Birmingham 2007: Andrew's eyewitness reports & photos (1r + 2r + 3r)
DFS CLASSIC (Edgbaston, Birmingham, England; grass; WTA Tier III)
2. General observations
3. First-round eyewitness report: Kirilenko v Kops-Jones
1.1 My photos
I have uploaded all my photos for Monday 11th June 2007, in one big zip-file, to:
Maria Kirilenko (31 photos)
Sania Mirza (21)
Yuliana Fedak (20)
Maria Elena Camerin (14)
Eva Birnerová (12)
Michaëlla Krajíček (11)
Olga Govortsova (9)
Raquel Kops-Jones (7)
Permission to copy my Birmingham photos is granted provided that:
(a) no money is exchanged;
(b) they are labelled as "Copyright 2007 Andrew Broad".
Please let me know if you do use them on another website.
1.2 Other photos
Search Getty Images for "kirilenko"
2. General observations
I watched all three of Maria's matches here, so I'll start with some general observations.
I always call her 'Little Maria' (because I'm a fan of Maria Sharapova), but she looked much bigger than the frail 17-year-old I saw at Birmingham 2004! She's definitely become taller (5'8") and bulked up since then. But she did seem younger and cuter later in the week than in her first-round match.
Maria has had a rough old time of it this year: she came into Birmingham 2007 with a win/loss record of 8:14 for the year so far, having snapped a six-match losing-streak at the French Open.
And grass had historically been a bad surface for her - at least at Wimbledon, where she has a 1:4 win/loss record. Her records at Birmingham and 's-Hertogenbosch actually aren't so bad.
At Birmingham 2007, Maria played the best tennis I've ever seen her play. She's learning how to utilise her strengths on grass: not just trying to slug it out from the baseline like a miniature Maria Sharapova, but mixing it up with sliced backhands (she really can impart some vicious underspin) and forays to the net. Her serve has improved a lot, and her returns have always been fantastic, as has her footwork.
On the other hand, Maria leaves herself so exposed at the net sometimes, and also let herself down with some wayward forehands and ill-advised dropshots during her third-round loss to Jelena Janković. But there are a lot of positives she can take from this tournament after her slump.
3. First-round eyewitness report: Kirilenko v Kops-Jones (Monday 11th June)
+ MARIA KIRILENKO [16,DF] d. Raquel Kops-Jones [Q], 6-3 6-3
I saw Maria's whole first-round match on Centre Court.
I had never heard of Raquel Kops-Jones before this tournament; she was playing her first main-draw WTA-tournament at the age of 24.
So I reckoned that even a slumping, grass-hating Maria should have been able to dismiss Kops-Jones for the loss of fewer than six games. It wasn't a very convincing performance against an opponent who looked out of her depth, and certainly I didn't think that Maria would trouble Janković in the third round. How wrong I was! :-)
KIRILENKO @* * *_*@ 6
KOPS-JONE __* * *__ 3
The match started at 15:16 BST.
Kops-Jones serving 0-0: Maria hit a dipping return to Kops-Jones's feet, forcing her to hit a forehand half-volley long. 0/15. A big return forced Kops-Jones to earth a sliced backhand. 0/30. Kops-Jones just long. 0/40 (3 BPs). Maria came to the net, but hit a forehand long. 15/40. Double fault (second serve into the net).
Maria serving 1-0: Maria hit a crosscourt backhand onto the sideline, forcing Kops-Jones to net a backhand. 15/0. Maria backhand wide. 15/15. Maria sprayed a forehand wide. 15/30. Kops-Jones hit a high sliced backhand just long. 30/30. Kops-Jones netted a forehand return. 40/30. Service-winner down the middle: Kops-Jones's return flew back into Stand D!
Kops-Jones serving 0-2: Kops-Jones hit a backhand long on the third stroke. 0/15. Kops-Jones hit a crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline. 15/15. Maria mishit a backhand wide. 30/15. A good serve forced a short return, which Kops-Jones dispatched with a forehand winner. 40/15. Maria hit a sliced backhand fizzing with underspin, inducing Kops-Jones to hit a forehand volley long. 40/30. Maria netted a backhand.
Maria serving 2-1: Kops-Jones chopped a forehand return into the net. 15/0. Kops-Jones netted a backhand. 30/0. Kops-Jones hit a backhand halfway up the net. 40/0. A deep return pushed Maria back on her heels, inducing her to hit a forehand wide. 40/15. Service-winner out wide.
Kops-Jones serving 1-3: Kops-Jones hit a forehand volley-winner after a well-constructed rally. 15/0. Maria backhand return just long. 30/0. Ace down the middle. 40/0. Good serve, but a short forehand return onto the sideline forced Kops-Jones to hit a forehand long. 40/15. Kops-Jones hit a good serve followed by a delectable backhand drop-volley winner.
Maria serving 3-2: Kops-Jones worked her way to the net and hit an off-forehand volley-winner. 0/15. Kops-Jones netted a sliced backhand. 15/15. Maria forehand volley + crosscourt backhand volley-winner. 30/15. Maria forced a short ball, and showed lovely footwork as she hit a crosscourt forehand winner. 40/15. Maria tried to serve & volley, but the return was at her feet, forcing her to net a backhand half-volley. 40/30. Maria sliced a backhand just wide. 40/40. Service-winner out wide. Ad Maria. Kops-Jones came to the net behind an approach-shot that landed on the baseline, but Maria's backhand pass forced her to frame a forehand wide.
Kops-Jones serving 2-4: Kops-Jones tried to serve & volley, but netted a backhand volley. 0/15. Maria earthed a forehand return. 15/15. A body-jamming serve forced Maria to earth a forehand return. 30/15. Maria forehand return very long. 40/15. Ace down the middle.
