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Old Jun 7th, 2009, 02:29 AM   #16
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Andrew's TV-report for Day 14

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ROLAND GARROS (Paris, France; red clay; Major)
============= http://www.rolandgarros.com/
Contents
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1. Photos
2. Women's Singles: Final
3. Girls' Doubles: Final
4. Order of play for Sunday

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1. Photos
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Elena Bogdan:
http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/pl...wta314318.html

Search Getty Images for "bogdan"

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2. Women's Singles: Final (Saturday 6th June 2009)
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+ SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [7] d. DINARA SAFINA [1], 6-4 6-2

This match gave me a wonderful feeling of Schadenfreude. I could not stand to see Safina ever win a Major, so it warmed my heart to witness her latest abject failure in a Major final (she played very poorly, and finished with a double fault), and then to see her sitting in her chair all devastated.

Teardrops come again
I can almost feel your pain
I never ever thought the day would come
When I would be the lucky one
To see you hurt
To see you cry
Gives my soul a natural high
Think about the times you walked on me
Your teardrops came to set me free
[411, "Teardrops"]

Safina may be ranked #1 by the WTA, she may have won 11 WTA singles-titles, she may have dominated the early rounds of the French Open, and she may have pulled off some unbelievable wins from the brink of defeat in previous French Opens, but she has a mental block (and frankly a lack of talent) when it comes to Major finals, in which she is now 0:3 without even winning a set.

Safina: "I put pressure on myself, because I really wanted to win. I just didn't handle it. I was a little bit desperate on the court, and didn't do the things that I had to do. Didn't stay tough mentally. She gave me chances and I had chances. She was not so aggressive as she usually is. I just didn't do anything."

Those last two sentences are unfair to Kuznetsova, who played the best tennis I've ever seen her play - not just power, but mixing up the play with some excellent dropshots - as she won her long-awaited second Major (her first was the US Open 2004) and her first to be televised by the BBC.

Kuznetsova: "She plays with too much pressure; I play to enjoy it."

There's also an embarrassing reason why I didn't want Safina to win: it would have made Anna Chakvetadze the wooden-spoonist of this French Open! Instead, that dubious distinction goes to French wild card Irena Pavlović, who lost to Akgul Amanmuradova, who lost to Olga Govortsova, who lost to Li,Na, who lost to Maria Sharapova, who lost to Dominika Cibulková, who lost to Safina, who lost to Kuznetsova.


Prematch
--------

The match was first on Court Philippe Chatrier, and I saw it on BBC 2.

Safina looked by far the more nervous of the two coming onto court, and the match started at 15:12 CEST.


First set
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KUZNET _@* * *@ @ 6
SAFINA @__* *__@_ 4

Kuznetsova serving 0-0: Safina ran down a pathetic short ball and hit a crosscourt forehand winner. 0/15. Kuznetsova on the third stroke hit a forehand just wide of Safina's forehand-sideline. 0/30. Safina backhand dead-netcord winner. 0/40 (BP #1). Kuznetsova on the third stroke hit an off-forehand winner. 15/40 (BP #2). Safina's crosscourt forehand forced Kuznetsova to net one, giving Safina an immediate break.

David Mercer: "Don't set too much store by Kuznetsova being broken at the start. She's been broken 13 times already this tournament."

Safina serving 1-0: On the third stroke, Safina's forehand clipped the netcord and fell wide. 0/15. A longish baseline-rally ended with Safina netting a forehand. 0/30. Double fault #1. 0/40 (BP). Safina hit a crosscourt forehand wide.

Kuznetsova serving 1-1: Kuznetsova cleaned the sideline with a down-the-line backhand, forcing Safina to net a forehand. 15/0. Kuznetsova played a fantastic domineering rally, finishing with a crosscourt backhand drop-volley winner. 30/0. Safina on the third stroke hit a forehand just long (the umpire Kader Nooni checked the mark). 40/0. Kuznetsova hit an off-forehand winner just inside the sideline.

Kuznetsova is now playing with terrific confidence and verve, and has won the last eight points against the Majorless #1.

Safina serving 1-2: With both players keeping a good length, Kuznetsova slugged a crosscourt forehand just wide. 15/0. A deep forehand return down the middle induced Safina to spray a forehand wide. 15/15. Double fault #2 (second serve long). 15/30. Kuznetsova netted a forehand. 30/30. A good serve down the middle forced Kuznetsova to net a one-handed backhand return. 40/30. A good serve out wide forced Kuznetsova to net a backhand return.

