Another great day at the German Open.
But most likely the last one
for this year. (at least
1. Anca Barna def. Nicole Pratt 4-6 7-6 (7) 6-4
This match was an absolutely torture for everyone involved, including me.
3 hours and 7 minutes of grueling endless rallies, but at least Anca came through.
Anca had had 4 first-round losses coming into this tournament, and you could see that. Early in the first set she tried to play a bit more aggressive than usual, but as this resulted in errors, she went back to her usual game, keeping the ball in play and running everything down. And as Nicole was doing quite the same it became obvious that this wouldn't be a short match.
The only variety we had were some net-attacks by Anca (with little success, her volleys lack placement and aren't sharp enough) and lots of drop-shots by Nicole, and these were very successful, as Anca was far behind the baseline. These drop-shots were pretty much the reason that Nicole won the first set.
In the beginning of the 2nd set Anca really struggled with errors, and I thought she would go down now. But she saved two break-points at 1-1 and broke herself in the next game, going up 4-1 with some nice winners. Then both players took a bathroom break, and after that Anca could not keep up her good play, while Nicole used her drop-shot again. She broke back, and from 4-4 on it became a really battle.
At 4-4, Anca was down 15-40 and Nicole had an easy smash for the break, but she missed it and Anca could hold.
At 4-5, Nicole was 15-40 down so two set-points Anca but she wasted them with passive play and errors.
Anca held comfortably for 6-5.
At 5-6, Anca had another set-point but then she made 3 awful backhand errors in a row.
The tie-break was a real error-fest. 3-3, then 6-3 Anca and AGAIN she wasted all the set-points. You could really see that her confidence was low here and she didn't really know how to win. Another set-point (the 7th), wasted again. I knew that when Nicole would get her 1st match-point, she would take it.
But thank god Anca got her 8th set-point and Nicole helped her with an error. 9-7.
At the beginning of the 3rd (we were past 2 hours already) Nicole lost her patience a bit. She played some wild shots while Anca continued to keep the ball in play and that seemed to work as she broke Nicole twice and went up 4-1. Then Nicole woke up again and played with more control, getting one break back.
And then Anca showed signs of cramping in her legs so she asked for the trainer. A 2nd trainer came out to treat Nicole too.
Nicole seemed to be fitter though, and she held for 3-4. Anca didn't play smart here, still trying to rally instead of finishing the points faster.
But then Anca had a very good service-game for 5-3, even with a few nice points at the net. Nicole held, then Anca struggled with her service game but a few errors by Nicole let her close it out after 187 minutes.
This was extremely important for Anca's confidence, although it was an ugly win.
But pfffff that she has to play again tomorrow.
2. Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi def. Maggie Maleeva 6-3 6-1
Easy one for Anna. She played well, few errors (of course) but she was alos aggressive at times and hit some nice winners.
Maggie on the other hand had no patience and made lots of terrible errors. She didn't look very motivatred and more or less tanked the last two games. Poor effort.
3. Maria Sanchez Lorenzo def. Conchita Martinez 6-3 3-6 6-4
Another grueling 3-setter. Lots of oonballs and long rallies but still pretty good quality. Maria's patience was impressive, and she kept her nerves when it got close in the 3rd set. Conchita played very well at times but had several periods with terrible play and that finally cost her the match.
Like at the beiginning of the match when she couldn't find the court at all as she was down 0-4. Conchita got a bit stronger then but still couldn't hold serve so the set went to Maria.
Another bad start into the 2nd set for Conchita (0-2), and it didn't look good for her. But then she finally decided to play more aggressive, and she now put Maria under pressure. Maria had to run a lot and she looked a bit tired at times. At the end of the 2nd set it seemed like Conchita might have an easy time in the 3rd set.
But again a bad start with 0-2, then 2-2 but more bad games followed and Maria who still played consistently well with very few errors looked like the winner at 5-2 serving. Conchita didn't give up though. She focused better again and stopped making errors, so in the next few games they had some of the longest rallies of the match, with Conchita winning most of them. But she couldn't keep it up long enough. At 4-5 she made a few crucial errors, so Maria just managed to get through for a deserved win.
1. Myskina/Zvonareva def. Li/Sun 6-4 6-4
A very close match which took almost 2 hours. Vera and Anastasia had a hard time with the Chinese girls who are a good pair: they can stay with them from the baseline and have decent volleys (they aren't sharp enough though, and that cost them the match).
Vera/Nastya went up 3-0 fast but Li/Sun broke back and levelled the set at 4-4, only to lose the next two games and the set.
In the second set Nastya struggled with her serve, losing it twice. Li/Sun went up 2-0, then Sun had a marathon service game at 3-2 (about 15 minutes) which she finally lost. Vera/Nastya broke again for 5-3 but Li/Sun broke back. But again Sun couldn't hold because she made too many errors. Still Vera/Nastya needed 5 match-points to close out the match.
2. Julia Schruff def. Meilen Tu 6-1 6-1
Julia played a great match. Very powerful from the baseline with few errors, and also only few double-faults. She really dominated this.
Meilen was awful. She played a hit-or-miss game, and it was miss most of the time. She looked a bit phlegmatic too and moved like a snail between points. Not her day.
