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View Full Version : Australian Open 2009: Andrew's reports (semi-final TV-report added)


andrewbroad
Jan 18th, 2009, 11:16 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. UK TV-alert
2. First-round draw
3. Vera Zvonarėva preview
4. Order of Play for Monday

Master-thread for Andrew's Australian Open 2009 reports:
http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=364478

--------------
1. UK TV-alert
--------------

The evening-sessions on Rod Laver Arena will be televised on BBCi from 08:25 GMT each day of the tournament (digital viewers press Red or select the appropriate Freeview-channel: it could be either 301 or 302).

This coverage will consist of the women's match on the evening-session of the Rod Laver Arena (on days that there is one), followed by the men's match, followed by recorded coverage of these matches (or Andy Murray's match) on a continuous loop.

Additionally, all Andy Murray's matches will be televised live on either BBC 1 or BBC 2 (his first match is on Tuesday). I think it's quite possible that bits of other matches might be shown in these programmes if Murray's match starts late or finishes early, as was occasionally the case when the BBC used to do this for Tim Henman.

Other Australian Open coverage on BBC television:
* Saturday 24th January: highlights on BBC 1 (13:00 to 14:30 GMT);
* Saturday 31st January: highlights of Women's Singles final on BBC 2 (13:00 to 14:00 GMT);
* Sunday 1st February: Men's Singles final live on BBC 2 (from 08:30 GMT).

The Women's Singles final will be on the Rod Laver Arena evening-session for the first time this year, therefore it will be live on BBCi.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6102132.stm

-------------------
2. First-round draw
-------------------

The draw is very lopsided for me, as I have five members of my Eternal Fanship in the top half, and just one in the bottom half. To be honest, my expectations are very low, as they're all slumping apart from Vera Zvonarėva [7] - and her preparations have been hit by illness this week, although she certainly showed what she is capable of on the big stage by beating four top-seven players to reach the final of the Sony Ericsson Championships!

For me, the draw is highlighted by a mouthwatering but unfortunate first-round match between Vera and Magdaléna Rybįrikovį, and a potential second-round match between Anna Chakvetadze [17] and Jelena Dokić.


Key
---

[Q] qualifier
[WC] wild card
[LL] lucky loser
[EF] member of my Eternal Fanship
[DF] member of my demi-fanship
[s] Selesian
(* ?x v ?y) I prefer ?x to win
(!) enthusiastic support
(!!) very enthusiastic support!
(my loyalty is to ?x) I like both players, but prefer ?x
(my Reason says ?x, but my Passion says ?y) I prefer ?x in tennis-terms, but want ?y to win because she's more attractive
(my Passion says ?x, but my Reason says ?y) I find ?x more attractive, but want ?y to win because I prefer her game


2.1 Top quarter
---------------

* JELENA JANKOVIĆ [1] v Yvonne Meusburger
* Kirsten Flipkens v Rossana de los Rķos (komaan Kirsten!)
* Viktoriya Kutuzova [Q] v Nathalie Dechy (davai Viktoriya!)
* AI SUGIYAMA [26] v Stéphanie Dubois [Q]

* Lucie Šafįřovį [EF] v SYBILLE BAMMER [24] (POJĎME LUCIE!!)
* Marina Eraković v Petra Cetkovskį (slight preference to Marina)
* Tsvetana Pironkova [DF] v Karolina Šprem [Q,DF] (my Reason says Karolina, but my Passion says Tsvetana)
* MARION BARTOLI [16,DF,S] v Melanie South (allez Marion!)

* Yaroslava Shvedova v NADIA PETROVA [10] (davai Yari!)
* Sania Mirza [DF] v Marta Domachowska (my loyalty is to Sania)
* Monika Wejnert [WC] v Karin Knapp (go Monika!)
* ĮGNES SZĮVAY [23] v Galina Voskoboeva

* MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF] v Sara Errani (davai Maria!)
* Monica Niculescu [s] v Katie O'Brien [Q] (my Passion says Katie, but my Reason says Monica)
* Maria Elena Camerin v Edina Gallovits (forza Maria Elena!)
* VERA ZVONARĖVA [7,EF] v Magdaléna Rybįrikovį [DF] (my loyalty is to VERA)


2.2 Second quarter
------------------

* Alla Kudryavtseva v DINARA SAFINA [3] (Kud is the lesser of two evils)
* Aravane Rezaļ v Ekaterina Makarova (allez Aravane!)
* Patricia Mayr v Julia Schruff [Q]
* Kimiko Date Krumm [Q] v KAIA KANEPI [25] (ganbatte Kimiko!)

* DANIELA HANTUCHOVĮ [19,EF] v Casey Dell'Acqua (POĎME DANIELA!!)
* Mathilde Johansson v Jill Craybas (allez Mathilde!)
* Andrea Petković v Kathrin Wörle [Q]
* ALIZÉ CORNET [15] v Mariya Koryttseva (allez Alizé!)

* CAROLINE WOZNIACKI [11] v Shahar Pe'er (my loyalty is to Caroline)
* Virginia Ruano Pascual v Mariana Duque Marino (”vamos Virginia!)
* Jelena Dokić [WC,EF] v Tamira Paszek (GO JELENA!!)
* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [17,EF] v Anne Keothavong (DAVAI ANNA!!)

* ALISA KLEYBANOVA [29] v Sofia Arvidsson
* Barbora Zįhlavova Strżcovį v Stéphanie Cohen-Aloro
* Yanina Wickmayer v Alberta Brianti [Q] (komaan Yanina!)
* ANA IVANOVIĆ [5,DF] v Julia Görges (my loyalty is to Ana)


2.3 Third quarter
-----------------

* VENUS WILLIAMS [6] v Angelique Kerber
* Roberta Vinci v Carla Suįrez Navarro (forza Roberta!)
* Melanie Oudin [Q] v Akgul Amanmuradova
* Marķa José Martķnez Sįnchez v TAMARINE TANASUGARN [32]

* ANABEL MEDINA GARRIGUES [21] v Isabella Holland [WC]
* Elena Vesnina v Julie Coin (davai Elena!)
* Jessica Moore [WC] v Christina McHale [WC] (go Jessica!)
* FLAVIA PENNETTA [12,DF] v Mara Santangelo (forza Flavia!)

* Kristina Mladenović [WC] v PATTY SCHNYDER [14]
* Jarmila Gajdošovį v Virginie Razzano
* Hsieh,Su-Wei [s] v Chan,Yung-Jan (jia you Su-Wei!)
* DOMINIKA CIBULKOVĮ [18] v Chanelle Scheepers [Q] (poďme Domi!)

* Sabine Lisicki v ALEKSANDRA WOZNIAK [30] (komm jetzt Sabine!)
* Klįra Zakopalovį v Samantha Stosur (pojďme Klįra!)
* Iveta Benešovį v Vera Dushevina (pojďme Iveta!)
* ELENA DEMENTIEVA [4] v Kristina Barrois (davai Elena!)


2.4 Bottom quarter
------------------

* Anastasia Rodionova v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [8]
* Ayumi Morita [s] v Tatjana Malek (my Passion says Tatjana, but my Reason says Ayumi)
* Nicole Vaidišovį [EF] v Séverine Brémond (POJĎME NICOLE!!)
* ALYONA BONDARENKO [31] v Olivia Rogowska [WC] (davai Alyona!)

* ZHENG,JIE [22] v Camille Pin (jia you Jie!)
* Sorana Cīrstea v Melinda Czink (hai Sorana!)
* Ekateryna Bychkova v Lourdes Domķnguez Lino (davai Ekateryna)
* Kateryna Bondarenko v AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [9]

* VICTORIA AZARENKA [13] v Petra Kvitovį
* Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Tathiana Garbin
* Elena Baltacha [Q] v Anna-Lena Grönefeld (go Elena!)
* Olga Govortsova v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [20] (davai Olga!)

* Peng,Shuai [s] v FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [28] (jia you Shuai!)
* Sesil Karatantcheva [Q] v Nuria Llagostera Vives
* Gisela Dulko [DF] v Anastasiya Yakimova (”vamos Gisela!)
* SERENA WILLIAMS [2] v Yuan,Meng [WC]

-------------------------
3. Vera Zvonarėva preview
-------------------------

Vera comes into the Australian Open 2009 on the back of the best year of her career, as she enjoyed a consistent 2008 (compiling a 65:22 win/loss record - as many match-wins as world #1 Jelena Janković), then stepped up to reach the final of the Sony Ericsson Championships by beating four top-seven players!

Vera started 2009 by leading Team Russia to the final of the Hong Kong exhibition. In her semi-final rubber, she beat Zheng,Jie 7-6 6-4. In the final, she beat Gisela Dulko 6-4 0-6 6-3 in one rubber, but lost 6-2 6-2 to Venus Williams in her other rubber as Team Americas beat Team Russia 4:1.

Vera then pulled out of Sydney with a gastrointestinal illness. From what I remember of players having gastrointestinal illnesses in the past, I'm not too worried about Vera missing the Australian Open, but obviously her preparation has not been ideal.


3.1 Articles
------------

A capsule-look at top women in the Australian Open
By The Associated Press (Saturday 17th January 2009)
>>>
VERA ZVONARĖVA (7)

Age: 24
Country: Russia
2008 Match-Record: 65:22
2008 Singles-Titles: 2
Career Singles-Titles: 7
Major Titles: 0 (Best Finish: QF - French Open 2003)
Last 5 Australian Opens: 1r 2008, 4r 2007, 1r 2006, 2r 2005, 4r 2004

Topspin:
* Reached a season-high eight finals in 2008, but only collected two titles.
* Among her final-defeats was the season-ending WTA championship, helping her to a year-end top-ten finish for the first time.
* Won Bronze at the Olympics - part of a Russian sweep of the medals - and helped Russia win the Fed Cup.
* Withdrew from her first-round match in Australia last year in the second set because of a left-ankle sprain.
* Can be prone to emotional outbursts.
* Has never advanced beyond the last eight at a Major.
<<<

2009 Australian Open - Women's Breakdown - Top 10 and Others to Watch
Nick Bollettieri (Friday 16th January 2009)
http://nickstennispicks.com/2009/01/15/2009-australian-open-womens-breakdown-top-10-and-others-to-watch/
>>>
Vera Zvonarėva (RUS)
Height: 5'7"
Weight: 130 lbs.
D.O.B.: 7th September 1984
Turned Pro: September 2000
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Current Ranking: #7
2008 Titles: Prague and Guangzhou
2008 Australian Open: 1st Round

Nick's Thoughts:

Zvonarėva is a tough competitor, and competes hard in each and every single one of her matches. Like so many others, though, she struggles on the big stage. She has only been to the quarter-finals of a Major once - back in 2003 at the French Open - and has been to the fourth round of the Aussie Open twice.

Last year, she got bounced in the opening round by Ai Sugiyama, and she doesn't want to let that happen again. It's pretty simple if you ask me; she cannot think about the past, and must focus on the here and now. It's all about confidence for Zvonarėva!
<<<

^What Nick doesn't mention is that Vera retired against Sugiyama, having sprained her left ankle just before the Australian Open 2008.


3.2 First round
---------------

Vera has a mouthwatering match with the gorgeous Magdaléna Rybįrikovį. It's unfortunate that it's a first round, as I really wanted Magda to win a couple of matches here, but the draw has made that wish incompatible with my Eternal-Fanship loyalty to Vera.

The only time I've seen Magda play was in the final of the Girls' Singles at Wimbledon 2006, which was on BBCi. Magda was up against a 15-year-old Caroline Wozniacki, and took the first set with some Daniela Hantuchovį-esque play: those backhands down the line, and beautiful backhand drop-volleys. But inexplicably, Magda started slicing her backhands (but staying back), and lost 3-6 6-1 6-3.

Magda has a big serve, and a forehand with a long backswing that can be both a major weapon and an error-source. Since I haven't seen her play since Wimbledon 2006, I don't know whether she has shortened that backswing as I suggested.

I've been waiting since 2005 for Magda to establish herself on the WTA Tour, and at last she is in the process of doing so.

Last year, Magda rose from #279 to #58, winning ITF St. Petersburg-Vsevolozhsk and ITF Patras in March/April 2008, successfully qualifying for the French Open and Wimbledon (where she lost in the second and first rounds of the respective main draws), and posted her career-best result at a Major by reaching the third round of the US Open.

Magda reached her first WTA Tour semi-final at Tashkent 2008, but sadly, on her 20th birthday (4th October), she retired with illness after losing the first set 6-3 to Sorana Cīrstea. Magda finished 2008 with a 48:21 win/loss record.

After a first-round loss at Auckland, Magda reached her second WTA semi-final at Hobart this week, beating world #13 Flavia Pennetta 7-5 6-3 in the second round (her first-ever win over a top-twenty player), and then sinking Melinda Czink 6-0 1-6 7-6 (9/7) in blistering heat, so it's excusable that she lost 6-1 6-3 to Iveta Benešovį in the semi-finals the next day (Thursday). Magda just rose to a career-high #50.

After her Hobart semi-final and before the AO draw was made, Magda said: "I'm looking forward to Melbourne now. My best [Major] performance was [the] US Open third round, so now I will aim further, but it's going to be very hard."

Vera has never played Magda before. They were due to meet in the second round of Prague 2008, but sadly that match didn't even get on court, as Magda withdrew with a low-back strain. Vera, of course, went on to win that tournament.

I expect Vera to have the edge in this match, purely because she's coming off such a great 2008. But from Magda's perspective, it's a good time to play Vera because Magda just reached a semi-final while Vera was sidelined by illness this week. I expect Vera to have a win, but not an easy win.

Prediction: Vera d. Magda 6-7(3) 6-3 6-4.


3.3 Later rounds
----------------

Vera should have an easy second-round match against #101 Maria Elena Camerin or #76 Edina Gallovits.

Vera should meet Maria Kirilenko [27] in the third round, whom she leads 3:0 head to head (6-2 6-3, 6-2 6-0 and 6-4 6-4). But #39 Sara Errani is liable to upset Kirilenko, whom she leads 2:0 head to head; Errani is also coming off an impressive run to the semi-finals at Brisbane that included a win over #21 Daniela Hantuchovį.

It's difficult to predict whom Vera might meet in the fourth round, as Nadia Petrova [10] is recovering from viral meningitis and lost 6-2 6-4 to Alizé Cornet in the first round of Sydney, while Įgnes Szįvay [23], who suffered a sophomore-slump last year, lost 6-3 7-5 to Anne Keothavong in the first round of Hobart. It could just as easily be an unseeded player such as Yaroslava Shvedova, Marta Domachowska or Karin Knapp.

Vera could meet Majorless world #1 Jelena Janković in the quarter-finals, although Janković is struggling to adapt to her new muscular body: she's not moving as well, and has also been ill recently. Janković leads Vera 6:4 head to head, with Vera winning their last meeting: at the Sony Ericsson Championships 2008. My dream is for Lucie Šafįřovį to come through to that quarter-final instead of Janković.

With the Williams-sisters and on-form Elena Dementieva safely tucked away in the bottom half, Vera's likely semi-final opponents would be Dinara Safina [3], Ana Ivanović [5] or even future legend Caroline Wozniacki [11], although my dream is for Daniela Hantuchovį [19] to reach the semi-finals, just as she did last year.

---------------------------
4. Order of Play for Monday
---------------------------

Margaret Court Arena (start 11:00 AEDT = 00:00 GMT)
WS 1r: Magdaléna Rybįrikovį [DF] v VERA ZVONARĖVA [7,EF]
MS 1r: Potito Starace v Bernard Tomić
WS 1r: CAROLINE WOZNIACKI [11] v Shahar Pe'er
WS 1r: DINARA SAFINA [3] v Alla Kudryavtseva
MS 1r: Marc Gicquel v DAVID NALBANDIAN [10]

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jan 21st, 2009, 01:25 AM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. First-round scoreboard-report: Zvonarëva v Rybáriková
3. Second-round draw
4. Second-round preview
5. Women's Doubles: First-round draw
6. Order of play for Wednesday

---------
1. Photos
---------

Vera Zvonarëva:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/related/wta260142.html

Various players including Vera:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7836743.stm

--------------------------------------------------------
2. First-round scoreboard-report: Zvonarëva v Rybáriková (Monday 19th January 2009)
--------------------------------------------------------

+ VERA ZVONARËVA [7,EF] d. Magdaléna Rybáriková [DF], 7-6 (7/2) 6-0

Because it was match between two very special girls, and started as early as midnight in England, I decided to follow live scores at www.australianopen.com.

Magda broke first for *2-0, but Vera responded with four games in a row (including a five-deuce marathon at 2-2*) for 4-2*. However, Magda broke back, and Vera had to serve to stay in the first set at *4-5 and *5-6 - with a seven-deuce marathon at 5-5* in between.

Vera dominated the tiebreak, and then Magda fell apart in the second set - possibly wilted in the 34°C heat - and didn't win a single point on her serve as Vera won her 17th 6-0 set since the start of 2008.

Nevertheless, it was an encouraging performance for Magda in her first-ever match against a top-seven player (she had never previously played anyone ranked higher than #13). Slowly but surely, Magda is working her way up towards the top of women's tennis, and just might be the next player I shall induct into my Eternal Fanship.


First set
---------
ZVONARËVA __@*@* * *T 7(7)
RYBÁRIKOV *@____*@* *__ 6(2)

The match was first on Margaret Court Arena, and started at 11:13 AEDT.

Magda serving 0-0: 30/0. 30/15. 40/15. Held.
Vera serving 0-1: 30/15. 40/15. 40/40. Ad Magda (BP). Held.

A bad start for Vera, being broken from 40/15, but I can't pretend I'm not a little bit excited for Magda!

Magda serving 2-0: 0/30. 15/30. 15/40 (BPx2). 40/40. Ad Magda. Deuce #2. Ad Vera (BP #3). Broken.

Phew! When Vera was game-point down after squandering two break-points, I began to think of the awful consequences of losing her in the first round. Of the six members of my Eternal Fanship that I have here, only Vera can realistically expect to be in the second week after the 2008 she had - without her, they'd probably all be out by the second round, as at the US Open 2008.

Vera serving 1-2: 0/40 (BPx3). 40/40. Ad Magda (BP #4). Deuce #2. Ad Vera. Held.

Phew! Four break-points saved, and now Magda has the baggage of missed opportunities. It will be tough for her to serve after that...

Magda serving 2-2: 15/15. 30/15. 30/40 (BP #1). 40/40. Ad Magda. Deuce #2. Ad Vera (BP #2). Deuce #3. Ad Vera (BP #3). Deuce #4. Ad Magda. Deuce #5. Ad Vera (BP #4). Broken.

What a game! Two game-points saved, four break-points needed. Vera is a terrific fighter, and that game suggests that Magda may be too, but it's a rough introduction to top-seven tennis for her at the moment.

Vera serving 3-2: 15/0. 15/30. 40/30. Held.

Vera has now won four games in a row, as I just knew she would after winning that big game at 2-2*.

Magda serving 2-4: 0/15. 40/15. Held.

Credit to Magda for hanging in when Vera has the momentum!

I'm really enjoying following these scores now that both girls seem to have settled down. Of course I'm happy when Vera's a break up, but whatever happens, this match will have a very nice winner! :D

Vera serving 4-3: 15/0. 15/30. 30/30. 30/40 (BP). Broken.

And in the twinkling of an eye, the momentum has switched back to Magda, and she has the advantage of serving first...

Magda serving 4-4: Held to love.
Vera serving 4-5: Held to love.

An excellent response by Vera, putting the pressure back on Magda immediately. I feel the next game will be more important for Magda than for Vera, because it's Magda's serve and Vera has a huge advantage of experience.

Magda serving 5-5: 0/15. 30/15. 30/40 (BP #1). 40/40. Ad Magda. Deuce #2. Ad Magda. Deuce #3. Ad Vera (BP #2). Deuce #4. Ad Vera (BP #3). Deuce #5. Ad Magda. Deuce #6. Ad Vera (BP #4). Deuce #7. Ad Magda. Held.

Wow - what a game! Four break-points saved, four game-points needed. It's a good thing Vera gets to sit down before she has to serve again!

Meanwhile, Vera's potential semi-final opponent Ana Ivanović has just taken a tough first set 7-5 against gorgeous Julia Görges.

Vera serving 5-6: 15/0. 15/15. 30/15. 30/30. Held.

Well, it looks like I could be right with my 6-7(3) 6-3 6-4 prediction! But boy will I regret it tomorrow if this match keeps me up past 3am in England!

6-6 tiebreak (all scores Zvonarëva/Rybáriková): 0/0*. *1/0. *2/0. 2/1*. 2/2*. *3/2. *4/2. 5/2*. 6/2* (SP #1). Vera won the first set 7-6 (7/2) at 12:17 AEDT (1h04m).

I feel Vera's experience paid off in that set after trailing *4-5 and *5-6. I don't think I'll be up until 3am after all. It will be tough for Magda to come back from such a tough first set in which she had chances - especially in the 34°C heat.

There was a seven-minute delay between the last scoreboard-update of the first set and the first of the second, which implies a bathroom-break.


Second set
----------
ZVONARËVA *@*@*@ 6
RYBÁRIKOV ______ 0

Vera serving 0-0: 0/15. 15/15. 15/30. 30/30. 40/30. Held.
Magda serving 0-1: 0/40 (BPx3). Broken.

As I predicted, Magda's falling apart a bit after losing that first set. But I'm impresssed with her performance so far against a top-seven player. I'm sure this will be a valuable learning-experience for her.

Vera serving 2-0: 15/0. 15/15. 15/30. 30/30. Held.
Magda serving 0-3: 0/40 (BPx3). Broken.

This match is over. Magda hasn't won a point on serve in this second set.

Vera serving 4-0: 30/0. 30/40 (BP). 40/40. Ad Vera. Held.

But Magda is still putting pressure on Vera's serve. Vera perhaps guilty of a little complacency there, but she remains on course for one of her beloved bagels (last year, she won 16 sets 6-0 - more than anyone else).

