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Hobart 2007: Andrew's tournament-review

MOORILLA HOBART INTERNATIONAL (Hobart, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); WTA Tier IV)
============================= http://www.hobartinternational.com.au/

After my very tight pre-AO schedule, a very hectic AO, and a long post-AO backlog, I am finally ready to post my Hobart report!

1r + Lourdes Domínguez Lino, 6-0 6-4
2r + Olga Poutchkova, 7-6 (8/6) 7-5
qf + ZHENG,JIE [7], 4-6 6-1 6-1
sf + Sania Mirza [WC], 6-4 6-1
_f + Vasilisa Bardina [Q], 6-3 7-6 (7/3)

No other player has ever won a WTA singles-title so soon after I inducted her into my Eternal Fanship!

With nothing but a second round at the Australian Open to defend until March, Anna has a great chance to make an assault on the top ten by then (she remains #13 after this week). The intriguing thing is that #11 Nicole Vaidišová and #12 Jelena Janković also have strong claims to be in the top ten - as well as the players who are already there - and the top ten isn't big enough to hold them all!

[Edit: Nicole moved up to #9 after the Australian Open, while Anna remains #13 - but now she's only 88 points away from #10]


http://www.tennisaustralia.com.au/pages/article.aspx?id=4&articleid=ArticleID200717211523& pageId=11675&HandlerId=1

The best Anna-photos from Hobart are the ones on Getty Images (search for "chakvetadze"). Except the ones from the final, where she looked better than she did in the prior rounds.

Those photos of Anna where she's running and stretching low & wide for a forehand are always nice. Was she in tears in her quarter-final?

Pretournament quotes

Anna: "I am extremely excited to begin the 2007 season playing the Moorilla Hobart International. I have heard many great things about the event from my friends, and I am looking forward to competing in Hobart for the first time.

Tournament-director Michael Roberts: "To have a player of Anna's talent and ranking commit to the tournament (well in advance of the player-entry deadline) is a coup for the tournament.

"She will be the highest-ranked player to have competed at Hobart, and is one of the fastest-rising stars in women's tennis. Anna has represented Russia in Fed Cup, recently won a Tier I event in Moscow, and has a string of victories over top-ten players - all at just 19 years of age."

First round (Sunday 7th January)

+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [1,EF] d. Lourdes Domínguez Lino, 6-0 6-4

With steady showers suspending and postponing matches left, right and centre, this was the only match completed on Day 1 of the main draw.

Anna Chakvetadze, currently ranked No.13 in the world, kicked off her career Hobart debut nicely, moving past 52nd-ranked Spaniard Lourdes Domínguez Lino, 6-0 6-4. The first set was a complete blow-out, with Chakvetadze winning nearly three quarters of the points, but the second set was much tighter, with the Russian claiming an early break of serve [*2-1] then holding on and winning on the strength of it.

Anna quotes

"I am happy to win my first match of the year, but it was pretty tough - especially the second set. The score was easy, but it was tough to play because it was very windy. But I am happy I got through, and now we will see what will happen second round."

Second round (Tuesday 9th January)

Very nice winner, nice loser:
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [1,EF] d. Olga Poutchkova, 7-6 (8/6) 7-5

Anna was 1/4 down in the tiebreak, and saved two set-points at 4/6!

I have since seen Olga play at the Australian Open. She's a good-looking girl who occasionally plays brilliantly, and I am pleased that we'll have a repeat of this mouthwatering match at Paris!

Quarter-final (Wednesday 10th January)

+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [1,EF] d. ZHENG,JIE [7], 4-6 6-1 6-1

Anna led the first set *2-1, but ended up losing it with a double fault on set-point!

Anna now leads Zheng 3-0 head-to-head, but every match has been tough (6-4 6-4 at New Haven 2005, 5-7 6-2 6-4 at the Australian Open 2006).