Maria serving 4-3: Service-winner. 15/0. A serve down the middle forced Kops-Jones to earth a forehand return. 30/0. Kops-Jones earthed another forehand return. 40/0. Ace out wide.
Kops-Jones serving 3-5: Maria hit a hard, short backhand return: Kops-Jones earthed a backhand. 0/15. Kops-Jones forehand drop-volley winner. 15/15. Kops-Jones sliced backhand floated long. 15/30. Maria netted a forehand return. 30/30. A good pass from Kops-Jones forced Maria to hit a forehand volley long. 40/30. Maria hit a delectable backhand drop-volley winner. 40/40. Maria came to the net, forcing Kops-Jones to net a forehand. Ad Maria (SP). Kops-Jones hit a backhand into the bottom of the net. Maria won the first set 6-3 at 15:46 (30m).
Lovely two-tone grunting from Maria now.
KIRILENKO *@__*@* * 6
KOPS-JONE __@*___*_ 3
Maria serving 0-0: Service-winner out wide. 15/0. Service-winner down the middle. 30/0. Maria, driven wide, hit a forehand wide. 30/15. Maria's crosscourt backhand forced Kops-Jones to hit a backhand wide. 40/15. Service-winner out wide, on the sideline.
Kops-Jones serving 0-1: A long rally ended with Kops-Jones hitting a forehand long. 0/15. Kops-Jones tried to serve & volley, but mishit a forehand volley long & wide. 0/30. Maria hit a backhand return onto the baseline, forcing Kops-Jones to hit a backhand just long. 0/40 (3 BPs). Maria netted a backhand return. 15/40. Double fault (second serve into the net).
Maria serving 2-0: Kops-Jones hit a forehand volley that forced Maria to earth a running forehand pass and say "aargh!" 0/15. Maria forehand long. 0/30. Service-winner down the line. Service-winner down the middle. 15/30. Kops-Jones's backhand return floated just long. 30/30. Maria forehand wide. 30/40 (BP). Maria forehand just long.
Kops-Jones serving 1-2: Kops-Jones netted a backhand. 0/15. Kops-Jones crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline. 15/15. Kops-Jones netted a forehand. 15/30. Kops-Jones hit a running forehand pass-winner down the line. 30/30. Kops-Jones hit a forehand volley-winner on the fifth stroke. 40/30. Maria backhand just long.
Maria serving 2-2: Kops-Jones netted a backhand - probably distracted by the loudspeaker calling a doubles-match in the middle of the rally. 15/0. Kops-Jones crosscourt forehand pass-winner. 15/15. Maria came to the net, inducing Kops-Jones to net a backhand. 30/15. Kops-Jones netted a forehand. 40/15. Kops-Jones hit a backhand return halfway up the net.
Kops-Jones serving 2-3: Maria hit two nonconsecutive forehands onto the baseline: the second one actually looked long; Kops-Jones netted a backhand and screamed. 0/15. Kops-Jones, hitting harder, hit a forehand wide. 0/30. Kops-Jones mishit a forehand lob long. 0/40 (3 BPs). Maria hit a dipping return followed by a lob, but Kops-Jones saved the break-point with a forehand smash-winner. 15/40. Maria came to the net and hit one volley, but Kops-Jones hit a crosscourt forehand pass-winner. 30/40 (BP). Kops-Jones backhand volley just wide.
Maria serving 4-2: Kops-Jones hit a backhand drop-volley winner that clipped the netcord, but would have been a winner anyway. 0/15. Maria hit a crosscourt backhand drive-volley winner onto the sideline, and gave a little jump. 15/15. Maria backhand wide. 15/30. Kops-Jones netted a sliced backhand return, and smacked the court with her racket. 30/30. Kops-Jones backhand just long. "C'mon, c'mon," said Maria. 40/30. Double fault (second serve very long). 40/40. Kops-Jones forehand return long. Ad Maria. Kops-Jones earthed a forehand return.
Kops-Jones serving 2-5: Maria backhand wide. 15/0. Maria netted a tame forehand return. 30/0. Maria hit a dipping return, forcing Kops-Jones to hit a half-volley backhand wide. 30/15. Service-winner out wide. 40/15. Kops-Jones backhand approach long. 40/30. Serve + backhand drop-volley forced Maria to net a backhand.
Maria serving 5-3: Maria hit a forehand smash at Kops-Jones's feet, followed by a forehand drive-volley winner. 15/0. A netcord from Maria gave Kops-Jones the initiative, and she hit a high forehand volley-winner. 15/15. Kops-Jones hit a wild backhand return wide. 30/15. Maria came to the net but netted a backhand volley. 30/30. Maria hit a wild backhand drive-volley winner very long & very wide! 30/40 (BP). Kops-Jones hit a backhand just long, and emitted a very loud scream! 40/40. Maria hit an error-forcing forehand down the line, though Kops-Jones went for a down-the-line backhand winner that was only just wide! Ad Maria (MP #1). A first serve down the middle induced Kops-Jones to hit a forehand return long. Maria won 6-3 6-3 at 16:26 (second set 40m, match 1h10m).
No.16 seed Kirilenko was another player to grace the stadium-court on Monday, and after a difficult season in which she has won just eight matches, the 20-year-old Muscovite was understandably delighted with her assured 6-3 6-3 win over Raquel Kops-Jones.
Quotes from Maria
"It was my first match of the year on grass, so it was pretty difficult at the start, but I got better as the match progressed, and I was really happy to get the win. I started to feel the game as it went on; it became much easier.
"Grass is a tough surface, as the bounce is not always consistent and it takes a little while to get used to, but I was volleying well, and I hope I can build on this performance. I'll have to play much more slice and come to the net more against Dechy."
Dr. Andrew Broad
Last edited by andrewbroad; Jun 27th, 2007 at 04:55 PM.
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