AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); Grand Slam)
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First set of Bepa v Hingis:
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First round (Tuesday 17th)
- VERA ZVONARËVA  lt. Martina Hingis [WC], 6-1 6-2
Bepa suffered the most embarrassing loss of her career: a dispapsinating scoreline against a player just coming out of retirement after three years, and on the centre-court of a Grand Slam at prime-time.
But Hingis is a three-time Australian Open champion (five Grand Slams in total), amazingly still only 25 years old, and looked to have lost none of her class. She frustrated Bepa with her all-court control, and all the pressure was on Bepa in terms of being the seeded player not supposed to lose to the world #349.
So it proved to be a nightmare first-round draw - and Bepa had only ever lost once before in the first round of a Grand Slam (Australian Open 2003, to Elena Bovina).
Commentator John Lloyd had said he expected Hingis to get back to the top 20 but not the top 10, but he was so amazed by Hingis's performance against Bepa that he hastily revised that prediction!
BBCi reneged on their agreement to show Bepa's match, showing a full replay of Murray v Chela instead!
So I followed live scores at www.AustralianOpen.com
, and have extracted some details of play from the following scores-thread:
I later watched the video of the first set (link above). Bepa started off hitting the ball hard and well, with the acoustics of the Rod Laver Arena providing a lovely "thock" every time she hit a groundstroke.
But errors crept into Bepa's game after she led 40/15 on Hingis's serve in the first game, and Hingis was also ruthless in exploiting anything short or floating from Bepa, often managing to finish the points at the net. Hingis made very few errors herself, and Bepa was under constant pressure both tennis-wise and mentally.
Even when Bepa played well, she found it very difficult to hurt Hingis because Hingis anticipates so well - it's just so difficult to create a gap on the court against Hingis, while Hingis opened the court very effectively against Bepa with some pinpoint groundstrokes down the lines.
ZVONAR ___*___ 1
HINGIS *@* *@* 6
Due to a late finish to the day-session, the match started at exactly 20:00 AEST (and had to be still going at 21:16 to have any chance of being televised on BBCi, as Murray lost to Chela in 1h46m, and BBCi started showing that at 19:30 AEST - in other words, Bepa v Hingis had to last more than 1h16m).
Hingis serving 0-0: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad H, Deuce #2, ad B (BP #3), Deuce #3, ad H, held.
Bepa needs to exploit Hingis's weak serves, and not squander break-point opportunities with errors as she did there.
Bepa serving 0-1: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.
Apparently Bepa is looking nervous, and complaining about music being played (it was Pat Cash's band, and they were forced to stop after Bepa's complaint).
Hingis serving 2-0: 30/0, Bepa backhand pass-winner, 30/15, 40/15, held.
I hope this is an indication of a long win for Bepa rather than a quick one for Hingis!
Bepa already appears to be crying into her towel at the changeover.
Bepa serving 0-3: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), 30/40, Bepa forehand winner, 40/40, ace, ad B, Deuce #2, ad B, held.
Phew! A very, very important game for Bepa - and hopefully a turning-point rather than a minor bump in the road for Hingis!
I still have raw memories of some very embarrassing losses that Monica Seles suffered at the hands of Hingis in the olden days.
Hingis serving 3-1: 30/0. Bepa forehand return-winner DTL. Bepa forehand smash-winner. 30/30, 40/30, held.
Bepa threw her racket against the court, it bounced back up and the handle smacked her in the face.
Bepa serving 1-4: Bepa crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline. 15/0, 30/0, 30/15. Bepa hit a sweet backhand down the line to set up a backhand drive-volley winner off a lob from Hingis. 40/15 -> 40/40, ad B, Deuce #2, ad B, Deuce #3, ad H (BP), broken.
Four wasted game-points, and a scoreline that Bepa does not deserve.
Female ESPN commentator: "[Bepa] always looks flushed; she always looks like there should be smoke coming off the top of her head."
Demented seagulls were screeching above the court.
Male ESPN commentator: "Are those buzzards, circling overhead, for Zvonarëva?"