Magda serving 0-5: 0/40 (MP #1). Vera won 7-6 (7/2) 6-0 at 12:41 AEDT (second set 24m, match 1h28m).

I thoroughly enjoyed following those scores, and am delighted for Vera that she won. I'm also pleased for Magda, as I feel she is continuing to make great progress despite that second set!


2.1 Statistics
--------------

Both girls had negative W:UE ratios: Vera 24:29, Magda 16:36.

Vera got 61% of her first serves in, winning 69% of the points when she did so, and 48% on second serve. From the first set to the second, she seemed to take some pace off her first serve, as she got more first serves in, but her first-serve winning-percentage dipped.

The corresponding percentages for Magda were 55%, 63% and 24%, but they slumped from a respectable (60%, 68%, 32%) in the first set to an abysmal (25%, 0%, 0%) in the second!

Vera served much faster than Magda: fastest 103-95mph, average first serve 98-95mph, average second serve 87-75mph. Magda's service-speeds suggest there was something wrong with her, because I've always thought of her as having a big serve.

Vera served 6 aces and 5 double faults, Magda 3 aces and 7 double faults.

Vera broke 5 times from 14 BPs (converting just 2 of 11 BPs in the first set, but 3 of 3 in the second), Magda twice from 7 BPs.

Vera won 11 of 15 points at the net (73%), Magda 9 of 14 (64%). All these points were in the first set.

In points, Vera won 80-59 (first set 55-52, second set 25-7).


2.2 Articles
------------

Australian Open: Day 1 Preview
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/1/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=2892
>>>
(7) Vera Zvonarëva (RUS) vs. Magdalena Rybáriková (SVK) - Zvonarëva leads 1:0

Zvonarëva fell in the first round at Melbourne Park in 2008, but after her astonishing run at the Sony Ericsson Championships, where she beat Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ivanović, Janković and Elena Dementieva to reach the final, it's hard to imagine the intelligent Russian succumbing to a similar fate this time around.

But, although 'What Vera Did Next' could well prove to be one of the most compelling stories of 2009, the resurgent 24-year-old arrives in Melbourne short of match-practice, having missed Sydney with a stomach-bug.

Meantime, at the Moorilla Hobart International, 20-year-old Rybáriková beat Flavia Pennetta for her first top-twenty win, on her way to her second Tour semi-final. The reward was a top-fifty début this week for the Slovak No.3, and if she can keep her momentum, the 5'11" player will give Zvonarëva much to contemplate.
<<<

Zvonarëva through after first-set scare
By Amy Blake (www.australianopen.com)
>>>
World No.7 Vera Zvonarëva has advanced to the second round of Australian Open 2009, surviving a first-set scare against Slovakia's Magdalena Rybáriková before winning 7-6(2) 6-0.

In a colourful Margaret Court Arena, the tight opening set saw both players record 16 winners and three aces apiece, while Zvonarëva just bettered her opponent with two fewer unforced errors.

The world No.58 pushed the seventh seed to her capacity in the first set, which lasted an hour and six minutes.

Displaying on-court maturity beyond her 20 years, Rybáriková was the first to make her move, breaking Zvonarëva's serve in the second game.

The Russian was quick to claw back, winning the next four games, including taking a break at 3-2.

Rybáriková then went on her own winning streak, getting the advantage back by winning three consecutive games to level at 5-5.

The battle for the crucial 11th game saw some fancy net-work from both players and six deuces, including four unconverted break-point opportunities for Zvonarëva.

At 5-6 and with a first-set loss on the horizon, Zvonarëva was able to keep her cool and serve to take the momentum going into the tiebreak.

From there, the 24-year-old didn't look back, showing the athleticism and powerful forehand that have become her trademarks.

The second lasted a mere 22 minutes, with Zvonarëva breaking Rybáriková's serve three times to finish with a rush.

Quick facts:
* Zvonarëva served three aces in the second set, while Rybáriková did not have any.
* Zvonarëva won a total of 80 points to Rybáriková's 59.
* Of Rybáriková's 59 points won, 52 of them were in the first set.
* Rybáriková had an average first-serve speed of 153km/h.
* Zvonarëva's first-serve speed was an average of 158km/h.
<<<

Women's tennis gets off to heated start in Melbourne (AFP)
>>>
The women's Australian Open has got underway with victories for world number-one Jelena Janković, seventh seed Vera Zvonarëva, and Serbian pin-up Ana Ivanović.

<snip Janković v Meusburger>

Seventh seed Zvonarëva dug deep to claw past Magdalena Rybáriková of Slovakia 7-6 (7/2) 6-0 and into the second round, relieved to overcome early jitters.

The Russian was pushed all the way in the first set by her 20-year-old opponent, but after easily winning the tiebreak, she took control and won the second in just 23 minutes.

The 24-year-old, who has never gone beyond the quarters in 24 Majors, has not played this year, and looked rusty early on as she struggled to cope with the powerful groundstrokes of her younger opponent.

But as the match wore on, Zvonarëva began to get her timing, and showed enough to suggest she would push her more fancied rivals for the year's first Major title.

She admitted her lack of recent tournament-play had caused her problems against Rybáriková, who reached the semi-finals in Hobart last week.

"It was a bit of a struggle in the first set, because I had no rhythm and everything was new - practice is nothing like an official match," Zvonarëva said.

"But then I was able to find my rhythm a little bit better, and I was very happy the way I played in the second."

Rybáriková, the world number 57, started impressively, holding her first serve comfortably, then breaking Zvonarëva to open up a 2-0 lead.

The experienced Russian broke back immediately to get games back on serve, then broke again, and looked likely to race away with the first set.

However, Rybáriková fought back, broke again in the eighth game, then held her next service-game to love to take the set into a tiebreak.

Zvonarëva, though, took the tiebreak comfortably, then stormed through the second set against an increasingly despondent Rybáriková.

"I lifted my game in the second set: I started to play a little bit faster, and started to hit my shots a little bit better," Zvonarëva said.

"Maybe she wasn't able to deal with that; she wasn't ready that I could change my game after the first set."

<snip Ivanović v Görges>
<<<

--------------------
3. Second-round draw
--------------------
3.1 Top half
------------

* Kirsten Flipkens v JELENA JANKOVIĆ [1] (komaan Kirsten!)
* Nathalie Dechy v AI SUGIYAMA [26] (allez Nathalie!)
* Lucie Šafářová [EF] v Marina Eraković (my loyalty is to LUCIE)
* Tsvetana Pironkova [DF] v MARION BARTOLI [16,DF,S] (my Reason says Marion, but my Passion says Tsvetana)

* Sania Mirza [DF] v NADIA PETROVA [10] (go Sania!)
* Karin Knapp v Galina Voskoboeva
* Monica Niculescu [S] v Sara Errani (hai Monica!)
* VERA ZVONARËVA [7,EF] v Edina Gallovits (DAVAI VERA!!)

* Ekaterina Makarova v DINARA SAFINA [3]
* Patricia Mayr v KAIA KANEPI [25]
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [19,EF] v Mathilde Johansson (my loyalty is to DANIELA)
* ALIZÉ CORNET [15] v Andrea Petković (allez Alizé!)

* CAROLINE WOZNIACKI [11] v Virginia Ruano Pascual (my loyalty is to Caroline)
* Jelena Dokić [WC,EF] v ANNA CHAKVETADZE [17,EF] (having to lose one of them so early is like a dagger in my heart)
* ALISA KLEYBANOVA [29] v Stéphanie Cohen-Aloro
* ANA IVANOVIĆ [5,DF] v Alberta Brianti [Q] (ajde Ana!)


3.2 Bottom half
---------------

* VENUS WILLIAMS [6] v Carla Suárez Navarro
* María José Martínez Sánchez v Akgul Amanmuradova
* ANABEL MEDINA GARRIGUES [21] v Julie Coin
* FLAVIA PENNETTA [12,DF] v Jessica Moore [WC] (my loyalty is to Flavia)

* PATTY SCHNYDER [14] v Virginie Razzano
* DOMINIKA CIBULKOVÁ [18] v Chan,Yung-Jan (poďme Domi!)
* Sabine Lisicki v Samantha Stosur (komm jetzt Sabine!)
* Iveta Benešová v ELENA DEMENTIEVA [4] (pojďme Iveta!)

* Tatjana Malek v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [8] (komm jetzt Tatjana!)
* ALYONA BONDARENKO [31] v Séverine Brémond (my loyalty is to Alyona - slightly)
* ZHENG,JIE [22] v Melinda Czink (jia you Jie!)
* Kateryna Bondarenko v Lourdes Domínguez Lino (davai Kateryna!)

* VICTORIA AZARENKA [13] v Tathiana Garbin (davai Victoria!)
* Elena Baltacha [Q] v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [20] (go Elena!)
* Peng,Shuai [S] v Sesil Karatantcheva [Q] (jia you Shuai!)
* Gisela Dulko [DF] v SERENA WILLIAMS [2] (¡vamos Gisela!)

-----------------------
4. Second-round preview
-----------------------

World #76 Edina Gallovits went 27:17 in 2008, winning five matches to qualify and reach the quarter-finals of Hobart, thrashing #51 Klára Zakopalová 6-2 6-0 to reach the quarter-fials of Barcelona, and winning ITF Auburn and ITF San Diego back to back in November.

I saw Gallovits lose 6-4 6-2 to Anna Chakvetadze in the second round of Wimbledon. The main thing I remember about that match is that Anna made an error whenever Gallovits sliced a backhand to Anna's forehand, but Gallovits didn't seem to pick up on that as the winning tactic, so I didn't come away with the impression that Gallovits is a very smart player - unlike Anna and Vera.

Gallovits has made a good start to 2009, beating #22 Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of Auckland, but losing to #100 Melinda Czink in the third qualifying-round for Hobart. She beat #101 Maria Elena Camerin 6-3 2-6 6-3 in the first round here.

Vera has never played Gallovits before, but she's in a different league to her, and should win easily.

------------------------------------
5. Women's Doubles: First-round draw
------------------------------------

* (VERA ZVONARËVA [EF]/VICTORIA AZARENKA)[13] v Brittany Sheed/Bryanne Stewart

Full draw:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/wd/

------------------------------
6. Order of play for Wednesday
------------------------------

Margaret Court Arena (start 11:00 AEDT = 00:00 GMT)
WS 2r: Sania Mirza v NADIA PETROVA [10]
MS 2r: MARAT SAFIN [26] v Guillermo García-López
WS 2r: VERA ZVONARËVA [7,EF] v Edina Gallovits
WS 2r: CAROLINE WOZNIACKI [11] v Virginia Ruano Pascual
|
(not before 19:30 AEDT = 08:30 GMT)
MS 2r: JUAN MARTÍN DEL POTRO [8] v Florian Mayer

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jan 23rd, 2009, 01:18 AM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. Second-round review: Zvonarėva v Gallovits
3. Third-round draw
4. Third-round preview
5. Can Vera win the Australian Open?
6. Women's Doubles: First round
7. Order of play for Friday

---------
1. Photos
---------

Various players including Vera:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/

---------------------------------------------
2. Second-round review: Zvonarėva v Gallovits (Wednesday 21st January 2009)
---------------------------------------------

+ VERA ZVONARĖVA [7,EF] d. Edina Gallovits, 6-0 6-0

It was the first double bagel of Vera's career, and she is now on a 20-game winning-streak since *5-6 in the first set of her first-round win over Magdaléna Rybįrikovį! :worship:

The match was third on Margaret Court Arena, so it took place in the Australian mid-afternoon, while I was sleeping in England.


2.1 Statistics
--------------

The match lasted all of 46 minutes (first set 21m, second set 25m).

Vera had a positive W:UE ratio of 15:8 (9:2 in the first set, 6:6 in the second), while Gallovits's was an abysmal 6:28 (14 UEs in each set).

Vera got 74% of her first serves in, winning 91% of the points when she did so, and 50% on second serve. From the first set to the second, she upped her first-serves-in percentage from 71% to 79%, and her second-serve winning-percentage from 40% to 67%.

The corresponding percentages for Gallovits were 67%, 37% and 33%. She upped her first-serve winning-percentage from 31% in the first set to 41% in the second.

Vera served considerably faster than Gallovits in all three categories: fastest 104-100mph, average first serve 99-92 mph, average second serve 87-82 mph.

There were no aces from either player - just 3 double faults from Gallovits.

Vera broke 6 times from 9 BPs, while Gallovits had one BP (in the first set) but didn't convert.

Vera won 8 of 10 points at the net, Gallovits 2 of 6. Most of the net-play occurred in the first set.

In points, Vera won 54-22 (first set 26-10, second set 28-12).


2.2 Articles
------------

Jelena, Dinara Survive on Day 3; Ana, Vera Cruise
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/1/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=2904
>>>
Some were tested while some cruised, but all of the favourites in the top half of the draw moved past their second-round opponents at the 2009 Australian Open on Wednesday.

<snip Ivanović v Brianti, Safina v Makarova>

Janković battles past Flipkens; Zvonarėva serves up double bagel

Jelena Janković and Vera Zvonarėva followed them into the last 32, although they had far different experiences. Zvonarėva, the No.7 seed, took just 46 minutes to rout Edina Gallovits 6-0 6-0; Janković - ranked No.1 in the world and the top seed - was tested by the crafty Kirsten Flipkens, but was able to prevail 6-4 7-5.
<snip>
<<<

Janković hangs tough at Aussie Open, Ivanović glides through (Greg Wood, AFP)
>>>
Top seed Jelena Janković battled into the Australian Open third round on Wednesday, as fellow Serb Ana Ivanović showed glimpses of the grace and power that swept her to last year's final.

But it was the low-profile Russian seventh seed Vera Zvonarėva who produced a perfect 6-0 6-0 display, while her third-seeded compatriot Dafina Safina salvaged a patchy come-from-behind win.

<snip Janković v Flipkens, Ivanović v Brianti>

Russia's Zvonarėva may have trouble improving her game after a near-perfect display when she served up a dreaded "double bagel" 6-0 6-0 scoreline to Edina Gallovits of Romania.

The 24-year-old won an incredible 91% of her first serves as she blew the hapless Gallovits off court in 46 minutes.

She had the best year of her career in 2008, winning Olympic Bronze and reaching the final of the season-ending WTA Championships, coming into the Australian Open as a dark horse capable of upsetting high-profile rivals.

<snip Safina v Makarova>
<<<

-------------------
3. Third-round draw
-------------------

* JELENA JANKOVIĆ [1] v AI SUGIYAMA [26]
* Lucie Šafįřovį [EF] v MARION BARTOLI [16,DF,S] (my loyalty is to LUCIE)
* NADIA PETROVA [10] v Galina Voskoboeva
* VERA ZVONARĖVA [7,EF] v Sara Errani (DAVAI VERA!!)

* KAIA KANEPI [25] v DINARA SAFINA [3]
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVĮ [19,EF] v ALIZÉ CORNET [15] (my loyalty is to DANIELA)
* Jelena Dokić [WC,EF] v CAROLINE WOZNIACKI [11] (my loyalty is to JELENA)
* ANA IVANOVIĆ [5,DF] v ALISA KLEYBANOVA [29] (ajde Ana!)

* Marķa José Martķnez Sįnchez v Carla Suįrez Navarro
* FLAVIA PENNETTA [12,DF] v ANABEL MEDINA GARRIGUES [21] (forza Flavia!)
* DOMINIKA CIBULKOVĮ [18] v Virginie Razzano (poďme Domi!)
* ELENA DEMENTIEVA [4] v Samantha Stosur (davai Elena!)

* ALYONA BONDARENKO [31] v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [8] (davai Alyona!)
* ZHENG,JIE [22] v Kateryna Bondarenko (jia you Jie!)
* VICTORIA AZARENKA [13] v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [20] (davai Victoria!)
* Peng,Shuai [S] v SERENA WILLIAMS [2] (jia you Shuai!)

----------------------
4. Third-round preview
----------------------

Vera faces a dangerous floater in #39 Sara Errani, whom she has never played before.

Errani went 38:25 in 2008. What jumps out from her 2008 results is that she gave Lindsay Davenport a huge scare in the first round of the Australian Open (2-6 6-3 5-7), thrashed #15 Įgnes Szįvay 6-0 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of Rome, won Palermo with a win over #21 Flavia Pennetta in the semi-finals, and won her next tournament - Portorož two weeks later - with wins over #19 Maria Kirilenko, #29 Caroline Wozniacki and #32 Anabel Medina Garrigues. She also beat #17 Victoria Azarenka as a qualifier in the first round of Moscow.

Errani's form in early 2009 is a bit worrying for Vera: she beat #21 Daniela Hantuchovį 6-7 6-4 6-0 in the first round of Brisbane, and went on to reach the semi-finals, losing 6-3 6-1 to #16 Victoria Azarenka. She thrashed Casey Dell'Acqua 6-1 6-2 in the first round of Sydney, losing 6-1 6-2 to Serena Williams in the second round. She has reached the third round here by thrashing Maria Kirilenko [27] 6-0 6-4 and Monica Niculescu 6-2 6-3.

Vera should certainly have the edge over Errani after her vastly superior 2008, and with her current 20-game winning-streak - but that could work against Vera if it suddenly turns tough after she's been winning so easily. Still, it would be a major surprise if Vera actually lost to Errani.

------------------------------------
5. Can Vera win the Australian Open?
------------------------------------

Vera is carving up the lesser opposition, having won her last three sets 6-0, but doesn't have a great career-record against top-seven players. However, that all changed at the Sony Ericsson Championships, when she beat four of them in a row to reach the final!

As an Eternal Fan of Vera, I'm hoping that that will give her the belief she needs to reach her second Major quarter-final (she reached her first by beating Venus Williams at the French Open 2003) and go beyond that stage for the first time in her career. I'm hoping that her confidence hasn't been dented by her 6-2 6-2 thrashing by Venus Williams at Hong Kong, and after her first two wins here, I'm no longer concerned about her withdrawal from Sydney with gastrointestinal illness.

-------------------------------
6. Women's Doubles: First round
-------------------------------
6.1 First-round result (Thursday 22nd January 2009)
----------------------

+ (VERA ZVONARĖVA [EF]/VICTORIA AZARENKA)[13] d. Brittany Sheed/Bryanne Stewart, 6-2 6-1


6.2 Second-round draw
---------------------

* (VERA ZVONARĖVA [EF]/VICTORIA AZARENKA)[13] v Alizé Cornet/Camille Pin

Full draw:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/wd/

---------------------------
7. Order of play for Friday
---------------------------

Show Court 2 (start 11:00 AEDT = 00:00 GMT)
MD 2r: Carsten Ball/Chris Guccione v (CHRISTOPHER KAS/ROGIER WASSEN)[13]
(not before 12:30 AEDT = 01:30 GMT)
WS 3r: VERA ZVONARĖVA [7,EF] v Sara Errani
MS 3r: TOMMY ROBREDO [21] v Lu,Yen-Hsun
XD 1r: Anastasia Rodionova/Stephen Huss v Jessica Moore/Carsten Ball

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jan 25th, 2009, 01:12 AM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. Third-round review: Zvonarėva v Errani
3. Fourth-round draw
4. Fourth-round preview
5. Women's Doubles: Second round
6. Order of play for Sunday

---------
1. Photos
---------

Vera Zvonarėva:
http://www.zvonareva.ru/media/photo/en

Various players including Vera:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7846259.stm

-----------------------------------------
2. Third-round review: Zvonarėva v Errani (Friday 23rd January 2009)
-----------------------------------------

+ VERA ZVONARĖVA [7,EF] d. Sara Errani, 6-4 6-1

The match was second on Show Court 2, and got underway just before 14:00 AEDT, when I went to bed in England.

It seems that Errani put up fiesty resistance in the first set, but there was a massive dip in her statistics (particularly her first-serve winning-percentage and BP conversion-rate) in the second set.


2.1 Statistics
--------------

The match lasted 1h13m (first set 43m, second set 30m).

Vera had a negative W:UE ratio of 20:27 (at least it was positive in the second set at 9:8), while Errani's was an abysmal 7:25 (including 2:13 for the second set).

Vera got 62% of her first serves in, winning 74% of the points when she did so, and 52% on second serve. These percentages were pretty much the same in both sets, except that she upped her second-serve winning-percentage from 42% to 64%.

The corresponding percentages for Errani were 61%, 50% and 42%. Her first-serve winning-percentage dipped from 60% in the first set to an abysmal 30% in the second set - lower than her second-serve winning-percentages!

Vera served much faster than Errani in all three categories: fastest 106-88 mph, average first serve 100-78 mph, average second serve 85-74 mph. Errani's serves were exceptionally slow by WTA Tour standards!

Vera served one ace and one double fault, Errani no aces and 5 double faults.

They each had 7 break-points, but Vera converted 4 (two in each set), whereas Errani only converted one (it was in the first set; she converted 0 of 5 BPs in the second).

Vera won 10 of 15 points at the net (67%), which is a bit disappointing, because I think she has the best volleys of all the players in my Eternal Fanship. Errani won 7 of 12 points at the net (58%).

Interestingly, both players were very selective and successful going to the net in the first set (Vera 4 of 5, Errani 4 of 4), and went there more often in the second set, but with a lower success-rate (Vera 10 of 15, Errani 7 of 12).

In points, Vera won 66-44 (first set 35-29, second set 31-15).


2.2 Article
-----------

The media have been very short with this match, but have described Vera's performance using terms such as "scintillating" and "looked in top form".

Zvonarėva sets up all-Russian clash
By Vanessa Skendaris (www.australianopen.com)
>>>
World No.7 Vera Zvonarėva has eased into the fourth round of the Australian Open 2009, defeating Italian Sara Errani in straight sets: 6-4 6-1.

In a close first set where both players held their serve for the first four games, the 24-year-old Russian was the first to make a move, securing the first break with a speedy crosscourt winner.

