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andrewbroad
Jan 31st, 2011, 01:03 AM
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AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
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1. Introduction
2. Qualifying
3. First round
___3.1 Wickmayer v Groth
___3.2 Clijsters v Safina
4. Second round
___4.1 Sevastova v Wickmayer
___4.2 Šafářová v Zakopalová
5. Third round
___5.1 Zvonarëva v Šafářová
___5.2 Kvitová v Stosur
6. Fourth round
___6.1 Sharapova v Petković
7. My complaint to the BBC
8. Quarter-finals
9. Semi-finals
10. Final

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1. Introduction
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Unfortunately for tennis, I had to work during the Australian Open, so I didn't have time to write detailed daily reports like I have in previous years. But I did watch some Women's Singles matches on BBC television; this report documents my impressions of them, as well as rounding up some of the matches that I didn't get to watch, and a detailed TV-report of the final.

A complete archive of point-by-point scores for all the Australian Open 2011 women's matches can be found here:
http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=426590

In the coming months, I will write up extended reports of the BBC-televised matches that involved members of my Eternal Fanship:
* 2r: Lucie Šafářová [EF] v Klára Zakopalová
* 3r: Lucie Šafářová [EF] v Vera Zvonarëva [EF]
* 4r: Maria Sharapova [EF] v Andrea Petković

I make no promises about when I will complete these extended reports and post them here, as they take their places at the back of a long queue that stretches back to the second round of Wimbledon 2010.

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2. Qualifying (Friday 14th – Sunday 16th January 2011)
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For me, the highlight of the qualifying was a mouth-watering first-round match between Sabine Lisicki and Michaëlla Krajíček. Lisicki won 7-6 (7/2) 6-3, but sadly lost to Vesna Manasieva in the second round. In 2009, Lisicki looked on track to become a Major champion, but a nasty ankle-injury last March has set her back a long way.

I was sad that Stefanie Vögele lost in the first qualifying-round, as I've been infatuated with her for almost a year now. I long for the opportunity to see her play again, but sadly she's currently trapped in a Teufelskreis of losses and lack of match-play.

I was pleased to see that Sania Mirza came through the qualifying, beating Iryna Kuryanovich 6-4 6-2, Vitalia Diatchenko 6-4 6-7 (7/9) 6-3 and Stéphanie Dubois 6-2 6-3.

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3. First round (Monday 17th/Tuesday 18th January 2011)
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My Eternal Fanship went 5:2 in the first round:
+ VERA ZVONARËVA [2,EF] d. Sybille Bammer, 6-2 6-1
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [14,EF] d. Tamarine Tanasugarn, 6-1 6-3
+ LUCIE ŠAFÁŘOVÁ [31,EF] d. Zhāng,Shuŕi, 7-5 4-6 6-1
+ Anna Chakvetadze [EF] d. Olga Govortsova, 6-3 6-4
+ Jelena Dokić [WC,EF] d. Zuzana Ondrášková, 6-3 6-2
- Magdaléna Rybáriková [EF] lt. KAIA KANEPI [20], 6-2 4-6 3-6
- DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [28,EF] lt. Regina Kulikova, 6-7 (3/7) 6-3 7-9

Daniela had pulled out of Brisbane with an injury to her left Achilles-tendon sustained over Christmas, and had lost in the first round of Sydney. She blew a 4-1* lead in the third set against Kulikova. I wish Daniela a full recovery, especially as she's only slightly younger than Karina Habšudová was when we lost her to an Achilles-injury.

I was also sad that Ana Ivanović lost in the first round. Just when Ana seemed to have returned to form by winning Linz and the Bali season-ending championships late last year, she tore a stomach-muscle in Hopman Cup, and lost 6-3 4-6 8-10 to Ekaterina Makarova after leading 3-1* in the third set. It was nice to see her watching the Men's Singles final, though.

Other first-round results that particularly pleased me were a mouth-watering match between Caroline Woźniacki and Gisela Dulko (Woźniacki won 6-3 6-4), and wins for Maria Kirilenko (6-3 5-7 8-6), Victoria Azarenka, Tsvetana Pironkova, Flavia Pennetta, Marion Bartoli (6-0 6-0), and Julia Görges.

On the downside were first-round losses for Sania Mirza (to Justine Henin), Karolina Šprem, and Aravane Rezaď, who later featured in a bizarre and incomplete story about a member of her family being banned from attending tournaments over a safety-issue. I wish Aravane all the best at this difficult time.


3.1 Wickmayer v Groth (Monday 17th January 2011)
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+ YANINA WICKMAYER [21] d. Jarmila Groth, 6-3 2-6 6-4

I watched this match casually on BBC Red Button. It was a pleasant opener to the Australian Open evening-sessions between two talented, not-unattractive players.

It looked comfortable for Wickmayer as she took a 6-3 2-0* lead, but then Groth caught fire and hit some brilliant backhands as she took the next 6 games and the second set 6-2, exploiting Wickmayer's habit of camping in her backhand corner to hit off-forehands, which really exposes her forehand sideline.

However, Groth lost her momentum with a poor service-game at the start of the third set. She had two break-back points at 1-2*, but Wickmayer saved them – one with a fierce backhand winner down the line. Groth wasted a third break-point with a wild forehand wide, and looked forlorn. It seemed that her ship had sailed.

Groth saved match-point at 1:1 *3-5 30/40 and held for 4-5*, only for Wickmayer to serve it out to 15. Groth's face crumpled even as they shook hands, and she left the court in floods of tears.

It's also interesting that Groth hit at least two left-handed forehands when driven wide, ŕ la Maria Sharapova.


3.2 Clijsters v Safina (Tuesday 18th January 2011)
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+ KIM CLIJSTERS [3] d. Dinara Safina, 6-0 6-0

Clijsters and Safina are my two least-favourite active WTA players – muscular mingers, the both of them. So I only wanted one of two things: either a miraculous Safina victory to prevent Minging Clingers going on to win her first BBC-televised Major, or Clijsters to inflict a 6-0 6-0 prime-time humiliation on the beastly Safina.

Given that Safina had lost 6-0 6-1 to Marion Bartoli at Hobart the previous week, it was only logical that Clijsters would be able to improve on that scoreline, and so it proved, as Clijsters was uncharacteristically focused from start to finish.

Safina actually hit the ball quite well, and only made 14 unforced errors. But her movement was terrible, while Clijsters's movement was first class, and that's what made the difference as Safina became the first former world No.1 ever to lose 6-0 6-0 at a Major.

My abiding memory of this match is of Safina lunging wide and low for balls as a ruthless Clijsters ran her from corner to corner. I know it's sinful to take pleasure in the misfortunes of those who offend me, but oh, the Schadenfreude!

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4. Second round (Wednesday 19th/Thursday 20th January 2011)
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My Eternal Fanship went 3:2 in the second round:
+ VERA ZVONARËVA [2,EF] d. Bojana Jovanovski, 2-6 6-3 6-1
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [14,EF] d. Virginie Razzano, 7-6 (7/3) 6-3
+ LUCIE ŠAFÁŘOVÁ [31,EF] d. Klára Zakopalová, 6-3 6-7 (2/7) 7-5
- Anna Chakvetadze [EF] lt. PETRA KVITOVÁ [25], 3-6 4-6
- Jelena Dokić [WC,EF] lt. Barbora Záhlavová Strýcová, 6-7 (3/7) 1-6

Bojana Jovanovski is the youngest player in the top 100, and probably the most important player whom I've yet to see play. I've read that she hits the ball very hard, and that Vera was in tears during the first set.

I was also pleased about the wins for Caroline Woźniacki (6-1 6-0), Victoria Azarenka, Flavia Pennetta, and Julia Görges, who upset Kaia Kanepi [20] 6-4 3-6 6-4. It's also good to see that Alizé Cornet has returned to some semblance of form: she upset María José Martínez Sánchez [26] 7-5 6-1.

I was disappointed by the losses for Tsvetana Pironkova, Marion Bartoli, and Maria Kirilenko, who was defending a quarter-final but lost 6-3 6-1 to Iveta Benešová.


4.1 Sevastova v Wickmayer (Wednesday 19th January 2011)
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+ Anastasija Sevastova d. YANINA WICKMAYER [21], 6-4 6-2

The BBC televised this match because it was immediately prior to Anne Keothavong's match against Andrea Petković on Show Court 3.

Wickmayer is a very impressive young prospect, but she seems to have gone backwards in the last year. She seems to have lost her willingness to go to the net, and tends to camp in her backhand corner to hit off-forehands; Sevastova made her pay for it by hitting numerous crosscourt forehands to Wickmayer's forehand sideline.

Sevastova is an intriguing young player, and I hope she builds on her Australian Open success (she went on to reach the fourth round). She's a powerful baseliner who plays some nice spreading rallies, and her wide-eyed facial cuteness is very appealing.


4.2 Šafářová v Zakopalová (Thursday 20th January 2011)
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+ LUCIE ŠAFÁŘOVÁ [31,EF] d. Klára Zakopalová, 6-3 6-7 (2/7) 7-5

The BBC started showing this match from about 19:10 AEDT, when Klára had just broken for 1:1 *1-0. It was a dramatic third set, in which the momentum swung from one player to the other; Klára failed to serve out the match at *5-4, and then Lucie finished with a flurry of brilliant winners.

The two Czech beauties are good friends off the court. When my parents attended Bad Gastein 2008, Lucie and Klára came and sat next to them in the stands, with Klára sitting between Lucie and my father.

So it was a difficult match for them emotionally – at least for Klára, who wore her heart on her sleeve, while Lucie appeared composed.

Klára looked in control at 1:1 *1-0 40/0, but became nervous and erratic. When Lucie held for 2-1*, Klára's body-language was terrible. When Lucie broke for *4-2, Klára looked devastated.

But Klára broke back immediately for *3-4, after a game that she started with a pinpoint forehand winner and finished with a crosscourt backhand winner.

In a game of three deuces at 4-3*, Lucie squandered three break-points (30/40 + Ad×2), and after Klára had hit a forehand winner down the line to reach game-point, Lucie agonisingly hit a backhand return just long.

At *4-4, Lucie played three terrible points to go 0/40 down, and Klára sealed the break with an off-backhand winner back behind Lucie.

Serving for the match at *5-4, Klára went 0/40 down, and double-faulted for 5-5*.

On the first point at 5-5*, Lucie opened up the court with a flairsome crosscourt forehand, and hit a crosscourt backhand winner into the space. Four errors later, Lucie held to 15.

With Klára serving to stay in the match at *5-6, Lucie made a brilliant finish. In a wonderful rally at 15/0, Klára went to the net, but Lucie ripped a brilliant backhand pass-winner down the line. At 15/30, Lucie hit a stunning forehand winner down the line to reach two match-points. Klára saved the first with an unreturnable serve, but at 30/40, Lucie's good return forced a short ball from Klára, which Lucie dispatched with a crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline.

I'll post a full point-by-point report of this match here later this year.

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5. Third round (Friday 21st/Saturday 22nd January 2011)
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For me, the third round was highlighted by an excellent match between Vera Zvonarëva and Lucie Šafářová, some of which was televised by the BBC (Section 5.1).

I wish I could have seen Maria Sharapova's match against Julia Görges. Maria won 4-6 6-4 6-4, but the BBC commentators (on Petković v Williams) gave a glowing account of Gorgeous Görges, of whom I'm already a demi-fan. They said that Julia played spectacularly, and that she would be one of the WTA's marquee-names this decade.

I was very disappointed that the order-of-play committee put Andrea Petković v Venus Williams on Friday's Rod Laver Arena evening-session. Anyone with half a brain could have foreseen that Williams would not be able to play, as she had played for three hours in the second round with a serious right-hip injury. Sure enough, it flared up early in the third-round match, and Williams retired at 0:0 0-1* 0/30*.

They should have put Sharapova v Görges in that BBC-televised slot instead, or even Caroline Woźniacki v Dominika Cibulková.

Woźniacki avenged her Sydney loss by beating Cibulková 6-4 6-3. Back in 2005, I discovered Caro and Domi at the same time, on the same web-page. I used to prefer Domi, but Caro's the one who has claimed a place in my demi-fanship, while Domi remains just outside.

Caro had a lot of fun in her press-conferences. After her second round, she said she already knew which questions she was going to be asked, and proceeded to answer them unprompted. After her third round, she said that she had been scratched by a kangaroo, and the media believed her until she admitted that she had lied. After her fourth round, she came into her press-conference with boxing-gloves and a large, inflated toy kangaroo. Full marks for innovation.

I was also pleased that Victoria Azarenka, Flavia Pennetta and Anastasija Sevastova won, along with Iveta Benešová, who upset Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova [16] 6-3 1-6 7-5.

Justine Henin lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova in what would prove to be the last match of Henin's second career, as she announced her retirement six days later, due to a persistent elbow-injury. Belgium has already found a good replacement: Girls' Singles champion An-Sophie Mestach.


5.1 Zvonarëva v Šafářová
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+ VERA ZVONARËVA [2,EF] d. LUCIE ŠAFÁŘOVÁ [31,EF], 6-3 7-6 (9/7)

The BBC started showing this match from 6-3 5-5*, with Vera just having failed to serve it out at *5-4.

As befits two members of my Eternal Fanship, it was an amazing match in terms of the quality of the rallies, with Lucie attacking for all she was worth with her left-handed groundstrokes of flairsome power, and Vera making incredible ‘gets’ as well as showing her own flairsome power.

Lucie was hitting the ball as well as ever, but her movement is not as good as it was in 2007. Back then, she used to run like the wind, but against Vera, she was struggling to reach wide balls, particularly to her backhand sideline.

Vera broke to 30, but was again broken to 30 as she served for the match at *6-5. I think she was feeling the pressure of winning her first Major singles-title after being runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open 2010, but Lucie is a brilliant player.

Then they played a nail-biting tiebreak, with Lucie going from 2/0* to *2/2 to 4/2*, from *5/3 to 5/5*, and having set-points at *6/5 and 9/8*, while Vera had match-points at *7/6 and 8/7*.

Vera at *9/9 hit a crosscourt backhand winner that clipped the sideline but was called wide. Vera didn't hear the call, and turned away thinking she'd hit a winner, but the umpire told her it had been called out, and Vera immediately said "challenge". Hawk-Eye showed that it had indeed clipped the sideline, so the umpire awarded the point to Vera. Lucie argued that they should replay the point, but the umpire ruled that it had been a clear winner.

So Vera had her third match-point at 10/9*. In one last breath-taking rally, Lucie went to the net, but Vera hit an inch-perfect backhand lob just inside the baseline; Lucie ran it down, but all she could do was hit a backhand halfway up the net.

If Lucie was still upset about the Hawk-Eye challenge on the penultimate point, she didn't show it. I can imagine a lot of players stomping off court in a huff after losing in such circumstances, but not so our adorable Lucie. It was nice to see her watching the Berdych v Đoković quarter-final, too.

I'll post a full point-by-point report of this match here later this year.


5.2 Kvitová v Stosur (Saturday 22nd January 2011)
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+ PETRA KVITOVÁ [25] d. SAMANTHA STOSUR [5], 7-6 (7/5) 7-3

An amazing performance by Kvitová, whose sharp, left-handed groundstrokes, prowess at the net and mental strength mark her as a potential Major champion, if only she could find the consistency to play like this match in, match out.

Having let 0:0 3-1* become 3-3*, Kvitová recovered from *5-6 (0/30) and 6-6 (3/5*), reeling off the last four points of the tiebreak with a flurry of winners.

In the second set, Kvitová squandered three break-points at 1-0* (40/0*) – the last by netting a backhand volley, so instead of a commanding 1:0 *2-0 lead, it was *1-1.

A couple of horrendous errors took Kvitová from 1:0 *2-2 30/15 to 30/40, but she saved the break-point with a good serve to set up an easy forehand smash-winner, which she celebrated with one of her trademark canine yelps. She saved a second break-point in that game as Stosur's backhand floated just long. Stosur looked annoyed when she followed that up with a forehand just long, and "deeply, deeply frustrated" [Andrew Cotter] when she dumped a forehand into the net to give Kvitová 3-2*, and threw down her racket at the changeover.

Kvitová's raking forehand winner down the line gave her 1:0 3-2* 30/0*, a lovely spreading rally with a crosscourt forehand volley-winner made it 40/0*, and a deep, error-forcing forehand return sealed the break to love: *4-2.

Kvitová opened the next game with a "cheeky" [Louise Pleming] forehand half-volley winner, and looked on red-hot form as she held to love for 5-2*. Stosur held to love for 3-5*.

Serving for the match at 1:0 *5-3, Kvitová forced a floater, and dispatched it with a forehand smash-winner. 15/0. Kvitová opened up the court, and hit a crosscourt forehand winner. 30/0. Second serve: Stosur hit a crosscourt forehand return just wide. 40/0. In a long baseline-rally, Stosur hit a backhand plumb on the baseline, but several strokes later, it all ended with Kvitová edging forward to hit a pinpoint forehand volley-winner down the line: just inside the sideline.

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6. Fourth round (Sunday 23rd/Monday 24th January 2011)
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Vera Zvonarëva overcame a worrying slide from 0:0 *2-0 to *2-4 to see off Iveta Benešová 6-4 6-1, but Maria Sharapova crashed out 6-2 6-3 to Andrea Petković (Section 6.1).

Caroline Woźniacki recovered from 0:0 *1-3 to see off Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 6-4, but Victoria Azarenka lost 6-3 6-3 to Lǐ,Nŕ, and Flavia Pennetta lost 3-6 6-3 6-3 to Petra Kvitová.

Francesca Schiavone overcame Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4 1-6 16-14 in 4h44m – the longest women's match in Major history. Schiavone saved six match-points: at 1:1 *7-8 0/40 and *8-9 (15/40 + Ad).

Péng,Shuŕi blew a 1:1 5-3* lead with match-points at *5-4 (40/30 + Ad) to lose 7-5 3-6 7-5 to Agnieszka Radwańska, who remarkably reached her fourth Major quarter-final despite having been given only a "1% chance" of playing the Australian Open due to a stress-fracture in her foot.

Finally, Kim Clijsters beat Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 (7/3) 6-2 in a BBC-televised but uninspiring match, the highlight of which was the ongoing saga of Makarova coming onto court with an oversized sponsor-logo, having to go and change her shirt during the warm-up, and having to have a smaller logo fitted during the first two changeovers.


6.1 Sharapova v Petković (Sunday 23rd January 2011)
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- MARIA SHARAPOVA [14,EF] lt. ANDREA PETKOVIĆ [30], 2-6 3-6

Yet another disappointing loss for Maria. For someone of her immense talent and iron will-power, it's astonishing that she has only reached one Major quarter-final (French Open 2009) in the three years since she won the Australian Open 2008. Even with the injuries, I thought she would have got her act together by now. I felt that she ended her 2010 season prematurely, and the long break certainly doesn't seem to have helped her.

Maria struggled with her serve, taking so much time between points to concentrate on it. She also struggled with her backhand, which is normally so reliable.

Petković was very strong with her big serves, powerful groundstrokes in general and returns in particular, but we didn't see the real Maria except for a brief fightback from 0:1 1-5* to 3-5*, when she played two brilliant games, but then threw in some unforced errors just when it looked like she was turning the match around against one of the game's renowned chokers.

With Maria at 0:0 *2-3, Petković hit a return-winner – the very thing that Maria double-faults so much to avoid – and broke for *4-2. Maria played intensely to get 30/15*, but Petković was too strong: 5-2*. A couple of deep returns put Maria 15/30 down, but she recovered with a fine one-two punch winner: 30/30. Two more deep, error-forcing returns later, Maria was a set down.

Things went from bad to worse at the start of the second set, as Petković neutered the best shots that Maria could come up with, and Maria was giving away plenty of cheap points as she lost the first three games. Maria won an amazing rally, running down a dropshot to push a forehand winner down the line, to recover from *0-3 (15/30); she followed up with an ace, and Petković mishit a forehand wide and very long: *3-1.

Despite Maria cleaning the sideline with a stunning off-forehand winner, and hitting a pinpoint forehand winner down the line, Petković held to 30 with a stunning crosscourt forehand winner into the corner for 1:0 4-1*.

Maria at 0:1 *1-4 (0/15) hit a well-controlled crosscourt forehand drive-volley winner into the corner, but was broken to 15, courtesy of some deep, error-forcing returns from Petković.

Serving for the match at 1:0 *5-1, Petković showed no nerves as she went 30/15 up, and hit an off-backhand dropshot-winner to reach her first match-point at 40/30. But her first serve was rather tentative, and Maria blasted an off-forehand virtual return-winner deep into the corner. At Deuce, Maria blasted a scorching forehand return-winner down the line to set up a break-point. A good rally ended with Petković hitting a backhand just long.

At 0:1 *2-5, Maria held to 15 with a crosscourt forehand winner into the corner, a crosscourt forehand drive-volley winner, and a brilliant off-backhand winner just inside the sideline.

Serving for the match a second time at 1:0 *5-3, Petković went 30/15 up courtesy of two unforced errors from Maria, who then pounced on a tentative serve with a huge croscourt forehand return-winner for 30/30. Maria earthed a wide backhand volley: 40/30. Maria saved the second match-point with a forehand return-winner down Petković's forehand sideline, but hit a loose forehand long to give Petković a third match-point, and dumped a makeable forehand return into the net.

Maria nearly ran off the court: back to the locker-room, where there would be weeping and grinding of teeth.

I'll post a full point-by-point report of this match here later this year.

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7. My complaint to the BBC
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Target: https://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/

I am writing to complain about the BBC's omission to televise any of the women's singles quarter-finals or semi-finals of the Australian Open tennis between Tuesday 25th and Thursday 27th January 2011, and also the BBC's omission to televise the women's singles semi-finals in any year after 2006.

I understand that these matches were in the day-session, while the BBC has only promised to cover the evening-sessions of the Australian Open, but it's simply not acceptable to miss the semi-finals of a Major, especially when the BBC has proved that it can make exceptions by televising Andy Murray's day-session matches throughout the Australian Open.

It is completely unacceptable that a player can reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open but not be televised by the BBC, especially when that player happens to be the top seed and world number one, as was the case with Caroline Woźniacki this year.

While I greatly appreciate the daily coverage of the Australian Open on BBC Red Button since 2006, I am dismayed by how male-dominated this coverage has been over the years. Since the women are now earning equal prize-money at the Majors, they deserve equal TV-coverage.

The Australian Open is one of only three BBC-televised tennis-tournaments that feature women's tennis (outside of the Olympics and the 2010 Commonwealth Games). The BBC therefore has a fundamental responsibility to deliver the most important matches to fans of women's tennis who rely on the BBC for coverage. Tennis Videos International has closed now, and we don't all have access to Eurosport!

While I am satisfied that the BBC currently meets this responsibility for the French Open and Wimbledon, its Australian Open coverage remains, quite frankly, an insult to the women's game. The BBC sends out a clear message that the women's matches aren't worth watching – or are at best a sideshow, which the commentators hope will finish as quickly as possible so that they can get on with the ‘main’ event – and therefore treats women as second-class citizens.

BBC commentator Andrew Cotter provided the most explicit examples of this misogyny in the two Australian Open 2011 matches involving Lucie Šafářová, and it is no excuse that these happened to be scheduled immediately prior to matches involving Andy Murray.

In the dramatic third set of the second-round match between Lucie Šafářová and Klára Zakopalová, Mr Cotter twice advised viewers to go and make themselves a cup of tea and come back in 20 minutes.

In the ultrahigh-quality third-round match between Lucie Šafářová and Vera Zvonarëva, Mr Cotter said that people all over the UK would be pressing their snooze-buttons if it were to go to a third set, before later conceding that he was addressing a wider audience than just Andy Murray fans.

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.

My suggestion for the Australian Open in future years is to show the women's quarter-finals and semi-finals either live on the Red Button, or recorded after the live coverage of the evening-sessions, as was the case for the women's semi-finals on Thursday 26th January 2006.

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8. Quarter-finals (Tuesday 25th/Wednesday 26th January 2011)
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Vera Zvonarëva saw off Petra Kvitová 6-2 6-4 to reach her second Australian Open semi-final, although she had a worrying wobble from 1:0 *3-1 to 3-4*, when they played through the double distraction of a distant gun-salute to mark Australia Day, and an elderly spectator fainting.

Caroline Woźniacki recovered from 3-6 *1-3 to beat Francesca Schiavone 3-6 6-3 6-3, as the effects of Schiavone's 4h44m fourth-round marathon finally caught up with the 30-year-old, who had upset Woźniacki in the French Open 2010 quarter-finals.

Lǐ,Nŕ saw off Andrea Petković 6-2 6-4 despite trailing *0-2 in both sets, and Kim Clijsters edged past Agnieszka Radwańska 6-3 7-6 (7/4) after Radwańska had fought from 0:1 2-4* to *5-4 (30/0).

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9. Semi-finals (Thursday 27th January 2011)
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I had high hopes of Vera Zvonarëva reaching her third consecutive Major final, given her 3:1 record against Kim Clijsters in 2010, and given how sluggish Clijsters had been in her previous three matches. But the third seed upset the second seed 6-3 6-3 with her sharpest performance since her 6-0 6-0 annihilation of Dinara Safina in the first round, while Vera's W:UE ratio of 14:21 was no match for Clijsters's 18:18.

When Caroline Woźniacki went 6-3 *5-4 (40/30) up against Lǐ,Nŕ, I went to sleep in the assumption that she was in the final, so it was a nasty shock when I woke up, checked the scores and found that she had lost 3-6 7-5 6-3. Caro normally seems so unflappable, but apparently she cried a lot after this loss. It was nice to see her watching the Murray v Ferrer semi-final, though.

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10. Final (Saturday 29th January 2011)
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- LǏ,NŔ [9] lt. KIM CLIJSTERS [3], 6-3 3-6 3-6

A shame about the result, but at least the quality of play was much higher than I had expected, especially in the first set, when Lǐ recovered from a 0-2* start with some brilliant groundstrokes of flairsome power, just inside the lines. She wasn't this spectacular when I saw her play at Birmingham and Wimbledon 2010.

But the match turned on a game of three deuces at the start of the second set, in which Lǐ was broken after having three game-points including 40/15. Clijsters cut out her unforced errors by playing with more topspin, while Lǐ allowed herself to be distracted by the noisy crowd, who, like me, seemed to prefer the idea of Lǐ becoming the first player from Asia to win a Major singles-title to Clijsters winning her first Major outside of the US Open.

Lǐ lost 6 games in a row from 1:0 3-2* to 1:1 0-2*. She briefly threatened a comeback by breaking back to *1-2, but once Clijsters broke again for *3-1, there was an air of inevitability about the outcome.

This may well prove to have been the only Major final of the 28-year-old Lǐ's career, but it certainly wasn't the last time that we'll see a Chinese player in a Major singles-final, as there is an army of them coming up in the juniors, looking to dominate tennis in the same way that their compatriots are already dominating table tennis.


First set
---------
LǏ __@*_*@*@ 6
CL *@__*____ 3

The match was third on Rod Laver Arena, and started at 19:40 AEDT.

Lǐ made a nervous start and lost the first 8 points of the match, but then settled down with a forehand smash-winner, a pinpoint forehand winner down the line, and some nice spreading rallies of flairsome power to break back for *1-2.

The next two games went comfortably with serve, and then the quality increased sufficiently to inspire me to start writing point-by-point notes.

Lǐ serving 2-3: Lǐ retreated from the net, slugged an off-backhand wide, and muttered. 0/15. A mildly awkward deep return induced Lǐ to hit a backhand wide. 0/30. Lǐ hit a crosscourt backhand deep into the corner, forcing Clijsters to earth a one-handed backhand. 15/30. Clijsters hit a forehand winner down the line. 15/40 (BP #1). Lǐ saved it with a great rally that happened to end with a loose backhand long from Clijsters. 30/40 (BP #2). Clijsters hit a loose forehand long. Deuce #1. Clijsters hit a crosscourt backhand just wide, and wasted a Hawk-Eye challenge. Ad Lǐ (GP #1). Lǐ hit a loose backhand very long, and muttered. Deuce #2. Clijsters forced a floater, but hit a wild forehand smash wide. Ad Lǐ (GP #2). Lǐ forced a short ball, but dumped a forehand into the net. Deuce #3. Lǐ hit an off-forehand winner. Ad Lǐ (GP #3). Clijsters netted a forehand. Held.

Clijsters serving 3-3: Clijsters netted a backhand off a deep return from Lǐ. 0/15. Lǐ hit a fantastic deep off-forehand return onto the sideline, forcing Clijsters to bunt a one-handed backhand that clipped the netcord and fell back on her side. 0/30. Lǐ tried to brush an insect off the court with her racket; a ball-girl picked it up and put it in the bin, apparently without killing it. A body-jamming serve induced Lǐ to net a backhand return. 15/30. In a splendid rally, Clijsters went to the net, but Lǐ retrieved several volleys before Clijsters hit a forehand volley long. 15/40 (BP #1). Lǐ's crisp, deep hitting forced Clijsters to net a backhand. Broken.

Lǐ serving 4-3 (new balls): 15/0. Lǐ hit a lovely loopy crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline. 30/0. Double fault #1. 30/15. Lǐ backhand just long. 30/30. Lǐ snatched at a backhand drive-volley, and slugged it wide. 30/40 (BP #1). Clijsters backhand long. Deuce #1. Service-winner. Ad Lǐ (GP #1). Clijsters hit an off-forehand just wide. Held.

Clijsters serving 3-5: Clijsters forehand long. 0/15. Lǐ's deep return induced Clijsters to slug a backhand wide. 0/30. Lǐ forehand long. 15/30. Lǐ opened up the court with a wide return, and hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line. 15/40 (SP #1 for Lǐ). Lǐ hit a backhand long. 30/40 (SP #2 for Lǐ). Lǐ hit a crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline. Lǐ won the first set 6-3 at 20:18 AEDT (37m).


Second set
----------
LǏ _@_@*____ 3
CL @_@__*@*@ 6

Lǐ serving 0-0: Clijsters punished a weak ball with a crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline. 0/15. Clijsters got jammed, and dumped a backhand halfway up the net. 15/15. Lǐ forced a short ball, but her backhand clipped the netcord and landed just long. 30/15. First serve down the middle forced Clijsters to net a forehand return. 40/15 (GP #1). Clijsters forced a floater, and dispatched it with an off-forehand drive-volley winner. 40/30 (GP #2). Forced to bend her knees, Lǐ hit a crosscourt backhand wide. Deuce #1. Clijsters exploited Lǐ's open backhand-sideline with a deep forehand winner down that line. Ad Clijsters (BP #1). Lǐ saved it with an acute-angled crosscourt backhand just inside the sideline, forcing Clijsters to stretch wide and hit a one-handed backhand halfway up the net. Deuce #2. Clijsters netted a backhand. Ad Lǐ (GP #3). Lǐ hit a crosscourt forehand just wide. Deuce #3. Lǐ netted a backhand. Ad Clijsters (BP #2). Double fault: second serve just wide.

Lǐ looked very worried as she changed ends.

Clijsters serving 1-0: Double fault #1. 0/15. Clijsters's depth forced Lǐ to net a backhand. 15/15. Lǐ hit a makeable forehand return long. 30/15. Lǐ won a long baseline rally with a gorgeous crosscourt backhand winner into the corner. 30/30. Lǐ hit a forehand onto the baseline; Clijsters stopped the point to challenge it – unsuccessfully. 30/40 (BP #1). Clijsters hit a crosscourt forehand just inside the sideline, forcing Lǐ to net a forehand. Deuce #1. Clijsters netted a forehand. Ad Lǐ (BP #2). Clijsters netted a backhand off a mildly awkward crosscourt backhand from Lǐ. Broken.

Lǐ serving 1-1: Lǐ sprayed a wild backhand very long. 0/15. Lǐ hit an off-forehand winner. 15/15. Clijsters hit an off-forehand pass-winner. 15/30. Clijsters backhand wide. 30/30. Lǐ hit an ambitious down-the-line forehand just wide. 30/40. Clijsters hit a loose forehand long. Deuce #1. Clijsters's deep return forced Lǐ to hit a backhand wide. She challenged the return: it was on the baseline. Ad Clijsters (BP #1). Short second serve out wide: Clijsters used the angle for a very acute crosscourt backhand return-winner just inside the sideline. Broken.

Clijsters serving 2-1: Lǐ's deep crosscourt backhand forced Clijsters to hit a backhand wide. 0/15. Clijsters hit an acute-angled crosscourt backhand just inside the sideline, forcing Lǐ to net a backhand. 15/15. Lǐ's down-the-line forehand forced Clijsters to net a one-handed backhand. 15/30. Clijsters hit a wild forehand very long. 15/40 (BP #1). Lǐ hit a forehand long off an awkward wide ball from Clijsters. 30/40 (BP #2). Clijsters's forehand clipped the netcord, forcing Lǐ to lunge forwards and net a forehand. Deuce #1. Lǐ's deep return forced Clijsters to net a forehand. Ad Lǐ (BP #3). Clijsters hit a crosscourt forehand winner back behind Lǐ. Deuce #1. Lǐ hit a backhand just long, and hit the ball away in frustration. Ad Clijsters (GP #1). A wonderful rally with both players at the net ended with Lǐ hitting a forehand pass-winner down the line. Deuce #2. Clijsters unforcedly netted a forehand. Ad Lǐ (BP #4). Lǐ hit a brilliant crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline. Broken.

Lǐ serving 2-2: Clijsters hit a crosscourt backhand winner back behind Lǐ. 0/15. Lǐ's deep off-forehand forced Clijsters to net a backhand. 15/15. Lǐ hit a crosscourt forehand wide, and muttered. 15/30. Clijsters used Lǐ's angle against her with a crosscourt forehand winner. 15/40 (BP #1). Lǐ forced a floater and hit a crosscourt forehand smash-winner. 30/40 (BP #2). Clijsters netted a backhand. Deuce #1. Deep second serve forced Clijsters to lunge and hit a backhand lob-return long. Ad Lǐ (GP #1). Clijsters netted a sloppy forehand. Held.

Two break-points saved – that might well have been the key game of the match.

Clijsters serving 2-3: Clijsters netted a backhand. 0/15. Clijsters hit a crosscourt backhand drive-volley winner. 15/15. Clijsters hit a crosscourt forehand winner after forcing Lǐ to retreat from the net. 30/15. Lǐ went to the net, and stood her ground fantastically to cut off an attempted crosscourt backhand pass with a backhand volley-winner. 30/30. Clijsters went to the net, forcing Lǐ to hit a backhand lob long. 40/30 (GP #1). Lǐ hit a backhand long. Held.

Lǐ serving 3-3: Lǐ netted a forehand. 0/15. Lǐ netted another forehand, and muttered. 0/30. Clijsters forehand just long. 15/30. Clijsters hit a pinpoint forehand down the line, forcing Lǐ to lunge wide and earth a backhand lob. 15/40 (BP #1). A nail-biting baseline-rally ended with Clijsters netting a backhand. 30/40 (BP #2). Lǐ got caught in no-man's-land, leaving the court wide open for Clijsters to hit a backhand winner down the line. Broken.

Lǐ said to the umpire: "Can you tell the Chinese don't teach me how to play tennis?" At the time, I thought she had been given a code-violation for coaching. This is why I am against the no-coaching rule – how can an umpire really know who's secretly coaching the player, and who's just a spectator with nothing to say that could possibly help the player?

Clijsters serving 4-3 (new balls): Clijsters's crosscourt backhand forced Lǐ to hit a backhand long. 15/0. A big serve forced Lǐ to hit a forehand long. 30/0. Lǐ's stinging off-backhand forced Clijsters to net a forehand. 30/15. Lǐ backhand wide. 40/15 (GP #1). Clijsters netted a forehand. 40/30 (GP #2). Clijsters's deep backhand forced Lǐ to hit a backhand long. Held.

Lǐ serving 3-5: Clijsters netted a forehand. 15/0. Lǐ backhand long. 15/15. Lǐ's deep backhand forced Clijsters to bunt a forehand wide. 30/15. Lǐ hit a loose forehand long, and looked very worried. The umpire told the spectators not to call out during rallies. 30/30. Lǐ's off-forehand forced Clijsters to hit a backhand wide. 40/30 (GP #1). Lǐ hit a running crosscourt forehand wide. Deuce #1. Clijsters opened up the court for an off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. Ad Clijsters (SP #1). Lǐ on the third stroke netted a backhand. Clijsters won the second set 6-3 at 21:11 AEDT (second set 53m, match so far 1h30m).


Third set
---------
LǏ __@__*_*_ 3
CL *@_@*_*_* 6

Clijsters serving 0-0: Service-winner. 15/0. Lǐ forced a floater, but hit a crosscourt forehand drive-volley wide. 30/0. First serve out wide + off-forehand winner. 40/0 (GP #1). Lǐ forehand just wide. Held.

John Lloyd claimed that the noise from the crowd was causing Lǐ to play badly.

Lǐ serving 0-1: Lǐ retreated from the net, and Clijsters later hit a forehand winner down the line. 0/15. Lǐ slapped a backhand into the net. 0/30. Clijsters forced a floater, and dispatched it with a crosscourt forehand smash-winner. 0/40 (BP #1). Lǐ saved the first break-point with a crosscourt forehand winner. 15/40 (BP #2). Ace #1: big first serve down the middle. 30/40 (BP #3). Lǐ went to the net, had the court wide open, but hit a horrible crosscourt backhand volley wide. Broken.

Clijsters serving 2-0: Second serve: Lǐ netted a forehand return. 15/0. Lǐ hit an off-backhand winner back behind Clijsters. 15/15. First serve: Lǐ hit a forehand return long. 30/15. Double fault #2: second serve into the net. 30/30. Second serve: Lǐ hit a backhand return-winner down Clijsters's backhand-sideline. 30/40 (BP #1). Lǐ netted a forehand return. Deuce #1. Double fault #3: second serve just long. Ad Lǐ (BP #2). Lǐ hit a deep backhand down the line, forcing Clijsters to hit a forehand into the hoarding at the side of the court. Broken.

John Lloyd: "That was a strange game. Clijsters looked like she was in the zone, but..."

Lǐ serving 1-2: Lǐ forced a floater, let it bounce, and hit a crosscourt forehand smash-winner. 15/0. Lǐ backhand just long. 15/15. Clijsters painted the sideline with a crosscourt forehand winner. 15/30. First serve down the middle: Clijsters netted a makeable forehand return. 30/30. Lǐ hit a pinpoint backhand winner down the line: just inside the sideline. 40/30 (GP #1). Lǐ had the initiative, but netted a down-the-line forehand. Deuce #1. Double fault #4: second serve long. Ad Clijsters (BP #1). Lǐ hit a crosscourt backhand wide. Broken.

Clijsters serving 3-1: Lǐ hit a forehand long. 15/0. Lǐ netted a forehand. 30/0. First serve out wide forced Lǐ to hit a crosscourt forehand return just wide. 40/0 (GP #1). Lǐ hit a loose forehand return very long. Held.

John Lloyd: "Lǐ has lost her composure. She's going for broke, but missing by a long way."

Lǐ serving 1-4: Lǐ's deep off-forehand forced Clijsters to hit a backhand long. 15/0. Lǐ netted a one-handed backhand off a low-bouncing ball from Clijsters. 15/15. Lǐ hit an off-forehand wide. 15/30. First serve out wide + off-forehand winner back behind Clijsters. 30/30. Lǐ hit a crosscourt backhand winner that clipped the outside edge of the sideline – a fact confirmed by Clijsters's Hawk-Eye challenge. 40/30 (GP #1). Service-winner. Held.

Clijsters serving 4-2: Clijsters went to the net, and stretched high to hit a crosscourt forehand volley-winner. 15/0. Lǐ's body-jamming return down the middle induced Clijsters to dump a forehand halfway up the net. 15/15. Clijsters hit an off-forehand winner, and Lǐ wasted a challenge on Clijsters's previous stroke: a forehand on the baseline. 30/15. Service-winner. Lǐ complained about flash-photography. 40/15 (GP #1). Second serve: Lǐ hit a down-the-line forehand return wide. Held.

Lǐ's allowing herself to be distracted by anything. When you're in a Major final, the world seems much more vivid.

Lǐ serving 2-5 (new balls): Lǐ went to the net and hit a high backhand volley-winner, which she celebrated with a cute little yelp. 15/0. Clijsters hit a backhand just long. 30/0. Clijsters hit a backhand just long. 40/0 (GP #1). Lǐ netted a backhand. 40/15 (GP #2). Clijsters forced a short ball, but hit a backhand long. Held.

The noise from the crowd rose to a crescendo.

Clijsters serving 5-3: First serve forced a short return; Clijsters hit a down-the-line forehand winner. 15/0. Clijsters hit a crosscourt forehand winner on the third stroke. 30/0. Clijsters's crosscourt backhand forced Lǐ to hit a backhand long. 40/0 (MP #1 for Clijsters). First serve just long. Deep second serve... Lǐ on the fourth stroke hit an off-forehand just wide. Clijsters won 3-6 6-3 6-3 at 21:45 AEDT (third set 34m, match 2h05m).

Both women were in tears as they sat in their chairs immediately after the match. Clijsters looked relieved and overjoyed to win her first BBC-televised Major.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jan 7th, 2012, 11:36 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
===============

After an extremely busy 2011, I am finally getting round to writing up my full TV-reports of Australian Open 2011 matches involving members of my Eternal Fanship that were televised by the BBC.

Sadly, after daily coverage of the evening-sessions of the Australian Open 2006–2011, the BBC plans to televise only the finals of the Australian Open 2012.

---------------------------------------------
Second-round TV-report: Šafářová v Zakopalová (Thursday 20th January 2011)
---------------------------------------------

+ LUCIE ŠAFÁŘOVÁ [31,EF] d. Klára Zakopalová, 6-3 6-7 (2/7) 7-5

The BBC started showing this match from about 19:10 AEDT, when Klára had just broken for 1:1 *1-0. It was a dramatic third set, in which the momentum swung from one player to the other; Klára failed to serve out the match at *5-4, and then Lucie finished with a flurry of brilliant winners.

The two Czech beauties are good friends off the court. When my parents attended Bad Gastein 2008, Lucie and Klára came and sat next to them in the stands, with Klára sitting between Lucie and my father.

So it was a difficult match for them emotionally – at least for Klára, who wore her heart on her sleeve, while Lucie appeared composed.

Klára looked in control at 1:1 *1-0 40/0, but became nervous and erratic. When Lucie held for 2-1*, Klára's body-language was terrible. When Lucie broke for *4-2, Klára looked devastated.

But Klára broke back immediately for *3-4, after a game that she started with a pinpoint forehand winner and finished with a crosscourt backhand winner.

In a game of three deuces at 4-3*, Lucie squandered three break-points (30/40 + Ad×2), and after Klára had hit a forehand winner down the line to reach game-point, Lucie agonisingly hit a backhand return just long.

At *4-4, Lucie played three terrible points to go 0/40 down, and Klára sealed the break with an off-backhand winner back behind Lucie.

Serving for the match at *5-4, Klára went 0/40 down, and double-faulted for 5-5*.

On the first point at 5-5*, Lucie opened up the court with a flairsome crosscourt forehand, and hit a crosscourt backhand winner into the space. Four errors later, Lucie held to 15.

With Klára serving to stay in the match at *5-6, Lucie made a brilliant finish. In a wonderful rally at 15/0, Klára went to the net, but Lucie ripped a brilliant backhand pass-winner down the line. At 15/30, Lucie hit a stunning forehand winner down the line to reach two match-points. Klára saved the first with an unreturnable serve, but at 30/40, Lucie's good return forced a short ball from Klára, which Lucie dispatched with a crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline.


First set
---------
ŠAFÁŘOVÁ _@__*@*@* 6
ZAKOPALO @_@*_____ 3

The match was fourth on the Margaret Court Arena, and started at 17:27 AEDT.

Šafářová serving 0-0: 0/15. 0/30. 15/30. 15/40 (BP #1). 30/40 (BP #2). Deuce #1. Ad Zakopalová (BP #3). Broken.

Zakopalová serving 1-0: 15/0. 15/15. 15/30. 15/40 (BP #1). Broken.

Šafářová serving 1-1: 15/0. 15/15. 15/30. 15/40 (BP #1). Broken.

Zakopalová serving 2-1: 0/15. 15/15. 30/15. 40/15 (GP #1). Held.

Šafářová serving 1-3: 0/15. 15/15. 15/30. 30/30. 30/40 (BP #1). Deuce #1. Ad Šafářová (GP #1). Held.

Zakopalová serving 3-2: 0/15. 0/30. 0/40 (BP #1). 15/40 (BP #2). Broken.

Šafářová serving 3-3: 15/0. 30/0. 30/15. 40/15 (GP #1). Held.

Zakopalová serving 3-4 (new balls): 0/15. 0/30. 15/30. 30/30. 40/30 (GP #1). Deuce #1. Ad Šafářová (BP #1). Deuce #2. Ad Šafářová (BP #2). Broken.

Šafářová serving 5-3: 15/0. 15/15. 30/15. 30/30. 40/30 (SP #1 for Šafářová). Šafářová won the first set 6-3 at 18:05 AEDT (38m).


Second set
----------
ŠAFÁŘOVÁ @_@_@__*_*_*_ 6
ZAKOPALO _@_@_@*_*_*_T 7

Zakopalová serving 0-0: 15/0. 30/0. 30/15. 30/30. 30/40 (BP #1). Broken.

Šafářová serving 1-0: 0/15. 0/30. 0/40 (BP #1). Broken.

Zakopalová serving 1-1: 0/15. 0/30. 0/40 (BP #1). 15/40 (BP #2). Broken.

Šafářová serving 2-1: 0/15. 0/30. 0/40 (BP #1). 15/40 (BP #2). Broken.

Zakopalová serving 2-2: 0/15. 15/15. 15/30. 30/30. 30/40 (BP #1). Broken.

Šafářová serving 3-2: 15/0. 15/15. 15/30. 30/30. 30/40 (BP #1). Broken.

Zakopalová serving 3-3: 15/0. 15/15. 15/30. 30/30. 40/30 (GP #1). Held.

Šafářová serving 3-4 (new balls): 15/0. 30/0. 40/0 (GP #1). Held.

Zakopalová serving 4-4: 15/0. 30/0. 40/0 (GP #1). Held.

Šafářová serving 4-5: 15/0. 15/15. 15/30. 30/30. 40/30 (GP #1). Held.

Zakopalová serving 5-5: 15/0. 30/0. 40/0 (GP #1). 40/15 (GP #2). Held.

Šafářová serving 5-6: 0/15. 0/30. 15/30. 15/40 (SP #1 for Zakopalová). 30/40 (SP #2 for Zakopalová). Deuce #1. Ad Šafářová (GP #1). Held.

6-6 tiebreak (all scores Šafářová/Zakopalová): 0/0*. *1/0. *1/1. 1/2*. 1/3*. *2/3. *2/4. 2/5*. 2/6* (SP #3 for Zakopalová). Zakopalová won the second set 7-6 at 19:02 AEDT (second set 57m, match so far 1h35m).


Third set
---------
ŠAFÁŘOVÁ _@*_*@___@*@ 7
ZAKOPALO @__*__@*@___ 5

Šafářová serving 0-0: The scoreboard froze at 19:02 AEDT. The scoreboard resumed at 19:07 AEDT (5m). 0/15. 15/15. 30/15. 30/30. 30/40 (BP #1). Broken.

Zakopalová serving 1-0: In a long rally, Lucie tried to take the early initiative with a dropshot but, with Klára at the net, was forced to hit a defensive lob... a stinging backhand down the line from Klára forced Lucie to hit a backhand long. 15/0. Klára's depth induced Lucie to hit a backhand long. Lucie changed her racket. 30/0. Lucie dumped a makeable backhand return into the net. 40/0 (GP #1). Double fault (ambitious second serve just wide). 40/15 (GP #2). Second serve out wide: Lucie hit a hard crosscourt backhand return deep into the corner, inducing Klára to hit a forehand long. 40/30 (GP #3). Klára tried to blast a forehand off a deep floater, but slapped it into the net. Deuce #1. Klára hit a backhand just long, and whacked the court with her racket. Ad Šafářová (BP #1). Lucie's short, low-bouncing crosscourt backhand forced Klára to net a forehand. Klára whacked the court with her racket for the second point in a row. Broken.

Šafářová serving 1-1: Klára shook her head as she waited to receive. Lucie's body-jamming serve forced her to net an off-backhand return. Klára muttered. 15/0. First serve out wide forced Klára to net a backhand return. 30/0. Deep first serve down the middle - on the centre-line - forced a very short lob-return, which Lucie dispatched with a short-angled backhand smash-winner just inside the sideline (even though the court was WIDE open). Klára muttered and shook her head; she seemed to think that the smash was wide. 40/0 (GP #1). Klára's depth induced Lucie to net a forehand. 40/15 (GP #2). Klára dumped a cheap backhand into the net, and looked very upset as she went to her chair. Held.

Zakopalová serving 1-2 (new balls): First serve out wide: Lucie hit a down-the-line backhand return just long. 15/0. Klára got away with a woefully short second serve, as Lucie dumped a cheap backhand into the net on the fourth stroke. 30/0. Deep first serve down the middle - on the service-line - forced Lucie to bunt a forehand return long. 40/0 (GP #1). Short second serve down the middle: Lucie hit an off-backhand return-winner. 40/15 (GP #2). First serve out wide - deep in the corner - forced Lucie to bunt a backhand return long. Held.

Šafářová serving 2-2: First serve out wide - deep in the corner - forced Klára to bunt a forehand return long. 15/0. Klára spread Lucie with a short off-backhand just inside the sideline + crosscourt backhand deep into the corner + easy crosscourt forehand winner into the open court. John Lloyd: "She seems to be nice and calm now; got her mind back." 15/15. Lucie argued when her first serve clipped the centre-line but was called wide, then put her second serve long for a double fault. 15/30. Klára hit a deep backhand return just inside the baseline to force a short ball; her crosscourt backhand forced Lucie to run right and hit a forehand into the bottom of the net. 15/40 (BP #1). Lucie's booming crosscourt backhand induced Klára to hit a down-the-line backhand just wide. 30/40 (BP #2). An alleged netcord robbed Lucie of a beautiful service-winner down the middle. Second serve... Klára had the initiative, but hit a wild off-backhand wide of the /doubles/ sideline, and emitted a high-pitched squeal that could have shattered glass. Deuce #1. Klára dumped a cheap backhand into the net. Ad Šafářová (GP #1). Short-angled first serve out wide + deep down-the-line forehand induced Klára to dump a forehand halfway up the net. Held.

Zakopalová serving 2-3: First serve out wide + off-forehand winner deep into the corner. That was Klára's 20th forehand winner to Lucie's ten. 15/0. Klára forced a short return, but hit a wild off-forehand wide. 15/15. Short second serve out wide: Lucie returned the angle even more acutely with a crosscourt backhand return just inside the sideline, forcing Klára to chop a forehand long. John Lloyd: "That second serve is really just made to be hit: just nothing on it at all." 15/30. Lucie hit a backhand wide. 30/30. Lucie dumped a backhand into the net. 40/30 (GP #1). Lucie, driven outside the tramlines, hit a deep forehand just inside the baseline, inducing Klára to hit a forehand long. Klára waved with an agonised expression on her face. Deuce #1. Lucie's deep backhand return induced Klára to bunt an early crosscourt forehand wide. Ad Šafářová (BP #1). Lucie's forehand sat up nicely for Klára to... dump a backhand into the net. Broken.

Klára winced, then bent over with her left hand on her hip. She shook her head, clearly not enjoying the match at this point.

John Lloyd: "She's really fighting to keep it together here, and she's just about on the verge of losing the battle, I feel."

Šafářová serving 4-2: Klára forced a short ball, and hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line. 0/15. Lucie's down-the-line forehand induced Klára to net a forehand. 15/15. Lucie hit a very short serve that sat up nicely for Klára to blast a crosscourt backhand return-winner that clipped the outside edge of the sideline. Andrew Cotter: "Visibly her body seems to have given up, but she's still scoring the points." 15/30. Double fault (second serve long). 15/40 (BP #1). Deep first serve out wide: Klára hit a deep crosscourt forehand return onto the baseline, forcing Lucie to bunt a defensive backhand that sat up nicely for Klára to hit a crosscourt backhand winner. Broken.

John Lloyd: "They both want to win it /too/ much. They can't seem to release, open up the shoulders and play the type of tennis that they can."

Zakopalová serving 3-4: Klára kept good depth on her groundstrokes, and Lucie hit a forehand just long. 15/0. Lucie spread Klára with a short-angled crosscourt forehand + pinpoint forehand down the line, forcing Klára to bunt a forehand long. 15/15. Klára hit a pinpoint crosscourt backhand onto the sideline, forcing Lucie to bunt a defensive forehand lob long. 30/15. Deep second serve just inside the service-line: Lucie hit an off-backhand return-winner plumb on the sideline. 30/30. Short second serve out wide: Lucie hit a crosscourt backhand return-winner onto the sideline, and John Lloyd praised her "great shoulder-turn on that backhand" and "fabulous racket-acceleration". 30/40 (BP #1). Second serve: Lucie dumped a cheap backhand return into the net. Deuce #1. Klára netted an off-backhand, and shook her head. Ad Šafářová (BP #2). Deep first serve out wide induced Lucie to mishit a crosscourt forehand return wide. Deuce #2. Klára hit a backhand long by a whisker (Hawk-Eye is not installed on the Margaret Court Arena). Ad Šafářová (BP #3). Lucie dumped a tired-looking forehand into the net. Deuce #3. Klára punished a mid-court ball with a pinpoint forehand winner down the line: just inside the sideline. Klára pumped her fist - the first positive body-language that I've seen from her. Ad Zakopalová (GP #1). Second serve: Lucie hit a makeable backhand return long. Held.

Šafářová serving 4-4: Lucie, on the third stroke, dumped a cheap forehand into the net. 0/15. Klára's deep crosscourt backhand return induced Lucie to net another forehand. Lucie swished her racket and looked like she had battery-acid in her mouth. 0/30. Double fault (second serve just long). 0/40 (BP #1). Deep first serve down the middle: Klára hit an early forehand return deep into the corner, forcing Lucie to bunt a short, defensive forehand; as Lucie ran to cover the wide open gap to her left, Klára hit an off-backhand winner back behind her. Klára pumped her fist again. Broken.

Zakopalová serving 5-4: Lucie punished Klára's lack of depth with an off-forehand that induced her to dump a forehand not halfway up the net. 0/15. Second-serve let... Klára hit a deep backhand just inside the baseline, but Lucie replied with a deep forehand, inducing Klára to net a backhand. 0/30. Klára dumped a cheap backhand into the net. 0/40 (BP #1). Double fault (second serve clipped the netcord and fell wide). Broken.

John Lloyd: "You absolutely have no idea who's going to win this match. You normally get some sort of a feel, but every time one looks like she's taking charge, then the other plays a horrendous game the next game."

Šafářová serving 5-5: Lucie's crosscourt forehand forced a short ball, which she dispatched with an easy off-forehand winner into the open court. Klára looked very frustrated. 15/0. Klára's stinging crosscourt forehand forced Lucie to bunt a sliced backhand into the tramlines to her right. 15/15. Lucie's depth induced Klára to hit a backhand long. 30/15. Lucie wrong-footed Klára with a first serve out wide + deep off-backhand, forcing her to turn awkwardly and net a backhand. Klára fiddled with her ponytail and looked annoyed. 40/15 (GP #1). Lucie's deep backhand induced Klára to net a forehand. Held.

Lucie looked very determined as she went to her chair, while Klára looked like she was chewing on wasps.

Zakopalová serving 5-6: A long baseline-rally culminated with Klára's pinpoint forehand down the line forcing Lucie to net a forehand. 15/0. In a wonderful rally, Klára hit a deep crosscourt backhand just inside the baseline, forcing Lucie to hit a very short, defensive forehand; Klára went to the net behind a searing crosscourt backhand, but Lucie read it perfectly and ripped a brilliant backhand pass-winner down the line. Lucie pumped her fist. 15/15. A baseline-rally of mainly crosscourt shots ended with Klára dumping a backhand into the net. Klára bent over again, and looked like she had battery-acid in her mouth. 15/30. Lucie hit three crosscourt forehands in a row, followed by a stunning forehand winner down the line. 15/40 (MP #1 for Šafářová). First serve out wide forced Lucie outside the tramlines to net a backhand return. 30/40 (MP #2 for Šafářová). Tentative first serve down the middle: Lucie's deep off-backhand return forced Klára to hit a mid-court backhand, which Lucie dispatched with a pinpoint off-forehand winner that landed on the sideline and just a couple of inches from the baseline. Lucie won 6-3 6-7 (2/7) 7-5 at 19:58 AEDT (third set 56m, match 2h31m).

Lucie celebrated by briefly raising her right arm. Both ladies smiled as they shook hands, and kissed each other's cheeks. Lucie waved to each of the four stands with a big smile on her face, as Klára walked off to the locker-room, where there would be weeping and grinding of teeth.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jan 15th, 2012, 01:41 AM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
===============----------------------------
Third-round TV-report: Zvonarëva v Šafářová (Saturday 22nd January 2011)
-------------------------------------------

+ VERA ZVONARËVA [2,EF] d. LUCIE ŠAFÁŘOVÁ [31,EF], 6-3 7-6 (9/7)

The BBC started showing this match from 6-3 5-5*, with Vera having just failed to serve it out at *5-4. Although only three games remained, this coVERAge lasted 34 minutes, including the epic tiebreak.

As befits two members of my Eternal Fanship, it was an amazing match in terms of the quality of the rallies, with Lucie attacking for all she was worth with her left-handed groundstrokes of flairsome power, and Vera making incredible ‘gets’ as well as showing her own flairsome power.

Lucie was hitting the ball as well as ever, but her movement was not as good as it was in 2007. Back then, she used to run like the wind, but against Vera, she was struggling to reach wide balls, particularly to her backhand sideline.

Vera broke to 30, but was again broken to 30 as she served for the match at *6-5. I think she was feeling the pressure of winning her first Major singles-title after being runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2010, but Lucie is a brilliant player.

Then they played a nail-biting tiebreak, with Lucie going from 2/0* to *2/2 to 4/2*, from *5/3 to 5/5*, and having set-points at *6/5 and 9/8*, while Vera had match-points at *7/6 and 8/7*.

Vera at *9/9 hit a crosscourt backhand winner that clipped the sideline but was called wide. Vera successfully challenged the call; Lucie argued that they should replay the point, but the umpire ruled that it had been a clear winner.

So Vera had her third match-point at 10/9*. In one last breath-taking rally, Lucie went to the net, but Vera hit an inch-perfect backhand lob onto the baseline; Lucie ran it down, but all she could do was hit a backhand into the bottom of the net.


First set
---------
ŠAFÁŘOVÁ _*_*___*_ 3
ZVONARËV *_*_*@*_* 6

The match was first on the Rod Laver Arena, and started at 11:12 AEDT.

Zvonarëva serving 0-0: 0/15. 15/15. 30/15. 40/15 (GP #1). Held.

Šafářová serving 0-1: 0/15. 15/15. 30/15. 40/15 (GP #1). Held.

Zvonarëva serving 1-1: 15/0. 30/0. 40/0 (GP #1). 40/15 (GP #2). 40/30 (GP #3). Held.

Šafářová serving 1-2: 15/0. 15/15. 30/15. 30/30. 40/30 (GP #1). Held.

Zvonarëva serving 2-2: 15/0. 30/0. 30/15. 40/15 (GP #1). Held.

Šafářová serving 2-3: 0/15. 0/30. 0/40 (BP #1). 15/40 (BP #2). Broken.

Zvonarëva serving 4-2: 15/0. 15/15. 30/15. 40/15 (GP #1). 40/30 (GP #2). Held.

Šafářová serving 2-5 (new balls): 0/15. 0/30. 0/40 (SP #1 for Zvonarëva). 15/40 (SP #2 for Zvonarëva). 30/40 (SP #3 for Zvonarëva). Deuce #1. Ad Šafářová (GP #1). Held.

Zvonarëva serving 5-3: 0/15. 0/30. 15/30. 30/30. 40/30 (SP #4 for Zvonarëva). Zvonarëva won the first set 6-3 at 11:46 AEDT (34m).


Second set
----------
ŠAFÁŘOVÁ *___*_*@_@_@_ 6(9)
ZVONARËV _*@*_*__@_@_T 7(11)

Šafářová serving 0-0: 15/0. 30/0. 40/0 (GP #1). Held.

Zvonarëva serving 0-1: 0/15. 0/30. 15/30. 15/40 (BP #1). 30/40 (BP #2). Deuce #1. Ad Zvonarëva (GP #1). Held.

Šafářová serving 1-1: 15/0. 15/15. 15/30. 30/30. 30/40 (BP #1). Deuce #1. Ad Zvonarëva (BP #2). Deuce #2. Ad Zvonarëva (BP #3). Broken.

Zvonarëva serving 2-1: 15/0. 15/15. 30/15. 40/15 (GP #1). 40/30 (GP #2). Held.

Šafářová serving 1-3: 0/15. 0/30. 0/40 (BP #1). 15/40 (BP #2). 30/40 (BP #3). Deuce #1. Ad Šafářová (GP #1). Held.

Zvonarëva serving 3-2: 15/0. 15/15. 30/15. 40/15 (GP #1). Held.

Šafářová serving 2-4: 15/0. 30/0. 30/15. 30/30. 30/15. 30/30. 30/40 (BP #1). Deuce #1. Ad Šafářová (GP #1). Deuce #2. Ad Šafářová (GP #2). Deuce #3. Ad Šafářová (GP #3). Held.

Zvonarëva serving 4-3 (new balls): 15/0. 15/15. 15/30. 15/40 (BP #1). Broken.

Šafářová serving 4-4: 0/15. 15/15. 15/30. 30/30. 40/30 (GP #1). Deuce #1. Ad Šafářová (GP #2). Deuce #2. Ad Zvonarëva (BP #1). Broken.

Zvonarëva serving 5-4: 0/15. 0/30. 15/30. 30/30. 30/40 (BP #1). Broken.

Šafářová serving 5-5: Second serve... Vera's backhand was called long but overruled as good, so the umpire ordered them to replay the point. Lucie challenged the overrule: Hawk-Eye showed that the ball had clipped one millimetre of the breadth of the baseline! Second serve... a baseline-rally ended with Lucie dumping a forehand into the net. 0/15. Short-angled first serve out wide + crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. 15/15. Double fault (second serve long by a whisker). 15/30. Deep first serve out wide: Vera's searing crosscourt backhand return forced Lucie to mishit a down-the-line forehand wide. John Lloyd criticised Lucie for not hoisting it back crosscourt instead. 15/40 (BP #1). A baseline-rally ended with Lucie hitting a pinpoint forehand winner down the line: just inside the sideline. 30/40 (BP #2). Double fault (tentative second serve into the net). Broken.

Zvonarëva serving 6-5: First serve deep into the corner forced a lob-return; Vera hit an off-forehand drive-volley, but Lucie stretched wide to hit a testing forehand pass down the line, which Vera picked off with delectable crosscourt forehand drop-volley winner from an awkward low position. 15/0. Lucie's deep backhand forced a short ball, which she dispatched with a blistering crosscourt forehand winner. 15/15. Lucie's short crosscourt forehand induced Vera to hit a backhand just long. 15/30. First serve long by a whisker. Second serve... in a long baseline-rally, Vera withstood some fierce groundstrokes from Lucie, neutered the pace with a defensive sliced forehand, but Lucie's deep crosscourt forehand induced Vera to spray a down-the-line backhand wide of the tramlines. Vera emitted a yell of frustration. 15/40 (BP #1). Second serve: Lucie hit three consecutive groundstrokes just inside the baseline, but Vera hit an off-backhand just inside the sideline, forcing Lucie to stretch wide and earth a backhand. Lucie emitted a cute little groan. 30/40 (BP #2). Vera, on the fifth stroke, hit a backhand just long. Broken.

6-6 tiebreak (all scores Šafářová/Zvonarëva):
{*0/0} Vera, on the fourth stroke, hit a forehand just long.
{1/0*} Vera, on the third stroke, hit a rather wild crosscourt backhand just wide, and emitted a cute little squeal.
{2/0*} Vera's first serve out wide, deep in the corner, forced Lucie to stretch wide and net a backhand. John Lloyd said that Lucie's movement was "not particularly good".
{*2/1} Vera broke up a long baseline-rally with a deep backhand moonball, followed by a short crosscourt forehand; she drew Lucie to the net with a backhand half-volley dropshot from the baseline, and hit an inch-perfect half-volley forehand lob-winner over Lucie's head!
{*2/2} Lucie hit a deep first serve down the middle + off-forehand winner back behind Vera.
{3/2*} Vera hit a short-angled crosscourt backhand onto the sideline, but Lucie ran outside the tramlines to hit a fantastic crosscourt forehand deep into the corner, forcing Vera to bunt back a defensive backhand lob; Lucie let it bounce and hit an off-forehand to the sideline, forcing Vera to run way outside the tramlines to bunt back a very short forehand, which Lucie dispatched with a crosscourt forehand winner.

John Lloyd: "Šafářová seems to have found her range. There was a period when she was a bit erratic, and she always hits the ball with a lot of pace, but was making a lot of errors. Since she was way down in that second set, she's found her rhythm and is attacking on the right balls, and Zvonarëva can't get her out of that /groove/ she's got into."

{4/2*} Vera caught her toss, and missed her first serve very long. However, a good, deep second serve forced a short return; Vera hit a hard crosscourt forehand into the corner to force a short, defensive lob, which she dispatched with an easy crosscourt forehand winner.
{*4/3} Lucie went for an ace down the middle, but it was just wide. She hit a short, shaky second serve that brushed the netcord. Vera stood three feet inside the baseline to receive, but Lucie hit a much better second serve out wide + down-the-line forehand, forcing Vera to bunt a forehand long.
{*5/3} Vera dominated the rally with superior depth, forcing two defensive lobs from Lucie; the latter landed on the service-line just inside Vera's backhand sideline; Vera let it bounce, and dispatched it with a pinpoint forehand smash-winner down the line: just inside the sideline.
{5/4*} Deep, body-jamming first serve forced Lucie to mishit an off-backhand return wide.
{5/5*} Vera freely chose to hit a couple of high-bouncing balls, and paid the price as Lucie took the initiative with a stinging off-forehand just inside the sideline; Vera bunted back a defensive floater; Lucie's forehand clipped the netcord, inducing Vera to dump a forehand halfway up the net. Vera yelled in frustration as Lucie celebrated with a discreet fist-pump.
{*6/5: SP #1 for Šafářová} Vera mixed up the pace in a long baseline-rally; Lucie's forehand clipped the netcord and sat up nicely for Vera to hit a crosscourt forehand that induced Lucie to stretch wide and net a backhand. Lucie emitted a cute little yell. John Lloyd suggested that that netcord had robbed Lucie of the set.

{*6/6} A long baseline-rally ended with Lucie hitting a forehand just long. She wasted a challenge: it was long by approximately the breadth of the baseline.
{6/7*: MP #1 for Zvonarëva} Lucie saved it with a huge crosscourt forehand that clipped the outside edge of the sideline for a winner!
{7/7*} Vera's first serve appeared to clip the netcord, but no one noticed, and Lucie hit a backhand return long.
{*7/8: MP #2 for Zvonarëva} First serve out wide + off-forehand forced Vera to hoist a defensive forehand lob that was high and awkward for Lucie with the sun in her eyes; she hit a forehand smash right back to Vera, leaving a dangerous gap to her left, but Vera mishit an off-forehand pass wide.
{*8/8} In the longest rally of the match (32 strokes), Lucie had Vera grunting at her loudest as Vera retrieved a series of thunderbolts until Lucie finally pressed home her initiative with an acute crosscourt backhand deep into the corner followed by a deep crosscourt forehand just inside the baseline, forcing Vera to stretch wide and bunt a backhand into the bottom of the net. Lucie celebrated with a huge fist-pump as Vera finished the point with her left knee and left hand on the ground.
{9/8*: SP #2 for Šafářová} In another long baseline-rally, Lucie tried to take the initiative, but Vera hit a series of defensive sliced backhands; Lucie forced a short ball but sprayed a backhand long, and doubled over in frustration.

Andrew Cotter: "Šafářová bullying the point, creeping up the court, in control... and misses her chance."
John Lloyd: "Great defensive play from Zvonarëva. It's not often you see her bossed around in rallies like she has been today at certain times. She's having to stretch and hit squash-shots just to bunt the ball back in court, and Šafářová missed probably the easiest shot in that whole rally."

{9/9*} At the end of a meaty baseline-rally, Vera hit a crosscourt backhand winner that clipped the sideline but was called wide. Vera didn't hear the call, and turned away thinking that she'd hit a winner, but the umpire shouted "Vera!" and told her that it had been called out, and Vera immediately said "challenge". Hawk-Eye showed that it had indeed clipped the sideline (about 60% of the breadth), so the umpire awarded the point to Vera. Lucie argued that they should replay the point, but the umpire rightly ruled that it had been a clear winner. It's funny how some players seem to have the memory of a goldfish after a successful challenge against them!
{*9/10: MP #3 for Zvonarëva} Lucie hit a first serve out wide, and went to the net behind a searing down-the-line forehand that she knew would force a floater from Vera, but Lucie didn't do enough with a forehand punch-volley; Vera hit an inch-perfect backhand lob onto the baseline; Lucie ran it down, but all she could do was hit a backhand into the bottom of the net. Zvonarëva won 6-3 7-6 (11/9) at 13:13 AEDT (second set 1h26m, match 2h00m).

Vera and Lucie shook hands at the net, and kissed each other's cheeks. If Lucie was still upset about the Hawk-Eye challenge on the penultimate point, she didn't show it. I can imagine a lot of players stomping off court in a huff after losing in such circumstances, but not so our adorable Lucie. It was nice to see her watching the Berdych v Đoković quarter-final, too (Lucie broke up with Berdych later in 2011).

Andrew Cotter: "We remain unconvinced by Vera Zvonarëva on her performances so far. She's a powerful player, but is there enough craft to her game? Again, we saw a problem that she's suffered from in the past on the big points: closing things out."
John Lloyd: "In this match, Šafářová was the more aggressive, but Zvonarëva is a very solid player, defends well and gets a lot of balls back."


Vera's on-court interview
-------------------------

Craig Willis: "Congratulations: that was a heck of a tiebreak, with some outstanding rallies in it."

Vera: "Yeah, definitely. Lucie is a great player. We've both been on the Tour for a few years now, but actually it was our first match against each other. We practise a lot together, and I really think she's a very good player, and I just had to hang in there and try to fight for every point."

Willis: "I was going to say: it's amazing that over all the years you two have been on the Tour, that you've never met!"

Vera: "Yeah, definitely. We actually play doubles together, and all this, but this one was our first single match. I think it was a very good match for me today, and I'm really happy to be through to the next round."

Willis: "And it's a little warmer today on Centre Court than it was when you had your first match – does that suit you?"

Vera: "Yeah, I like to play in the heat – it is never a problem for me. I'm really just enjoying the atmosphere here on the Rod Laver."

Willis: "Well done today, Vera – congratulations. Through to the fourth round of the Australian Open championship. Our number-two seed advances!"

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jan 17th, 2012, 01:39 AM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
===============

After an extremely busy 2011, I have finally got round to writing up my full TV-reports of Australian Open 2011 matches involving members of my Eternal Fanship that were televised by the BBC.

Sadly, after daily coverage of the evening-sessions of the Australian Open 2006–2011, the BBC plans to televise only the finals and one men's semi-final of the Australian Open 2012.

--------------------------------------------
Fourth-round TV-report: Sharapova v Petković (Sunday 23rd January 2011)
--------------------------------------------

- MARIA SHARAPOVA [14,EF] lt. ANDREA PETKOVIĆ [30], 2-6 3-6

Maria struggled with her serve, taking so much time between points to concentrate on it. She also struggled with her backhand, which is normally so reliable.

Petković was very strong with her big serves, powerful groundstrokes in general and returns in particular, and great depth, but we didn't see the real Maria except for a brief fightback from 0:1 1-5* to 3-5*, when she played two brilliant games, but then threw in some unforced errors just when it looked like she was turning the match around against one of the game's renowned chokers.

With Maria at 0:0 *2-3, Petković hit a return-winner – the very thing that Maria double-faults so much to avoid – and broke for *4-2. Maria played intensely to get 30/15*, but Petković was too strong: 5-2*. A couple of deep returns put Maria 15/30 down, but she recovered with a fine one-two punch winner: 30/30. Two more deep, error-forcing returns later, Maria was a set down.

Things went from bad to worse at the start of the second set, as Petković neutered the best shots that Maria could come up with, and Maria was giving away plenty of cheap points as she lost the first three games. Maria won an amazing rally, running down a dropshot to push a forehand winner down the line, to recover from *0-3 (15/30); she followed up with an ace, and Petković mishit a forehand wide and very long: *3-1.

Two brilliant forehand winners from Maria couldn't stop Petković holding for 1:0 4-1*. Maria was broken to 15 with four errors, then launched the aforementioned fightback, saving one match-point at 1-5* (30/40*) with a deep off-forehand virtual return-winner, followed immediately by a scorching down-the-line forehand return-winner: *2-5. Maria held to 15 with the help of three more winners. She saved another match-point at 3-5* 30/40* with a down-the-line forehand return-winner, but two cheap errors sealed a very disappointing loss.


First set
---------
SHARAPOV _*_*____ 2
PETKOVIĆ *_*_*@*@ 6

The match was fourth on the Rod Laver Arena, and started at 19:12 AEDT.

Petković serving 0-0: Petković went for an ace down the middle, but it was just wide. Second serve... Maria hit a backhand just inside the baseline, forcing Petković to net an early backhand. 0/15. Second-serve let... Petković pounced on a weak ball from Maria to hit a crosscourt forehand winner. 15/15. Short second serve: Maria hit a down-the-line forehand return into the tramlines. 30/15. Petković's deep off-forehand induced Maria to bunt a backhand very long. Louise Pleming said that Petković was setting "a very high tempo". 40/15 (GP #1). Maria went to the net, inducing Petković to hit a crosscourt forehand pass wide. 40/30 (GP #2). Ace #1: first serve out wide. Held.

The BBC commentators (Louise Pleming and Alastair Eykyn) described Petković as a strong player, but criticised her movement; they said that she was "mechanical" rather than "loose and nimble".

Sharapova serving 0-1: Second serve... Petković hit an impressive crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. 0/15. Double fault #1 (second serve into the net). 0/30. Maria played a good spreading rally, pulling Petković wide with a pinpoint forehand down the line, then hitting a short-angled crosscourt forehand winner. 15/30. Deep, body-jamming first serve induced Petković to hit a forehand return long. 30/30. Second serve clipped the netcord and landed just inside the service-line for a let. Two second-serve lets in a row. Maria on the third stroke dumped a backhand into the net. 30/40 (BP #1). Deep, body-jamming second serve induced Petković to hit a forehand return long. Deuce #1. Petković went to the net, but her volleys were weak; Maria's crosscourt forehand forced her to retreat, handing Maria the initiative; Maria hit a crosscourt backhand just inside the sideline, forcing Petković to hoist a defensive lob, which Maria dispatched with a high crosscourt forehand drive-volley winner just inside the sideline. Ad Sharapova (GP #1). Deep first serve down the middle induced Petković to hit a forehand return long. Maria said "c'mon". Held.

Alastair Eykyn observed that Maria was taking "an age" between points in her service-game, which he took as lack of confidence in her serve.

Petković serving 1-1: Petković kept excellent depth on her groundstrokes, a crosscourt forehand just inside the baseline forcing Maria to bunt an off-forehand lob wide. 15/0. Kicking first serve out wide induced Maria to dump a backhand return into the net. 30/0. Second serve... a netcord from Petković induced Maria to hit an off-forehand just wide. 40/0 (GP #1). Maria's depth induced Petković to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. 40/15 (GP #2). Maria hit a deep backhand return down the middle to force a floater, which she dispatched with an easy off-backhand winner. 40/30 (GP #3). Second serve out wide: Maria wasted a fine crosscourt backhand return onto the sideline by dumping an easy crosscourt forehand into the net. Held.

Louise Pleming praised the depth of Maria's returns of serve, saying that they often land just inside the baseline at the feet of her opponent.

Sharapova serving 1-2: Second serve: Petković dumped a cheap backhand return into the net. 15/0. Second serve... Petković hit a forehand long off a hard but not particularly deep backhand from Maria. 30/0. Deep first serve out wide forced Petković to hit a crosscourt forehand return wide. 40/0 (GP #1). Maria's deep backhand exposed Petković's lack of footwork, forcing her to net a backhand. Held.

Petković serving 2-2: Petković hit an awkward short lob over Maria's left shoulder, inducing her to dump a horrendous backhand drive-volley into the net. Louise Pleming said that Maria and many other players would do well to develop a one-handed backhand punch-volley for use in just such a situation. 15/0. Maria hit a backhand just long. 30/0. Maria netted a forehand off a low-bouncing ball from Petković. 40/0 (GP #1). Deep first serve out wide - right in the corner - forced Maria to bunt a backhand return long. Held.

Sharapova serving 2-3: Petković hit a crosscourt forehand just wide. 15/0. Maria, on the third stroke, dumped a cheap backhand into the net. 15/15. Double fault #2 (second serve into the net). 15/30. First serve out wide, right into Petković's hitting-zone: Petković hit a searing short-angled crosscourt backhand winner. 15/40 (BP #1). First serve out wide + down-the-line forehand forced Petković to bunt a defensive one-handed backhand long. 30/40 (BP #2). Petković's forehand clipped the back edge of the baseline; Maria hit a crosscourt forehand onto the sideline; Petković's down-the-line forehand clipped the back edge of the baseline, forcing Maria to hit an off-backhand wide. Maria wasted a challenge on Petković's last shot: Hawk-Eye showed that it caught about 65% of the breadth of the baseline. Broken.

Petković serving 4-2: Deep first serve down the middle forced Maria to lunge wide and bunt a crosscourt backhand return wide. 15/0. Maria's deep backhand return induced Petković to hit a backhand long. 15/15. Petković hit a crosscourt forehand wide. 15/30. Deep second serve: forehand return long. 30/30. Petković hit a crosscourt backhand just inside the sideline, forcing Maria to net a backhand. 40/30 (GP #1). Deep first serve down the middle forced a defensive return; Petković nailed a forehand winner down the line. Held.