Kuznetsova serving 2-2: Kuznetsova netted a backhand. 0/15. Kuznetsova's strong off-forehand induced Safina to hit a backhand just long. 15/15. Safina forced a short ball, but netted an easy-looking forehand. 30/15. Kuznetsova on the third stroke hit a delectable crosscourt backhand dropshot-winner. 40/15. Double fault #1 (second serve wide). 40/30. Kuznetsova on the fifth stroke netted a forehand. Deuce #1. Second serve: off-backhand return-winner. Ad Safina (BP). Kuznetsova went to the net and hit a crosscourt forehand volley for a virtual winner. Deuce #2. Forehand return just long. Ad Kuznetsova. Her depth forced Safina to net a backhand.

I must admit that so far, I'm enjoying this final much more than I expected, given the ugly players involved. I never thought I'd one day find myself rooting for Kuznetsova so strongly!

Safina serving 2-3: Double fault (second serve long). 0/15. Kuznetsova's crosscourt forehand dropshot forced Safina to miss a running forehand. 0/30. Second serve out wide. 15/30. Kuznetsova netted a forehand. 30/30. Safina's deep crosscourt backhand forced Kuznetsova to hit a backhand long and wide. 40/30. Safina on the third stroke hit an off-forehand winner.

It's not all muscular power from Kuznetsova; she's also mixing up the play with dropshots. Safina looks rather one-dimensional in comparison.

Kuznetsova serving 3-3: Safina crosscourt forehand just wide. 15/0. Kuznetsova went for a forehand down the line, but it was just wide. 15/15. Backhand return just long. 30/15. Off-forehand return just wide. 40/15. Safina backhand long.

Safina serving 3-4: Double fault #4 (second serve just long). 0/15. Safina blasted a crosscourt forehand not even halfway up the net. 0/30. Safina dumped another horrendous forehand into the bottom of the net. 0/40 (BP #1). Kuznetsova forehand just long. 15/40 (BP #2). Safina on the third stroke hit an off-forehand winner. 30/40 (BP #3). Kuznetsova's low-bouncing crosscourt backhand forced Safina to earth a one-handed backhand.

Clear signs on the first three points of that game that Safina is very nervous!

Kuznetsova serving 5-3: Kuznetsova backhand long. 0/15. Safina's deep return induced Kuznetsova to spray a forehand wide. 0/30. Kuznetsova netted a down-the-line forehand. 0/40 (BP). Kuznetsova on the third stroke sliced a backhand wide.

Sloppy game there by Kuznetsova. It's almost like she lost her concentration - I realise that's an extraordinary suggestion when serving for the first set of a Major final!

Safina serving 4-5: Kuznetsova opened up the court and hit an off-forehand winner down the line. 0/15. Kuznetsova ran down a dropshot and hit a crosscourt backhand dropshot-winner. 0/30. Kuznetsova's crosscourt forehand missed the sideline by a whisker. 15/30. Kuznetsova punished a slow second serve with an off-forehand winner. 15/40 (SP #1). Kuznetsova hit a down-the-line backhand back behind Safina, forcing her to stretch wide and net a forehand. Kuznetsova won the first set 6-4 at 15:51 CEST (39m).


Second set
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KUZNET * * *@*@ 6
SAFINA _* *____ 2

Kuznetsova serving 0-0: Kuznetsova's deep crosscourt forehand forced Safina to hit a forehand long. 15/0. Kuznetsova on the third stroke bunted an attempted off-forehand dropshot into the net - wrong choice of shot. 15/15. Safina sprayed a forehand very long. 30/15. Safina backhand long. 40/15. Safina crosscourt forehand + down-the-line forehand forced Kuznetsova to net a backhand. 40/30. Kuznetsova's off-forehand forced Safina to turn and net a sliced backhand.

David Mercer: "This game coming up is a very important one for Safina. Kuznetsova's threatening to move away here."

Safina serving 0-1: Serve out wide + crosscourt forehand winner back behind Kuznetsova. 15/0. First serve out wide: Kuznetsova mishit a crosscourt backhand return wide. 30/0. Safina off-forehand just wide. 30/15. Kuznetsova ran around her backhand to hit an off-forehand, and followed it up with a gigantic crosscourt forehand just inside the sideline, forcing Safina to stretch wide and earth a forehand. 30/30. First serve: Kuznetsova netted a makeable forehand return. 40/30. Kuznetsova netted a forehand.

Kuznetsova's causing all sorts of problems with her forehand stretching Safina into awkward positions to force errors. It's just a shame she couldn't get the break there.

Kuznetsova serving 1-1: Safina hit a crosscourt forehand long, and petulantly slapped the dead ball itno the net. 15/0. Kuznetsova hit an off-forehand onto the sideline to force a floater from Safina, and dispatched it with a crosscourt forehand volley-winner. 30/0. Kuznetsova netted a crosscourt backhand dropshot from the baseline - wrong choice of shot, especially when she had the kind of initiative she did! (the initiative to hit a big crosscourt backhand into the open court, rather than a dropshot). 30/15. Forehand return long. 40/15. Kuznetsova backhand long. 40/30. Safina got a short ball, but hit a down-the-line forehand just wide.

