My first day ever at the Proximus Diamond Games in Antwerp was today
It will also be my last time for this year, but hopefully I can go again next year! After half an hour delay because of the wrong traveling schedule that I received from the Dutch railways; after quite a struggle to find the right metro (in Antwerp they think it is funny to have two lines depart from the train station, but a third one from outside the train station :retard: ) and a wild guess as to what I had to pay for my ticket in the ticket vending machine, I arrived at the venue - Sportpaleis
- at 10:30, half an hour after play was supposed to start.
Maret Ani EST  beat Ludmila Cervanova SVK | 6-3 6-0
Supporting some players is just like self-torture. Ludmila Cervanova is one of them. I
her, but her latest results before her injury had not been good, and beforehand I feared that this match against Maret Ani would be no different. Ani herself was on quite a losing streak, but she managed to turn that around today.
The match was played on Court 2, which is at least a five-minute walk away from the centre court. This would have been fine if I had to walk in the heated stadium, rather than outside
I now have a cold
but I guess it was worth it. Anyways, back to the match. When I got there, Ani was leading 3-2 and all was on serve. Ludmila had a reasonably good game to hold her serve, but her problem soon became apparent. She was not serving well, with no real power or placement. Of course, she usually plays like that, but there was no getting away with it. Ludmila struggled in every service game after the first one that I saw. Ani, on the other hand, was serving extremely well, with quite some power and
good placement. In one game, she had three aces
She served a lot of aces altogether and held all her service games really easily.
Apart from the serve, both players were playing a rather similar match. Both stayed at the baseline and were just hitting, without moving the other player around too much and without taking any real risks. It seemed like counterpunching, only there was no punch to counter. The decisive difference on the baseline was that Ani was more powerful. As the match went on, this forced Ludmila to make error after error and she basically self-destructed, for Ani was not making any mistakes and was playing solid tennis.
I was really sad for Ludmila
She looked as uninterested as ever, but I know that she is not that indifferent at all. She really wants to win, so this was bad. She was nice to Maret at the net though and I am sure Ludmila will be back! I took a picture of Maret and got her autograph
Congratulated her on the match. She said she thought it was a good match and she was happy with her serve.
Séverine Bremond FRA beat Leslie Butkiewicz BEL [WC] | 6-2 6-1
I walked to centre court, hoping to see something of Ondraskova v. Chladkova, for Ani had won so swiftly and I couldn't imagine that the two Czech girls spending that little time on court. Apparently I was wrong, for Ondraskova had crushed Chladkova. I decided to stay on centre court and watch Séverine live for the first time, instead of going to Court 2 where I would be torn between Sucha and Schaul, who I both like.
This match was very poor quality, in my opinion. Not the worst of the day - for that match you will have to read on - but definitely second worst. I like Butkiewicz, mostly as a doubles player, because her net game is quite nice. Therefore, I totally did not get her game plan for today, as she decided to stick to baseline tennis against a Bremond that completely failed to impress me. OK, the scoreline makes you believe it was a very easy match and that Bremond played well, but she didn't. In fact, her baseline shots lacked power and precision, her service was bland and her strategy seemed to be based on getting Butkiewicz to make errors. The strategy worked in the end, but if she plays like this tomorrow against Ani, she will go down in two quick sets.
On a more positive note, Séverine looked gorgeous on court in her dress that accentuated her derrière cq. bottom very well. As a gay guy, I am not easily impressed by a woman's physique and beauty, but Séverine took me in. She comes second only to Maria Sanchez Lorenzo, who was breathtakingly beautiful in Hasselt 2004 (not in Luxembourg though
). Séverine seemed a bit bitchy on court, but was sweet when she signed. The picture is probably ruined, because they switched off the lights in the stadium, to be replaced by a glitter disco ball. They really know how to create atmosphere in Antwerp, as opposed to Hasselt which is organized by the same guy and his team, but for pictures, it absolutely sucked. I wonder if players like it to be introduced like huge stars with music and spotlights
Oh, Capucine Rousseau watched a big part of this match.
