Jan 25th, 2011, 09:39 PM
Women’s tennis is rarely discussed on the main news here, only mens tennis – it fits in well with all the talk about Men’s tennis being a superior product and women’s tennis being in a huge slump. However today, there was a brief review of the quarter finals matches played yesterday. Only one women’s match was mentioned, and it was qualified as – ‘Match of the Day’ (taking into account the mens matches played and the women’s matches). In other words, Wozniacki def. Schiavone was the match to watch, over Federer def. Wawrinka and Djokovic def. Berdych. Li Na’s win wasn’t mentioned at all, and it fits in with what happens to womens results in general.
I understand this might be a pointless post, but amid all the complaints levelled at womens tennis these days, it’s a good day when a women’s match steals the show. Does make everything okay, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction and might motivate a few more people to watch some of the other upcoming WTA matches.
A sidenote: I think Schiavone def. Kuznetsova also got a mention on major sports shows or segments, so that’s also good. I guess, even if she doesn’t walk away with the trophy, Francesca Shiavone is the woman of the tournament for many people, and deservedly so. She’s bringing sexy back!
Jan 25th, 2011, 09:42 PM
Couple of articles.
No losers in quarterfinal classic between Wozniacki, Schiavone
The scores made it seem so ordinary -- 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 -- but the Caroline Wozniacki-Francesca Schiavone quarterfinal was a beacon of contrast at the Australian Open and the ultimate showcase for women's tennis. We may not see anything like it, with so much at stake, until Schiavone returns to the French Open to defend her title.
As a relieved Wozniacki so accurately noted after her hard-won victory, Schiavone "plays so differently than the other girls I play against." It's difficult enough for a defensive-minded baseline specialist to confront one of the few real jocks on tour, but Schiavone adds the elements of passion, fitness and will power. At 30, she isn't about to her place her name alongside the all-time greats, but it's deeply satisfying to know that she's making a historical impact.
In the wake of Schiavone's four-hour, 44-minute classic against Svetlana Kuznetsova, ESPN analyst Pam Shriver said this quarterfinal completed "one of the most remarkable sets of back-to-back matches in the history of tennis." And that speaks just as well for Wozniacki's resolve as it does for Schiavone's panache.
Wozniacki has won many admirers in this tournament, on many fronts. She turned her once-droll press conferences into can't-miss affairs, doing so with a very unforced brand of spirit and good humor. She'll never remind anyone of the punishing Chris Evert or the dashing Martina Navratilova on court, but gracious, does she get the job done.
Feeling the pressure, to the point of desperation, Wozniacki got a huge break in the early stages of the second set. Schiavone had a 6-3, 3-1 lead, and it really looked as if she was going to pull this off. Who else comes back that strongly from the longest women's match in Grand Slam history? Who has that much fight left against the No. 1 player in the world? Perhaps Francesca was feeling a bit too comfortable, for out of nowhere, she clanked four consecutive errors: forehand volley, cross-court backhand, down-the-line forehand, high forehand volley. At the one stage in which she had time to relax, she relinquished her air of superiority.
Two points really stood out, for me, in the third set. Hoping to nail down a break point at 1-1 and 30-40, Wozniacki unleashed an astounding service winner with her down-the-line backhand. And she saved her best point of the tournament for the sequence that put her up 5-2. First came a lunging forehand get off a wicked Schiavone backhand, resulting in a lob without much depth. Schiavone answered with a forehand smash, and Wozniacki didn't just return it. With almost no time to react, she somehow turned a retreating short-hop forehand into a flicked topspin lob, miraculously placed, beyond Schiavone's reach.
That pretty much decided things -- for everyone but Schiavone. She fought off a match point, and another, and before it finally ended, she'd done that nine times over the course of the two epic matches. Shriver was so impressed to see Schiavone rally from 5-2, 40-15 down to keep the quarterfinal alive, she raved: "Unbelievable. That game deserves a standing ovation. God love you, Francesca Schiavone."
As Schiavone departed the grounds, so bitterly disappointed that her climactic backhand was about a centimeter wide, she left behind memories of sweeping topspin, delicate slice, crisp low volleys (no one in tennis does it better) and that most wondrous of assets, style. Nobody had to tell Wozniacki that while equally difficult tasks lie ahead -- the lethal baseline power of Li Na, and perhaps Kim Clijsters thereafter -- she just managed to defeat the best pure tennis player in the world.
Fans love positive Francesca Schiavone
FRANCESCA Schiavone has left the Australian Open, but the memory lingers on.
There are the tangible things like rising to No 4 on the world rankings next Monday despite yesterday's quarter-final loss to Caroline Wozniacki - the highest ever by an Italian female player and equals Adriano Panatta, who was No 4 in 1976.
Then there is the grand slam history of creating the women's longest match with Svetlana Kuznetsova on Sunday - four hours and 44 minutes.
But it is the effervescence of the 30-year-old that everyone will remember and miss both on and off the court.
She has had people stopping her in the street and in the corridors of Melbourne Park, telling her how much they love watching her play. It hasn't always been that way.
"I'm happy for this. I wait for a life, so now I take," said the oldest of the quarter-finalists in both the women's and men's singles at this year's Australian Open. Roger Federer is only 29.
After winning the French Open last June by beating Sam Stosur, some commentators blamed the Australian for choking and not the Italian for her talent in taking the grand slam title in Paris.
After finishing in the final eight in Melbourne, Schiavone believes people will respect her style of tennis more and take her more seriously on hardcourts.
"Si, si. I think players feel the pressure because I keep going to change everything on the court, speed and angle," Schiavone said.
"So they feel that I can do very well, and the people now start to know that I can play really good on hardcourt. I feel the same, that I will be tough for everyone."
The next grand slam is also Schiavone's chance to defend one. She knows she is on track with that mission because of what she achieved in Australia - her first quarter-final in Melbourne.
"For sure with this match and with all the tournament, I can say that I'm building every day something good.
"I am positive. I have to keep going to improve. I look forward to play a big tournament like Roland Garros. I shake if I think about."
Paris will also be the Italian's 43rd grand slam in a row. She will turn 31 two weeks later.
By then she might even be No 3 or No 1?
"Oh, step by step. I never fly, so one step (at a time). I have 10 years more."
Jan 25th, 2011, 10:34 PM
I agree, I think WTA is exciting in 2011, this slam has been one of the best in ages!!!
If Fransexa was 5 years younger she would be number 1 for sure