Safina serving 1-2: Kuznetsova on the fourth stroke netted a backhand. 15/0. Double fault #5 (slow second serve into the net). 15/15. Safina took the initiative, forced a floater, and dispatched it with a crosscourt forehand smash-winner. 30/15. Safina spread Kuznetsova, her wide crosscourt forehand forcing Kuznetsova to net a forehand. 40/15. Kuznetsova blasted a down-the-line backhand just wide.

Ominous signs of improvement from Safina from 15/15 in that game, and that Kuznetsova is starting to rush.

Kuznetsova serving 2-2: Kuznetsova netted a backhand, and muttered. 0/15. Kuznetsova on the third stroke slapped an off-forehand into the net. 0/30. Safina crosscourt forehand wide. 15/30. Safina forehand just long. 30/30. First serve: crosscourt forehand return wide. 40/30. Crosscourt forehand return + off-forehand winner down the line. Deuce. Kuznetsova on the third stroke hit a crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline. Kuznetsova yelled, even though she won the point. Ad Kuznetsova. First serve out wide: Safina netted a backhand return.

Safina serving 2-3: Safina crosscourt forehand winner. 15/0. Double fault #6 (second serve clipped the netcord and fell wide). 15/15. Safina crosscourt backhand wide. 15/30. Kuznetsova's depth forced Safina to net a forehand. 15/40 (BP #1). Kuznetsova broke with a deep crosscourt forehand return just inside the baseline, forcing Safina to hit a forehand long.

Safina looks pretty upset, standing at the baseline at a set and a break down. She wants to win a Major so badly, but I hope she never will.

Kuznetsova serving 4-2: Safina off-forehand winner on the sideline. 0/15. Safina hit a forehand just long, and hit the dead ball in frustration. 15/15. Safina backhand long. 30/15. Kuznetsova went to the net, and Safina hit a would-be lob-winner just long. She looks close to tears now. 40/15. Kuznetsova netted a forehand that would also have been wide. 40/30. Safina hit an off-forehand would-be return-winner just wide.

A set and 5-2, but Safina recovered from this position twice here last year, while Kuznetsova blew such leads in both her previous matches. Somehow, given the dismayed look on Safina's face at the changeover, I don't think it's going to happen today.

Safina serving 2-5: Kuznetsova dominated the point with hard groundstrokes, her down-the-line backhand forcing Safina to hit a defensive forehand wide, and now she actually is crying! 0/15. Safina ran down a dropshot, hit a crosscourt backhand to force a floater, and dispatched it with a backhand volley-winner. 15/15. Kuznetsova went for a crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline, but it was just wide. 30/15. Kuznetsova forehand winner down the line. 30/30. Safina netted a cheap backhand down the line. 30/40 (CP #1). Slow first serve into the net. Second serve clipped the netcord and fell wide of the doubles-sideline! Kuznetsova won 6-4 6-2 at 16:27 CEST (second set 36m, match 1h15m).

I clapped my hands with malicious glee when I realised that that second serve was going wide. Safina's loss gives me the most wonderful feeling of Schadenfreude, especially for Safina to end on a double fault! And now to see her sitting in her chair, feeling the agony of defeat as she is now 0:3 in Major finals.

Safina said all the usual stuff in her speech, but sounded considerably more upset than in her two previous runner's-up speeches at the Majors.

In an unemotional champion's speech, Kuznetsova told Safina she would "get more" one day (eight games in a Major final, perhaps?), and apologised for playing better than her today.

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3. Girls' Doubles: Final (Saturday 6th June 2009)
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+ (ELENA BOGDAN/NOPPAWAN LERTCHEEWAKARN [s])[2] d. (TÍMEA BABOS/HEATHER WATSON)[3], 3-6 6-3 [10/8]

It's always nice to see someone win with two hands on both sides (Noppawan Lertcheewakarn is a Selesian), but it's even nicer to see the tall, blonde, slim, beautiful Elena Bogdan - whom I saw in the flesh at Eastbourne last year - holding a Major trophy!

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4. Order of play for Sunday
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Court Philippe Chatrier (start 15:00 CEST = 13:00 GMT = 14:00 BST)
MS final: ROBIN SÖDERLING [23] v ROGER FEDERER [2]

Court Suzanne Lenglen (start 11:00 CEST = 09:00 GMT = 10:00 BST)
BS final: Daniel Berta v GIANNI MINA [11]
GS final: KRISTINA MLADENOVIĆ [9] v Daria Gavrilova

UK TV-reminder: the Men's Singles final will be on BBC 2 from 14:00 BST.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
__________________
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