Stéphanie Cohen-Aloro FRA beat Arantxa Parra Santonja ESP  | 1-6 6-3 6-2
Back to Court 2 to support Arantxa Parra Santonja in her match against Stéphanie Cohen-Aloro. Or not. I entered the hall with the intention to cheer Arantxa on, but somehow Stéphanie immediately won me over. I thought she was such a great player to watch
When I came there, Parra Santonja was leading 4-1 in the first set. It was easy to see why, when she made it 5-1, completely crushing an unimpressive Cohen-Aloro. Only as she was about to lose the set, did the Frenchwoman wake up. She started hitting harder and more accurately and she started to attack. OK, she did lose the game at 5-1, and thus the set, but she was the better player throughout the match after that.
I think you can tell that Stéphanie is being coached by Nathalie Tauziat now, as she has a really attacking game with quite good volleys. She also looks quite fit, compared to the way she looks on pictures. She may not be the thinnest, but I think she looks healthy, cute and nice
Parra Santonja, on the other hand, is beautiful but had better gain a few pounds. Her legs are so skinny, it's scary
Anyways, this was easily the best match of the day and I believe that both players would have defeated all the other players I have seen today in straight sets, except for Ani maybe. They were both very impressive with long rallies from the baseline, with Cohen-Aloro going to the net as well. There were few errors and many winners and there was tension too. The crowd favoured Cohen-Aloro, and so did I. She had a really positive attitude on court, was very focused and just played amazing tennis. As I said, she completely won me over and I was taken by surprise, for I expected to not like her, for whatever reason
I hope she qualifies and the way she played today, that should be no problem. Her next round opponent will be Elena Baltacha and the British can pack her bags already
By the way, this was only Steph's second match of the year, having been injured and making her comeback last week in Paris with a shocking 0-6 4-6 loss to the lovely Anne Kremer. That makes it even more impressive that she played so well today. She was also very sweet afterwards. A new favourite for me
Eleni Daniilidou GRE beat Sofia Arvidsson SWE  | 6-3 7-5
I walked back to centre in the hope to see some of Baltacha v. Maes. Well, I saw both players, but the match had just finished. Was still in time for an autograph of Elena, but did not see a single point of the match.
Decided to wait for Daniilidou v. Arvidsson, which I considered, on paper, to be the most interesting match of the first qualifying round. Last week, Arvidsson won in two quick sets in the qualies of the Open Gaz de France, but she started off very poorly against Daniilidou today. Eleni has a beautiful game to watch with a lot of net play involved. She showed her net skills well in the beginning of the match, and rushed on to a 3-0 lead. I failed to see how Arvidsson could possibly be ranked among the Top 50 with such play, but fortunately she picked her game up. However, it was not good enough to beat Daniilidou, but only to equal her in game play. They split games after 3-0 for Daniilidou, meaning the set went to the girl from Crete. The two girls that are always accompanying her at tournaments were there once more, whereas there seemed to be no support for Arvidsson. Rousseau also watched part of this match.
Remembering Olga Savchuk's amazing run at the Australian Open, I really wanted to know what she was like, so I left the Arvidsson - Daniilidou match after the first set and headed back to Court 2.
Olga Savchuk UKR beat Vanessa Henke GER | 0-6 6-2 7-5
As I said, I had the Australian Open run of the Ukrainian in mind when I came to watch this match. I was expecting a lot of great things from her, so you understand my surprise when I saw she had been handed a bagel in the first set by Henke. I really like Vanessa and I was rooting for her in this match, but this score I had not seen coming. Savchuk was leading 5-2 in the second set, though, so she seemed to be on the way back.
I saw the rest of the match and this part really revolved around Henke. The German dominated play with her hard, flat strokes, completely moving Savchuk around and deciding the outcome of almost all points, be it by a winner or by an unforced error. In the end, the number of unforced errors outweighed the winners and she lost 5-7 in the final set, having led 5-4. Considering the number of breaks, I thought that Henke would break Savchuk for the match at that scoreline, but she faltered and never won another game.
Savchuk seems like a really sweet, cute girl who is coached by some blonde woman, who could be her mother, though I see no genetical resemblance whatsoever. Does anyone know more on who is coaching her? I felt bad for Vanessa, who really played well, but was too erroneous to win the match. If she had cut down her unforced errors by ten percent, she would have won rather convincingly. Savchuk, however, did not impress me and she must have had a bad day at the office, cause with what she displayed today, she would never have reached the third round in a Grand Slam, however good your draw.
To be continued in the next post...