lost 12 matches in a row dating back to October 2007. Later in the week, I would have the very great pleasures of watching them both snap their losing-streaks - I guess this practice-match must have done them both good!
I took some more photos of Nicole and MichaŽlla as they packed up; Nicole signed some autographs as she left the practice-court and strode off towards the players' enclosure.
3. Second round: KrajŪček v Poutchek (Tuesday 10th June)
+ MICHAňLLA KRAJÕČEK [8,DF] d. Tatiana Poutchek [Q], 6-2 6-1
MichaŽlla came into this tournament on a 12-match losing-streak stretching back to October 2007, so I went into this match expecting it to continue, and wondering what she was doing wrong.
Well, MichaŽlla hardly did anything wrong in this match, and it was hard to believe she was on such a losing-streak, as she looked just as impressive as she did at Wimbledon 2007, when she reached the quarter-finals and made a demi-fan of me!
Grass is MichaŽlla's best surface, as she has a big serve, and flat groundstrokes of flairsome power. She won 's-Hertogenbosch in 2006, and I thought that might be the tournament to snap her losing-streak this year. But she did it one week earlier, much to my delight.
Admittedly Poutchek was a weak opponent, and it would be interesting to see what problems surfaced for MichaŽlla against tougher opposition, but MichaŽlla definitely won the match with very impressive tennis.
KRAJÕČEK _?@* *@* 6
POUTCHEK ?___*___ 2
The match was on Centre Court, and started around 15:30 BST. I missed the first three games of the match because I had chosen to stay on Court 1 for the end of Lisicki v Stosur.
Poutchek serving 1-1: MichaŽlla broke Poutchek as I waited to come onto court at the changeover.
MichaŽlla serving 2-1: A long rally ended with Poutchek hitting a forehand wide. 15/0. Poutchek hit a pinpoint sliced backhand down the line, forcing MichaŽlla to hit a crosscourt forehand just wide. 30/0. Service-winner. 40/0. MichaŽlla forehand wide. 40/15. Serve + off-forehand winner. I realise that the point-descriptions don't agree with the scores in that game, but without a video or a Pensieve, I am unable to pinpoint my mistake.
Poutchek serving 1-3: MichaŽlla sliced backhand long. 15/0. Poutchek's depth forced MichaŽlla to hit a forehand lob long. 30/0. Poutchek hit a crosscourt forehand winner off a weak bunted crosscourt forehand from MichaŽlla. 40/0. Poutchek forehand dropshot-winner.
MichaŽlla serving 3-2: Ace down the middle. 15/0. A long rally ended with Poutchek netting a forehand. 30/0. Poutchek hit a backhand long, and muttered as is her wont. 40/0. MichaŽlla netted a forehand. 40/15. Serve + off-forehand winner back behind Poutchek.
Poutchek serving 2-4: MichaŽlla hit an error-forcing high forehand volley. 0/15. Poutchek netted a forehand on the third stroke. 0/30. Poutchek hit an off-backhand wide on the third stroke. 0/40. Poutchek netted a backhand on the third stroke.
MichaŽlla serving 5-2: MichaŽlla forehand smash-winner. 15/0. MichaŽlla came to the net, forcing Poutchek to hit a forehand lob long. 30/0. Poutchek hit a backhand wide, and smacked the court with her racket. 40/0 (SP #1). MichaŽlla on the third stroke hit a forehand wide. 40/15 (SP #2). A good serve forced a short return, which MichaŽlla dispatched with a crosscourt forehand winner.
KRAJÕČEK _*@*@*@ 6
POUTCHEK *______ 1
Poutchek serving 0-0: MichaŽlla ran down a dropshot but hit a forehand long. 15/0. With the wind rising, Poutchek hit a forehand long. 15/15. Double fault (second serve into the net). 15/30. Poutchek hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line, but MichaŽlla was right there - I think she left it. 30/30. MichaŽlla hit a forehand long, and reacted with a cute "ai". 40/30. MichaŽlla forehand long.
MichaŽlla serving 0-1: Ace out wide + "c'mon". 15/0. MichaŽlla netted a sliced backhand. 15/15. Poutchek netted a forehand return. 30/15. Poutchek forced MichaŽlla to hit a backhand long. 30/30. Serve out wide + off-forehand winner + "c'mon". 40/30. Poutchek hit a backhand wide, swore loudly and threw her racket.
Poutchek serving 1-1: MichaŽlla netted a forehand return. 15/0. Poutchek caught the outside edge of the sideline with an off-backhand winner. 30/0. MichaŽlla hit a crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline - my favourite shot of hers. 30/15. Poutchek netted a forehand. 30/30. Poutchek dumped a forehand halfway up the net. 30/40 (BP). A low bounce forced MichaŽlla to net a forehand. 40/40. MichaŽlla hit a backhand winner down Poutchek's backhand-sideline. Ad MichaŽlla (BP #2). Poutchek spread MichaŽlla, forcing her to net a backhand on the run. Deuce #2. MichaŽlla's deep return forced Poutchek to hit a forehand long. Ad MichaŽlla (BP #3). Poutchek backhand wide.
MichaŽlla serving 2-1: Service-winner down the middle. 15/0. MichaŽlla forced a defensive lob from Poutchek, and dispatched it with a forehand smash-winner. 30/0. Forehand return long. 40/0. MichaŽlla forced a short return, but netted a forehand. 40/15. MichaŽlla ran down a dropshot, and her own dropshot forced Poutchek to net a backhand pass.
Poutchek serving 1-3: A low-bouncing serve forced MichaŽlla to net a forehand return. 15/0. A long rally ended with MichaŽlla at the net and Poutchek hitting a backhand pass wide. 15/15. Poutchek netted a backhand. 15/30. MichaŽlla hit a short-angled crosscourt backhand winner. 15/40 (BP). Forehand return long. 30/40 (BP #2). Backhand return long. 40/40. A long rally ended with Poutchek netting a forehand. Ad MichaŽlla (BP #3). Poutchek dumped a backhand halfway up the net to hand the double break to MichaŽlla.
MichaŽlla serving 4-1: Double fault (second serve just wide). 0/15. MichaŽlla's deep forehand forced Poutchek to hit a forehand long; she muttered. 15/15. Ace down the middle. 30/15. MichaŽlla's deep forehand forced Poutchek to hit a forehand quarterway up the net. 40/15. MichaŽlla ran down a dropshot, and her short-angled crosscourt forehand died away on Poutchek for a virtual winner.
Poutchek serving 1-5: MichaŽlla hit a wild forehand wide. 15/0. A low bounce forced Poutchek to hit a forehand long. 15/15. Serve out wide + error-forcing crosscourt backhand. 30/15. Double fault (second serve *very* long). 30/30. Poutchek forehand long. 30/40 (MP #1). MichaŽlla hit a crosscourt backhand + short crosscourt forehand, forcing Poutchek to hit a forehand wide. MichaŽlla won 6-2 6-1 to snap her losing-streak at 16:35 BST, and there was a big smile on her face as she waited to shake hands on her first win of 2008.
KrajŪček Wins First Match Of Season at Birmingham
Some struggled and some rose from the ashes on a mixed day for the seeds at the DFS Classic on Tuesday. The first round came to an end, and the second round kicked off at the Tier III grass-court tournament.
No.8 seed MichaŽlla KrajŪček beat qualifier Tatiana Poutchek 6-2 6-1, while No.15 seed Ekaterina Makarova outlasted Angelique Kerber 6-7(3) 7-5 7-5.
KrajŪček's win was her first of the 2008 WTA Tour season. She was 0:10 coming into Birmingham, but in just under an hour - and by winning 90% of first-serve points - she cruised to victory on a surface she is very comfortable on.
"Of course this is awesome," said KrajŪček, who was a quarter-finalist last year at Wimbledon, and has a grass-court title to her name. "I've had some tight matches over the last few months, where I was ahead but just couldn't close them out. I was also injured, which didn't help. But in today's match, I served great and focused really hard from start to finish, and everything went the way I wanted. Grass suits my game as well, so that helped."
That losing-streak has hurt the Dutch teenager's ranking: having dťbuted in the top 30 in February, she just dropped out of the top 50 this week. But a change in surface and the pay-off from her hard work gives her hope.
"I've been working really hard, and I think I'm back on track now," KrajŪček continued. "I thought it would pay off in Paris but it didn't, so I'm happy now. I'm just going to enjoy this today - it was really important for me."
It's sad to see that MichaŽlla hasn't played since losing in the first round of Wimbledon - due to a knee-injury - and is now languishing at #135 in the rankings, having been high enough to be seeded at Birmingham before her Wimbledon 2007 quarter-final points came off.
Dr. Andrew Broad
(see profile or signature for links)
Last edited by andrewbroad; Dec 26th, 2008 at 11:42 PM.
Reason: edit Title