Alastair Eykyn: "How do you try to coach out a grunt?"
Louise Pleming: "I can't say on air."
Alastair Eykyn: "C'mon, nobody's listening - it's just you and me!"

Sharapova serving 2-5 (new balls): Petković's deep return induced Maria to spray a wild crosscourt backhand wide. 0/15. Maria spread Petković with a deep crosscourt forehand onto the baseline + down-the-line forehand onto the baseline, forcing Petković to bunt an off-backhand half-volley lob wide. Petković wasted a challenge on Maria's last shot: Hawk-Eye showed that it was plumb on the line. 15/15. Petković hit a deep forehand return down the line, inducing Maria to miss a backhand wide. Maria just wasn't setting up properly for her backhands in this match. 15/30. Deep first serve out wide forced a short return, which Maria dispatched with an easy off-forehand winner. 30/30. First serve out wide: Petković hit a deep crosscourt forehand return onto the baseline, forcing Maria to bunt a forehand into the net. 30/40 (SP #1 for Petković). Deep first serve down the middle: Petković's deep forehand return induced Maria to hit a backhand long. Petković won the first set 6-2 at 19:47 AEDT (35m).


Second set
----------
SHARAPOV ___*__@*_ 3
PETKOVIĆ *@*_*@__* 6

Petković serving 0-0: Deep first serve on the service-line forced Maria to net a backhand return. 15/0. Second serve... a meaty rally ended with Maria hitting yet another backhand long - it's usually such a routine shot for her, but her take-back looked so awkward in this match. 30/0. Ace #2: pinpoint first serve down the middle, on the centre-line. 40/0 (GP #1). First serve: Maria hit a hard, deep, body-jamming forehand return, forcing Petković to net a forehand. 40/15 (GP #2). Deep first serve - on the service-line - forced Maria to hit a crosscourt backhand return into the tramlines. Held.

Sharapova serving 0-1: Maria went for an ace out wide, but it was just wide. Double fault #3 (second serve into the net). 0/15. Petković went to the net, getting away with a crosscourt forehand approach that was rather too short as Maria netted a forehand. 0/30. Double fault #4 (second serve just long). 0/40 (BP #1). Maria hit a hard, deep crosscourt backhand onto the baseline, forcing Petković to net a backhand. Alastair Eykyn: "You almost got the impression there that she was trying to make up for the lack of juice on the serve. She took all the pace off the serve just to make sure it went in, but then the backhand was hit with /some/ venom." 15/40 (BP #2). Petković hit a deep, defensive backhand onto the baseline, forcing Maria to hit a forehand long. Broken.

Louise Pleming: "[Petković] has been very good when she's been forced to defend, and she's been able to neutralise the good shots of Sharapova. It's just frustrating when that keeps happening over and over for Maria. She hits a shot through a line, and it just comes back floating."

Petković serving 2-0: Petković dominated the rally with power and depth, and hit a crosscourt forehand winner. 15/0. Maria hit a deep backhand return down the middle, forcing Petković to bunt back a floater that clipped the baseline, inducing Maria to back off and mishit a forehand just long - officially her 20th unforced error to Petković's five. 30/0. First serve: Maria hit an off-backhand return wide. 40/0 (GP #1). First serve down the middle forced a short return, which Petković dispatched with a meaty crosscourt forehand winner down Maria's forehand sideline. Held.

Petković was forcing Maria to work hard to win points, while Maria was giving Petković too many cheap points.

Sharapova serving 0-3: A longish baseline-rally ended with Petković hitting a down-the-line forehand winner back behind Maria - her tenth winner to Maria's four. 0/15. Deep, body-jamming first serve forced Petković to net a forehand return. 15/15. Maria forced a very short ball, ran around her backhand, but hit a horrendous off-forehand wide. 15/30. The rally of the match: deep first serve down the middle forced a very short return; Maria hit a deep, hard backhand approach just inside the baseline, then picked off Petković's down-the-line backhand with a crosscourt forehand drop-volley that clipped the netcord; Petković ran it down and scooped back a crosscourt forehand dropshot; Maria pushed a forehand winner down the line as Petković ran back to the baseline in vain. Alastair Eykyn: "What a point! Amazing court-coverage from Andrea Petković, and great control and composure from the ice-queen." 30/30. Ace #1: 103mph first serve out wide, deep in the corner. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria's deep crosscourt forehand induced Petković to mishit a forehand long. Held.

Petković serving 3-1: Petković's deep crosscourt forehand forced Maria to net a forehand. 0/15. Maria returned a huge first serve with a skyscraper lob-return; Petković let it bounce and hit a forehand smash straight back to Maria, whose deep forehand forced Petković to retreat behind the baseline and hit a mid-court ball, allowing Maria to take the initiative... five strokes later, Maria cleaned the sideline with a stunning off-forehand winner. 15/15. A long, loud baseline rally ended with Maria at the net, netting a forehand volley off an awkward dipping pass from Petković. Alastair Eykyn described it as "absolutely brilliant" as the crowd erupted. 30/15. Deep first serve down the middle induced Maria to net a forehand return. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria punished a mid-court ball with a pinpoint forehand winner down the line. 40/30 (GP #2). Petković pounced on a floating return with a stunning crosscourt forehand winner into the corner. Held.

Maria serving 1-4: Petković's deep crosscourt forehand forced Maria to spray a crosscourt forehand wide. 0/15. Maria forced a floater, and hit a well-controlled crosscourt forehand drive-volley winner into the corner. 15/15. Maria on the third stroke hit a wild crosscourt backhand wide. 15/30. Petković's deep crosscourt forehand return forced Maria to bunt a forehand long. 15/40 (BP #1). Petković's deep off-backhand forced Maria to net a forehand. Maria slapped her thigh in frustration. Broken.

Petković serving 5-1: Second serve... a longish baseline-rally ended with Petković hitting a backhand just long. 0/15. Second serve... Maria, on the fourth stroke, blasted a wild down-the-line backhand into the tramlines. 15/15. Petković punished a short ball with a deep crosscourt forehand winner just inside the baseline. 30/15. Second serve: Maria hit a roaring crosscourt backhand return deep into the corner, forcing Petković to hit a backhand long. 30/30. Petković, driven wide, hit an acute crosscourt forehand deep into the corner to force a short ball, which she dispatched with an off-backhand dropshot-winner back behind Maria. 40/30 (MP #1 for Petković). Slow first serve onto the service-line: Maria blasted an off-forehand virtual return-winner deep into the corner. Deuce #1. Second serve: Maria blasted a scorching down-the-line forehand return-winner. Ad Maria (BP #1). A good rally with excellent depth from Petković ended with her hitting a backhand just long. Broken.

Petković showed no nerves as she went 30/15 up, but Maria hit brilliant shots to break back.

Maria serving 2-5: Maria hit a searing crosscourt forehand winner into the corner. 15/0. Maria caught her second-serve toss, and said "sorry". Maria hit a pinpoint crosscourt backhand just inside the sideline to force a low floater, which she dispatched with a crosscourt forehand drive-volley winner. 30/0. Double fault #5 (second serve into the net). Maria groaned. 30/15. Short first serve: Petković dumped a forehand return into the net. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria's backhand on the third stroke was called long, but she challenged successfully: Hawk-Eye showed that it caught about 35% of the breadth of the baseline, so they replayed the point. Maria's deep forehand forced a short ball, which she dispatched with a brilliant off-backhand winner just inside the sideline. Held.

Petković serving 5-3 (new balls): Petković's searing crosscourt forehand forced a short defensive forehand from Maria, but Petković tightened up and buried a forehand in the net. 0/15. First serve out wide: backhand return long. 15/15. Maria, on the fourth stroke, hit a loose forehand long. 30/15. Maria punished a short, tentative first serve down the middle with a blazing crosscourt forehand return-winner. 30/30. Maria went to the net, but didn't get in position for a wide backhand volley, and earthed it so badly that the crowd gasped in astonishment. 40/30 (MP #2 for Petković). Second serve out wide: Maria hit a forehand return-winner down Petković's forehand sideline. Deuce #1. Maria sprayed a loose forehand long off a mildly awkward deep shot from Petković. Ad Petković (MP #3). Petković hit a three-quarter pace first serve onto the service-line: Maria didn't have to move her feet, but dumped a makeable forehand return into the net. Petković won 6-2 6-3 at 20:30 AEDT (second set 42m, match 1h18m).

Petković celebrated with a fist-pump before shaking hands with Maria, then did a little jig. She refrained from making the infamous gun-gesture with which she had offended her previous opponents.

Maria nearly ran off the court: back to the locker-room, where there would be weeping and grinding of teeth.


Petković's on-court interview
-----------------------------

Sam Smith: "Well, Andrea, it's your first Grand Slam quarter-final. You beat one of the great Grand Slam champions of the last decade. I have a feeling that you're going to be very popular here in Australia."

Petković: "Well, I don't know; I hope so!"

The crowd cheered.

Petković: "Well, you know, it was such a tough match. I was focused all the time. Even though, in the beginning, it seemed to be quite clear: Maria's such a great champion. It's just two or three points and she comes back. She started playing so well in the last couple of games, so I was a little nervous <smirking>, but I'm happy I closed it out in the end."

Smith: "You're 23 years of age. You've been on the Tour a few years, but you really have improved the last four or five months. What's made the difference?"

Petković: "Well, I definitely think: I have a new coach; I have a new fitness-coach. I just try to be more professional. In the beginning, I was all over the place."

Smith: "In what sense?"

Petković: "Well, in any sense!"

Petković laughed, and the crowd laughed with her.

Petković: "So now I'm really focused on my tennis-career. It's my primary goal to compete with the great champions, and maybe become one myself one day."

Smith: "Your father, who's here tonight, apparently said a while ago that he didn't think you should become a professional tennis-player; that you're very intelligent, and you should take an academic career. Do you normally ignore his advice?"

Petković: "Yeah, definitely."

Petković laughed, and the crowd laughed with her. The view switched to a man in the stands, who was wagging his finger in mock admonishment.

Petković: "No! Can see how he's... now, I'm gonna get... later, I'm gonna get..."

Smith: "I'm gonna get you in trouble, aren't I?"

Petković: "Well, you know, I was quite good in school, and my dad was also a professional tennis-player in the early years. He knows what kind of pressure there is going on, and he didn't want his little daughter to go through the same things. But, as I said: never follow the advice of your parents..."

The crowd laughed.

Petković: "...and you end up on the Rod Laver Arena!"

The crowd cheered.

Smith: "Okay, last question: you're becoming very famous for your little dance, which I believe is called ‘the Petko-dance’. Can you just tell us a little bit about this? Because it's becoming world-famous."

Petković: "It started off as a bet with my coach, because at the US [Open], I was playing /terrible/, and I got [in] the first round Petrova. So he said, ‘Okay, if you win, you have to do something special.’ So the dance: I won 7-6 in the third and I wanted to flee the court, but my coach was like, ‘Eh, the dance!’ So I did the little... this, and it became so famous, and I'm also superstitious. I play much better since I do the dance. So everybody: if something's not going his way or her way, they should start dancing - it helps."

Smith: "Okay guys, you heard it here. Put your hands together for Andrea Petković!"

She's quite a character!

--
Dr. Andrew Broad