3. Paola Suarez def. Anabel Medina Garrigues
Good rallies. Anabel usually dominated them but couldn't finish them off successfully. Paola ran a lot and made fewer errors.
It looked like a really easy win for Paola when she was up 6-2 4-1 with two breaks. But Anabel fought well and broke back. Then Paola needed treatment on her ankle but she still moved OK after that.
Anabel worked and got the other break back as well. But at 5-5 she made 4 bad errors to lose her serve, and Paola could serve it out after Anabel wasted another break-point. Anabel screamed a lot BTW and after she had lost she threw her racket across the court.
4. Rittner/Peschke def. Dementieva/Sprem 7-6 (2) 7-6 (7)
I will modify my opinion on Barbara: she should retire from singles, but she should continue to play doubles with Kveta as they are a good team. Kveta was by far the best player on the court, she has great hands at the net and she can PLAY doubles.
Still they needed some help to win, and it came from Elena and her serve. It's just as awful as ever. It was so bad that the spectators were making fun of it and doing funny faces before each of her 2nd serves. She served for the 2nd set at 6-5 and double-faulted 4 times !
The following tie-break was dramatic. Barbara/Kveta led 4-0 and then 6-3 but Elena/Karolina fought nicely. But again it was Kveta who decided the match with some great winners.
1. Jelena Kostanic def. Tina Pisnik 7-6 (4) 6-3
I didn't see much of it but from what I saw I would say it was a good (and close) match. Tina has great touch at the net, she scored some nice points there.
But Jelena was just a bit more steady and aggressive from the baseline, and I think that decided the match.
2. Emmanuelle Gagliardi def. Cara Black 6-1 6-3
Again I didn't see that much, but I can say that Manu played well, much better than against Rittner in qualies. She dominated the match from the baseline, and there wasn't anything Cara could have done. Easy victory.
3. Stephanie Cohen-Aloro def. Stefanie Gehrlein 6-3 7-5
Interesting match. SG has great flat groundstrokes, especially the forehand and she scored many nice winners with them, but also many (in the end too many) errors.
SCA's shots are less powerful but she has more variety. She can play all kinds of spin, slice and heavy top-spin (very effective on outside courts with little room behind the baseline).
Many breaks in the first set. SCA had nosebleeds at 3-2 but it wasn't that bad. In the 2nd set SG went up 3-1 and 5-3 (and had 30-0 at 5-4) but she couldn't hold serve consistently so SCA still managed a solid win.
4. Stewart/Stosur def. Hantuchova/Safina 0-6 6-1 6-4
Best player (at least at net): Bryanne Stewart.
Wort player by far: Daniela.
Daniela was really awful. Totally hopeless at net, hardly any decent volleys. Dinara wasn't much better either, they just weren't a good pair.
They still won the first 7 games because Bryanne and Samantha couldn't find the court in the beginning. But then they began to play better and Dinara/Dani fell apart. Bryanne was the only one of the 4 who was actually good at the net. The 3rd set was very close, at 4-4 Dinara served and the game was very very long with lots of chances for Dinara to hold but she kept missing them and was very frustrated. Finally the Aussies broke and held easily to win the match.
1. Denisa Chladkova def. Arancha Parra 6-4 6-0
2. Marta Marrero def. Maria Elena Camerin 6-2 6-3
Again I only saw a little, but Marta seemed to dominate from the baseline. She's in good form.
3. Elena Bovina def. Zi Yan 6-7 (5) 7-5 6-2
Great battle. Yan really impressed me, at least until her choke. She plays two-handed from both sides, very powerful (a bit like Monica) and she had many great winners.
Elena played quite well too, but I have to say that she is really thin, actually too thin I would say. I didn't know that she's coached by Larisa Neiland.
I only saw the match from 5-5 in the first and there were many great rallies. Elena held with a struggle and was then up 40-0 on Yan's serve, but Yan fought back, held and took the tie-break 7-5 as Elena made a few more errors.
In the 2nd Elena was quickly down 0-3, then broke back for 2-3 only to lose serve again. It looked to be over when Yan held for 5-2, but Elena didn't give up and kept playing her game, putting pressure on Yan. And suddenly Yan's game completely fell apart, she made tons of errors and had no more winners, so Elena easily won the next 5 games and also went up 3-0 in the 3rd. I guess tiredness played a part in Yan's meltdown, her shots lacked power now and Elena could easily dominate the rallies. In the last few games she went to the net a lot and did pretty well there, she should keep doing that in her next matches.
4. Sanchez-Vicario/Pierce def. Jidkova/Garbin 6-4 6-1
Easy win. Arantxa and Mary didn't have to do much as Alina and Tathiana were just too weak and made lots of errors. The first set was close but the 2nd was a cakewalk.
Arantxa looked pretty good. She played well at the net and also from the baseline, so she's obviously not rusty. Mary played OK too and she played some fun shots. Overall a good warm-up for them.
On the practice courts I saw:
Jelena D. + Karolina.
Conchita + Roesch.
Svetlana, already at 1 pm.
Daniela + Dinara.
Maghann + Ai.
Gisela Dulko + Golovin.
Petra + Barbara S.
Venus had a light session too. She still had her thigh strapped.
I didn't see Kim.