Semi-final (Thursday 11th January)

Mouthwatering match:
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [1,EF] d. Sania Mirza [WC,DF], 6-4 6-1

Anna and Sania are both prime examples of players who hit their groundstrokes with flairsome power, so in tennis-terms (as well as superficial attractiveness), this match must have been an absolute joy to watch!

Alicia Molik, who lost to Sania in the quarter-finals, described her as follows: "I was very impressed by Sania today. There's no reason she can't be there [in the final] on Friday. She played exceptionally well. She probably has one of the biggest forehands in the game. She definitely hurt me with that shot of hers."

Anna was 6-4 5-1 up when she was struck by a nasty stomach-injury that would have forced her to retire if she hadn't been so close to the end of the match. Once again, I admire her ability to overcome adversity.

Two Russian teenagers will meet in the final of the Moorilla Hobart International after Anna Chakvetadze and Vasilisa Bardina posted wins in day-five action at the Domain Tennis Centre today.

In a dramatic second semi-final, top seed Chakvetadze was just one game from victory when a stomach-injury almost forced her to retire.

The 19-year-old claimed the first set over Indian Sania Mirza 6-4, and led 5-1 in the second when she took a long injury-timeout and was worked on by the trainer.

Chakvetadze returned to the court in an attempt to serve out the match out, but was barely able to serve. The determined world No.13 fought on, producing a couple of good winners, and was also assisted by some unforced Mirza errors in claiming the match 6-4 6-1.

Despite the injury, Chakvetadze said post-match treatment had made a significant difference.

Anna quotes

"I pulled my stomach-muscle - it was actually because of my back.

"It was hurting a lot, but I was 5-0 up so I wanted to finish the match. If it be any other score, I think I would have pulled out. I couldn't serve, and I couldn't run at all.

"But now it's okay: trainers worked very good, and now I feel good. I can even run, so I will be ready for final tomorrow."

Final (Friday 12th January)

+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [1,EF] d. Vasilisa Bardina [Q], 6-3 7-6 (7/3)

My thoughts before the match: a fully fit Anna should win this match easily. Bardina is a qualifier ranked #70 (#48 after this week), who will be playing her eighth match of the tournament, and admitted to exhaustion after her semi-final.

But Anna's injury yesterday puts a large question-mark in my mind. It's very stressful to play a match not knowing if you'll be able to finish it.

Anna did show signs of the injury, but she was just too strong for Bardina, whom she would have beaten much more comprehensively if she had been fully fit.

Anna is now 3-0 in WTA singles-finals, and past the $1-million mark in career-prizemoney!


Associated Press (AP):
The 19-year-old Chakvetadze came into the final with a pulled stomach-muscle, but was able to complete the match despite showing some signs of discomfort in the first set.

Anna Chakvetadze continued to show why she is one of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's quickest-rising stars this past week in Hobart, winning her third career-title at the Moorilla Hobart International. She clinched the title with a 6-3 7-6(3) win on Friday over Russian compatriot Vasilisa Bardina.

Chakvetadze, the top seed at the Tier IV event, grabbed two early breaks en route to a commanding first set victory, but the contest heated up in the second as the two 19-year-olds went to a tiebreak; it was then that Chakvetadze truly came out shining, reeling off four points in a row to start, and then closing out the first all-Russian final of the year in one hour, 44 minutes.

The 19-year-old sped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set, but started to show signs of discomfort while serving in the fourth game, prompting fears the painful stomach-injury Chakvetadze suffered in the previous night's semi-final had resurfaced.

Chakvetadze soldiered on, and overcame a brief Bardina fightback to take the set 6-3.
Russian top seed Anna Chakvetadze has claimed her third career-title after straight-sets win in the final of the Moorilla Hobart International at the Domain Tennis Centre tonight.

Chakvetadze won a straightforward first set over compatriot Vasilisa Bardina, but was stretched in the second before producing a 6-3 7-6(3) win in 1hr 44mins.

The world No.13 broke in the first game and again in the third game to take control of the opener. Both players traded early breaks in the second, but it was Chakvetadze who again got the lead - thanks to a Bardina double fault.

