Mods: feel free to move this into the Challenger
pit of darkness and oblivion
subforum. It's just that I am more of a GM regular, and it makes more sense to me to post threads here. Not to mention that it's likely more people will get to read it.
So I printed out a satellite image from Google Earth for directions and went to the Pestana (lit. "eyelash") Tennis Academy to check out the SF of the Beloura I 25K.
The venue is interesting. It stands in the middle of a recently developed upscale garden city, and is surprisingly cluttered. The Eyelash Academy was still running even as the tournament went on apparently - when I got there, two of the outdoor claycourts were being used for tennis lessons, and there were lots of club and pro players, coaches and other hangers-on milling about in a rather small area. The SF took place inside a dreary industrial storehouse/barn-like building, complete with large sliding door (kept open - no air conditioning). My first photo turned out completely dark, so I asked a lady with one of those big ass cameras who was right beside me to set my camera in a way I could take some halfway decent photos. I eventually settled at the academy's small bar, which overlooked the main court (which had no proper stands, only a few plastic chairs thrown about) and doubled as improvised players' lounge and Mariana Alves' office, and sat there surrounded by players, their eccentric looking coaches, a few assorted civilians, and a couple of fellows who were resupplying the vending machines.
Not much point in going into details about how the match went after so many days.
Match was scheduled for 11:30, but only began near noon, and went on for about two hours and a half, due to several injury timeouts to dress wounds on Janshen's knees, but also due to Janshen's endless stalling and nonstop gamesmanship. She did enough to get defaulted about 30 times - at one time turning to the clueless chair umpire and daring him to default her, going "Say it - code violation. Code violation. Go on and say it." after getting a point penalty for her second code violation warning (the first was for racquet abuse).
Vögele wasted a few BPs here and there, but Janshen was usually in control of the rallies, hitting harder, deeper and with more consistency. The outcome was never really in doubt, unless Janshen's level dropped dramatically.
Janshen served for the 1st set at 5*-3 but got broken to love; then wasted a SP on Vögele's serve at 6-5*, but closed it out in the TB.
2nd set opened with a colossal ace from Vögele, followed by an exchange of breaks. Janshen was awarded a point penalty when BP down, and thus Vögele got the opportunity to serve to close out the set at 3-5*, but she got broken and didn't win another game.
Janshen is 19 y.o., and has only just begun to play challengers, with near immediate success. She's skilled and wily, using touch shots to good effect, and a decent mover and hitter for this level. Her BH is the closest thing she has to a weapon, and her serve is also not a liability (again, for this level). There's also a possibility that she was yet another one of those qualifiers who just went on a roll and during a week couldn't miss a shot even if they tried.
Vögele is a slight, unprepossessing, low-key girl who looks her age (17). It's so easy to forget that amazons such as Vaidisova are the exception rather than the rule.
Vögele's almost single weapon is her serve. Her service motion is textbook: quick, smooth and almost austere in its simplicity. Even on clay, it seems she can close out her service games with ease if she gets her 1st serve going.
Vögele's FH is club player level. She can't use it to attack, but it looks as if she's working to be able to use it to move the ball around at least. When forced to hit her FH on the move, she can only moonball or shank it badly. But she did hit a couple of surprisingly good running FHs late on the 2nd set. Her BH is a much stronger shot, but still not powerful enough to hit groundstroke winners, even against the likes of Janshen. Vögele won very few baseline rallies on this match. Plus she's at a loss as to what to do when she reaches the net, and her shot selection is poor.
Other quirks in Vögele's game:
- always positions herself to avoid her FH when returning serve; her ROS is always a deep BH.
- her 1st serve is always sliced down the T to the ad court, and nearly always sliced out wide to the deuce court. On occasion she will hit a big flat serve down the T to the deuce court, usually taking her opponent by surprise. Her 2nd serve is a reliable, decent kicker. Janshen seldom managed to attack it.
Photos (which did turn out crap in the end; these are actually the least bad):
Vögele and her blue necklace:
Bad girl Janshen: