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Old Apr 1st, 2012, 06:15 PM   #25
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Full semi-final TV-report for Zvonarëva v Pironkova

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THE CHAMPIONSHIPS (Wimbledon, London, England; grass; Major)
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Semi-final TV-report: Zvonarëva v Pironkova (Thursday 1st July 2010)
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+ VERA ZVONARËVA [21,EF] d. Tsvetana Pironkova [DF], 3-6 6-3 6-2

This promised to be a mouth-watering match between two of the most flairsomely talented and attractive players, and it didn't disappoint, as Vera and Tsvetana produced a contest worthy of a Major semi-final.

Tsvetana went onto court fired up, smiling, and ready to embrace the occasion. She played an uninhibitedly brilliant first set, with her explosive first serve and killer backhand in fine form. Even her forehand was a weapon, as she mixed it up by walloping some and slicing others, disrupting Vera's rhythm.

I only saw Tsvetana's quarter-final win over Venus Williams recorded, because it clashed with Vera's quarter-final, but there's nothing like watching her play live against a member of my Eternal Fanship to appreciate how good she really is.

I must confess that enjoyed watching Tsvetana's performance, even though it was threatening to beat Vera. I've admired Tsvetana's beauty for several years now, and promoted her to my demi-fanship in 2008 based on Passion alone, but now I definitely admire her tennis as well. While I'm not planning to induct any more players into my Eternal Fanship for the foreseeable future, Tsvetana certainly laid down a marker for me to consider, the next time I contemplate inducting someone (as of April 2012, Tsvetana is in a group of five players who are my favourites outside my Eternal Fanship).

Vera found herself facing BP×3 at *2-3 (0/40), after Tsvetana had played three good points: the last of them an off-forehand winner just inside the baseline. Vera saved the first BP with an ace out wide, but was beaten by a dead netcord winner on the second.

Vera couldn't recover that break, and in due course, Tsvetana had three SPs at *5-3 (40/0). Vera saved the first with a dropshot-winner (Tsvetana almost ran into the net trying to reach it). Tsvetana wasted the second SP by netting a choky backhand, but got away with a woefully short second serve on the third SP, as Vera netted a backhand several strokes later.

In the second set, Vera raised her level, while Tsvetana's level dropped. A few unforced errors were creeping into Tsvetana's game that she just wasn't making in that fairy-tale first set.

Tsvetana came through a tough service-game of two deuces at 6-3 *1-2, with Vera hitting a cheap forehand long at Deuce #1.

The key game came on Tsvetana's serve at 6-3 *2-3. Vera pegged Tsvetana back to Deuce with an 82mph off-backhand winner, saved a second GP, forced her first BP of the match, and converted it with a great spreading rally, finishing with an off-backhand winner.

And so Vera came to serve for the second set at *5-3. She served it out to 15, finishing with a dead-netcord winner to atone for the one that had broken her serve in the first set.

Starting the third set with power and precision, Vera broke to 30 in the opening game. Tsvetana lost her footing and had a nasty-looking fall just as Vera moved to *1-0 (30/0) with an off-forehand winner, but Tsvetana was okay, and the fall appeared to have distracted Vera as she double-faulted and netted a forehand for 30/30. She nevertheless consolidated the break: 2-0*.

Vera had further BPs at 1:1 2-0* (40/15*), but Vera wasted them with two backhand errors – one forced, one not – and Tsvetana held for 1-2*.

Vera appeared to be faltering as she sprayed a wild off-forehand long at 1:1 *2-1 (30/15), but Tsvetana let her off the hook with two unforced backhand errors, and looked very disappointed.

Vera saved GP at 1:1 3-1* (30/40*) by winning a nailbiting rally with an amazing crosscourt backhand dropshot-winner. Vera's dipping crosscourt backhand pass set up BP, which she converted when Tsvetana hit a wild backhand very long: *4-1.

With Vera's grunting sounding increasingly anxious, she found herself facing BP×2 at 1:1 *4-1 (15/40), but Tsvetana made two return-errors – one forced, one not – and then Vera held serve with two backhand winners down the line: the first being a drive-volley.

Tsvetana took one last chance to shine at 1:1 *1-5, hitting a crosscourt backhand winner onto the baseline, and a beautiful off-backhand winner just inside both sideline and baseline.

Serving for the match at 1:1 *5-2, Vera started by winning an amazing rally with an off-forehand winner! She had her first MP at 40/15, but another amazing rally ended with Tsvetana hitting a dropshot and Vera hitting a makeable forehand pass just long. At 40/30 (MP #2), a first serve out wide + off-forehand forced Tsvetana to earth a backhand.

Vera was very calm and composed throughout the match. The Vera of old would have got upset about the netcord that broke her serve in the first set, and no doubt numerous other issues, but as Simon Reed put it: “She countered the demons that she had within her, and they didn't become a factor at all.”

I hoped and expected that Tsvetana could use her Wimbledon-run as a launching-pad for a much better career than the one she had before Wimbledon 2010. I've never seen her play with so much confidence before; she looks strong mentally, and her game doesn't look like the kind of game that easily dissolves into a stream of unforced errors.


Prematch
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I watched this live on BBC Red Button. The first thing I saw was a picture of Marion Bartoli with Tsvetana's name under it!

As they waited to come onto court, Vera had her headphones on, while Tsvetana was standing behind her, jogging from side to side. Vera had her game face on, while Tsvetana had a big smile on her face – there was no doubt that she was ready to embrace the occasion.


First set
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ZVONARËVA _*_*___*_ 3
PIRONKOVA *_*_*@*_* 6

The match was first on Centre Court, and started at 13:09 BST.

Tsvetana serving 0-0: Tsvetana backhand just long. 0/15. First serve out wide induced Vera to hit an off-forehand return wide. 15/15. Vera off-backhand wide. 30/15. Tsvetana hit a pinpoint crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. Simon Reed: “It's been one of the shots of the tournament.” 40/15 (GP #1). Virtual ace down the middle: a booming 112 mph first serve that Vera just managed to brush with the very outside edge of her racket-frame. Held.

Vera serving 0-1: Vera opened up the court with a crosscourt forehand, and hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line: right in the corner. 15/0. They had to replay the point because the ball was broken – I've never seen that before! Vera forced a short ball, and hit a down-the-line forehand winner back behind Tsvetana. 30/0. Second serve: Tsvetana netted a backhand return. 40/0 (GP #1). Tsvetana backhand just long. Held.

A good start by both. Tsvetana showed such an explosive first serve in the first game, while Vera is so much on control of the baseline-rally.

Tsvetana serving 1-1: Vera went to the net, forcing Tsvetana to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. 0/15. Deep first serve out wide forced Vera to hit a backhand long. 15/15. Tsvetana's deep off-backhand pushed Vera back on her heels, forcing her to net a forehand. 30/15. Deep first serve out wide (113 mph) forced Vera to net a backhand. 40/15 (GP #1). Tsvetana's deep backhand forced Vera to hit a forehand wide. Held.

Vera serving 1-2: Vera went to the net behind a crosscourt forehand, but it was too short: Tsvetana hit a down-the-line forehand winner. 0/15. Deep first serve down the middle forced Tsvetana to hit a forehand long. 15/15. First serve out wide forced a short return down the middle; Vera sidestepped to her left and hit an off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. Simon Reed: “This was the kind of shot-making that put Kim Clijsters in her place.” 30/15. Vera went to the net behind a crosscourt backhand, but it was too short, and right in Tsvetana's hitting-zone for a backhand winner down the line. 30/30. Tsvetana went to the net behind a sliced forehand onto the baseline, but it was just long. 40/30 (GP #1). Deep first serve out wide forced Tsvetana to hit an off-forehand return wide. Held.

Tracy Austin: “When asked about how Pironkova disrupts her opponent, she [Vera] said, ‘I just need to concentrate on myself and execute my game, no matter what the score is.’”

Tsvetana serving 2-2: Vera backhand just long. 15/0. First serve out wide + off-forehand winner back behind Vera. 30/0. Ace #1: first serve down the middle, just inside the centre-line. 40/0 (GP #1). Vera ran down a dropshot and hit an off-forehand winner close to the sideline. 40/15 (GP #2). First serve out wide just inside the sideline forced Vera to hit a down-the-line forehand return wide. Held.

Simon Reed: “So far, Pironkova is looking the freer of the two out there.”

Vera serving 2-3: Tsvetana went to the net and hit an off-forehand volley, forcing Vera to hit an off-backhand wide. 0/15. Tsvetana's deep backhand forced Vera to hit a backhand long. 0/30. Tsvetana hit an off-forehand winner just inside the baseline. 0/40 (BP #1). Ace #1: first serve out wide. 15/40 (BP #2). Tsvetana's forehand clipped the netcord and trickled over for a winner. Broken.

Tsvetana serving 4-2: Deep service-winner down the middle. 15/0. Tsvetana netted a backhand. 15/15. Tsvetana's down-the-line backhand forced Vera to earth a running forehand. 30/15. Tsvetana's deep forehand forced Vera to spray a backhand long. 40/15 (GP #1). Tsvetana chopped a forehand just long. 40/30 (GP #2). Tsvetana's deep crosscourt backhand forced Vera to hit a backhand just long. Held.

Vera serving 2-5 (new balls): First serve out wide forced Tsvetana to hit a forehand long. 15/0. Vera went to the net behind a deep sliced forehand, and looked well on top of the point, but a couple of awkward lobs from Tsvetana retrieval forced Vera to retreat and hit a weak backhand volley that sat up nicely for Tsvetana to hit a searing short-angled crosscourt backhand to the sideline, forcing Vera to net a defensive sliced backhand. 15/15. Ace #2: first serve down the middle. 30/15. Vera hit an off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. 40/15 (GP #1). First serve out wide + pinpoint off-backhand winner back behind Tsvetana: deep in the corner. Held.

Tracy Austin: “Zvonarëva, at this point in a match four years ago, would have just imploded – particularly on that netcord [*2-3 15/40], where she lost the game. Good emotional management from her – new and improved.”