Errani, who reached the top 50 for the first time last year, was quick to recover, winning the break back to level the match at 4-4.

Errani pushed Zvonarėva hard, but Zvonarėva kept firing, cracking 11 winners en route to successfully securing the set in 43 minutes.

Zvonarėva - a quarter-finalist at Roland Garros in 2003 - demonstrated her top-ten quality as she raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set, easily breaking the 21-year-old Italian's serve.

Looking for answers to get herself back into the match, Errani tried approaching the net. Her efforts were largely in vain as Zvonarėva was in damaging form, unleashing her passing winners, and outgunning the Italian in 30 minutes.

Zvonarėva has set up a clash in the fourth round with fellow Russian Nadia Petrova. The women's 10th seed advanced after her opponent, Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan, was forced to retire injured after Petrova won the first set 6-1.

Quick facts:

* Errani had just two winners, and recorded 13 unforced errors in the final set.

* Errani's fastest serve for the match was 142km/h, while Zvonarėva's was 171km/h.

* Zvonarėva had 27 unforced errors for the match to Errani's 25.

* Errani served five of the six double faults recorded in the match.
<<<

--------------------
3. Fourth-round draw
--------------------

* MARION BARTOLI [16,DF,S] v JELENA JANKOVIĆ [1] (allez Marion!)
* VERA ZVONARĖVA [7,EF] v NADIA PETROVA [10] (DAVAI VERA!!)
* ALIZÉ CORNET [15] v DINARA SAFINA [3] (allez Alizé!)
* Jelena Dokić [WC,EF] v ALISA KLEYBANOVA [29] (GO JELENA!!)

* ANABEL MEDINA GARRIGUES [21] v Carla Suįrez Navarro (”vamos Anabel!)
* DOMINIKA CIBULKOVĮ [18] v ELENA DEMENTIEVA [4] (my loyalty is to Domi)
* ZHENG,JIE [22] v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [8] (jia you Jie!)
* VICTORIA AZARENKA [13] v SERENA WILLIAMS [2] (davai Victoria!)

-----------------------
4. Fourth-round preview
-----------------------

A month ago, Nadia Petrova [10] was hospitalised with viral meningitis. It didn't seem likely that she would even play the Australian Open - much less reach the quarter-finals (as she would if she were to beat Vera).

Petrova came back at Sydney, but lost 6-2 6-4 to world #16 Alizé Cornet in the first round. But she has reached the fourth round here with the following results:
1r + Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-3 7-6 (7/3)
2r + Sania Mirza [DF], 6-3 6-2
3r + Galina Voskoboeva, 6-1 *0-0 retired (back-pain)

Now 26, the tall, muscular Petrova was somewhat of a late developer: she didn't win her first WTA singles-title until Linz 2005, but by Paris 2007 she was winning her seventh. She has also reached two French Open semi-finals in her career, and five other Major quarter-finals. But Petrova always seems to have been held back by mental weakness - especially against certain players (including members of my Eternal Fanship: Maria Sharapova and Anna Chakvetadze).

Petrova had a slump in 2007 and early 2008, but bounced back by reaching the Eastbourne-final last June, followed by a Wimbledon quarter-final, and titles at Cincinnati and Québec City, and a win over #3 Ana Ivanović at the Tokyo Pan Pacific Open. She reached the Stuttgart-final with a 6-4 6-1 win over #11 Patty Schnyder in the second round, and played (and lost) one rubber at the Sony Ericsson Championships as an alternate. Her win/loss record for 2008 was 47:24.

Vera has a terrible 1:5 record against Petrova - not including a 0-6 0-6 drubbing when Vera was 8 and Petrova was 10, which Vera once said was her most memorable experience!

Vera's lone win over Petrova was 6-3 7-6 in the semi-finals of Philadelphia 2004 (one of the best tournaments of Vera's career so far, as she had thrashed Jennifer Capriati 6-0 6-1 in a do-or-die quarter-final to qualify for the season-ending championships).

Vera's losses to Petrova include 1-6 6-4 3-6 in the quarter-finals of the French Open 2003 (Vera's only Major quarter-final to date, but hopefully only for a few hours more!), and their latest meeting: 4-6 5-7 at Los Angeles 2008 (in the middle of Vera's mid-season slump). Vera has taken just the one set off Petrova in the five losses.

It's hard to be optimistic for a member of my Eternal Fanship going up against someone with such a terrible head to head, but with Vera coming off such a great 2008, showing fine form so far at the Australian Open 2009, and Petrova coming through to the fourth round courtesy of an easy draw after her preparations were hit by the meningitis, there's good reason to believe that things will be different this time. Logically, Vera should win this, but she has to put that 1:5 head to head out of her mind!


4.1 Articles
------------

Australian Open: Day 7 Preview
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/1/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=2919
>>>
Hisense Arena
(7) Vera Zvonarėva (RUS) vs. (10) Nadia Petrova (RUS) - Petrova leads 5:1

Two years the elder at 26, Petrova owns this Russian rivalry, but today could be Zvonarėva's chance to improve her side of the ledger. Back in the top ten and playing better than ever, Zvonarėva was a revelation at the Sony Ericsson Championships last November, and if she plays anything like she did that week, then Petrova will have her work cut out.

After beating dangerous Magdaléna Rybįrikovį in the first round 7-6(2) 6-0, Zvonarėva dished out a double bagel to Edina Gallovits, then showed her class against in-form Sara Errani with a straight-sets win.

Gunning for a second quarter-final here, Petrova's path was made a little easier when Galina Voskoboeva retired after the first set of their match, so her form is harder to assess, but she seems to be fighting fit after her recent bout of viral meningitis. As ever, her serve will play a crucial role in the outcome of this battle of the Muscovites.
<<<

2009 Australian Open - Nick's Picks - Women's Singles Fourth Round
Nick Bollettieri (nickstennispicks.com)
>>>
Nadia Petrova (RUS) vs. Vera Zvonarėva (RUS): Anytime two Russian women play each other, the match is going to be fierce. It's like a civil war!! These girls are going to want to win this match very badly, and this is going to be entertaining. Petrova is 5:1 against Zvonarėva, which includes one win over her in 2008.
<<<

2009 Australian Open: Day Seven Preview (Aaress Lawless, www.onthebaseline.com)
>>>
Nadia Petrova (RUS)[10] v. Vera Zvonarėva (RUS)[7]

Nadia Petrova's 2009 tennis-season got off to a rough start as the Russian landed in the hospital battling a case of meningitis. At the time, her participation in the Australian Open was questionable, but now, a month later, Petrova is in the round of sixteen for only the fourth time in her career.

Although Zvonarėva is currently ranked higher than Petrova, Nadia has owned their rivalry. The Russians have faced each other six times, but the one and only Zvonarėva-victory occurred five years ago. A lot can happen in five years for a player, and in Zvonarėva's case, she has recovered her confidence, rebuilt her game, and is legitimately a contender in the second week of a Major tournament.

Pick: Vera Zvonarėva in three sets.
<<<

--------------------------------
5. Women's Doubles: Second round
--------------------------------
5.1 Second-round result (Saturday 24th January 2009)
-----------------------

+ (VERA ZVONARĖVA [EF]/VICTORIA AZARENKA)[13] d. Alizé Cornet/Camille Pin, 6-3 6-0


5.2 Third-round draw
--------------------

* (VERA ZVONARĖVA [EF]/VICTORIA AZARENKA)[13] v (CARA BLACK/LIEZEL HUBER)[1]

Full draw:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/wd/

---------------------------
6. Order of play for Sunday
---------------------------

Hisense Arena (start 11:00 AEDT = 00:00 GMT)
MS 4r: JUAN MARTĶN DEL POTRO [8] v MARIN ČILIĆ [19]
WS 4r: VERA ZVONARĖVA [7,EF] v NADIA PETROVA [10]
MS 4r: ANDY RODDICK [7] v TOMMY ROBREDO [21]

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jan 26th, 2009, 11:52 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos / Videos
2. Fourth-round review: Zvonarėva v Petrova
3. Quarter-final draw
4. Quarter-final preview
5. Women's Doubles: Third round
6. Order of play for Tuesday

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1. Photos / Videos
------------------
1.1 Photos
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Vera Zvonarėva (2 fourth-round photos added to each site):
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/related/wta260142.html
http://www.zvonareva.ru/media/photo/en


1.2 Videos
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http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/multimedia/default_video.asp
- Day 7 Highlights

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2. Fourth-round review: Zvonarėva v Petrova (Sunday 25th January 2009)
-------------------------------------------

+ VERA ZVONARĖVA [7,EF] d. NADIA PETROVA [10], 7-5 6-4

Pretty much what I predicted in my match-preview: Vera's form and Petrova's hampered preparation carrying greater weight than the 5:1 head-to-head that Petrova had over Vera.

The match was second on Hisense Arena, so it would have been played in the Australian mid-afternoon, while I was sleeping in England.

The BBC commentators mentioned Vera during coverage of Dokić v Kleybanova on the Red Button:
Chris Bailey: "Vera Zvonarėva has impressed me by not breaking down and crying this week."
Sam Smith: "She's been working with a different coach for 18 months, which has made a big difference. She could take advantage of Janković's exit to reach the final, but anything could happen now."

^My understanding is that Vera has been coached by Samuel Sumyk since early 2006. Sam Smith's "18 months" takes us back to mid-2007, when Vera added a physiotherapist called Jean-Pierre Bruyčre to her team.


2.1 Live comments from Eurosport
--------------------------------

Source of comments: http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/tennis/livematch/271497.html


First set
---------
ZVONARĖ _*@* *___*@* 7
PETROVA *___* *@*___ 5

Petrova serving 0-0: Petrova wins a marathon opening service-game where she had to save SIX break-points. To be fair, she played superbly well on the break-points - great serving - Zvonarėva never had a clear chance to break, but why could Petrova not play like that on the other points?

Vera serving 0-1: Much easier for Zvonarėva - she opens with a hold to 15.

Petrova serving 1-1: No such luck for Petrova in her second service-game. She went 0/40 down, and while she managed to save the first point, she is finally broken. Zvonarėva showing a lot more power in these opening stages.

Vera serving 2-1: Zvonarėva wraps up another hold to 30 with an ace. Petrova is finding it hard to cope when the rallies develop, because of the power that Zvonarėva has in her shots.

Petrova serving 1-3: History repeats itself again - Petrova finds herself 0/40 down just like in the first game before producing three great serves to level. The pair then play NINE deuces, and Petrova has to save another three break-points but she does it! Zvonarėva still a break up, but just one - she has had 15 break-points already today.

Vera serving 3-2: Petrova forced back on to serve very quickly as Zvonarėva holds to 15. The younger Russian is dominating - it is hard to see how she hasn't even taken A SET against Petrova in their last four meetings.

Petrova serving 2-4: Petrova goes 0/15 down, and you say to yourself, "here we go again," but she gets back to 15/15, and then produces three unreturnable serves in a row.

Vera serving 4-3: Very good returning from Petrova helps her to earn two break-points. Zvonarėva, of course, is 1/15 with break-points, but Petrova only needed one as Zvonarėva went long with a poor shot at the middle of the court. Wasn't called out though, and Petrova needed to challenge to get justice.

Petrova serving 4-4: Really good hold from Petrova as she again comes back from 0/30 down - why must she make it so hard for herself, though? The highlight of the game was at 30/30, when Petrova showed amazingly soft hands at the net to guide a little drop-volley over.

Vera serving 4-5: Zvonarėva ends Petrova's run of three games in a row with an accomplished hold to love.

Petrova serving 5-5: Petrova gives up yet another break-point, but this time there is no respite, as she double-faults. Petrova now has an amazing 28 unforced errors. Zvonarėva has 16 herself, which shows that this not exactly high-quality stuff.

Vera serving 6-5: Great forehand from Zvonarėva into the corner wraps up a hold to 30, and clinches her first set against Petrova for five years. Messy set from Petrova (30 unforced errors is the final tally), and she rushes out of the court to gather her thoughts.


Second set
----------
ZVONARĖ @* * * * * 6
PETROVA __* * * *_ 4

Petrova serving 0-0: Zvonarėva has taken control of things now, as she opens up the second set with a break.

Vera serving 1-0: And she follows it with a hold to 15, capped off with a great forehand into the corner - Petrova already looking a bit like a beaten woman.

Petrova serving 0-2: Much better game from Petrova - more aggressive, purposeful and proactive - again she had to go to deuce before winning it, but she looked more like her old self there.

Vera serving 2-1: Zvonarėva with a hold to love again, as she continues to boss on her own serve; she is hitting some sweet winners now, too.

Petrova serving 1-3: Petrova matches Zvonarėva with a hold to love as servers enjoy a spell on top. Zvonarėva has the key break-advantage though.

Vera serving 3-2: Two double faults from Zvonarėva mean she has to survive a deuce, but no worse as she moves to within two games of victory.

Petrova serving 2-4: Quick hold to 15 by Petrova keeps the pressure on.

Vera serving 4-3: Big serve from Zvonarėva sees her move one game away, with a hold to 30. She was 40/0 in front, but Petrova started hitting back, so it was timely shot.

Petrova serving 3-5: Petrova has to win a long rally to save the first match-point of the match - Zvonarėva eventually firing into the net - however, now the younger Russian has a chance to serve for the match.

Vera serving 5-4: ZVONARĖVA WINS!! She shows signs of nerves early in the game as she goes 0/30 down, but then races into a 40/30 advantage. On the match-point, one of her shots is called out; she challenges: the replay shows it was in. They replay the point, and she takes it with an overhead shot at the net. Only her second-ever win over Petrova in six attempts, and she is now in the quarter-finals for the first time, and faces Marion Bartoli next.
<<<

2.2 Statistics
--------------

The match lasted 1h41m (first set 57m, second set 44m).

Vera had a negative W:UE ratio of 23:31, but Petrova's was much worse at 22:49. This suggests that in a typical point from this match, Petrova went for broke, while Vera defended well until Petrova made an error. Petrova's W:UE ratio was 15:30 for the first set, but a more subdued 7:19 for the second.

The first thing I think of, when I think of Petrova's game, is that she is a big server, and she certainly served faster than Vera: fastest 113-106 mph, average first serve 108-101 mph, average second serve 88-84 mph. But Petrova's higher speeds did not translate into higher success-rates!

Vera got 59% of her first serves in, and won 71% of the points on both first and second serves! But from the first set to the second, Vera's first-serves-in percentage dipped from 70% to 48%, while her first-serve winning-percentage rose from 67% to 79%, which suggests that she went for bigger serves.

The corresponding percentages for Petrova were 60%, 64% and 44%, and she upped her first-serve winning-percentage from 58% in the first set to 75% for the second.

Vera served 2 aces and 4 double faults, Petrova 5 aces and 5 double faults.

Although 7-5 6-4 is a close score, there was a massive gulf between them in terms of how many break-points they each had. Vera broke three times from 18 BPs (2 of 16 in the first set, 1 of 2 in the second), and while that is a very disappointing conversion-rate in and of itself, Petrova only had (and converted) one BP all match! (it was in the second set).

Petrova was the better net-player, winning 12 of 15 points there (80%), while Vera won 8 of 12 (67%).

In points, Vera won 85-71 (first set 51-43, second set 34-28).


2.3 Articles
------------

Zvonarėva wins all-Russian encounter
By Vanessa Skendaris (www.australianopen.com (http://www.australianopen.com))
>>>
Women's world No.7 Vera Zvonarėva has progressed into her first Australian Open quarter-final after defeating fellow Russian and 10th seed Nadia Petrova 7-5 6-4 on Sunday.

In a marathon opening game that lasted 10 minutes, Zvonarėva looked damaging despite having the chance to break Petrova six times.

Zvonarėva - a French Open quarter-finalist in 2003 - had another opportunity to break Petrova's serve in the third game, seizing it for a 3-1 lead after Petrova double-faulted.

At 2-4 down, Petrova found some rhythm and won the next three games to snatch a 5-4 lead. Holding serve at 5-5, Zvonarėva broke Petrova again for a chance to serve out the set, which she did en route to clinching it 7-5 in a lengthy 57 minutes.

Petrova - a former Australian Open quarter-finalist in 2006 - battled all the way with her compatriot, but it was her unforced errors that let her down; she made 30 in the first set, and added a further 19 in the second.

Zvonarėva continued her good form heading in the second set, regularly hitting deep winners from the baseline, and proving too strong for Petrova. She eventually closed out the set and match with a forehand smash.

Zvonarėva will now meet Marion Bartoli of France, who upset world No.1 Jelena Janković 6-1 6-4 earlier in the day. Zvonarėva has won six of her seven career matches with the 16th seed, emerging victorious on the last three encounters.

Quick facts:

* Petrova had 49 unforced errors.

* Zvonarėva had 23 winners to Petrova's 22.

* Zvonarėva converted just three of her 18 break-point chances, while Petrova capitalised on her only break-point opportunity.

* Petrova won 12 of 15 points when she came to the net, while Zvonarėva was successful on eight of her 12 net-approaches.
<<<

Zvonarėva through to Aussie quarter-finals (Reuters)
(Reporting by Julian Linden, editing by Alastair Himmer)
>>>
Vera Zvonarėva beat fellow Russian Nadia Petrova 7-5 6-4 on Sunday to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for the first time.

Zvonarėva won the first set when Petrova dropped her serve in the 11th game on a double fault, and then broke her immediately at the start of the second.

Zvonarėva - seeded seventh at Melbourne Park this year - had not made a Major quarter-final since the 2003 French Open.

Her next opponent is Marion Bartoli of France, who earlier upset world number-one Jelena Janković 6-1 6-4.
<<<

World No.1 Janković Falls To Bartoli
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/1/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=2921
>>>
For just the third time in the Open Era, the top seed at the Australian Open fell before the quarter-finals, as Jelena Janković was bundled out in the fourth round by No.16 seed Marion Bartoli.

Bartoli will next face No.7 seed Vera Zvonarėva, who edged No.10 seed Nadia Petrova, 7-5 6-4. Zvonarėva had been 1:5 against Petrova going in, including losing their last four meetings in straight sets. Zvonarėva will have a different outlook going in this time, having a 6:1 head-to-head edge against Bartoli.

"The last time I played her, I lost 6-0 6-1, so I hope to do better this time!" Bartoli told the Rod Laver Arena crowd during an on-court interview after her win.
<<<

Bartoli bounces top-seeded Janković in straight sets (PA SportsTicker)
>>>
Top seed and world No.1 Jelena Janković was knocked out of the Australian Open after Marion Bartoli won their fourth-round encounter in straight sets: 6-1 6-4 on Sunday.

Seventh seed Vera Zvonarėva will play Bartoli in the quarter-finals after defeating fellow Russian Nadia Petrova 7-5 6-4.

Zvonarėva squandered six break-point opportunities in the first game, which lasted 10 minutes, but got the advantage in the third, and held to take a 3-1 lead.

But at 2-4 down, Petrova won the next three games before Zvonarėva held her serve and broke her opponent again to take the set 7-5.

Zvonarėva continued her good form in the second set, regularly hitting deep winners from the baseline, and capitalising on the mounting unforced errors by Petrova. She eventually closed out the match with a forehand smash.
<<<

Superb Bartoli dumps out Janković (BBC Sport)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7849574.stm
>>>
Top seed Jelena Janković crashed out of the Australian Open after a stunning performance from French 16th seed Marion Bartoli, who won 6-1 6-4.

In an all-Russian duel, seventh seed Vera Zvonarėva set up a quarter-final against Bartoli with a 7-5 6-4 victory over 10th seed Nadia Petrova.

Zvonarėva won the first set when Petrova dropped her serve in the 11th game on a double fault, then broke her immediately at the start of the second.
<<<

---------------------
3. Quarter-final draw
---------------------

* VERA ZVONARĖVA [7,EF] v MARION BARTOLI [16,DF,S] (my loyalty is to VERA)
* Jelena Dokić [WC,EF] v DINARA SAFINA [3] (GO JELENA!!)
* ELENA DEMENTIEVA [4] v Carla Suįrez Navarro (davai Elena!)
* SERENA WILLIAMS [2] v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [8]

------------------------
4. Quarter-final preview
------------------------

Marion Bartoli [16] may be coming off a brilliant thrashing of Majorless world #1 Jelena Janković, but Vera leads Marion 6:1 head to head:
+ 2003 Strasbourg qf: Vera 6-1 6-2
+ 2003 Linz 2r: Vera 6-2 6-3
+ 2004 Los Angeles 3r: Vera 6-2 6-3
- 2006 Auckland final: Marion 6-2 6-2
+ 2008 Charleston 3r: Vera 6-4 4-6 6-1
+ 2008 Stuttgart 2r: Vera 6-2 6-0
+ 2008 Linz sf: Vera 6-0 6-1

So Vera should be very confident going into this match, but of course it's not that simple, as Vera is playing in only her second Major quarter-final (the first was the French Open 2003), with a great chance to reach her first Major semi-final, so the pressure of expectation is on her.

Also, the Australian Open 2009 seems to be developing a reputation for overturning lopsided head to heads: Vera overturned a 1:5 head to head to beat Petrova, and Fernando Verdasco overturned a 0:5 head to head to beat Andy Murray.

Marion is a Selesian player (two hands both sides like Monica Seles) who takes the ball early and also has a very unorthodox serve (with a cocked wrist, and the way she puts her legs together and stands on tiptoes). She's an experimental player who is always adding and removing quirky features to and from her game, such as the energy-jumps she was doing before each serve in the summer of 2007. Her game has also been called chess-like (she is coached by her father, who is a keen chess-player).

Marion has looked overweight since 2006, but she's come into 2009 looking much leaner, fitter and more mobile.

Marion reached the Wimbledon 2007 final with a sensational upset of top seed Justine Henin in the semis. But she has struggled to scale such heights again, and had a deep slump in 2008, when she struggled with an energy-sapping virus that made it hard for her even to get out of bed.

Marion went 29:26 in 2008, with numerous first- and second-round losses. She had a four-match losing-streak from Rome to Birmingham, but looked revitalised as she stormed to the semi-finals of Eastbourne for the loss of 9 games in two matches - only to fall 6-4 6-1 to #69 Bethanie Mattek in the third round of Wimbledon, where she was defending her final.

Marion reached the final of Stanford and semi-finals of Montréal - both runs including victories over #8/#9 Anna Chakvetadze. She reached the fourth round of the US Open with a 6-1 7-6(3) over #24-ranked former champion Lindsay Davenport (most probably Davenport's last-ever match in a Major). After the US Open, she reverted to slump-mode, although she did battle through to the semi-finals of Linz before Vera thrashed her 6-0 6-1.

Marion began 2009 with a run to the Brisbane-final, albeit with a retirement from Amélie Mauresmo in the semis, and a 6-3 6-1 loss to #16 Victoria Azarenka in the final. Marion retired in the first round of Sydney, but has reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with the following results:
1r + Melanie South, 6-2 6-4
2r + Tsvetana Pironkova [DF], 7-5 6-2
3r + Lucie Šafįřovį [EF], 3-6 6-2 6-1
4r + JELENA JANKOVIĆ [1], 6-1 6-4

Lucie led Marion 6-3 2-0, but Lucie's brilliant game then disintegrated into unforced errors, and Marion won 12 of the last 13 games.

Then Marion was on fire against Janković, although it has to be said that the world #1 has been struggling with illness and adapting to a new, muscular body this month. From the highlights I've seen, Janković really allowed Marion to play well by allowing her [Marion] to force her [Janković] to hit short lobs that Marion hammered away for winners.

Marion will not have it so easy against Vera, because Vera's mobility and defence are much stronger than Janković's at the moment, given that Janković has lost her previously excellent movement in the muscular transformation of her body.

From what I've read about Vera's fourth-round win over Petrova - and the one point I've seen from that match - Vera is hitting the ball very sweetly, and even overpowered the powerful Petrova, against whom she had been 1:5 head to head!

I think Marion will find an on-form Vera a very different proposition from an off-form Janković!


4.1 Articles
------------

2009 Australian Open - Nick's Picks - Women's Singles Quarter-finals
Nick Bollettieri (nickstennispicks.com)
>>>
Marion Bartoli (FRA) vs. Vera Zvonarėva (RUS)

Bartoli played near flawless tennis in the fourth round to eliminate top-seed Jelena Janković 6-1 6-4. The Frenchwoman has gone on runs like this before (see Wimbledon 2007), and when she does, she is quite difficult to beat. This is the first time she has been to the quarters of a Major since she reached the final of Wimbledon 2007, and previous to this year, she had never been past the second round Down Under.

Zvonarėva won the all-Russian match-up in the fourth round, eliminating Nadia Petrova 7-5 6-4. She only faced one break-point the entire match, while constantly putting the pressure on Petrova. Zvonarėva hasn't been to the quarters of a Major since the French Open in 2003.

The Match-Up:

Zvonarėva is 6:1 against Bartoli, and beat her three times in 2008. Bartoli was able to take the ball very early, and also capitalise on Janković's weak serve. I don't think that Zvonarėva will let Bartoli push her around like she did to Janković. Zvonarėva pounds the ball from both sides, and has a better serve that Janković, which will really help her against Bartoli. Not many people talk about Zvonarėva, but she is a very solid player and has a great deal of confidence right now. I look for this to be a close match, but I like Zvonarėva's chances.

Nick's Pick: Zvonarėva in 3 sets.
<<<

2009 Australian Open Quarter-finals Preview
Tania Tchea (www.onthebaseline.com (http://www.onthebaseline.com))
>>>
Marion Bartoli (FRA)[16] vs. Vera Zvonarėva (RUS)[7]

Marion outplayed Jelena Janković in their fourth-round match, winning 81% of points on her first serve, and aggressively attacking the Serb's second serve. This was an emphatic win as she conceded only five games.

Zvonarėva has progressed along nicely in her section of the draw, and will be looking to capitalise on her first time in the quarter-finals. The Bronze-medallist from the Beijing Olympics will look to rally with Bartoli from the baseline; however the Frenchwoman will be too strong for the Russian.

Marion Bartoli in 2 sets.
<<<

Marion's Melbourne Blog
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/1/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=2896
>>>
[Sunday 25th January 2009]

Tonight and tomorrow I'll rest again, because the matches are only going to get tougher and tougher. I'm playing Zvonarėva or Petrova, who are both so tough. Vera is more consistent - it feels like she only makes one unforced error per match. Nadia's shots are probably harder, but she can make more errors. But it doesn't matter who I play; I'll have to put in a really good performance.

Marion
<<<

-------------------------------
5. Women's Doubles: Third round (Monday 26th January 2009)
-------------------------------

- (VERA ZVONARĖVA [EF]/VICTORIA AZARENKA)[13] lt. (CARA BLACK/LIEZEL HUBER)[1], walkover (Azarenka: dizziness and gastrointestinal illness)

----------------------------
6. Order of play for Tuesday
----------------------------

Rod Laver Arena: Day-session (start 11:00 AEDT = 00:00 GMT)
WD qf: (CASEY DELL'ACQUA/FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE)[12] v Anna-Lena Grönefeld/Patty Schnyder
|
(not before 12:30 AEDT = 01:30 GMT)
WS qf: VERA ZVONARĖVA [7,EF] v MARION BARTOLI [16,DF,S]
|
(not before 15:00 AEDT = 04:00 GMT)
MS qf: ANDY RODDICK [7] v NOVAK ŠOKOVIĆ [3]
|
Rod Laver Arena: Evening-session (start 19:30 AEDT = 08:30 GMT)
WS qf: Jelena Dokić [WC,EF] v DINARA SAFINA [3]
MS qf: JUAN MARTĶN DEL POTRO [8] v ROGER FEDERER [2]

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jan 29th, 2009, 01:13 AM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos / Videos
2. Quarter-final review: Zvonarëva v Bartoli
3. Semi-final draw
4. Semi-final preview
5. Who will be #1 next Monday?
6. Order of play for Thursday

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1. Photos / Videos
------------------
1.1 Photos
----------

Vera Zvonarëva (2 quarter-final photos added):
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/overview/wta260142.html

Recently updated since 21st January - loads of photos including Vera:
http://www.tennis.com/photogallery/photogallery.aspx

Tuesday's players, including Vera:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=melbourne_qf_finals
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7852626.stm
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/4356734/Australian-Open-Day-nine.html


1.2 Videos
----------

http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/multimedia/default_video.asp
- Day 9 Highlights: Zvonarëva v Bartoli

--------------------------------------------
2. Quarter-final review: Zvonarëva v Bartoli (Tuesday 27th January 2009)
--------------------------------------------

+ VERA ZVONARËVA [7,EF] d. MARION BARTOLI [16,DF,S], 6-3 6-0

Another stunning performance by Vera to extend her ownership of Marion to 7:1. Marion led 3-1*, but then lost every single game left in the match as she wilted in the extreme heat.

Marion described Vera as follows: "She's almost like a ball-machine: she just puts it back at you all the time with interest."

The match was second on Rod Laver Arena (following a doubles-match), so it would have been played in the Australian mid-afternoon, while I was sleeping in England.

Vera and Marion both agreed that Vera could go all the way here. Well, I think Vera would have been licking her lips if she saw how badly Dinara Safina played against an exhausted Jelena Dokić: Vera has a golden opportunity to reach the final, but she'd certainly have a tough opponent in the final (most probably Elena Dementieva, though we all know what Serena Williams is capable of doing at the Australian Open in odd-numbered years).


2.1 Statistics
--------------

The match lasted 1h09m (first set 38m, second set 31m).

Vera had a W:UE ratio of 17:17, while Marion's was a disastrous 9:26. They were actually very similar in the first set (Vera 7:15, Marion 6:15), but in the second set, Vera's was 10:2 to Marion's 3:10.

Vera got only 52% of her first serves in (dipping from 59% in the first set to 40% in the second), winning 74% of the points when she did so, and a healthy 57% on second serve (her winning-percentages improved from (65%, 50%) for the first set to (100%, 67%) for the second).

Marion got 63% of her first serves in, but her winning-percentages were very poor: 50% on her first serve, 25% on second serve. All three percentages were very similar when comparing the two sets.

Vera had the bigger first serve: fastest 107-106 mph, average 100-95 mph. Marion's second serve was slightly faster than Vera's on average: 85-83 mph.

They each served one ace; Vera served 3 double faults to Marion's 4 (all 7 of their double faults came in the first set).

Vera broke 6 times from 13 BPs (3 from 7 in the first set, 3 from 6 in the second), while Marion had just 4 BPs (all in the first set): converting two of them.

Vera won 10 of 12 points at the net (83%) - including a perfect 7 of 7 in the second set - while Marion won just 3 of 10 (30%).

In points, Vera won 61-37 (first set 33-25, second set 28-12).


2.2 Vera's quarter-final press-conference
-----------------------------------------

Source: www.australianopen.com (http://www.australianopen.com)

Q. You were down 3-1, and then you reeled off 11 consecutive games. What happened?

VERA ZVONARËVA: I don't know what happened. But I really thought Marion was playing really well in the beginning and I made a few unforced errors, so that's why I think I was down 3-1.

Then I was able to cut down on my unforced errors, and I was able to keep a good level of play throughout the whole match. I think it made the difference.

Q. Yet to drop a set. Is this the best you've played in a tournament?

VERA ZVONARËVA: I don't know. I'm not really thinking about the scores or sets, or any statistics. I'm just trying to concentrate on every match, and trying my best in every match. And I think I've been doing pretty good so far.

Q. Your semi-final opponent plays tonight. You played today in the heat. Is that unfair?

VERA ZVONARËVA: I don't think there is something unfair. It's a schedule. I think I played good my match, and hopefully they will have a good match tonight.

Q. Will you be watching tonight?

VERA ZVONARËVA: I think a little bit. I might watch, come here and watch a little bit.

Q. How do you think Jelena [Dokić] will go against Dinara [Safina]?

VERA ZVONARËVA: I don't know. I think it's going to be very tough and a very interesting match [good answer!]. All players are very tough in the quarter-finals, so you never know what's gonna happen out there.

I hope they will have a good match. I'm really looking to my semi-final.

Q. Seems to be a very open tournament. Have you thought about the possibility of winning it?

VERA ZVONARËVA: You know, if I'm coming for the tournament, I'm pretty confident in myself. If I'm in the tournament, I'm here to try to win it.

But I'm really concentrating on every match. For me, it doesn't really matter what's happening around any other matches. I just try to concentrate on myself as much as possible, try to improve match to match, because I know I need it.

That's why I'm just looking forward for the next one, not thinking about anything else.

Q. Marion's take on today was that you just played amazing tennis; it was all down to you. Is that how you saw it, or were you surprised you didn't get a better fight?

VERA ZVONARËVA: No, I think I played very good tennis. I think Marion been playing very good as well, but I was able to play [a] very clean match today. I think that's what made the difference.

Like I said: in the beginning, I made a few unforced errors, and I was down because Marion wasn't giving me any opportunities. And as soon as I was able to play a very, very clean match - and it's happening not that often - and I'm very satisfied about it today.

Q. How tough is it to keep playing at that level? Is it difficult to retain your concentration in that situation?

VERA ZVONARËVA: I think it always looks much easier from the side. It was very tough and very close. I think every point, we both were fighting as hard as we can. It's just [that] today, it happened [that] I was able to be a little bit better than her.

But we'll see what's gonna happen in the next match.


2.3 Articles
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Zvonarëva storms into semi-finals [CEEFAX 490->492]
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Seventh seed Vera Zvonarëva made short work of France's Marion Bartoli to reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

The Russian took time to settle against the 16th seed, and was broken twice as she trailed 1-3 in the first set.

But Bartoli's game then completely fell apart, and Zvonarëva's agility around the court saw her reel off 11 games in a row to claim an amazing victory.

Third seed Dinara Safina takes on home-hope Jelena Dokić later on Tuesday, with the winner meeting Zvonarëva.
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Russian Zvonarëva breezes into semi [Teletext 495->497]
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Zvonarëva into first semi [Teletext 497]

Vera Zvonarëva produced a superb performance as she saw off Marion Bartoli at Melbourne Park to reach her first Major semi-final.

Bartoli started well and led the Russian 3-1 in the opening set, but the seventh seed then won the next 11 straight games for a 6-3 6-0 victory.

The 24-year-old will meet either third seed Dinara Safina or Australian Jelena Dokić for a place in the final.
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Russian: I had to improve [Teletext 497]

Vera Zvonarëva admitted she had needed to transform her display in the first set of her quarter-final triumph over Marion Bartoli at Melbourne Park.

The Russian seventh seed was down 1-3 in the opening set, but won 11 straight games as she recorded a 6-3 6-0 win.

She said: "I thought Marion was playing really well in the beginning. Then I was able to cut down on my unforced errors, and it made the difference."
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Bartoli hails Russian [Teletext 497]

Marion Bartoli has backed Vera Zvonarëva's title-credentials after losing to the Russian in Melbourne.

French 16th seed Bartoli, who had beaten world No.1 Jelena Janković in the last round, fell to a 6-3 6-0 defeat in their quarter-final clash.

She said: "If she keeps playing like this, she can definitely win this tournament. She's almost like a ball-machine. She played unbelievably well."
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Zvonarëva first to final four
By Tom Kelly (www.australianopen.com (http://www.australianopen.com))
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World No.7 Vera Zvonarëva has powered through to the semi-finals of the Australian Open 2009, reeling off the last 11 games of the match to dispatch Marion Bartoli 6-3 6-0 in their quarter-final on Tuesday.

Seemingly unable to handle both the heat on court and the heat of Zvonarëva's groundstrokes, 16th seed Bartoli looked a different player to the one who beat world No.1 Jelena Janković in the fourth round.

Three breaks of serve started the match: the Frenchwoman playing safer from the back of the court, and initially making fewer errors.

However, at 3-1 up and looking to have set up a decisive lead, Bartoli's game began to crack as Zvonarëva tightened her own.

The 24-year-old Russian – a first-round loser here last year [she retired with an ankle-injury] – levelled scores at 3-3, powering through the next three to wrap up the set with a clean winner.

Bartoli's serve was broken again in the first game of the second, and her resolve seemingly followed soon after.

As the set progressed, the Frenchwoman wilted in the heat, errors flowing off her racquet with alarming regularity.

On the other side of the net, Zvonarëva could sense her impending maiden Major semi-final; she moved her opponent around the court, committing just two unforced errors for the set.

The Muscovite now awaits the winner of Jelena Dokić and Dinara Safina tonight, and should be confident that she can make her maiden Major final after winning her last three matches against the World No.3 and her only encounter with the Australian.

Quick facts:

* Zvonarëva served at just 49%, but won 74% of points when her first serve was successful.

* The Russian had 17 winners and 17 unforced errors; Bartoli had just nine winners and made 26 unforced errors.

* Zvonarëva converted six of her 13 break-point opportunities, while Bartoli capitalised on two of her four break-point chances.

* The second set, where Bartoli won just 12 points, lasted 30 minutes.
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Business as usual for red-hot Russian
By Tom Kelly (www.australianopen.com (http://www.australianopen.com))
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Trying conditions, as Marion Bartoli learned today, are often as challenging to overcome as the player on the other side of the net.

After surrendering meekly in her quarter-final against Vera Zvonarëva on Tuesday, the No.16 seed was keen to make a point in her post-match press-conference.

"It was quite, quite hot. I have to say it was definitely some tough condition... I don't think it's really fair to have one quarter-final played at 1:00 - right in the middle of the heat - and one playing at 7:30. But I guess that's the way it is."

The conditions, with temperatures rising to 35°C in Melbourne on Tuesday, were less of a problem for Zvonarëva.

"I don't think there is something unfair," the Russian said. "It's a schedule. I think I played good my match, and hopefully they [Dinara Safina and Jelena Dokić] will have a good match tonight.

"I think it's going to be [a] very tough and a very interesting match. All players are very tough in the quarter-finals, so you never know what's gonna happen out there."

Business as usual – that's the line being toed by the world No.7.

Despite a 2008 in which she re-established herself in the top 10 – winning two titles and making the final of the season-ending WTA Tour Championships – Zvonarëva still slips under the radar.

And that's the way she likes it.

"I'm not really thinking about the scores or sets, or any statistics. I'm just trying to concentrate on every match, and trying my best in every match," she said.

"For me, it doesn't really matter what's happening around any other matches. I just try to concentrate on myself as much as possible; try to improve match to match, because I know I need it.

"That's why I'm just looking forward for the next one - not thinking about anything else.

"If I'm in the tournament, I'm here to try to win it."

Indeed, Zvonarëva has a golden opportunity to make her first Major final, even if she is unwilling to think that far ahead.

Importantly, the Muscovite's run to the Tour Championships final – where she lost but took a set off champion Venus Williams – included three wins over top-five opponents [four over top-seven opponents].

It's no surprise, then, that she has achieved her best Major showing in her very next tournament played for ranking-points.

After starting slowly against Bartoli, Zvonarëva's all-court game kicked into gear: the No.7 seed reeling off the last 11 games of the match.

"I was able to play [a] very clean match today. I think that's what made the difference... in the beginning, I made a few unforced errors and I was down, because Marion wasn't giving me any opportunities.

"It was very tough and very close. I think every point, we both were fighting as hard as we can.

"It's just [that] today, it happened [that] I was able to be a little bit better than her."
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Zvonarëva Cruises, Makes First Major Semi-final
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/1/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=2928
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History definitely repeated itself on Tuesday, as Vera Zvonarëva continued to dominate her head-to-head with Marion Bartoli with a runaway 6-3 6-0 win in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. Zvonarëva now advances to her first Major singles semi-final.

Their respective round-of-16 matches made it seem like No.16 seed Bartoli was perhaps in stronger form, as she hit nearly twice as many winners as unforced errors to upset top seed and world No.1 Jelena Jankovic in straight sets: 6-1 6-4. Meanwhile, the No.7-seeded Zvonarëva was struggling past No.10 seed Nadia Petrova, although she did edge her compatriot in two sets: 7-5 6-4.

Zvonarëva had won six of her seven career-encounters against Bartoli, however, and in Melbourne, she improved that to seven of eight with the aforementioned 69-minute rout, losing her serve twice early in the first set, but winning 11 straight games from 1-3 down to steamroll past her bewildered French opponent.

"I don't know what happened - I thought Marion was playing really well in the beginning, but I was able to cut down on my unforced errors and keep a good level of play throughout the rest of the match," Zvonarëva said. "I was able to play a very, very clean match today. That's what made the difference."

"She just played unbelievably well; she barely missed a ball after that," Bartoli said of the 11-game streak. "I was hitting as hard as I could, but she was always coming back with some better shots. Even when she was scrambling, she was putting the ball just 10 centimetres from the baseline. She was reading my game like a book. She was just too good - just better than me today."

For a player who has spent as much time ranked inside the world's top ten as Zvonarëva, it may come as somewhat of a shock that this was only her second Major singles quarter-final, having reached the final eight at the French Open once - nearly five years ago in 2003. But her form over the last year has hinted at a major breakthrough for the 24-year-old Muscovite, as she worked her way from outside the top twenty all the way to No.7 by year's end, winning two WTA Tour titles and reaching another six finals, including at the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships. Nobody else reached eight finals in 2008.

Bartoli can only take positives away from Melbourne. She battled past tough opponents in her early rounds - including rallying from 3-6 0-2 down against former Australian Open quarter-finalist Lucie Šafářová in the third round - and notched her second win over a world No.1 against Jankovic - her first also coming at a Major, having beaten Justine Henin in the semi-finals of Wimbledon two years ago. She had never passed the second round previously here, either.

The second semi-final was scheduled for the evening-session, pitting No.3 seed Dinara Safina against wildcard Jelena Dokić.
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Zvonarëva crushes Bartoli to reach semi-finals (Reuters)
By Julian Linden (editing by John O'Brien and Pritha Sarkar)
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Vera Zvonarëva reached the semi-finals of a Major for the first time in her career after she won 11 games in a row to demolish Marion Bartoli 6-3 6-0 at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

Frenchwoman Bartoli made a bright enough start to open up a 3-1 lead in the first set, but she was unable to cope with the Russian's power when she suddenly raised her game.

Seventh seed Zvonarëva went on to register an easy victory in just 68 minutes with a performance that even she was unable to explain.

"I don't know what happened," Zvonarëva said.

"Marion was playing really well in the beginning and I made a few unforced errors, so that's why I think I was down 3-1.

"Then I was able to cut down on my unforced errors, and I was able to keep a good level of play throughout the whole match."

Zvonarëva is one of four Russians still in contention for the title, and will meet her compatriot Dinara Safina in the last four [this was a pretty arrogant assumption at the time this article was published!], ensuring there will be at least one Russian in the women's final for the third year running at Melbourne Park [Maria Sharapova was runner-up in 2007 and won in 2008].

Despite being a consistent top-ten player, Zvonarëva has a modest record at the Majors, and the only time previous time she had made it past the fourth round was at the French Open 2003, when she made the quarter-finals.

MAJOR CONTENDER

However, the 24-year-old has been in career-best form in Melbourne this year, winning all of her matches in straight sets, to emerge as a contender for the first Major of the year.

"I'm pretty confident in myself. If I'm in the tournament, I'm here to try to win it," she said.

"I think I played very good tennis. I think Marion's been playing very good as well, but I was able to play a very clean match today. That's what made the difference."

Bartoli - a Wimbledon-finalist two years ago - had also been in great touch this past week, beating world number-one Jelena Janković in the fourth round.

The 16th seed is recognised as one of the hardest hitters in women's tennis, but admitted she had no answer to Zvonarëva's power.

"I don't think I put in a bad performance," Bartoli said. "She was just coming [up] every time with a better shot to my shot.

"Sometimes you have to accept [that] someone is just better than you.

"She just played unbelievably well. It seemed like she was reading my game like a book.

"If she keeps playing like this, she can definitely win this tournament."

Like Novak Ðoković in the men's tournament, Bartoli also mentioned struggling in the Melbourne-heat.

"I have to say it was definitely some tough conditions," she said.

"It was really hot. I don't think it's really fair to have one quarter-final played at 1:00 - right in the middle of the heat - and one playing at 7:30pm. But I guess that's the way it is."

Zvonarëva is one of four Russian women still in contention for the title, and will face either countrywoman Dinara Safina or Australia's Jelena Dokić in Thursday's semi-finals.
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I can win it, says ice-cool Zvonarëva after Bartoli-blowout (AFP)
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On Tuesday, Russian seventh seed Vera Zvonarëva coolly declared herself ready to win the Australian Open after crushing France's Marion Bartoli in searing conditions to reach the semi-finals.

The 23-year-old blew 16th seed Bartoli off court in a one-sided 6-3 6-0 drubbing, rattling off 11 straight games after going down 1-3 in the first set, as her opponent Bartoli wilted in the hot conditions.

The Russian maintained her ominous form at this year's tournament to reach her first Major semi-final in 25 attempts in emphatic fashion.

Far from being overawed at advancing so far, Zvonarëva immediately turned up the heat on her rivals by declaring herself ready to join the élite group of Major winners.

"If I'm coming for the tournament, I'm pretty confident in myself," she said. "If I'm in the tournament, I'm here to try to win it."

Bartoli agreed that Zvonarëva could go all the way here, where she is yet to drop a set, and has held her opponents to 6-0 in four of the ten sets she has contested.

"She's almost like a ball-machine: she just puts it back at you all the time with interest," the Frenchwoman said.

"There is not any weakness into her game [that] I can find. She's serving well, moving well, hitting the ball well. Of course she can win this tournament."

The ease with which Zvonarëva handled the heat - which left Bartoli bent double and sucking for breath - may also count in her favour as the tournament advances, with heatwave-conditions forecast at Melbourne Park this week.

"I like it when it's warm, so it's perfect for me," she said.

The heat meant Bartoli - a Wimbledon-finalist in 2007 - could not repeat the aggressive game-plan with which she thrashed world number-one Jelena Janković in the fourth round.

Her all-out attack worked early as she scored two breaks [to one] to go up 3-1 in the first set, but proved too draining over the course of the match.

Bartoli initially succeeded in keeping the points short, taking advantage of a Zvonarëva double fault and a rash of unforced errors from the Russian to go up a break in the first game.

Zvonarëva broke back in the next, but Bartoli left her stranded with a lob to regain the advantage.

By this time, Bartoli was covering her head with a towel between games to provide some relief from the heat, and Zvonarëva began moving her around the court.

The 23-year-old Frenchwoman surrendered the advantage three games later, committing two double faults and allowing Zvonarëva to level the set at 3-3.

The Russian, who took a 6:1 winning-record against Bartoli into the match, never looked back, and her penetrating groundstrokes finally began to find their mark.

She gained the upper hand with another break to go up 5-3, sending down her first ace of the match in the next as she went on to serve out the set after 38 minutes.

The conditions took their toll on Bartoli in the second set, and Zvonarëva moved her around the court, breaking her three times as she raced to a 6-0 win in just 30 minutes.
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Zvonarëva dominant in QF win against Bartoli (TENNIS.com)
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The 24-year-old Russian's best performance in six previous trips to Melbourne was the fourth round — she'd gone out in the first round at the Australian Open three times, including last year. She also reached the quarter-finals at the 2003 French Open.

Seventh-seeded Zvonarëva rallied from an opening service-break to dominate Bartoli in the remainder of the match.

"I'm very excited about it," said Zvonarëva, who cut her unforced errors from 15 in the first set to two in the second. "I think it was a great day for me."

She's had four 6-0 sets out of the 10 in her five straight-sets wins.

"I'm not really thinking about the scores or sets or any statistics," she said. "I'm just trying to concentrate on every match and trying my best. And I think I've been doing pretty good so far."

Bartoli, seeded 16th, had ousted top-ranked Jelena Janković in the fourth round.

"I think she played just unbelievably well," Bartoli said of the last 11 games. "She barely missed one ball after that. I was hitting as hard as I could. She was always coming back with some better shots."
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Vera Sweeps Into Semis (Tennis Week)
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Marion Bartoli crashed the Australian Open quarter-final party with a bold and bruising baseline-attack to bounce World No.1 Jelena Janković out of the draw.

But the sound and fury Bartoli brought to the court in the fourth round was strangely absent today as Vera Zvonarëva served as a tennis mute-button in silencing the former Wimbledon-finalist with the ease of a woman pressing all the right buttons.

Down an early break, Zvonarëva won 11 straight games to blow Bartoli away 6-3 6-0 and storm into her first career Major semi-final in her 25th career Major-tournament appearance.

The seventh-ranked Russian is playing with the confidence of a woman who fully believes she can reach the final and take the title, and why not? Zvonarëva is the only player who has yet to drop a set in the women's draw, and delivered her fourth shutout-set in five matches.

"If I'm coming for the tournament, I'm pretty confident in myself. If I'm in the tournament, I'm here to try to win it," Zvonarëva said. "But I'm really concentrating on every match. For me, it doesn't really matter what's happening around any other matches. I just try to concentrate on myself as much as possible, try to improve match to match because I know I need it. That's why I'm just looking forward for the next one - not thinking about anything else."

She has made a believer of Bartoli, who pronounced the Moscow-native capable of taking home the title.

"I think if she keeps playing like this, she can definitely win this tournament," Bartoli said. "She's really consistent out of the baseline. As I said, she's almost like a ball-machine. She just puts it back at you all the time, you know, with interest. There is not any weakness into her game [that] I can find. She's serving well, moving well, hitting the ball well. Of course she can win this tournament."

The mere sight of Zvonarëva across the net seems to vaporise Bartoli's resistence. Zvonarëva had lost just three sets to the Frenchwoman in winning six of their seven career-clashes. Though Bartoli won three of the first four games, she found herself being pushed behind the baseline by the depth of Zvonarëva's drives.

Competing with more intensity, Zvonarëva consistently caught the corners with crisp crosscourt shots that began to elude the restricted reach of Bartoli, who plays with two hands off both forehand and backhand.

Zvonarëva cracked an ace to reach set-point, and collected the 38-minute first set on a Bartoli backhand error.

The match was essentially over at that point as Bartoli - who spent some time between points leaning on her racquet as if it was a crutch keeping her upright - increasingly withered as on-court temperatures soared higher and hotter.

"I think she's just the better player. That's it," a blunt Bartoli said. "At a point, you have to admit when someone just plays better than you. I think she plays better than me on today. I don't know about the whole year, but today she just played better. I don't think I put a bad performance, but I think she was serving better in second serve than Jelena [Janković] was doing two days ago. I didn't have the same look at the same ball. I couldn't attack it the same way. She was moving faster. She was just coming every time with a better shot to my shot. You have to accept sometimes [that] someone is just better than you."

Zvonarëva broke to open the second set, and held at 15 to consolidate. Bending her knees to get down to a flat drive from Bartoli, Zvonarëva turned her hips into an inside-out forehand winner to collect her fourth consecutive service-break.

Running to her right, Zvonarëva curled a running forehand crosscourt winner to break for 5-0. A backhand winner down the line concluded a clinical and brutally efficient effort from Zvonarëva, who closed with a clenched fist and quick wave to all four corners of the court.

It's a career-milestone for the sensitive Moscow-native, but it was mild celebration. That may be because Zvonarëva is well aware that she's got more work to do and, more importantly, she knows she's capable of finishing off the job.

Zvonarëva will play the winner of tonight's quarter-final between third-ranked Dinara Safina and the resurgent Jelena Dokić. Zvonarëva has swept Safina three times in a row — all three wins were on hard courts last season — and is 1:0 against the 187th-ranked Dokić in a match played more than five years ago.
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Safina, Zvonarëva advance to semis at Australian Open (PA SportsTicker)
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Jelena Dokić's dream run at the Australian Open ended on Tuesday.

The Australian Dokić endured a 6-4 4-6 6-4 setback against third-seeded Russian Dinara Safina during their quarter-final match at Rod Laver Arena.

Dokić - a wild-card entry who was ranked 187th in the world and on the comeback-trail after battling depression and family-issues - gave it her all in front of a patriotic crowd.

But, after so little tennis at this level, and carrying an ankle-injury suffered late in her fourth-round win against Alisa Kleybanova, she eventually was ousted by Safina.

"I have really fought well this week," Dokić said. "I have no regrets. I just would like to keep it going... It's been a great start to 2009. I couldn't have asked for anything more."

The 22-year-old Safina next will face Vera Zvonarëva in the semi-finals after her seventh-seeded compatriot cruised to a 6-3 6-0 victory over France's Marion Bartoli - the 16th seed - earlier on Tuesday.

Safina admitted that the partisan crowd was a factor.

"It was not easy to play, you know, having the whole crowd against you," said Safina, who reached her first Major final at the French Open last spring. "Because when you have the whole crowd behind you whenever you do a great shot, they pump you, and then it makes you go for more and more.

"When you make a great shot and basically only my box is clapping for me, that's tough."

Dokić's march to the quarter-finals has been the story of the tournament, and her determination, attitude, and apologies for past behaviour - which was largely influenced by her estranged father Damir - have won back the hearts of her adopted nation.

In a gripping match, Dokić lost a tight first set 6-4, but bounced back immediately in the second to break the big-hitting Russian and take a 3-0 lead.

Safina, who recorded 11 double faults in the match, held serve to love and broke back, only to lose her next service-game en route to a 2-5 deficit.

Although she broke again in the ninth game, it was not enough, and a double fault handed Dokić - who hit a number of sublime winners down the line - the second set.

It was more of the same in the third, as Dokić failed to hold serve in the opening game, but took the Russian to four deuces in the next before Safina finally closed it out for a 2-0 lead.

Both players' error-counts continued to mount, but the games went with serve until the eighth, when a backhand winner by Dokić evened the set at 4-4.

It was short-lived, though, as another lengthy game, in which Dokić saved three break-points, finally went Safina's way, and she wrapped up the match when Dokić found the net.

"I played well with a girl who's number three in the world today," Dokić said. "I can still really take positives out of today, even though some of the points and the shots that I played at some stages of the match were maybe not right."

Zvonarëva trailed 1-3 in the first set of her match against Bartoli, but rallied to win 11 straight games, needing just over an hour to forge the victory in straight sets.

The result was all the more impressive after Bartoli had completely outplayed top-seeded Jelena Janković in the fourth round.

Bartoli started well and broke serve in the third game of the first set, but Zvonarëva battled back, evening the match at 3-3 after coming out on top of a fine rally.

The 24-year-old then won the next three games to claim the first set in 38 minutes before maintaining her momentum in the second set to breeze to victory.
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Dokić-dream ends (Reuters)
By Ossian Shine (editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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"Aussie Jelena" Dokić was given every chance to again thrill home-fans, having been scheduled on the cool night-session, but her dream-run ended 6-4 4-6 6-4 at the hands of Dinara Safina.

BIG BROTHER

Dokić's emotionally-charged run at Melbourne Park had captured the imagination of her adopted homeland, but her luck finally ran out against the in-form Safina.

The third-seeded Russian advanced to her third Major semi-final in eight months, and stayed on course to emulate big brother Marat Safin by winning the Australian Open.

"I'm so sorry for beating [an] Australian tonight," Safina told the crowd during a courtside interview. "I hope you will be behind me next time."

Dokić, who is ranked 187th in the world and beat three seeded players just to get to the quarter-finals, remained upbeat.

"Of course I'm disappointed," she said. "But there are more positives than negatives. It's been a great start to 2009; I couldn't have asked for anything more."

Safina next meets fellow Russian and seventh seed Vera Zvonarëva after she eased into the women's semi-finals with victory over Marion Bartoli.

The Frenchwoman also wilted during the 6-3 6-0 thrashing.

"I have to say it was definitely some tough conditions," she told reporters. It was really hot."
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Exhausted Ðoković out as Safina ends Dokić dream-run (AFP)
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An exhausted Novak Ðoković surrendered his Australian Open title on Tuesday when he withdrew from the quarter-finals, while Dinara Safina ended the dream-run of Australia's Jelena Dokić.

Safina overcame dogged resistence from Dokić to win 6-4 4-6 6-4 and end her comeback-tournament after years of depression following the antics of her infamous father Damir.

She will now meet seventh seeded compatriot Vera Zvonarëva for a place in the final, after the Russian coolly disposed of France's Marion Bartoli 6-3 6-0.

"I'm sorry I had to defeat your Australian," Safina told the highly patriotic crowd afterwards. "I hope that you will be behind me next time."

Dokić was philosophical about the defeat.

"I played three sets with the number-three player in the world, so everything is positive," said the former world number-four.

"I've had a great tournament. It's a little bit disappointing: I had some chances. But sometimes things go your way, and sometimes they don't."

Bartoli felt the effects of the searing heat in her match against Zvonarëva, often bending double and sucking for breath.

She started strongly, but rapidly wilted in a one-sided drubbing to a player who is now in her first Major semi-final in 25 attempts.

Zvonarëva declared herself ready to win the tournament.

"If I'm coming for the tournament, I'm pretty confident in myself," she said. "If I'm in the tournament, I'm here to try to win it."

Bartoli agreed that Zvonarëva could go all the way here, where she is yet to drop a set.

"She's almost like a ball-machine: she just puts it back at you all the time with interest," the Frenchwoman said.
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Zvonarëva cruises into tennis semis as Safina toughs it out (AFP)
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Russian Vera Zvonarëva coolly took apart France's Marion Bartoli on Tuesday to reach the Australian Open semi-finals, while compatriot Dinara Safina almost imploded before overcoming wildcard Jelena Dokić.

Zvonarëva - seeded seventh - showed no sign of discomfort in searing conditions at Melbourne Park, blowing 16th seed Bartoli off court in a one-sided 6-3 6-0 drubbing.

The 24-year-old maintained her ominous form at this year's tournament, rattling off 11 straight games after going down 1-3 in the first set, to reach her first Major semi-final in 25 attempts in emphatic fashion.

Far from being overawed at advancing so far, Zvonarëva immediately turned up the heat on her rivals by declaring herself ready to join the élite group of Major winners.

"If I'm coming for the tournament, I'm pretty confident in myself," she said. "If I'm in the tournament, I'm here to try to win it."

Bartoli agreed that Zvonarëva could go all the way here, where she is yet to drop a set, and has held her opponents to 6-0 in four of the 10 sets she has contested.

"She's almost like a ball-machine: she just puts it back at you all the time with interest," the Frenchwoman said.

The ease with which Zvonarëva handled the heat - which left Bartoli bent double and sucking for breath - may also count in her favour as the tournament advances, with heatwave-conditions forecast at Melbourne Park this week.

"I like it when it's warm, so it's perfect for me," she said.

Conditions had cooled on centre court for Safina's evening-match, but the third seed found herself in a heated battle for a spot in the final four, and had to call on the mental toughness she has developed over the past year.

Safina dug deep against the tenacious Dokić, grafting out a win despite an error-ridden display before a fiercely parochial crowd cheering on their local heroine.

The 23-year-old eventually ended the Australian's dream run 6-4 4-6 6-4 in two hours and 17 minutes.

She said that even 12 months ago, the pressure from the crowd would have been too much, but she could now call on reserves of mental strength as she chases a maiden Major title.

"I think [a year ago], I would not win, but now I hang in there," she said.

"I pushed myself and I tried my best today. Before, I would just not be able to even handle the whole crowd against me."

She admitted she was sometimes her own worst enemy after squandering numerous chances to close down the match in the second set, committing eight double faults, and converting only two of her 13 break-point opportunities.

"Most of the time, it's me against myself playing," Safina said.

"I play against me, my shadow, myself, everything against me. If one day I play only against my opponent, this will be the perfect day."

Safina said she would need to improve against Zvonarëva in Thursday's semi-final.

"She's playing very good. I'll have to take the time off her and take the balls much earlier," Safina said. "I'll definitely have to be much more aggressive than today."
<<<

Safina beats Dokić to reach semis (BBC Sport)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7852624.stm
>>>
Third seed Dinara Safina overcame home-favourite and wildcard Jelena Dokić in three sets to reach the Australian Open semi-finals in Melbourne.

The quarter-final was in the balance after the pair split the first two sets and were level at 4-4 in the third.

But the Russian got the crucial break, and served out for a 6-4 4-6 6-4 win after two hours and 19 minutes.

She will now play her compatriot Vera Zvonarëva after the seventh seed eased past France's Marion Bartoli 6-3 6-0.

"I'm sorry I had to defeat your Australian," Safina told the 15,000 fans on Rod Laver Arena after her victory. "I hope that you will be behind me next time."

Dokić - a former world number-four making her return to top-level tennis after a two-year absence through injury and illness - was pleased with the way her return to Major tennis had gone.

She beat three seeded players to reach the last eight, and put up a determined battle throughout the quarter-final, despite suffering from a sprained ankle suffered in her previous match.

"I played three sets with the number-three player in the world, so everything is positive," she said.

"I've had a great tournament. It's a little bit disappointing. I had some chances, but sometimes things go your way, and sometimes they don't.

"I have really fought well this week. I have no regrets. I just would like to keep it going."

Dokić lost a tight first, but, with the 22-year-old Russian struggling with her serve, fought back to take the second.

Safina - whose brother Marat Safin won the men's title in 2005 - took a 2-0 lead in the decider, but a combination of her own errors and Dokić's sublime winners saw the Australian pull the scoreline back to 4-4.

However, Safina broke Dokić's serve with her fourth break-point, and then managed to hold her own service-game to clinch victory after two hours and 19 minutes.

The 24-year-old Zvonarëva took time to settle against the 16th seed, and was broken twice as she trailed 1-3 in the first set.

But Bartoli's game then completely fell apart in the fierce heat, and Zvonarëva reeled off 11 games in a row to claim a one-sided victory and reach her first Major semi-final.

"I really thought Marion was playing really well in the beginning and I made a few unforced errors, so that's why I think I was down 3-1," said Zvonarëva.

"Then I was able to cut down on my unforced errors, and I was able to keep a good level of play throughout the whole match. I think it made the difference."

Zvonarëva has been in impressive form so far at Melbourne Park, reaching the last four without dropping a set.

And, although she started poorly against Bartoli in a scrappy opening that saw four breaks of serve in the opening six games, she quickly found her form.

In contrast, Bartoli - who knocked out top seed Jelena Janković in the fourth round - folded. The French star looked sluggish around the court, and her usually powerful groundstrokes lacked penetration and accuracy.

She offered little resistance as Zvonarëva broke three more times in the second set on her way to a comfortable victory that took a little over an hour.

"I think she played just unbelievably well," said Bartoli. "I was really feeling the heat after the end of the first set, so I really needed to cool down a little bit before to go on in the second.

"But I didn't find I was really putting a bad performance. She was just better - that's it."
<<<

Jelena Dokić bows out of Australian Open as Dinara Safina reaches semi-finals (The Daily Telegraph - UK)
>>>
Dinara Safina has ended local hope Jelena Dokić's surprising run in the Australian Open, claiming a 6-4 4-6 6-4 quarter-final victory.

At 4-4 in the final set, the third-seeded Russian broke Dokić's serve and then held, ignoring the partisan cheers of 15,000 fans at Rod Laver Arena.

The win sees Safina advance to a semi-final against fellow Russian Vera Zvonarëva, who beat Marion Bartoli.

Dokić, who won a wild-card tournament to get into the main draw, and is on a comeback after nearly two years of inactivity due to injuries and personal problems, beat seeded players in three of her four previous rounds.

Seventh seed Zvonarëva produced a superb performance as the Russian saw off Bartoli of France in straight sets to secure her place in the semis.

Zvonarëva had trailed 1-3 in the first set, but then won the next 11 straight games for a 6-3 6-0 victory that took just over one hour at Rod Laver Arena.

The result was all the more impressive after 16th seed Bartoli had completely outplayed top seed Jelena Janković in the fourth round.

Bartoli started well and broke serve in the third game of the first set, but Zvonarëva battled back to level at 3-3 after coming out on top of a fine rally.

The 24-year-old then won the next three games to claim the first set in 38 minutes, before maintaining her momentum in the second set to breeze to victory.

"I'm very excited about it," Zvonarëva said. "I think it was a great day for me.

"I'm not really thinking about the scores or sets, or any statistics. I'm just trying to concentrate on every match, and trying my best. And I think I've been doing pretty good so far."

Asked about Zvonarëva winning 11 straight games, Bartoli said: "I think she played just unbelievably well.

"She barely missed one ball. I was hitting as hard as I could. She was always coming back with some better shots."
<<<

Safina, Zvonarëva Reach Aussie Semis (The Sports Network)
>>>
Top-ten Russians Dinara Safina and Vera Zvonarëva were a pair of quarter-final winners on Tuesday at the Australian Open 2009: the first Major event of the year.

The third-seeded Safina held off resurgent Aussie wild card Jelena Dokić 6-4 4-6 6-4, while a seventh-seeded Zvonarëva zipped past 16th-seeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli 6-3 6-0. The Wimbledon 2007 runner-up Bartoli stunned world No.1 Jelena Janković in the fourth round this past weekend.

The 22-year-old Safina - last year's French Open and Olympic runner-up - will appear in her third career Major semi-final, while the 24-year-old Zvonarëva will play in her first.

The 187th-ranked Dokić's Cinderella-run here captured the imagination of her adopted homeland, but her luck finally ran out against the powerful Safina.

Dokić beat three seeded players in her first four matches of the fortnight.

"Of course I'm disappointed," Dokić said. "But there are more positives than negatives. It's been a great start to 2009; I couldn't have asked for anything more."

Safina and Dokić split the first two sets on Day 9, and were tied at 4-4 in the third when Safina picked up a key break of serve, and then served out the tight match.

"I'm so sorry for beating an Australian tonight," Safina said to the crowd during a courtside interview at Rod Laver Arena. "I hope you will be behind me next time."

A nervous Dokić piled up 18 unforced errors on her way to dropping the first set against Safina in 36 minutes. But the heavy crowd-favorite jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set, which she won by breaking the Russian's serve in the 10th game.

Safina is now 2:0 lifetime against Dokić, with the other victory coming six years ago in Shanghai.

The 25-year-old Dokić was appearing in her first Major quarter-final since the 2002 French Open, and playing in her first Major event since exiting the first round of the 2006 Aussie Open. She was making only her second Major appearance since 2004.

Dokić became the first woman in Aussie Open history to play in five straight three-set matches.

In the Zvonarëva v Bartoli affair, Zvonarëva fell behind 1-3 in the first set, but promptly won the next 11 games to easily finish the match against her overwhelmed French counterpart.

"I really thought Marion was playing really well in the beginning, and I made a few unforced errors, so that's why I think I was down 3-1," said Zvonarëva. "Then I was able to cut down on my unforced errors, and I was able to keep a good level of play throughout the whole match. I think it made the difference."

Bartoli committed 26 unforced errors and won just 5 of 20 points on her second serve in the searing heat at Melbourne Park. Temperatures climbed above 125°F on the court.

The Olympic Bronze-medallist Zvonarëva displayed a solid forehand, and went up 5-3 in the first set when Bartoli was wide on a return. The Russian served out the set, and then cruised in the second, ending the match with a backhand winner.

The second set, where Bartoli won just 12 points, lasted 30 minutes.

"Even when she was scrambling, she was putting the ball just ten centimeters from the baseline," said Bartoli. "It seems like she's reading my game like in the book. It was just too good. She was just better than me - that's it."
<<<

------------------
3. Semi-final draw
------------------

* VERA ZVONARËVA [7,EF] v DINARA SAFINA [3] (DAVAI VERA!!)
* ELENA DEMENTIEVA [4] v SERENA WILLIAMS [2] (davai Elena!)

The same three Russians who swept the Beijing 2008 Olympic medals are in the semi-finals here, but this time it will be Vera who wins 'Gold', Dementieva who wins 'Silver', and Safina who wins 'Bronze' (by losing to the eventual champion in the semi-finals, as per wooden-spoon theory).

---------------------
4. Semi-final preview
---------------------

Vera's next opponent is the nightmarish Dinara Safina [3]: the Rosa Klebb of tennis, who loves to bully her opponents with intimidating, in-your-face body-language, and specialises in fighting back from the brink of defeat, as she did yet again in her fourth-round match against Alizé Cornet, who led *5-2 and *5-4 (40/15) in the third set!

Safina had a very impressive 2008: she won Berlin with wins over world #1 Justine Henin, #6 Serena Williams and #9 Elena Dementieva; she reached the French Open final with wins over new #1 Maria Sharapova and #8 Elena Dementieva - both after trailing a set and 2-5, and saving match-points - and #4 Svetlana Kuznetsova before losing to #2 Ana Ivanović. She also won titles at Montréal, Los Angeles and Tokyo, as well as the Olympic Silver Medal. Her win/loss record for 2008 was a staggering 55:20.

Safina started 2009 by reaching the Hopman Cup final with her brother Marat Safin - only to be thwarted by Slovak duo Dominika Cibulková and Dominik Hrbatý! Safina then reached the final of Sydney despite being unhappy with her form; she lost 6-3 2-6 6-1 to Dementieva in that final.

Safina has reached the semi-finals here with the following results:
1r + Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-3 6-4
2r + Ekaterina Makarova, 6-7 (3/7) 6-3 6-0
3r + KAIA KANEPI [25], 6-2 6-2
4r + ALIZÉ CORNET [15], 6-2 2-6 7-5
qf + Jelena Dokić [WC,EF], 6-4 4-6 6-4

Safina certainly hasn't been on her best form at the Australian Open 2009, but many people believe that she is now the favourite for the title after the early exits of Jelena Janković and Venus Williams, and the poor form of Serena Williams. I am not one of them - especially not after watching her quarter-final!

I give Vera a big edge in her first Major semi-final, because Safina was on awful form in her quarter-final, making 36 unforced errors and 11 double faults, and just not feeling the ball well. She only won because Jelena was exhausted after four emotional three-set victories. That said, both girls did play much better in the third set.

Vera, on the other hand, is hitting the ball so sweetly, and her defence is so strong. She could go all the way here, and would certainly beat Safina on quarter-final form.

Another factor is that Vera has won her matches much more easily than Safina - especially the last two rounds. This works in her favour both form-wise and energy-wise. They'll be playing in the day-session, in the most extreme heat-wave Melbourne has had for 100 years!

Vera may have struggled in hot conditions back in 2005, when she was battling an energy-sapping virus for months, but she has handled the heat much better than her opponents here so far, and actually said that she likes playing in it! I'm not sure how Safina feels about extreme heat, but she was sweating like a pig in her quarter-final - and that was in the evening-session!

The head to head is an interesting one, because Vera trails 4:5, but won their last three meetings: all in 2008, which was the best year of Safina's career so far - although two of those meetings were before Berlin, which was the turning-point for Safina after a bad start to the year.
- 2002 WTA Sopot sf: Safina 6-3 6-2
+ 2004 WTA Rome 2r: Vera 1-6 6-4 6-2
- 2006 WTA Charleston 2r: Safina 7-5 7-5
- 2006 FRENCH OPEN 1r: Safina 6-3 7-5
- 2007 WTA Charleston sf: Safina 6-3 0-1 retired (left-wrist injury)
- 2007 WTA Moscow qf: Safina 6-2 3-6 6-3
+ 2008 WTA Doha 2r: Vera 7-5 6-3
+ 2008 WTA Miami qf: Vera 7-5 6-4
+ 2008 WTA Moscow sf: Vera 6-2 7-6(5)

My only doubt about whether Vera will beat Safina is a psychological one. Although Vera's confidence is sky-high at the moment, she can get very down on herself when things start to go wrong, and Safina has a reputation for coming back from the dead.

Also, Safina does have the edge in big-match experience: this is her third Major semi-final (after reaching the final of the French Open 2008 and semis of the US Open 2008), while it's only Vera's first Major semi-final, and only her second time (and first time since the French Open 2003) past the fourth round of a Major.

The bottom line is that Vera certainly has the form to beat Safina if she stays confident and can keep Safina's head under water until she's over the finishing-line, but there could be serious doubts if it gets to a tight situation - even if Vera has a commanding lead and things start to go wrong...

There was a good omen for Vera in the BBC's coverage of Nadal v Simon today. Commentator Sam Smith picked Vera to reach the final, and said Vera "might win" - with an emphasis on those two words that was very encouraging and exciting! :-)


4.1 Articles
------------

Australian Open: SF Preview
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/1/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=2935
>>>
Rod Laver Arena
(3) Dinara Safina (RUS) vs. (7) Vera Zvonarëva (RUS) - Safina leads 5:4

The past 12 months have certainly been momentous for both Safina and Zvonarëva, who were first-round losers at Melbourne Park in 2008, but have revitalised their respective careers and risen to new heights since then. Late last year, Safina rose as high as No.2 in the rankings on the back of four tournament-wins, and may yet take the ultimate step in the next few days; two minor titles helped lift 24-year-old Zvonarëva back into the top ten after three years away, and whatever happens in her first-ever Major semi on Thursday, she can expect to reach a career-high ranking of No.5 next week.

But, while Safina built on her biggest tournament-win at Berlin to establish a formidable record across the rest of the season, it is worth noting three of her losses were at the hands of Zvonarëva, who also has learnt to channel her on-court emotions better, and had her own epiphany at the Sony Ericsson Championships, scoring three top-five [four top-seven] wins in a row.

And it is Zvonarëva who has cut the easier path through the tournament. Yet to lose a set, she has been rather more sanguine in her assessment of her performances too - but then what's not to love when you've handed out four bagels in three different matches?

Vera says: "If I'm in the tournament, I'm here to try to win it. But I'm really concentrating on every match, and trying not to look too far ahead. For me, it doesn't really matter what's happening around any other matches. I just try to concentrate on myself as much as possible, try to improve match to match, because I know I need it."

By contrast, Safina has been hugely self-critical, to the point that she has risked undermining the buzz surrounding her at-times brilliant campaign. Perhaps it's a subconscious ploy to relieve the pressure. Maybe it will work.

Dinara says: "Most of the time, it's me playing against myself, my shadow, everything against me. If one day I play only against my opponent, this will be the perfect day. Next round I play Vera, and I'll have to take the ball much earlier and take time away from her. Definitely I will have to be much more aggressive than today against Jelena [Dokić]."
<<<

2009 Australian Open - Nick's Picks - Women's Singles Semi-finals
Nick Bollettieri <nickstennispicks.com>
>>>
Dinara Safina (RUS) vs. Vera Zvonarëva (RUS)

Safina ended the amazing run of Jelena Dokić, beating the Australian 6-4 4-6 6-4 in the quarter-finals. Safina has had three of her five matches go the distance, but in each one, she has found a way to win. She is looking to get to her second career Major final, following last year's at Roland Garros.

Zvonarëva advanced to her first career Major semi-final with a beating of Marion Bartoli: 6-3 6-0. She is the only woman left in the draw who has yet to drop a set, and it seems like no one is really talking about her as a potential champion here.

The Match-Up:

Safina is 5:4 against Zvonarëva in her career, but Zvonarëva won all three times they played in 2008.

I'm surprised that no one has advised Safina to lower her service-toss, because she is really struggling with that, especially under pressure. If she lowered it, the ball wouldn't be able to move as much, and her serve would be more consistent.

Safina also needs to get some support from the crowd in this match; she has had to work extremely hard this tournament to win, and some fan-love would be a big plus for her.

Zvonarëva has the game to win this match. She has extremely solid groundstrokes, makes very few mistakes, and moves very well.

If this match is a two-setter, I give the edge to Zvonarëva, but if it goes three, Safina has a knack for coming up big in tight spots.

Nick's Pick: Zvonarëva in 2, or Safina in 3.
<<<

The Fantastic Four
Posted by Aaress Lawless (www.onthebaseline.com (http://www.onthebaseline.com))
>>>
Vera Zvonarëva (RUS) [7] vs. Dinara Safina (RUS) [3]

Vera started her previous match off slowly, and was broken in her first service-game. This was, however, the only blemish as she steamrolled Bartoli to win the last eleven games, and ultimately booked herself a semi-final place.

This is Vera's first semi-final appearance at a Major, and based on current form, she is more than capable of progressing through to the night-final on Saturday. Zvonarëva appeared unfazed by the horrendous heat, and looked somewhat refreshed (as one commentator put it).

Jelena Dokić's fairytale run came to an end at the hands of the tournament's third seed. The pair's second meeting had Safina down as the favourite on paper, but Dokić as the favoured player in the hearts of the Australians. Playing with a strapped ankle as a result of Sunday night's stumble, it was a topsy turvy and scrappy affair on Rod Laver Arena. Safina served poorly (11 double faults and won only 38% of second serves) and her huge backswing caused many of the balls to fly pass the baseline. There were signs of nerves from her grunting; however, once the sound-effects stopped (albeit only for a few games), she started striking the ball more cleanly.

Safina is lucky to have beaten Dokić, and will need to raise the level of her game to even have a chance against Zvonarëva. Although many of us would like to see the number-three seed win her breakthrough Major in Australia, too many errors are coming off Safina's racquet, and Vera will punish her as a result.

Vera Zvonarëva in 3 sets.
<<<

Zvonarëva keeps her cool for final run at title
Peter Hanlon (The Age, Thursday 29th January 2009)
>>>
She might have the lowest profile of the women's semi-finalists, but Russian seventh-seed Vera Zvonarëva has an ace up her sleeve that could prove crucial, even if today's matches are shielded from Melbourne's oppressive heat.

Zvonarëva has won each of her five matches in straight sets — taking four of her ten sets to love — and spent considerably less time on court than the other three contenders.

Crucially, compatriot Dinara Safina - her opponent today - has laboured for almost three hours more.

Zvonarëva's passage to the last four has been shielded from the heat, and a cruise relative to Safina's, who has had to survive three-set thrillers in her last two outings.

In total, Safina has been on court for 9h11m, while Zvonarëva has been out there just 6h18m.

Elena Dementieva and Serena Williams have spent just under eight hours on court, and, although the Russian's win over Carla Suárez Navarro yesterday took only 93 minutes, it was played entirely under the sun.

Seventy-five of the 123 minutes it took Williams to overcome Svetlana Kuznetsova were played in air-conditioned comfort.

Zvonarëva is the odd woman out of the last four in another way: she's the only one who cannot be ranked No.1 at the end of the tournament.

"Everyone is thinking about the possibility of reaching No.1: that's an extra motivation for all of us," Dementieva said.

Williams, meanwhile, has a more singular focus. "It's definitely more about winning to me."
<<<

------------------------------
5. Who will be #1 next Monday?
------------------------------

Who Will Be No.1 Now?
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/1/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=2934
>>>
Jelena Janković's run at No.1 will come to an end - at least for now - when the next WTA Tour Singles Rankings are published next Monday: 2nd February 2009.

Following the results at the Australian Open up to the end of the quarter-finals, it is projected that Janković will fall to No.3 and Zvonarëva - no matter how she does - will reach a new career-high of No.5. But who will fill in the rest of the world's top five at No.1, No.2 and No.4?

Basically, whoever goes further from the other three semi-finalists - Dinara Safina, Serena Williams and Elena Dementieva - will be No.1. If one of them wins the title, she's No.1; if two of them fall in the semi-finals and the other one loses to Zvonarëva in the final, that runner-up is No.1. For Williams, it would be a return to the top spot, having spent 61 non-consecutive weeks of her career there; Safina and Dementieva are both aiming to become the 19th player in Tour-history - and second Russian, after Maria Sharapova - to become the world's No.1 player.

Williams v Safina final:
Champion will be No.1 and runner-up will be No.2; Dementieva will be No.4.

Williams v Zvonarëva final:
Williams will be No.1; Safina will be No.2 and Dementieva will be No.4.

Dementieva v Safina final:
Champion will be No.1 and runner-up will be No.2; Williams will be No.4.

Dementieva v Zvonarëva final:
Dementieva will be No.1; Safina will be No.2 and Williams will be No.4.

Rounding out the top ten will be Venus Williams at No.6, Svetlana Kuznetsova at No.7, Ana Ivanović No.8, Agnieszka Radwańska No.9, and Nadia Petrova No.10.

Looking a little lower down the projections, Zheng,Jie is expected to rise to No.20, making her just the second Chinese player ever to crack the top twenty (after Li,Na); Carla Suárez Navarro is expected to rise to No.30 (her top-thirty début); and Jelena Dokić is expected to surge into the top 100 (approximately No.91).
<<<

-----------------------------
6. Order of play for Thursday
-----------------------------

Rod Laver Arena: Day-session (start 11:00 AEDT = 00:00 GMT)
MD sf: Łukasz Kubot/Oliver Marach v (MAHESH BHUPATHI/MARK KNOWLES)[3]
|
(not before 13:30 AEDT = 02:30 GMT)
WS sf: ELENA DEMENTIEVA [4] v SERENA WILLIAMS [2]
WS sf: VERA ZVONARËVA [7,EF] v DINARA SAFINA [3]
|
Rod Laver Arena: Evening-session (start 19:30 AEDT = 08:30 GMT)
MS sf: ANDY RODDICK [7] v ROGER FEDERER [2]
Exhibition-Singles 1r: Pat Cash v Mats Wilander

For the third year in a row, it doesn't look like the BBC has any plans to show the women's semi-finals! :fiery:

I'm disappointed that the order-of-play committee didn't put at least one women's semi-final in the evening-session, now that the women's final on Saturday will be in the evening from 2009 onwards (making less valid the excuse of giving the two finalists a similar amount of rest).

Sometimes I just want to lock the BBC sports-editors and the AO order-of-play committee in a room and bang their heads together! :banghead:

I feel sure that had Jelena Dokić reached the semi-finals (as she was within two games of doing at *4-4 in the third), they would have put Vera v Jelena in the evening-session, and that would have been the most mouthwatering Major semi-final of all time! :sad:

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Feb 7th, 2009, 06:06 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. Semi-final review: Zvonarėva v Safina
3. My complaint to the BBC
4. More reports to come!

---------
1. Photos
---------

Vera Zvonarėva (5 semi-final photos added):
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/related/wta260142.html

Vera Zvonarėva photo-searches:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=zvonareva
http://www.aapimage.com.au/search.aspx?Search=zvonareva
Search http://www.fotosports.com/ for "zvonareva"
Search Getty Images for "zvonareva"

Thursday's players including Vera:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7857400.stm
http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/gallery/2009/jan/29/australianopen-tennis

----------------------------------------
2. Semi-final review: Zvonarėva v Safina (Thursday 29th January 2009)
----------------------------------------

- VERA ZVONARĖVA [7,EF] lt. DINARA SAFINA [3], 3-6 6-7 (4/7)

Vera's loss means that she misses out on BBC-televisation this tournament. The BBC has only showed one Vera-match in the last two years: her second-round loss at Wimbledon 2008! :fiery:

So the only thing I got out of this semi-final was 46 very nice photos of Vera: many more and much prettier photos than from her previous matches this year.

I did see the last point on BBC Sports News Update: Vera at 3-6 6-6 (*4/6) hit a serve down the middle, stretching Safina to hit a very short backhand return down the middle; Vera went to the net behind a crosscourt forehand deep into the corner, but Safina - about ten feet behind the tramlines - came up with a stunning short-angled crosscourt forehand pass-winner onto the sideline, which Vera challenged in vain.

The match was the second of the women's semi-finals in the Rod Laver Arena day-session: the first started at 13:30 AEDT, so Vera v Safina would have been played in the Australian late afternoon, while I was sleeping in England.

The roof was closed in accordance with the Extreme-Heat Policy, and that was a disadvantage to Vera in that she wasn't used to the cooler conditions, whereas Safina had played her quarter-final in the evening-session. Vera may be a very adaptable player, but she admitted she didn't have time to adapt, and claimed that the Plexicushion played faster with the roof closed.

There was an interesting point in the Federer v Roddick semi-final, which /was/ televised on BBC Red Button. Roddick left a ball that was called wide, but Federer made a successful Hawk-Eye challenge, and the umpire awarded him the point without a replay. Roddick was furious - "I was standing right there! You ought to be sacked, dude!" - but it went down as a clear winner because the call came too late to interfere with Roddick's decision to leave it. According to commentator John Lloyd, the same thing happened to Vera, who told the umpire she could have got to a ball that she was actually "ten miles away" from.

But now that I've seen that point in the video in Section 1.2, I side with Vera. She was facing break-point at 3-6 *3-2 and running down Safina's crosscourt forehand that landed on the sideline; Vera just clipped the ball with the outside edge of her racket, but not only was it NOT a clean winner, the call came a second before she clipped it, which might have caused her to slow down! So they definitely should have replayed the point, and that's the umpire who should be sacked! :fiery:

So I'm disappointed with the loss, as I certainly felt that Vera should have beaten Safina on quarter-final form, but it seems that Safina really stepped up and was more aggressive (than in her previous matches this year, and than Vera).

Of course I'm pleased that Vera reached her first Major semi-final (in singles - she's already won two Majors in Mixed Doubles and one in Women's Doubles), and it seems that she was in fantastic form in her previous rounds (not that the BBC deigned to show them). I look forward to watching her fourth round, quarter-final and semi-final at the end of the year (I plan to order them from Tennis Videos International <http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/> once the 2009 tennis-season is over, since I've got plenty to be getting on with in the meantime).

Virginia Wade: "I think Zvonarėva has been playing so well in the last six months. She was always such a talented player, but she would implode, and basically everybody thought she was washed up. She had some injuries too, but she has come back clear-headed, and she is a wonderful striker of the ball."


3.1 Statistics
--------------

The match lasted 1h46m (first set 39m, second set 1h07m).

In points, Safina won 83-72 (first set 34-26, second set 49-46).

Vera let Safina get away with a W:UE ratio of 28:42, while Vera's was 13:19. That leaves 36 points in which Safina forced Vera into error, and only 17 points in which Vera forced Safina into error. These statistics imply that Vera was not aggressive enough.

The first set saw fairly even W:UE ratios of 15:15 for Safina and 6:7 for Vera, while the second set was very error-strewn: Safina 13:27, Vera 7:12.

Safina won 7 of 8 points at the net, while Vera won only 3 of 6 (including 0 of 1 in the first set).

Vera got 62% of her first serves in, but her winning-percentages were quite meagre: first serve 60%, second serve 31%. It seems that she went for bigger first serves in the second set, as her first-serves-in percentage dipped from 67% to 59% while her first-serve winning-percentage rose from 50% to 67%, so it was a good trade-off for her.

The corresponding statistics for Safina were 66%, 43% and 51%, which implies that perhaps Vera was using the pace of Safina's first serve against her.

Safina served slightly faster than Vera in all three categories: fastest 108-106 mph, average first serve 101-99 mph, average second serve 87-85 mph. For me, Vera's first serve was a little bit slow.

Vera served 2 aces and 4 double faults, Safina 4 aces and 5 double faults.

Safina broke 5 times from 11 BPs (converting 3 of 7 in the first set, 2 of 4 in the second), while Vera was very wasteful, converting only 3 of 9 BPs (1 of 3 in the first set, 2 of 6 in the second).

In a nutshell: Vera was not aggressive enough in the first set, and too erratic in the second.


3.2 Vera's semi-final press-conference
--------------------------------------

Q. Looked like a very tight match. What was the difference between your game and Dinara's?

VERA ZVONARĖVA: I think Dinara was more consistent today than I was. I think she did serve better than I did, so it made the difference.

