reports from Dubai
Olga cruises as Angelique, Camille and Galina win
By Moni Mathews
THE $100,000 plus ITF sanctioned Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge for women went a gear higher on the third day at the Metropolitan Resort and Beach last night.
Playing with greater precision than seen on the opening days, four girls, good enough to be in top flight women’s tennis a short time from now, made the quarter-final grades in contrasting styles.
Most impressive into the grove right from the word go in the pre-quarter-finals was Belarusian beauty Olga Barabanchikova who will easily put Anna Kournikova shades lower in terms of game ability and physical looks.
She made short work of Al Habtoor veteran Katalin-Marosi Aracama without losing a game (6-0, 6-0) in her short and sweet 35-minute episode on Court 1.
“I was playing really good today. I want to get back to where I belong. The long layoff due to injury and personal reasons have cost me a lot. I know I have the game and I want to do justice to the early promise shown in my career,” Olga, 433 in the world and a wild card here, said.
Olga who reached glorious heights in the junior Wimbledon some years back, is 22 now, and plans on a comeback in her tennis career.
There was hardly anything right 214 world ranked wild card Katalin could do in the last pre-quarterfinal singles game for the night and knowing the frame of mind that she was in, we did not press her for post match statements.
Giant-killer Galina Fokina (Russia) the 189 listed player in WTA had a 6-4, 6-2 win over Austrian hopeful, 174th world ranked Patricia Wartusch.
“Wartusch was on 60 in the world a couple of years back. I was into time-off recovering from an operation and I have been her coach for the past six months back.
“There are bound to be some ups and downs in a playing career. Patricia is 22 now and still has a future. Further Galina is playing well after upsetting the top seed on Monday,” said Stefan Leiner, Wartucsh’s coach, a former Austrian player in the men’s circuit.
WTA 199 Camille Pin from France booked a last eight slot beating Olga Blahotova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (3), 6-4 where the first set was a real touch and go affair.
Blahotova was a trifle unlucky to lose serve early which Camille relied upon to settle for a two-game margin in the end.
The day’s best fought match was on Court 1 where crowd favourite, the polite and soft spoken Angelique Widjaja fought from nowhere to clinch a 6-7 (2), 7-5, 6-1 triumph against the veteran Laurence Andretto from France.
Laurence, with a lot more of firepower in her game especially in her first serve and forehands than in previous years here also had a beautiful sliced backhand.
She had a ding dong battle in the first set before squeezing home 7-6 with an impressive tie-break scoreline of 7-2.
Laurence cruising along fine on the same lines when she led 3-2, 4-2 and held serve to sit pretty at 5-2 in the second set..
Angelique at this stage hampered by indifferent form when it came to her chips at the net and forehands, approached the game with a nothing to lose attitude which paid off.
The wiry Bandung based Wimbledon junior champ held serve to reduce it to 3-5, broke Laurence next for 4-5 and held again to square matters.
In the 11th, Angelique broke through on love game for 6-5 and finally served her way past 0-30 to clinch the set at 7-5 and force the rubber.
The third set was an anti-climax as a visibly tired Laurence began to make mistakes like in the late part of the second set.
“Laurence is a great fighter but she looked tired and could not play like in the beginning. I played with a more relaxed mind but never gave up when down 2-5 in the second after the narrow first set loss. I made her run more with cross court shots but my chips were not working at all today,” said Angelique.
Wimbledon junior champion impresses
By Moni Mathews
WIMBLEDON junior champion, world junior number five and Asia number four, Angelique Widjaja was as impressive as her credentials during play when she inflicted a 6-1, 6-1 whitewash on Belarus’s Al Habtoor regular, Nedejda Ostrovskaya yesterday in the $100,000 plus Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge.
On a busy second day when no less than 12 of the 14-match first round schedule were completed by 2100hrs, there were two upsets but not in the proportions of Day One when top seed Tatiana Poutchek of Belarus was shown the exit door by 18-year-old outsider, Russian Galina Fokina.
Alena Vaskova (Czech Republic), the seventh seed and world 126 went crashing in round one of the bottom half of the draw when team-mate Olga Blahatova, listed at 204, won 6-3, 6-2.
Following Vaskova was eighth seed Morrocan Bahia Mouhtassine, another Al Habtoor veteran.
Bahia fought back from the brink in the first set after being down 4-5 and against serve in the 10th to force out a 7-6 tie break decision in her favour against Belarusian Olga Barabanchiko.
Olga made amends with better controlled volleying and cross court shots to clinch the second set 6-3 and broke through Bahia’s armoury against serve in the ninth of the third set for 5-4 before wrapping up the issue 6-4 on her serve.
Stocky Bahia, rated 142 in the world, looked a tired player in the rubber against her taller and strongly built opponent. Her deep volleying suffered most as the returns without much punch were punished at will by the Belarusian world number 433.
Leading the seeds’ charge was Angelique with her superior court craft and intelligent play against Nedejda who found the going tough against the 17-year-old Bandung based Indonesian.
Angelique has the distinction of perhaps being the only player to have won a WTA tournament on debut when she won the previous $170,000 Bali Open. Angelique was then ranked 579 in the world and was given a wild card into the main draw on the strength of her being a promising local junior.
She has not looked back since.
Seeded six here and rated 128 in the world currently, Angelique found the conditions here to her liking. “The game was good but my opponent made a lot of errors on both hands,” she said.
Backed by her personal coach and ex-Indonesian Davis Cupper, Deddy Tedjamukti, the wiry Indonesian schoolgirl who these days only attend school part-time because of her fast improving status in the tennis world, won the first set 6-1 after breaking early against Nedejda.
The first set lasted hardly 18 minutes and the second went a few minutes longer because Nedejda was able to find better depth in her returns which the clever Angelique countered with a change in pace.
Angelique varied in her approach strokes by including the chip near the net and indulged in some serve and volley tactics to catch Nedejda on the wrong foot. Angelique’s forte, the forehand, hit with a lot of power but without much sound during impact between the ball and the strings, had the Belarusian baffled.
Denmark’s second seed Eva Dyrberg was to meet Italian Roberta Vinci in a late night game.
Angelique next runs into Al Habtoor senior, Frenchwoman Laurence Andretto and if she clears this, will probably have an interesting quarter-final clash with Eva in the bottom half.
Also in the bottom half, world 100 Seda Noorlander, who has big victories in her name against some of the big names in the WTA circuit, had a quick 6-2, 6-2 victory over team-mate Yvette Basting in a first round fixture.
Venezuelan debutant here, Maria Vento-Kabchi downed Luxembourg’s Claudine Schaul 6-0, 6-3, again in the bottom half.
Fifth seed Czech lady Klara Koukalova kept her second round appointment intact with a 7-5, 6-3 scoreline against German Adriana Barna of Germany.
Last year’s runner-up fourth seeded Aniko Kapros from Hungary was quick to get her second round warm-up with a 6-4, 6-0 first hurdle clearance over French entry Lea Girardi.
Austria’s Patricia Wartusch had to work hard for her 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 top half first round encounter against Italian Flavia Penetta.
In a clash of the qualifiers, Russian Ekaterina Syssoeva defeated Hong Kong’s top player Tong Ka Pong 6-2, 6-4.
In doubles action, the Klemenschits twins (Austria), Daniela and Sandra, sailed past Caroline-Ann Basu (Germany) and Maria Pavlidou 6-1, 6-2 while Russian pair Ekaternia and Goulnara Fattakhetdinc ousted Christine Fitz (Germany) and Eugenia Subbotina (Belarus) 7-5, 6-2.