View Full Version : Interesting comment regarding Myskina vs Maria and the Fed Cup

Nov 29th, 2004, 01:34 PM
Fed Cup: Not This Again
As a team, France had been here before: In 2003 also, the French had had to travel to Moscow to face Russia in Fed Cup. As individuals, though, it was a new thing. In 2003, the French team that went to face their opponents at home was led by Amelie Mauresmo and Mary Pierce. For that team, perhaps, playing in Russia was an advantage: Mauresmo wouldn't have the eyes of France so obviously upon her, and Pierce wouldn't have fans calling her an American if she had a bad stretch.

This year's French team, though, didn't have any such psychological worries. It also didn't have a Top 20 player. It could use all the help it could get.

The one advantage the French had was that -- they weren't Russian. No need for mass hypnotism to held them together.

The opening contest, Nathalie Dechy versus Svetlana Kuznetsova, started about as you would expect: Kuznetsova won the first set 6-3, and broke to start the second, and the lead held up until 5-4. But then Dechy broke back. And the Frenchwoman won the tiebreak when Kuznetsova double-faulted on set point.

The third set was almost the same story in reverse. There was no early break, but at 4-4, Dechy broke -- only to be broken back. But she broke again at 6-6, and served out a 3-6 7-6 8-6 match to give France a 1-0 lead.

Anastasia Myskina levelled things with a slightly easier 6-4 7-6 win over Tatiana Golovin -- though even that looked like trouble, with Myskina down 3-0 in the first set before the most crafty player of the post-Hingis era adjusted.

Sunday started with Myskina posting a much more routine win over Dechy, 6-3 6-4, in which Myskina was broken only once and broke three times. It was really all about Myskina's first serve: When it went in, she won the point; when it didn't, she lost. But she put 66% in, and you can surely tell the rest.

Which put Kuznetsova in position to clinch the tie. But, unlike the U. S. Open final, she wasn't facing an injured fellow Russian. Russian Disease set in again; Golovin levelled for France with a 6-4 6-1 win that had all the tokens of nerves: Seventeen games, seven breaks.

The official description of the deciding doubles was that the Russians pulled Elena Likhovtseva. While technically correct, it's probably deceptive. The unannounced plan was surely, if the tie went down to the doubles, to play Kuznetsova and Likhovtseva, the top doubles team in the field. But with Kuznetsova having played a long singles match on Saturday, and an ugly singles match on Sunday, they surely didn't want to play her. That left the announced lineup of Likhovtseva and Vera Zvonareva -- or Zvonareva and Myskina. The latter pair are regular partners, so they know how to play together -- and of course Myskina had won both her matches.

And she made it three for three in the doubles final. After a tough two hour match, Myskina and Zvonareva won the rubber, and the Cup, 7-6 7-5.

We've heard people make really nasty remarks about Myskina and her threat to boycott if Maria Sharapova is on the Russian Fed Cup team. Or, rather, if Sharapova's father is in the vicinity. Knowing Myskina (and one of our writers has met her three times), it's hard to believe that it's just pique on Myskina's part -- and it's noteworthy that Larisa Neiland, who has no reason to resent Sharapova, supports Myskina regarding Yuri Sharapov. But pique or not, it's hard to imagine Russia improving its team by trading in Myskina for Sharapova....

From Bob Larsonīs tennisnewsletter.