Q. There were a lot of break-points and breaks. Was it difficult out there?

VERA ZVONARĖVA: Yeah, I think it was very difficult. I think the conditions were totally different from previous matches. I think I'm a player who needs lots of time to get used to the conditions.

I really felt it was a little bit faster. I felt like, well, we were playing indoors, so it was different. I couldn't really find my rhythm.

I felt like I was - the level of my game was a little bit back, like in the beginning of the tournament.

Q. Your first Grand Slam semi-final. Looking forward, what do you take out of today's match and the tournament generally?

VERA ZVONARĖVA: There is always something to take out of my matches, and especially such an experience as the semi-final of a Grand Slam [sic]. I'm sure there are lots of things to take out. It's just too close from the match right now. I'm still a little bit in the match.

For sure I will take some... there are probably some bad things about my match today, but there are probably some good things from this tournament. I'm looking forward for the next one.

Q. Do you prefer the indoor conditions to the outdoor conditions?

VERA ZVONARĖVA: I think I'm an all-surface, all-court player. I really can play anywhere. I'm a player - like I said - who needs time to adjust to the new conditions.

I would prefer to play a match or two - I could never play my best tennis in the first match of the tournament. It's impossible, probably like lots of other players. So I felt like I was a little bit off the rhythm today, and it was a little bit different for me.

But, well, the same conditions for both of us. Well, that's it.

Q. Did you have a chance to practise indoors before your match today?

VERA ZVONARĖVA: I jumped on the Rod Laver [Arena] for like ten minutes. I got the chance ten minutes today a little bit. Otherwise no chance.

I had to warm up a little bit in the bubble in the indoor courts. It's obviously a very big difference.

Q. Looking back on this tournament, are you satisfied with your performance?

VERA ZVONARĖVA: Well, if you look at it overall, it's my first Grand Slam semi-final. I should be satisfied. Like I said, there are so many things I wish I could have done in this match. I really felt that the level of tennis that I was able to show - even in the previous match - was much, much better. So I'm a little bit disappointed about that.

But, well, I'm looking forward to the next tournament.

Q. When you were talking about different things you could have done, do you think, for example, maybe sliced shots because she doesn't like that very much?

VERA ZVONARĖVA: You know, I think I knew what I had to do, but I think we were playing quite fast and aggressive tennis today. It was very difficult to execute those shots. The moments I really felt like I was making the wrong decisions, I would realise it during the shot, but it is already too late to change it.

I really felt there were moments and there were some points where I had chances and I didn't make the right shots.

So today compared to maybe my previous match, where I was making the right decisions in the right time.

Q. What about your game do you think could improve and see you in more Grand Slam semi-finals or perhaps moving on to finals in the future?

VERA ZVONARĖVA: I hope. But I'm going to work, because I think everyone is working very hard and everyone is improving. That's what I have to do. I think there are lots of things that I can improve.

But I'm pretty confident. I believe in myself. Every time I'm coming for the tournament, I'm coming to win it. Obviously doesn't happen all the time. I just need to keep up the good work.

Q. No Fed Cup for you next week?

VERA ZVONARĖVA: I don't think so, no.


3.3 Articles
------------

SERENA WILL MEET SAFINA IN FINAL [CEEFAX 490->491]
>>>
Serena will meet Safina in final [CEEFAX 491]

Serena Williams and Dinara Safina will fight for the world number-one ranking in the final of the Australian Open after wins in Melbourne on Thursday.

Second seed Williams beat fourth seed Elena Dementieva 6-3 6-4 in their semi-final as the Russian's serve fell to pieces after a promising start.

Dementieva double-faulted twice to hand Williams a crucial second-set break.

Third seed Safina scrapped past fellow Russian Vera Zvonarėva - seeded seventh - 6-3 7-6 (7/4) to reach the final.
<<<

Strong Safina powers past Zvonarėva [Teletext 495->497]
>>>
Safina sees off Zvonarėva [Teletext 497]

Dinara Safina proved too strong for Vera Zvonarėva as she secured her place in her second Major final, where she will meet Serena Williams.

The third seed dominated with her powerful forehand, and won three games in a row to take the first set 6-3.

Zvonarėva forced her way into the match, but failed to serve out for the second set, and Safina pounced to clinch the tiebreak 7/4 with a fierce forehand.
<<<>>>
Safina approach pays off [Teletext 498]
>>>
Third seed Dinara Safina believes her more aggressive approach proved the difference in her semi-final victory over Vera Zvonarėva in Melbourne.

The Russian reached her second Major final after beating her fellow Russian 6-3 7-6 (7/4).

She said: "I was more aggressive. I think I was going a little bit more for my shots than she was going for, and I was really taking all my chances."
<<<>>>
Zvonarėva rues display [Teletext 498]

Vera Zvonarėva blamed her inconsistency for her semi-final defeat against Dinara Safina at Melbourne Park.

It was the first time Zvonarėva had reached the last four of a Major, but she was beaten 6-3 7-6 (7/4) by fellow Russian Safina.

The seventh seed said: "I think Dinara was more consistent than I was. I think she served better than I did, so it made the difference."
<<<

Safina into Australian Open final (AP)
>>>
Dinara Safina has advanced to the Australian Open final, beating fellow Russian Vera Zvonarėva.

Safina beat Zvonarėva 6-3 7-6(4) on Thursday in a match played indoors because of 111°F temperatures outside.

She will play Serena Williams in Saturday night's final, when Williams will attempt to win her tenth Major singles-title.

Safina, who lost to Ana Ivanović in last year's French Open final, had never made it past the third round at the Australian Open.
<<<

Safina joins Serena in final
By Matthew Trollope (www.australianopen.com (http://www.australianopen.com))
>>>
Russian Dinara Safina progressed to her first Australian Open final on Thursday afternoon, defeating compatriot Vera Zvonarėva 6-3 7-6(4) to set up a meeting with Serena Williams in the women's final.

The world No.3 had too much power and intensity for her opponent, doing enough throughout an error-prone performance to clinch the straight-sets win under a closed roof at Rod Laver Arena.

The indoor conditions affected Zvonarėva, who said it was difficult to acclimatise after two weeks of outdoor play.

"I'm a player who needs a lot of time to get used to the conditions," she said. "I really felt it was a little bit faster... it was different. I couldn't really find my rhythm."

Neither player had previously gone this deep into the tournament at Melbourne Park. While Safina has progressed to this stage at other Majors – a French Open finalist and US Open semi-finalist in 2008 – Zvonarėva had never before reached the last four at a Major [in singles].

Zvonarėva gave credit to her opponent's superior performance.

"I think Dinara was more consistent today than I was. I think she served better than I did, so it made the difference," she said.

Safina said her level of play was improving. "I think I was more aggressive today than previous matches," she said.

"I think I was going a little bit more for my shots than she was going [for], and I was just really taking all my chances that I had today."

Zvonarėva's inexperience showed early on, playing up the middle of the court, and allowing Safina to dictate baseline-rallies with her greater power and depth. The third seed broke immediately, and took a 2-0 lead.

Zvonarėva settled from that point and levelled at 2-2, executing consistent tennis to stave off three break-points and hold serve in the fifth game.

The Russians were evenly matched throughout most of the set until Safina broke to love in the seventh game. The momentum then swung sharply her way, and she went on to take the opening set.

The match was clearly being decided by Safina's racquet: her combined total of 30 winners and unforced errors in the first set dwarfed Zvonarėva's tally of 13.

However, Safina described her performance during the set as "perfect".

Just as she seemed to be moving toward a routine victory, Safina's game unravelled somewhat. Her rock-solid backhand became error-prone, and she began spraying balls outside the lines to keep Zvonarėva in the match.

Despite this lapse, she never fell behind until the fifth game, when Zvonarėva secured the first break of the set to lead 3-2. The next game was a torrid one, with the seventh-seeded Zvonarėva creating many opportunities to consolidate the break - only for Safina to raise the standard of her game and prevent her opponent moving ahead.

Safina broke back for 3-3, but not before some controversy: on her third break-point, she hit a shot on the line that was called out, which she correctly challenged. The umpire awarded her the point, while Zvonarėva complained that she had a play on the ball, and that the "out" call had distracted her. The call stood, and Zvonarėva swatted a ball away in disgust, drawing hoots from the crowd.

It did not seem to affect the lower-ranked Russian, though, with games continuing on serve until 5-5.

Play became sloppy from that point: Zvonarėva broke Safina to lead 6-5 after Safina limply dumped a forehand into the net, but was broken back to love in the 12th game.

Safina's errors were threatening to hurt her – she finished with 27 in the second set alone – but she held firm in the tiebreak, going up six points to four, and converting her first match-point with a forehand winner.

Safina said beating an in-form player such as Zvonarėva filled her with satisfaction.

"I think I beat [a] player who has been playing some very solid tennis for the end of the season, and since the beginning of the year. I mean, she [won] all the matches easy [sic] here to get to the semi-final, and I beat her pretty solid[ly] today. I think it was a great match today," she said.

Zvonarėva said she rued her missed opportunities in the match, but could take many positives from her performance at Melbourne Park during the past fortnight.

"If you look at it overall, it's my first Grand Slam semi-final. I should be satisfied... I really felt that the level of tennis that I was able to show even in the previous match [against Marion Bartoli] was much, much better. So I'm a little bit disappointed about that," she said.

"But, well, I'm looking forward to the next tournament."

Safina has the opportunity to take over the No.1 ranking should she defeat Williams in Saturday night's final. Despite losing her last two matches on hardcourt to the American, she said she was not thinking about those results.

"Now it's different. It's beginning of the season. It's another tournament. [I'm] just looking forward for my next challenge," she said.

Quick facts:

* Safina progressed despite making 42 unforced errors: 27 in the final set alone, to Zvonarėva's 19 for the entire match.

* Safina hit 28 winners to Zvonarėva's 13.

* Zvonarėva converted on three of her nine break-point chances, while Safina capitalised on five of her 11 break-point opportunities.

* Safina won seven of eight points when she approached the net.
<<<

Williams, Safina Edge Tough Semi-final Foes in Melbourne
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/1/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=2936
>>>
Four hard-hitting, hungry semi-finalists, and two hard-fought, nail-biting semi-finals. Serena Williams and Dinara Safina fended off in-form opponents on Thursday afternoon to claim their spots in the final of the 2009 Australian Open, pitting a nine-time Major champion against someone who is poised to win her first.

<snip Williams v Dementieva>

Safina beats Zvonarėva in all-Russian semi, eyes first Major title

Williams is one win away from her fourth career title at the Australian Open, after winning in the last three odd years - 2003, 2005, 2007. She beat Venus Williams, Lindsay Davenport and Maria Sharapova in those finals; now she'll face Safina, who won an all-Russian affair with Vera Zvonarėva in the second semi: 6-3 7-6(4).

Third seed Safina was somewhat erratic, but almost always dictating play against her seventh-seeded countrywoman, hitting over twice as many winners (28-13) but also over twice as many errors (42-19) during the match. Zvonarėva did serve for the second set leading 6-5, but was broken easily, and Safina capped the win with a routine 7/4 tiebreak, ending it with a scorching forehand pass.

"I was more aggressive today than previous matches," said Safina, who had been heavily critical of herself after matches earlier in the tournament. "I think the first set was perfect. In the second set, I had some chances where I could have been a little more aggressive, but I played a very good game down 6-5 on her serve, and then played a solid tiebreak. I'm very pleased with how I played today."

Zvonarėva was playing in her first Major semi-final; her best Major showing prior to this past fortnight was a quarter-final run at Roland Garros in 2003. She is projected to rise to a new career-high of No.5 in next week's rankings.

"It was my first Grand Slam semi-final, so I should be satisfied," Zvonarėva said. "There are so many things I wish I could have done in this match, though. I felt the level of tennis I was able to show in my previous matches was much, much better. But right now, I'm looking forward to the next tournament."
<<<

Dinara Safina seals Aussie Open final berth against Serena Williams (Fox Sports / AAP)
>>>
American Serena Williams will clash with Russian Dinara Safina in Saturday night's Australian Open women's final.

Safina beat fellow-Russian Vera Zvonarėva 6-3 7-6 to book her place in the showdown.

Safina, who defeated Australia's Jelena Dokić in a memorable quarter-final, began strongly against Zvonarėva, breaking serve in the opening game, and taking the first set with two further service-breaks.

The pair traded breaks in the second set until they levelled at 6-6.

Safina ran up two match-points, and took the semi with a sizzling crosscourt passing-shot that survived a challenge from Zvonarėva.

The third-seeded 22-year-old Safina's best previous Major performance was last year when she finished runner-up to Ana Ivanović in the French Open.

She has given herself the chance of emulating older brother Marat in winning the Australian Open.

"I remember watching my brother on TV winning this tournament, and if I still watched it today, I would have tears in my eyes," she said.

"It's great that I can follow in his footsteps. He was my idol - he still is my idol - and the fact that I'm doing as well as him is amazing."

If Safina wins, she will also take over from Jelena Janković as the world No.1, as will Williams if she wins.
<<<

Safina sets up Serena showdown in Melbourne (Reuters)
By Julian Linden (editing by John O'Brien)
>>>
Dinara Safina overpowered her fellow Russian Vera Zvonarėva 6-3 7-6 on Thursday to join American Serena Williams in the final of the Australian Open.

The combination of Safina's heavier shot-making and aggression proved too much for Zvonarėva, as the third seed closed out victory in one hour and 46 minutes under a clsoed roof at the Rod Laver centre court.

Safina won four games in a row to take the opening set after trailing 2-3, then broke Zvonarėva's brittle serve to force the tiebreak after the seventh seed blew her chance to force a deciding third set.

The 22-year-old Safina reached the French Open final last year, but is now on the verge of a first Major title after rebounding from a shaky start to the tournament to produce her best performance when it mattered most.

The winner of Saturday's final will receive the added bonus of taking over the world number-one ranking from Serbia's Jelena Janković, who was knocked out in the fourth round at Melbourne Park this year.

"Since I was growing up, it has been my dream one day to be number-one," Safina said in a courtside interview.

"To play against Serena and to fight for the number-one is just going to be unbelievable."

Safina is also trying to complete a unique family-double in Australia by emulating her older brother Marat Safin, who won the Men's Singles title in 2005.

"I watched my brother on TV winning this tournament, and even when I watch it now, I have tears in my eyes," Safina said.

"It is great that I can follow his footsteps, because he was my idol and he is still my idol."

NO LAPSES

Safina had struggled throughout the tournament, even surviving two match-points against French teenager Alizé Cornet in the fourth round, but was at her best against Zvonarėva.

She still committed 42 unforced errors, however, but there was no repeat of the lapses in concentration that plagued her in the early rounds.

"Dinara was more consistent today than I was. She served better than I did, and that made the difference," Zvonarėva said.

"If you look at it overall, it's my first Grand Slam semi-final. I should be satisfied.

"There are so many things I wish I could have done in this match.

"I really felt that the level of tennis that I was able to show even in the previous match was much, much better. So I'm a little bit disappointed about that, but I'm looking forward to the next tournament."

Zvonarėva, who had won all her previous matches in straight sets, made a nervous start to her maiden Major semi-final, double-faulting on the second point of the match to concede her opening service-game to love.

The 24-year-old Muscovite steadied herself to comfortably hold her next service-game, then started attacking Safina's serve, which was starting to show signs of vulnerability.

Zvonarėva broke back to level at 2-2, then held again to lead 3-2 before Safina seized control, cutting down on her errors and putting the pressure back on her opponent.

Safina - who has shed seven kilogrammes in the last year, and showed off her new figure in a canary-yellow shirt and black skirt - reeled off the next four games to wrap up the opening set in 39 minutes off a Zvonarėva backhand error.

Zvonarėva - dressed in a more conservative all-white dress - broke Safina's serve in the fifth game of the second set, but failed to capitalise on her advantage.

She dropped her next service-game, and her frustrations started to boil over when she disputed a line-call with American chair-umpire Lynn Welch, then slapped the ball away in anger.

Zvonarėva had the chance to force a third set when she broke in the 11th game, but failed to hold, and lost the tiebreak and the match on a crosscourt forehand winner from Safina.
<<<

Serena to face Safina for Aussie Open title, No.1 ranking
Martin Parry (AFP)
>>>
Serena Williams will gun for her tenth Major title and the world number-one ranking against Dinara Safina in the Australian Open final after they both came through tough clashes on Thursday.

Third-seeded Safina lost her only Major final at last year's French Open, but looks capable of making the breakthrough after battling past fellow Russian and seventh seed Vera Zvonarėva 6-3 7-6 (7/4).

An incredibly focused Safina was too steady for Zvonarėva as she powered to the straight-sets win, giving herself the chance to emulate older brother Marat by winning the Australian Open.

"I remember watching my brother on TV winning this tournament, and if I still watched it today, I would have tears in my eyes," she said.

"It's great that I can follow in his footsteps. He was my idol - he still is my idol - and the fact that I'm doing as well as him is amazing."

The chance to claim the number-one ranking is another major motivator for the 22-year-old from Moscow.

"Since I was growing up, my dream was to be the number-one in the world," Safina added.

"To play Serena in the final for the number-one is unbelievable."

Safina, whose form has fluctuated throughout the tournament, was all business as she took to the court against Zvonarėva, taking advantage of a nervous start from her fellow Russian, and never looking back.

She took advantage of a nervous start from her fellow Russian and broke Zvonarėva's serve to love in the opening game.

But Zvonarėva soon settled and began to look the more dangerous, breaking Safina in the fourth to get games back on serve.

Zvonarėva was landing more first serves than Safina, but they were far less effective.

The world number-seven had two chances to break Safina in the sixth game, but couldn't convert either, and was made to pay in the next game as Safina broke her to love.

Safina then held to make it 5-3, and took the set when she came from 40/0 down on her opponent's serve to break her again and claim the opener in 39 minutes.

Zvonarėva recovered her composure at the start of the second, and again started to look the more threatening of the two.

She had two more chances to break Safina's first service-game and failed, but was able to break in the next game.

However, Safina responded and broke back immediately, winning the game after a wide forehand was called out.

Safina asked for a Hawk-Eye challenge, which went her way, and the umpire awarded her the game - much to the anger of Zvonarėva, who claimed she would have had a play on the ball if the linesperson hadn't called it out.

The umpire disagreed, and a furious Zvonarėva came out and attacked Safina's serve, bringing up two more break-points, but Safina served her way out of trouble and went ahead 4-3 on serve.

Both players held their next two, but at 5-5, Zvonarėva attacked with some penetrating groundstrokes to break Safina and serve for the set.

But she served a nervous game, and dropped her serve to send the set into a tiebreak.

Both players served well at the start of the tiebreak, and it reached 4/4 before Safina got a mini-break on an unforced error from Zvonarėva.

She brought up match-point, and then reached the final with a beautiful forehand crosscourt shot that left Zvonarėva stranded.
<<<

Closed roof ruins Zvonarėva's day (Reuters)
By Ossian Shine (Editing by Pritha Sarkar)
>>>
The Melbourne-heatwave ruined Vera Zvonarėva's hopes of reaching a first Major final, the Russian said, but it was not the temperature that affected her.

Instead, the fact that Australian Open organisers shut the centre-court roof to keep out the blistering heat had thrown her.

"I think it was very difficult. I think the conditions were totally different from previous matches," Zvonarėva said after her 6-3 7-6 loss to fellow Russian Dinara Safina.

"I think I'm a player who needs lots of time to get used to the conditions. I really felt it was a little bit faster.

"I felt like, well, we were playing indoors, so it was different. I couldn't really find my rhythm."

The Russian baseliner said she had not had a chance to acclimatise to the new conditions.

"I jumped on the Rod Laver [Arena] for like ten minutes. I got the chance [for] ten minutes today a little bit. Otherwise no chance [to practise]," she said.

"I think I'm an all-surface, all-court player. I really can play anywhere, [but] I'm a player who needs time to adjust to the new conditions.

"I would prefer to play a match or two... I could never play my best tennis in the first match of the tournament. It's impossible - probably like lots of other players.

"So I felt like I was a little bit off the rhythm today, and it was a little bit different for me.

"But, well, the same conditions for both of us. Well, that's it."
<<<

Safina sets up Serena-final (Pippa Davis, Eurosport)
>>>
Third seed Dinara Safina eased into her first Australian Open final with a 6-3 7-6 win over fellow Russian Vera Zvonarėva.

Safina - who also reached the final of the French Open last year - will now face three-times winner Serena Williams in Saturday's final after the American beat Elena Dementieva 6-3 6-4 in the other semi.

Safina opened the match strongly by breaking in the very first game, firing off some of her trademark heavy groundstrokes before racing up the court to slam a short ball away across court for the winner.

Safina quickly held serve to cement the break, but suffered a recurrence of her serving-woes - which caused her such trouble in her three-set quarter-final against Jelena Dokić - to gift Zvonarėva a break back just two games later.

Against serve, though, the younger of the two Russians was almost unplayable, forcing Zvonarėva to recover from 0/40 down in the fifth game before breaking for a second time in the seventh game by whipping a backhand winner across court.

Safina held again to cement the break before Zvonarėva pushed a crosscourt backhand wide to hand the world number-three not only a fourth consecutive game, but also the first set.

The early stages of the second set went with serve, and this time it was Zvonarėva who drew first blood, breaking in the fifth game when Safina's usually devastating groundstrokes went astray.

But the world number-seven failed to take advantage of the break, conceding her serve in the very next game when Safina produced a blistering crosscourt forehand winner that landed smack on the line.

A couple of service-holds apiece left the second set poised at 5-5, and again it was Zvonarėva who seized the initiative, breaking in the 11th game with a series of groundstroke-winners.

However, once more Safina hit back immediately, breaking to love to force the second-set tiebreak.

Just like the second set, the early stages of the tiebreak went with serve, leaving the scores locked at 3/3 at the change of ends, before Safina made her superior ranking tell to take four of the final five points.

Zvonarėva dumped a forehand down the centre of the court into the net to gift the world number-three her first match-points.

Safina only needed the one, however, and fittingly came up with a crosscourt forehand passing-shot winner that landed right on the line to seal the match.

Zvonarėva challenged, but it only delayed the inevitable: Hawk-Eye quickly confirmed the call that sent Safina through to her second Major final.
<<<

Serena will meet Safina in final (BBC Sport)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7857431.stm
>>>
Serena Williams and Dinara Safina will fight for the world number-one ranking in the final of the Australian Open after wins in Melbourne on Thursday.

Third seed Safina scrapped past fellow Russian Vera Zvonarėva - seeded seventh - 6-3 7-6 (7-4) to reach the final.

Safina, who will play Williams for the number-one world ranking, said the opportunity was her "dream".

"To fight for the number-one spot in the world is unbelievable," she said.

"Vera had won so many matches [sic] 6-0, whereas I've been struggling, playing three sets.

"But now was the time to play, and I was ready for anything."

With the temperature hitting 44°C on Melbourne's hottest January-day since 1939, organisers had little option but to close the roof on Rod Laver Arena.

Safina went into her semi-final having won five of her nine meetings with Zvonarėva.

But Zvonarėva - two years Safina's elder at 24 - had won the three most recent clashes between the two: all on hard courts similar to Rod Laver Arena.

Safina surged into an early lead in an untidy first set, swatting away a nervy Zvonarėva-serve to break before holding serve with promising movement and pace.

However, Zvonarėva replied with a far better service-game, then broke back with a strong forehand down the line.

Both women continued to offer up break-points on their own serve, and Safina's backhand, which had been looking vulnerable, came good at just the right moment to restore her break-advantage in the seventh game.

This time the 22-year-old held serve, reaching up to her full height to produce a devastating first serve that Zvonarėva - though the more mobile of the pair - could not combat.

And Safina was building valuable momentum as she fought back from 40/0 down to break Zvonarėva for a third time and claim the first set.

The second set went with serve until the fifth game, but, as the match entered its second hour, Safina went long to hand her opponent the break.

However, she broke back in controversial circumstances when an impressive winner was clearly ruled in by Hawk-Eye, Zvonarėva dubbing the umpire's refusal to replay the point "ridiculous" before slamming a ball across court in disgust.

Zvonarėva briefly appeared to find a new gear as a result of her anger, treating the previously-dangerous Safina-serve temporarily with contempt.

She broke Safina once again to serve for the second set, but in a match where neither player ever settled on serve, Safina immediately broke back to send the set to a tiebreak.

Sheer tension prevented any real rallies developing in a surprisingly rapid tiebreak, but Safina picked off two Zvonarėva-serves to win, reaching the final with the benefit of another Hawk-Eye call.

"I remember watching my brother on TV winning this tournament, and if I still watched it today, I would have tears in my eyes," said Safina.

"It's great that I can follow in his footsteps. He was my idol - he still is my idol - and the fact that I'm doing as well as him is amazing."
<<<

The Evans Report: Monster's March
Richard Evans (Tennis Week)
>>>
In the all-Russian semi-final, Dinara Safina - who gets a little emotional when you mention the chance she has now of emulating her brother Marat in winning the Australian title - came through against Vera Zvonarėva.

The lower-ranked Russian had beaten Safina in their previous three meetings, but on this occasion, Safina really went for it, and never allowed herself to drop a gear as she had done midway through her fourth round against Alizé Cornet, and in her quarter-final against Jelena Dokić.

"I think I was more aggressive today than I was in previous matches," Safina said. "I think I was going a little bit more for my shots, and not allowing myself to be passive. I was just taking all my chances today."
<<<

3.3.1 Belated prematch articles
-------------------------------

Fearless Forecasts - Day 11
By Alan Trengove (www.australianopen.com (http://www.australianopen.com), Thursday 29th January 2009)
>>>
Safina [3] v Zvonarėva [7]

Nobody has taken much notice of Zvonarėva – our fault, not hers. Now entrenched in the top ten, she's yet to drop a set, and has won four sets 6-0. In the semi-finals, she faces fellow-Muscovite Safina: a player she's beaten in straight sets in their most recent three matches - all played last year. The overall head-to-head record stands at 5:4 in Safina's favour.

The 22-year-old Safina - a finalist last year at the French Open and a semi-finalist at Flushing Meadows - has spent a bit of time dodging bullets, especially from Cornet and Dokić. However, she makes an art-form of surviving, and still hopes to capture her first Major title, and with it, the No.1 ranking.

Zvonarėva - two years older - is under no such pressure. Up to now, she's been something of an underachiever - her best Major effort being a quarter-final finish at Roland Garros. She's twice reached the fourth round at Melbourne Park.

Zvonarėva came to Australia buoyed by her runner-up place at the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha. She plays a hard-hitting baseline-game, looks at least as fit as Safina, and doesn't have as unpredictable a serve as her sometimes erratic compatriot. Both can be very emotional in big matches – and why not when you're Russian and play with such heart and soul?

Zvonarėva in three.
<<<

Oz: Final-Four Preview (Steve Tignor, TENNIS.com, Wednesday 28th January 2009)
>>>
Dinara Safina vs. Vera Zvonarėva

Safina leads their career head-to-head 5:4, but Zvonarėva has won their last three meetings: all of which took place last year, on hard courts, and ended in straight sets.

Along with Williams, Safina has been playing the escape-artist at this year's Open, coming back from match-point down against Alizé Cornet, and winning 6-4 in the third set over Jelena Dokić.

She's been erratic but stubborn, while Zvonarėva has looked better with every match. In fact, she's looked the best of any woman in the tournament, hauling off on blatant full-swing winners from both sides. It's always a mistake to think that someone's fabulous form one day will continue the next, but after her run at the 2008 year-end championships, Vera seems to be for real this time.

Winner: Zvonarėva.
<<<

Q&A with Vera Zvonarėva
By Tom Kelly (www.australianopen.com (http://www.australianopen.com), Thursday 29th January)
>>>
Q: How does it feel to be in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam? [sic]

Vera Zvonarėva (VZ): I'm very excited about it – I think I played a pretty good match [in the quarter-finals]. I'm really looking forward to my first semi-final. I have a great feeling about it. I was working hard, and I know how hard it is just to be in a Grand Slam [sic], but to be in a semi-final of a Grand Slam is great.

Q: Are you confident you can go one step further?

VZ: I'm not really thinking about it that far. I'm just trying to concentrate on myself – trying to improve my game for the next match, because for sure I will need it. I think I have improved a lot even compared to one week ago when I played my first round. It's a big difference right now, but I still need to improve a lot for my next one.

Q: You defeated three of the top five players in the world at the Tour Championships last year. How important was that week for you?

VZ: I think it was very exciting and a great week for me. It's been the first time I've beaten so many top-ten players in a row. But it was last year – it was 2008 – and now we're in 2009 and I'm just looking forward, but I'm very confident in myself. I always believe in myself; every time I come into a tournament, I come in to win it because I know I can do it. It obviously doesn't happen all the time, but I think it's just great to be in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam [sic]. It's great to have that experience that I was able to get in the Championships and just throughout the whole year.

Q: What, for you, is a good indication that you're playing well? When you step out onto the court, is there a particular shot or something that clicks that means you know it's going to be your day?

VZ: I'm always hoping I'm gonna execute all my shots that day. I think I have an all-around-the-court game. I never know what's going to work the best for me, but I will try to find something during the match based on my opponent, and based on what's tactically right.

You never know until you go on court and play your match. Some days you feel much better, and some days you don't feel as good. But you never know what's going to happen on the court until you go out there and you do it.

Q: What do you like about playing doubles on the tour?

VZ: Doubles are fun – I enjoy playing doubles. I think it's great for the game, because lots of people – lots of amateurs – they prefer to play doubles. Singles are physical. But it's also very tough when you play lots of singles-matches to keep up with the doubles. It's very difficult, but I like it.

Q: What's the strangest thing that's happened to you on court?

VZ: I have no idea! I forget who is serving and who is returning all the time, so that's not strange anymore. Nobody has run naked on the court in my matches...

Q: When people interview you, what's the one question you get asked most often?

VZ: Lots of questions about the Championships last year – I get it all the time since I played it.

Q: Do you think you're recognised more as a player since the Championships?

VZ: I'm not really thinking about the recognition or media-attention. I'm really just trying to work hard and improve myself, because I really want to do my best on the court, and I know that I'm capable of playing great tennis. So that's what I'm trying to do every time – really concentrating on it, and not really paying attention to anything else.

Q: This is the seventh year you've come to Melbourne for the Australian Open. What do you like about the city?

VZ: I think it's a city that's alive. Sometimes it's dead; with Melbourne, the city is alive, but you can still feel relaxed. Some big cities, you feel like there's too much energy. But Melbourne is very nice, because you can do whatever you want but still feel relaxed. You can do some shopping, good restaurants, some parks around – anything you want.

Q: Do you spend much time with the other girls on Tour?

VZ: Not so much. We all have our own schedules. Even if it looks like we play here all of us in Melbourne, and all stay in the hotels close-by, each of us have our own schedule. It's very difficult to spend more time with each other. I need to practise; somebody else needs to rest. I need to watch my opponent; somebody else is practising. So mostly you spend time with your team – your coach, and if you have a physical trainer, a hitting-partner – anyone else who travels with you.

Q: Do you ever get lonely?

VZ: I don't think so, because we're always busy. When you have something to do – we have to concentrate on our practice or our matches – you just don't have time to feel lonely. But for sure I miss home, I miss my friends; but I don't really have that much time to miss them that much.

Q: What's on your iPod at the moment?

VZ: Rock. I have Nickelback (it's one of my favourites right now), Linkin Park, and some Russian music that I listen to. I also like Kanye West. It's on my little shuffle all the time!

Q: You've said that one of your favourite foods is strawberries. What do you like about them?

VZ: Actually, raspberries; I like them more now – I don't know why. But I like strawberries with cream, like what they have at Wimbledon. Other than that, I like chocolate as well. I don't eat it much, but I like it as well!
<<<

--------------------------
3. My complaint to the BBC
--------------------------

Target: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/complaints_stage1.shtml

I am writing to complain about the BBC's omission to televise the women's singles semi-finals of the Australian Open tennis on Thursday 29th January 2009, and also in 2007 and 2008.

I understand that these matches were in the day-session, while the BBC has only promised to cover the Rod Laver Arena evening-sessions of the Australian Open, but it's simply not acceptable to miss the semi-finals of a Major.

While I greatly appreciate the daily coverage of the Australian Open on BBC Red Button, I am dismayed by how male-dominated this coverage has been throughout the tournament. The BBC has showed a men's match (or two) every day, but has missed several women's evening-session matches to show repeats of Andy Murray's matches. Moreover, on Wednesday 21st January, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic's second-round matches from the day-session were shown instead of the mouthwatering evening-session clash between Jelena Dokic and Anna Chakvetadze.

To make an exception for Federer and Djokovic's second-round matches, but not for the women's semi-finals, is just plain sexist. If the women are earning equal prize-money at the Majors, then they deserve equal TV-coverage.

You might argue that the majority of viewers want to watch the men (I challenge that call), but you must not underestimate the BBC's power to brainwash people into biased preferences. Therefore, the BBC needs to take a more responsible attitude towards promoting gender-equality in tennis, and also not allow coverage of international stars to suffer unreasonably in favour of British players (e.g. by showing repeats of Murray's Australian Open matches at 08:30 GMT instead of waiting until the live tennis you promised has finished).

I am particularly disappointed that the BBC has only televised one match of Vera Zvonareva in the last two years: her second-round loss at Wimbledon 2008. Vera is one of the most talented and attractive stars of the WTA Tour, and she will be #5 in the world after her run to the Australian Open semi-finals... so it's long overdue to put the "vera" back in "coverage"!

Why couldn't the BBC show the women's semi-finals recorded after live coverage of Thursday's evening-session, as was the case in 2006?

------------------------
4. More reports to come!
------------------------

This completes Phase 1 of my Australian Open 2009 reports - the daily reports while the tournament was running, and then tending to the fallen.

Phase 2 is to finish the full BBC TV-reports for my Eternal Fanship, but the BBC never televised Vera even though she reached the semi-finals! :fiery:

Phase 3 is to order other matches involving my Eternal Fanship from Tennis Videos International <http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/> when the 2009 tennis-season is over, and to write up full TV-reports over the Christmas-holidays. This includes Vera's last three matches:
* 4r: Vera Zvonarėva v Nadia Petrova (ETA 31st December 2009)
* qf: Vera Zvonarėva v Marion Bartoli (ETA 3rd January 2010)
* sf: Vera Zvonarėva v Dinara Safina (ETA 10th January 2010)

The above dates are pessimistic estimates, and are subject to change in either direction. Phase 3 is an optional extra for me, as I have not actually vowed to order any matches from Tennis Videos international, nor vowed to write them up if I do.

I did consider ordering the Phase 3 matches immediately after the Australian Open, but due to the large number of matches versus the limited time I'll have to write them up, and me having a significant backlog coming out of the Australian Open, that plan is scratched... probably (my Passion says "order them now", but my Reason says "wait until the off-season").

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jan 11th, 2010, 10:30 AM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
===============
Fourth round (Sunday 25th January 2009)
------------

+ VERA ZVONARĖVA [7,EF] d. NADIA PETROVA [10], 7-5 6-4

I acquired French Eurosport's coverage of the match from Tennis Videos International in December 2009. This coverage starts at 4-4* (30/30).

Petrova held for 5-4*, and then Vera played a brilliant service-game – starting with a crosscourt forehand winner onto the baseline, followed by a down-the-line backhand winner right on the intersection of sideline and baseline – to hold to love for 5-5*.

Vera took the first point against Petrova's serve with great spreading rally finished with a crosscourt backhand winner, and showed wonderful ball-control and precision as she broke to 30 for *6-5. She served out the first set to 15, to take it 7-5.

At the start of the second set, Vera broke to 15 with the help of two return-winners (off-backhand + crosscourt forehand), and held to 15 with a crosscourt forehand winner for 2-0*. By this time, Petrova didn't want to run for the ball at all.

Some big hitting helped Petrova to hold serve after one deuce, then Vera held to love with another brilliant service-game: an off-forehand punch-volley winner, and a short-angled crosscourt backhand winner to make it 3-1*.

Petrova held to 15, and Vera was taken from 40/15 to Deuce before she held for 4-2*. Petrova held to 15 again; Vera hit an ace down the middle en route to 40/0, which became 40/30 before she held for 5-3*.

Vera ran down a netcord and hit an off-backhand winner, and had her first match-point at 5-3* (40/30*). She also saved a game-point with a lovely off-backhand punch-volley winner before Petrova, after the second deuce, forced Vera to serve for the match at *5-4.

Vera trailed 0/30, but recovered with a pinpoint crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline, and had her second match-point at *5-4 (40/30). An erroneous line-call against Vera prevented her from closing it out on the first take: her Hawk-Eye challenge showed that her backhand caught the back edge of the baseline by 10%, but the umpire didn't realise that the call didn't interfere with Petrova's error, so they had to replay the point: Vera forced a lob, hit a forehand smash-winner, and looked absolutely delighted.

My full TV-report – which includes a point-by-point description – is now available on my new website:

http://abroad.sqweebs.com/tennis/zvona/australian_open2009.html

--------------
Future reports
--------------

I have also acquired Vera's quarter-final and semi-final from Tennis Videos International, but unfortunately it is unlikely that I shall have time to write up another AO 2009 match this side of the AO 2010.

I now expect to write up Vera's AO 2009 quarter-final by 7th February, and her semi-final by 14th February. These dates are pessimistic estimates, which could change in either direction.

I wish Vera a speedy recovery (today she retired from WTA Sydney with her right-ankle injury), and trust that she isn't risking long-term damage by trying to play so soon after her surgery of 11th November 2009.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Feb 8th, 2010, 01:46 AM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
===============
Quarter-final (Tuesday 27th January 2009)
-------------

+ VERA ZVONARĖVA [7,EF] d. MARION BARTOLI [16,DF,S], 6-3 6-0

Another stunning performance by Vera to extend her ownership of Marion to 7:1. Marion led 3-1*, but then lost every single game left in the match as she wilted in the extreme heat.

I acquired 7 Sport's coverage of the match from Tennis Videos International in December 2009.

Vera made a nervous start, dropping her first two service-games en route to that *1-3 deficit. She then held to love, and broke back to *3-3 after a game of two deuces. She broke for *5-3 with the help of two backhand winners, then an ace set up set-point at 40/30, which she converted when Marion missed a second-serve return: 6-3.

Vera jumped out to a 2-0* lead in the second set, then got the better of a game of four deuces in which Marion had two game-points and Vera three break-points: *3-0. By this time, Marion was looking really tired and slow. Vera won each of the last three games to 15; in fact she won five of the last six points with clean winners, including a stunning crosscourt forehand winner to break for *5-0, a delectable forehand drop-volley winner, and she sealed her victory with an off-backhand winner onto the baseline! :worship:

Vera was really calm at the end, and I love the spirit with which Marion accepted defeat. Vera was delightfully demure in her on-court interview, even getting a little bit embarrassed when Chris Dittmar complimented her on how fit she looked! :hearts:

My full TV-report – which includes a point-by-point description, transcriptions of selected commentary and Vera's on-court interview – is now available on my new website:

http://abroad.sqweebs.com/tennis/zvona/australian_open2009.html

I expect to write up Vera's AO 2009 semi-final by 14th February, and her AO 2010 fourth round by 28th February. These dates are pessimistic estimates, which could change in either direction.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Feb 16th, 2010, 04:46 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
===============
Semi-final (Thursday 29th January 2009)
----------

- VERA ZVONARĖVA [7,EF] lt. DINARA SAFINA [3], 3-6 6-7 (4/7)

I acquired 7 Sport's coverage of the match from Tennis Videos International in December 2009. I apologise for the lateness of my report; Vera's successful defence of the Pattaya City title is a pretty good excuse for the last few days! :)

Now that I have actually watched the match, I'm less disappointed about Vera's loss than I was before. I realise now that Vera was beaten by a great performance by Safina, rather than simply blowing a golden opportunity to have reached her first Major singles-final.

For this version of Safina was in a completely different class to the one who had edged past an exhausted Jelena Dokić 6-4 4-6 6-4 in the quarter-finals despite haemorrhaging unforced errors and double faults, or the one who would surrender meekly 6-0 6-3 to Serena Williams in the final (those two matches were televised by the BBC, which doesn't show the women's semi-finals, because they're not played in the evening-session :fiery:).

Safina hit her groundstrokes consistently hard and deep, with very few errors that were truly unforced. While I was disappointed that Vera didn't play more aggressively, her defensive play /was/ strong enough to get a respectable scoreline, and she did induce Safina to make numerous errors when she achieved good depth on her own groundstrokes.

But Vera's attempts to push Safina into the tramlines with acute angles backfired terribly, as the long-limbed Safina kept returning those angles with interest. Not even Vera's excellent lateral-retrieval skills could cope with the mixture of power, depth and angles from Safina. Next time Vera plays Safina, she should hit deep balls down the middle to cut out the angles.

The roof was closed in accordance with the Extreme-Heat Policy, and that was a disadvantage to Vera in that she wasn't used to the cooler conditions, whereas Safina had played her quarter-final in the evening-session. Vera may be a very adaptable player, but she admitted that she didn't have time to adjust to the new conditions, and claimed that the Plexicushion played faster with the roof closed.

Vera got off to a *0-2 start, but broke back for *2-2 with a good spreading rally that culminated in a down-the-line forehand winner onto the baseline. She recovered from 0/40 to hold for 3-2* with an ace down the middle and a gorgeous backhand dropshot-winner.

Vera wasted two break-points as Safina held for 3-3*. Safina broke to love for *4-3. Two wonderful backhand winners weren't enough for Vera to break back; she found herself down *3-5. Vera led 40/0, but Safina played five good points in a row to take the first set 6-3.

In the second set, Vera wasted two break-points at 1-1* (40/15*), despite receiving second serves on both. She held for 2-2* with a forehand smash-winner. Vera broke for *3-2 with the help of a dead netcord winner.

A long game at *3-2 ended with Safina breaking back for *3-3 with a crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline that was called wide but overturned by Safina's Hawk-Eye challenge. Vera was angry that the umpire awarded the point to Safina instead of ordering them to replay it, claiming that she had a play on the ball because the call came a second before the ball cleared her outstretched racket by a few millimetres (as far as I can tell from scrutinising the video replay with a fine pause-button).

Apart from that incident, Vera was very calm and composed throughout the match – in fact, the commentators said that she didn't show /enough/ emotion.

Vera had two break-points at 3-3* – reaching the second with a pinpoint crosscourt forehand return-winner – but Safina escaped with good serving to hold for 4-3*. Vera came through a tough service-game to hold for 4-4*, with an off-backhand winner on the penultimate point.

Safina held for 5-4*, and Vera played a great service-game with an off-forehand winner and an ace down the middle to level at 5-5*. A couple of unforced errors by Safina gave Vera a break for *6-5, but Vera got tentative serving for the second set, and was broken to love for 6-6.

In the tiebreak, Vera recovered from 1/3* to *3/3; a further exchange of mini-breaks made it 4/4*; Vera at *4/5 took the initiative but netted a cheap forehand; facing match-point at *4/6, she went to the net, and Safina reached the final with a stunning crosscourt forehand pass-winner onto the sideline.

My full TV-report – which includes a point-by-point description, transcriptions of selected commentary and Safina's on-court interview – is now available on my new website:

http://abroad.sqweebs.com/tennis/zvona/australian_open2009.html

I expect to write up Vera's Australian Open 2010 (http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=399913) fourth-round match by 28th February. This date is a pessimistic estimate, which could change in either direction.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad