Warsaw - reports on televised matches
I know that reports on televised matches are useless by definition, and these are all ancient history because they're already a few days old, but I wanted to collect my own thoughts, particularly on the Ivanovic vs Chakvetadze match. It was the first time I saw Anna Chak play and it was a huge surprise.
I merged them onto a single post because I didn't feel like digging up the threads on all four individual matches, which are all long buried anyway.
VENUS WILLIAMS vs HINGIS
This match was a hoot.
Hingis played about 60% of what she played at the AO, making many needless UEs and showing herself to be completely unable to keep Venus from entering the court (all she had to do was to hit deep; it's not that difficult); Venus was hitting awful UEs (some of which went out by kms) by the truckload and yet won.
Venus huge range and stride mean she's a decent defender; her powerful BH allowed her to enter the court and control just about every point. Her countless UEs are a direct consequence of her playing style, which can be summed up as "Hit everything damn hard even if you don't really have to". I have to admit it was kind of funny to see where Venus placed herself to return Hingis' serve, but this brutal, unrefined game isn't for me.
Hingis' game since her comeback is that of a glorified Smashnova, and against Venus that just won't do. Clay makes her pitiful serve even easier to blast away, and she's not the most accomplished clay mover. Throughout the match, she was always one step away from being completely flattened, and only Venus' inconsistency prevented a complete rout from happening. The way Venus blasted away her serves was just embarrassing. I was thinking "Tennis is also an athletic contest. If you're not strong enough to play it, go into telemarketing or something."
ANNA CHAK vs IVANOVIC
The main features of Ivanovic's game are well known: a huge serve that when it's on makes her nearly unbreakable and a huge FH, one of the most powerful on the Tour. Her firepower is such that one fully expects to see her surrounded by a team of gunners, an ammunition limber and a prime mover. The problems are well known too: poor movement, reflexes and footwork, and an inability to keep her game at the same high throughout a match. As long as her first serve percentage is decent and her FH is on target, she can blow anyone off the court. But she tends to be unable to keep both going for more than a set.
Ivanovic is improving her defensive skills - she can now hit defensive slices from awkward positions, for instance. The problem is that just about any position that actually requires her to move her big frame around even just a bit is an awkward one. She tries to make up for her shortcomings in mobility with her fighting spirit, but sometimes it's not enough.
Anna Chak is a more dangerous version of Kirilenko; Kirilenko's game is pretty but remains somewhat ineffective against more powerful players. Anna Chak's isn't as flashy, but it can be deadlier.
Anna Chak is a very interesting player, with a balanced mix of mobility, firepower and shot variety. She has a good all-round game, something so few players have these days. All she has to do to crack the top (maybe top 20, probably not more) is to improve her consistency; she still makes too may needless errors (Kirilenko here has the edge).
Her FH is both powerful and versatile; it can go to any side of the court with just a flick of her wrist. Her BH ranges from hitting breathtaking winners to being unreliable. Her first serve is pretty good when it's working (during this match, not that often).
Anna Chak turned the match around once she realized all she had to do was not to hit the ball straight back at Ivanovic but rather to move her around (and for that her FH was instrumental), sending the ball left and right until Ivanovic was left ragged, and forced into UEs while trying to finish points off faster.
Anyway, the best was saved for last – who would have thought that, after Ivanovic saved all those MPs on her serve with some simply brilliant play, Anna Chak, whose serve had been a bit shaky until then, would come up with such a confident performance when serving to close out the match?
This was a textbook demolition of a more powerful opponent by a slighter but more versatile player. Hingis should watch this match – she might learn a thing or two.
LENA vs A. RADWANSKA
ES showed only the first set and the first half of the second.
Radwanska is very fast and an excellent defender – she belongs to a breed of player that is quickly disappearing.
Lena entered the match "cold" so to speak, making a few UEs here and there (which was more than enough to keep the score tied vs a player as consistent as Radwanska), not moving as well as she usually does, and squandering one opportunity to take the lead in the score after the other. She didn't hit that many DFs, but her serve was for the most weak, predictable and easy to attack. She held serve brilliantly (for her standards) until serving for the set – then the DFs and the usual DRAMA she seemingly can't live without appeared again. Lena is also a great defender when she's on (all the muscle she packs allows her to hit big shots out of defensive positions), so there were some amazing rallies. But the way she lost the first set would be enough evidence that, no matter how exhilarating her game can be, in normal circumstances she'll never be a contender for big titles.
CLIJSTERS vs KUZNETSOVA
Interesting match, which exposed both some of Clijsters main strengths and Kuznetsova's main weaknesses. Both players played very aggressively and really went for their shots. As the Portuguese ES commentator perceptively remarked, this looked like a match played on a much faster surface than the disgusting muck the Poles had for clay.
Kim was looking like a million bucks. It's a mystery to me why she hasn’t got even more fans. She's sweet, she's cute without being intimidatingly beautiful, she wins titles by the truckload which should attract glory hunters…
Clijsters' strengths: the best defender on the Tour, and also the best counterattacker; those running FHs that turn a point around are simply awesome, and some of her DTL BHs were to die for
Kuznetsova's weaknesses: merely average mobility and footwork, flaws that will lead her to sometimes reach balls late and make errors, and which are most evident when Kuznetsova is put under pressure – which Clijsters managed to do quite often – and inconsistency and rashness that will lead her to go for winners prematurely
Clijsters, who has had some problems with her serve since her injury at the AO, was serving very well, and her FH was both stronger and more consistent than Kuznetsova's own "Scourge of God" FH, who wasn't playing at her best.
Last edited by Corswandt; May 9th, 2006 at 12:34 AM.