The Wimbledon qualies have to be the best value event for tennis fans. Absolutely free, and you get up close to the players and the matches. The players are wandering around the grounds among the spectators while waiting for their matches, or just sitting around at the outside tables having some food and chatting with coaches. Go along if you’re in the vicinity and have the time.
A quick report of the matches I saw today, and my quest to see some real grass court tennis.
Muguruza Blanco vs. Svitolina 6-3, 6-0
I had to take a look at this because of the discussion about Blanco here on TF. I was quite impressed – she hits some lovely deep balls to the corners. Poor Svitolina folded like a cheap tent after being broken in the second. Her coach (sitting next to me) was trying to keep her going while dictating notes into his iPhone. Her head hung lower and lower as the match progessed, with balls frequently going into the bottom of the net. She needs to focus her fight on the opponent rather than on throwing her raquet. (Oh, and at no point was any traditional grass court tennis played…)
Lefty Koehler vs. Ivanova (makes me think of Babylon 5…) 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
Koehler is a big girl who tries to hit big – sometimes it works, and sometimes it just doesn’t
. As so frequently happens, the wheels came off a bit after she lost a long deuce game. Still, she pulled it back with a great deal of loud muttering to herself. (Still no sign of any real grass court tennis).
Lefty Pliskova sister (Kristyna) vs. Puchkova 6-3, 6-4
A tale of serving really – Puchkova could do nothing much to counter Pliskova’s serve. Righty sister provided support from the sidelines (some major tattooage going on with those two…). She served well (again) to close out the match. (Meanwhile I was still waiting for a glimpse of some real grass court tennis.)
Karatantcheva vs. Brengle 6-3, 6-4
Sesil. Hmmmm. Another player I wanted to see because of the discussion about her in TF. Not very hard hitting or serving, to say the very least. Not my kind of tennis, but hey, an entertainment for some. Brengle has a rinky dink serve, particularly on the second, and she loves to retreat to the baseline just when you think a net rush might be looming. She had to contend with some spectcularly shitty line calls – I was right on the baseline and a few were laughable. Brengle got in some great commentary on her own game though. “Oh my god find a new job!” and, “Oh my god somebody please kill me now!” after a particularly poor forehand.
Needless to say I was still waiting to see a volley that was struck voluntarily, rather than forced by the opponent.
Saisai Zheng vs. Santos Pereira 6-2, 7-6, 6-4
Hallelujah! At 13:44 in the afternoon I finally witnessed the first voluntary net rush of the day!
Golden Flower Saisai! And on the first point of the match.
OK she lost the point, but got the next two and broke to open. Now this is my kind of game. Big serving from both, big hitting, but also some nice slicing and volleying. And some interesting variety on the serve from Zheng. Really she should have closed out in two. (I might add that 3 GAMES were played in this match in the space of time it took to play 3 POINTS in Sesil’s war of attrition on the adjacent court.) This was the best match IMHO, but the biggest cheering sections were in attendance for Sesil and the tattooed sisters.
The Larcher de Brito experience (won by retirement)
She started off quietly – I was two courts away. I could see her, but didn’t hear her at first. Actually I was a bit disappointed. Has she toned down the screaming?
Admittedly I did hear her at one point when there was a helicopter AND a BA 747 overhead, but really I’ve heard worse from Masha and Vika.
All in all a great day. Highly recommended.