my day at Amelia: Wednesday match reports
was a great day to be at the tournie, perfect weather, the site is right by the beach. If you ever get the chance to go, do it. The sunshine was too tempting and i went for a 40-minute jog on the beach before heading in, so i missed the first morning matches.
Douchevina d Bondarenko A 61 64.
I watched the 2nd set. It was a classic example of one player playing well but with bad strategy against a player doing nothing special with smart strategy. Alona was playing like she had just arrived on the direct bus from the Bolletieri University for hardcourt ball bashing. She was providing all the pace and hitting very aggressively, and Vera D was using the slow surface to get everything back. Eventually with Bondarenko doing all the work but being unable to hit enough winners, the blonde Kiev hottie's game had to break down. On a critical point at deuce, 4-4, she missed a forehand winner attempt wide going for too much and it was the last straw. I didn't even bother to watch the last game.
One thing that shocked me is how bad Douchevina's serve is. It looks worse than Dementieva's i kid you not. She was hitting 40 mile per hour double faults into the net. She does, however, have excellent groundstrokes.
Shaughnessy d Stosur 75 64.
The first set of this match was decisive and lasted an hour and 15 minutes. I came just at the end of the set and i couldn't actually go into the court because it was on the grandstand and it was packed to capacity, i guess because Meghan is actually the headlining American at AI this year and was getting a lot of home crowd support, so i had to peek around the corner. It was a really long game at 6-5 with breakpoints and setpoints. On her last point for 6 all, Stosur got an easy backhand crosscourt volley putaway - and pulled it wide for no reason. Shaughnessy roared as she finally won the set when Stosur's forehand sailed long.
Medina Garrigues d Savchuk 61 75.
This was a very good quality match, also the first set despite the score. There is no way in hell Savchuk should have lost the second set as she was in control of most of the games and was the more effective player in the rallies. AMG used both her injury time outs and would probably have retired or won only a game or two in the 3rd set. Olga is a powerfully built girl at about 5'9 with a good grinding style for clay and dressed in orange shorts and a sleeveless top that highlighted her physique. She hit a couple of dumb shots to waste her break at 4-3 up, then broke Medina again to lead 5-4 and serve for the set. At deuce, AMG hit a crosscourt backhand winner that looked like total desperation, then Olga hit an ugly forehand long to tie it at 5-5. At this point i was starving and i went to order a hamburger, and when i returned the match was, not surprisingly, over.
Camerin d Srebotnik 64 63.
Just caught the end of this one. Srebotnik was emotionless and she had that typical "just another day at the tennis office, win or lose" look about her. Her outfit looked similar to a line currently being worn by some ATP players. She framed several forehands in the last two games. The diminutive Camerin was an animated contrast and finished the match by popping a clean backhand winner down the line, and then happily got her picture taken with several admiring 12-13 year old girls. Before the match, Camerin was actually waiting for her match sitting in the bleachers next to me watching Savchuk-Medina since it was on her court, and Flavia Penetta came by and the two of them were talking laughing really hard about something in Italian to do with Camerin's iPod, they were very funny together and are quite clearly good friends.
Craybas d Sprem 57 64 61.
Also just caught the last few games of this one. Craybas is one of the least spectacular players on the tour - and also one of the smartest. At age 30 she is using her experience to play the best tennis of her career. She had ruined Sprem psychologically by the end of this match, playing lots of angles and junk and varied depth shots that the hard-hitting Sprem just didn't want to deal with. In the last game Sprem was serving with a lead of 40-0, then hit five consecutive groundstrokes WAY long, to lose the game and the match. The girl just seems to have no mind. That's fine as long as the balls are going in, but when they're not, you've got to be able to think and make adjustments, and K-lina has been failing to do that for a year and a half now.
Schnyder d Raymond 62 62.
Watched this one from start to finish. I had no idea that Raymond had beaten Mirza the previous night and i was really looking forward to seeing the first meeting between Patty and Sania, so it was a bit of a letdown when i found out that match wasn't happening. The 31-year old Raymond has gained some more weight since last year and lost some mobility, so the fact that she beat Mirza in straight sets last night tells you something about where Sania's game is right now. Even so, Raymond has a pleasing finesse type style and this match, although somewhat lopsided, was far from boring - two finesse players having a bit of a chess game. Patty was in good form and very calm. The green clay, warm sunshine and light wind provided the perfect speed and conditions for her to impose a patient, rhythmic game. Her only hiccup was when she hit 2 double faults and an awful-looking bounce-overhead-from-the-baseline error to lose her serve and go down 2-1 in the first set, but then she played an excellent return game to break right back and after that she was on her way. I can't be 100% certain, but i think Patty went the entire match without hitting a single error from her forehand side. She was basically saying to Lisa, "I'm not going to give you ANYTHING today, so if you'd like to do something spectacular to win this match, be my guest". Patty was hitting almost everything to Raymond's backhand and Lisa was struggling on that side to handle the spin. For her part Lisa spent the entire match trying to find Patty's backhand, but she rarely succeeded. Despite playing the percentages, Patty managed hit her quota of a few brilliant forehand winners and also a funky little angled, scoop backhand half volley on one of her few net forays. When the match ended on a wide Raymond forehand, Patty ran her career H2H against Lisa to a whopping 7-0.
Groenefeld d Zvonareva 63 64.
This match, the last of the afternoon, was played in a mostly empty stadium when the crowd went home following Schnyder-Raymond, so i went down into an empty box seat that happened to be right next to where Safina and Vesnina were sitting together and having some girl talk. I had never seen Vesnina before except in her profile but my first impression was, if you are looking for a blonde Russian cover girl to slobber over, Lena V puts both Sharapova and Kournikova to shame...
When i saw ALG coming out of the clubhouse, i mistook her for Shaughnessy because she has dropped about 25 pounds since last summer and actually looks a bit skinny now. Whether this is actually helping her game is hard to say because although she has lost the weight, her footwork doesn't seem to have improved much. ALG seems to be a player in transition whose game is experiencing some growing pains. She played very aggressively against Zvonareva but had a tendency to spray balls especially from the forehand. I definitely see some parallels between the games of ALG and Shaughnessy probably due to their both having Font de Mora as their coach for so long. ALG has got good forehand, good backhand, excellent serve and volleys - what seems to be missing is smart shot selection and footwork.
Zvonareva won the first two games of the match and then could hardly win a point for the next five games. She looks so much slower to the ball than she did two years ago the last time i really watched her play a match. Vera's strength as a Top 10 player was her great groundstrokes coupled with anticipation - but that anticipation seems to be gone. She spent most of the match reacting to ALG's aggression. Vera actually served very well, otherwise this match would have been a real drubbing. There are elements of Vera's game that are still in good shape but her Top 10 run is looking pretty flukey at this point. There were no major histrionics but plenty of the usual talking to herself, which i was surprised to hear her doing in English. The old punching bag coach that Vera used to yell at during the matches is history - her coach is now the guy who was coaching Meilen Tu for the last couple of years.
Last edited by vogus; Apr 6th, 2006 at 03:24 PM.