But the underdog fought her way back into the match, serving for the second at 5-4, but came unstuck with unforced errors. The set went to a tiebreak, where Chakvetadze opened up a 4/0 lead, and proceeded to claim the match with a big forehand winner down the line.

Chakvetadze said she wasn't too pleased with the way she played, but thrilled to secure another WTA Tour title.

Both players struggled with the blustery conditions in the opening set, with neither player able to hold their serve regularly.

Although Bardina managed to break Chakvetadze's serve once in the opening set, the World #13 was more powerful from the back of the court, and took the opening set with ease.

Bardina broke her countrywoman in the opening game of the second set, but Chakvetadze hit back to take a 2-1 lead before both players traded breaks to send the set to a tiebreak.

Chakvetadze was more composed during the tiebreak, racing away to her third career-title in 104 minutes.

My match-report

The match started at 19:12 AEST. I followed live scores on the Internet, and used the following scores-thread:

First set
CHAKVET @*@__*_*@ 6
BARDINA ___@* *__ 3

Bardina serving 0-0: 0/40 (3 BPs), 30/40, broken.
Anna serving 1-0: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 40/30, held.
Bardina serving 0-2: 0/15, 40/15 -> 40/40, ad B, Deuce #2, ad A, broken.

A massive blow against Bardina, not being able to hold from 40/15 and one other game-point. She must be worrying about a double bagel now...

Anna serving 3-0: 0/40 (3 BPs), 15/40, broken.

Just a lapse in concentration because she's winning so easily, or something more serious?

cosmoose: "Looks like Anna is still bothered by her stomach problem. 3 dfs already. "

Bardina serving 1-3: 0/30 -> 40/30, 40/40, ad B, held.

This is getting worrying, in the light of Anna's injury.

Anna serving 3-2: 0/15, 15/30, 40/30, held.

Yes! C'mon Anna!

Bardina serving 2-4: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad B, Deuce #2, ad B, held.

That could prove to be a very important game, with Anna's missed opportunities for *5-2.

cosmoose: "Chaky's first serves [in] are only at 42%. She usually serves in the mid 60s."

Anna serving 4-3: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad B (BP), Deuce #2, ad A, held.

Now Bardina will be ruing a missed opportunity for 4-4*.

Bardina serving 3-5: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 SPs), Anna won the first set 6-3 at 19:52 (40 minutes).

It's a big relief for Anna to get that one under her belt! I guess only her injury could stop her now, with Bardina being exhausted after all those matches in qualifying and the main draw.

Second set
CHAKVET _@*@__*__@*_ 7(7)
BARDINA @___@* *@__* 6(3)

The second set didn't start until 19:58 (six minutes after the end of the first). Apparently Bardina took a bathroom-break.

Anna serving 0-0: 0/40 (3 BPs), broken.

Bardina serving 1-0: 30/0 -> 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad A (BP #2), Deuce #2, ad A (BP #3), held.

Well pegged back by Anna! And it adds to Bardina's exhaustion!

Anna serving 1-1: held to love.
Bardina serving 1-2: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken.
Anna serving 3-1: 0/40 (3 BPs), 15/40, broken.

Anna has served 5 double faults now, and she didn't get her first serve in on the last point.

Bardina serving 2-3: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad B, Deuce #2, ad B, held.

Again, Anna sends the message that it's not easy for Bardina to close out her service-games, and further adds to Bardina's exhaustion.

Anna serving 3-3: 0/30 -> 40/30, held.

Phew! Could have been 3-4* down!

smokovec: "Anna plays incostantly, but in the long rallies is better than Bardina."

Bardina serving 3-4: 30/0 -> 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad B, held.

Once again, Bardina has to work very hard to hold serve, but how much are all these wasted break-points preying on Anna's mind?

Anna serving 4-4: 0/40 (3 BPs) -> 40/40, ad B (BP #4), broken.

I wouldn't have predicted Bardina serving for the set!

Bardina serving 5-4: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.

Yes! Anna is a very gritty fighter.