Hingis serving for the first set at 5-1: 0/15, 30/15, 30/30. Hingis forehand smash-winner. 40/30 (SP). Hingis won the first set 6-1 with an off-forehand winner at 20:36 AEST (36m).
Bepa looked distraught as she walked to her chair (at the end of the video), and apparently spent the set-break in tears.
The question now is: can Bepa detain Hingis for over 40 minutes more and get televised?
ZVONAR __*___*_ 2
HINGIS @* *@* * 6
Bepa serving 0-1: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.
Hingis serving 1-0: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad H, held.
Bepa serving 0-2: 15/15, 30/30, 40/30
C'MON BEPA!! 26 minutes more and I'll see you on TV!
Hingis serving 2-1: held to love (T minus 23 minutes).
Bepa serving 1-3: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), 30/40, broken (T minus 20 minutes). Bepa throws her racket and bursts into tears.
Hingis serving 4-1: 0/15, 40/15, held (T minus 16 minutes).
Bepa serving to stay in the match at 1-5: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held (T minus 14 minutes).
Hingis serving for the match at 5-2: 0/15, 40/15 (2 MPs), Hingis won 6-1 6-2 at 21:04 (1h04m).
Bepa had a W:UE ratio of 10:21, Hingis 17:11.
Bepa got 52% of first serves in, winning 58% of the points when she did so, and 33% on second serve (Hingis 67%, 74% and 65%).
Hingis broke 4 times from 7 break-points, while Bepa failed to convert 3 break-points.
Hingis beat Bepa by 62 points to 38.
"This so far was the best match I've played since I came back. I wouldn't necessarily say that it was easy, I just played really well. I don't know, I just didn't make many unforced errors, stick to my strategy, pretty much did what I was supposed to do out there.
"I just think I just really carry myself that way from the past years, just knew what I had to do, how to play well. I was thinking, 'what did I used to do on this surface?'. I mean, I practise on this every day in and out at home, though it's indoors, [it] might be different. Still, you know, I love the surface - I love coming here.
"I've been living a different lifestyle, but never really walked away totally from tennis. Even tonight, it didn't seem like it was that long ago. I knew I was well-prepared for the situation, for the occasion. If I wasn't, maybe it's a different story. But I knew, you know, tonight I felt close to being 100% like physically, mentally, everything.
"I mean, I really felt well going on court today. Being a night-match, it's a little cooler, you don't have to really face the humidity and the heat. It definitely helps when you know that you can last probably longer, because that was always my biggest fear, can I really last physically?
"It was beautiful to walk in there. I mean, already the previous days I got to practise there. Really a lot of players say it's kind of slow surface, this and that, but any time I come back into these grounds, it just feels amazing. There were so many memories coming back. I love coming back here, and this stadium has been so great to me.
"Although it was still empty when I was practising, you could feel the atmosphere already of a Grand Slam. So many memories coming also back here, thinking about, you know, all the previous years.
"I'm just really happy that I won tonight. I'm probably more eager to win now than when I was a 17-year-old.
"I don't know, just hopefully, day by day I can even improve and get better, carry myself really with the occasion and step it up in the next matches. But I know I'm facing a tough draw."
VERA ZVONARËVA/ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA :
1r + Beti Sekulovski/Cindy Watson [WC], 6-2 6-3
2r + Viktoriya Kutuzova/Anastassia Rodionova, 6-3 6-2
3r + Stéphanie Foretz/Antonella Serra Zanetti, 6-2 6-1
qf - ANNA-LENA GRÖNEFELD/MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY , 6-3 6-3
VERA ZVONARËVA/BOB BRYAN :
1r + Sania Mirza/Stephen Huss, 6-3 6-3
2r + Lucie Šafárová/Leoš Friedl, 6-2 6-1
qf - ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA/DANIEL NESTOR , 6-4 6-4
Ironic that Bepa and Elena were on opposite sides of the court today.
And to add insult to injury, Bob said that he would rather have played mixed doubles with Hingis than with Bepa.
Dr. Andrew Broad