Anna serving 5-5: 15/0, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad B (BP #2), Deuce #2, ad A, held.

Opportunities wasted by Bardina to be serving for the set a second time at *6-5, and now Anna is one game away from her third WTA singles-title.

Bardina serving 5-6: 0/15, 15/15, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad B, held.

Tiebreak 6-6: Anna *0/0, 1/0*, 2/0*, *3/0, *4/0, 4/1*, 4/2*, *5/2, *5/3, 6/3* (3 CPs), Anna won 6-3 7-6 (7/3) at 20:56 (second set 1h04m - including the 6-minute delay before the start of the second set - match 1h44m).

Phew! *4-0 -> 4/2* had me a bit worried that Chokevetadze would rear her pretty head again!



Anna didn't serve well, with 6 double faults and no aces. She got 49% of her first serves in, winning 56% of the points when she did so, and 49% on second serve.

Bardina served one ace and 4 DFs, and her corresponding serve-percentages were 59%, 48% and 43%.

In the second set, Anna's first-serve winning-percentage dropped from 69% to 48% - even her second serve was better at 52%! Bardina upped her first-serve percentages (both "in" and "points won") from the first set to the second.

Anna broke 6 times from 13 BPs (first set 3/7, second set 3/6), Bardina 4 times from 12 (first set 1/3, second set 3/9). It might have been a different story if Bardina had converted for 4-4* in the first set or *6-5 in the second.

In points, Anna won 85-75 (first set 36-30, second set 49-45).

Anna quotes

"I'm happy that I've won my first title of the year. When you win a tournament it's a pleasure. It's Tier IV, but it's a win and it feels good.

"She is a great fighter. She'll keep running and fighting. I'm so happy and proud of myself, and I'm proud of Vasilisa, because she's improved a lot. The crowd was awesome: they were cheering 50-50 for Vasilisa and for me as well."

[Re. her stomach-injury]
"I feel good; I feel okay - almost 100% now. It didn't bother me at all.

"I actually had some troubles with my serve and forehand today, but I hope I will get better by Monday.

"I have a flight [to Melbourne] at six in the morning tomorrow, so probably I'll sleep all day, and then have a practice on Sunday."

[Re. the trophy]
"It was so big and heavy!"

Bardina quotes

{before the match}

"We played juniors, but it was a long time ago, so I don't actually remember. It will be interesting match because we're both the same age.

"She's played much better now than last year. I hope I will play better, and I hope I will stay healthy."

{after the match}

"I think it was a good match. It's amazing. I'm glad that it's my best result, and I hope not the last one [final] for the future. I played before, and everybody know that I can play good, but I didn't show my game to everybody. And now I think most people will know who I am.

"I tried to play well, but I am so tired. Like the first set, second set I'm so heavy. You need good recovery for any match to be on the top.

[Re. to beat Kim Clijsters in the first round of the Australian Open]
"Yeah, why not? I'm glad that I play against her, and I think it will an interesting match."

^[Clijsters beat Bardina 6-0 6-0]


Anna Chakvetadze [EF]/Mara Santangelo:

Anna's WTA singles-titles

1. Guangzhou International Women's Open (Guangzhou), WTA Tier III, 1st October 2006
2. Kremlin Cup (Moscow), WTA Tier I, 15th October 2006
3. Moorilla Hobart International (Hobart), WTA Tier IV, 12th January 2007

Dr. Andrew Broad


My Eternal Fanship: 1. Monica Seles; 2. Мария Шарапова (‘Maria Sharapova’); 3. Daniela Hantuchová; 4. Jelena Dokić; 5. Iva Majoli; 6. Karina Habšudová; 7. Вера Звонарёва (‘Vera Zvonarëva’); 8. Nicole Vaidišová; 9. Анна Чакветадзе (‘Anna Chakvetadze’); 10. Lucie Šafářová; 11. Ирода Туляганова (‘Iroda Tulyaganova’); 12. Magdaléna Rybáriková; 13. Sabine Lisicki
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