Tsvetana serving 5-3: First serve out wide + off-backhand winner back behind Vera. 15/0. Vera crosscourt backhand wide. 30/0. Deep first serve down the middle forced Vera to earth a backhand return. 40/0 (SP #1 for Tsvetana). Tsvetana ran down a dropshot, narrowly avoided touching the net, but her backhand was “not up”. 40/15 (SP #2). Tsvetana on the third stroke netted a choky backhand. 40/30 (SP #3). Tsvetana got away with a woefully short second serve: five strokes later, Vera slapped a backhand into the net. Tsvetana won the first set 6-3 at 13:41 BST (31m).

Tsvetana got very choky at 40/15 there. It will be interesting to see how she reacts if she gets to serve for the match.

Vera just isn't coming up with the goods so far, and is making the same tactical mistake as Venus Williams of hitting predominantly to Tsvetana's backhand. I just don't get why she would do that.


Second set
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ZVONARËVA *_*_*@*_* 6
PIRONKOVA _*_*___*_ 3

Vera serving 0-0: Vera forced a floater, and dispatched it with a crosscourt forehand smash-winner. 15/0. Tsvetana netted a backhand. 30/0. Tsvetana forehand long. 40/0 (GP #1). Vera opened up the court with a crosscourt backhand, and hit a backhand winner down the line. Held.

Tsvetana serving 0-1: Tsvetana's short-angled crosscourt sliced forehand forced Vera to net a forehand. 15/0. Vera hit a down-the-line forehand just long. 30/0. Tsvetana hit a forehand smash-winner off a deep lob from Vera that Tsvetana let bounce! 40/0 (GP #1). Tsvetana forehand just long. 40/15 (GP #2). Vera hit a down-the-line backhand just wide. Held.

Vera serving 1-1: Vera hit a deep second serve onto the service-line, inducing Tsvetana to mishit a forehand return just wide. 15/0. First serve forced a short return; Vera hit a pinpoint crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. 30/0. Vera got jammed and mishit a forehand, but Tsvetana blasted a crosscourt backhand into the net. 40/0 (GP #1). First serve out wide + backhand winner down the line: just inside the baseline. Held.

Tsvetana's level is dropping, while Vera's is rising. A few unforced errors are creeping into Tsvetana's game that she just wasn't making in that fairy-tale first set.

Tsvetana serving 1-2: Vera saw a huge gap down the line, and hit a booming forehand winner into it. 0/15. Tsvetana backhand just long. 0/30. Vera dumped a down-the-line forehand halfway up the net, and emitted a cute little squeak. 15/30. Deep first serve down the middle forced Vera to lunge wide and net a forehand return. 30/30. Tsvetana off-backhand winner. 40/30 (GP #1). Vera went to the net, forced a floater, and dispatched it with a beautiful crosscourt forehand volley-winner. Deuce #1. Vera hit a forehand just long, and looked very frustrated. Ad Tsvetana (GP #2). Vera went to the net and hit a crosscourt backhand volley-winner. Deuce #2. Vera hit a backhand onto the baseline, but it was called long. She challenged it: Hawk-Eye showed that it was wide by about 20% of the breadth of the baseline. Ad Tsvetana (GP #3). First serve out wide forced Vera to bunt a backhand return long. Held.

That game felt really pivotal in establishing who has the momentum in this second set. If Vera loses in straight sets, she'll really rue that missed forehand at Deuce #1 there.

Vera serving 2-2: Tsvetana backhand long. 15/0. Vera tried to jam Tsvetana with a deep first serve, but Tsvetana sidestepped to her right and jammed Vera with an awkward crosscourt backhand return down the middle, inducing Vera to spray an off-backhand wide. 15/15. Tsvetana netted a forehand dropshot, and looked frustrated for her first time in this match. 30/15. Vera went to the net, forcing Tsvetana to spray a crosscourt forehand wide. 40/15 (GP #1). Tsvetana forced a short ball and hit a crosscourt forehand virtual winner. 40/30 (GP #2). First serve out wide + off-forehand winner. Held.

Tsvetana is really mixing up the pace on her forehand: walloping some, and slicing others. She's not really hitting those weak steered forehands today.

Tsvetana serving 2-3: Tsvetana backhand winner down the line. 15/0. First serve out wide forced Vera to net a backhand. 30/0. Vera forced a short ball, and hit a forehand dropshot-winner. 30/15. Vera's down-the-line forehand induced Tsvetana to net a backhand. 30/30. Tsvetana's deep, hard forehand down the line jammed Vera into netting a backhand. 40/30 (GP #1). Vera hit an 82mph off-backhand winner. Deuce #1. First serve out wide + crosscourt backhand winner. Ad Tsvetana (GP #2). Tsvetana went for a huge off-forehand winner to the sideline, but it was just wide. Deuce #2. Tsvetana on the third stroke dumped a backhand halfway up the net. Ad Vera (BP #1). Vera played a great spreading rally, finishing with an off-backhand winner. Broken.

And that, incredibly, was Vera's first break-point of the match.

Vera serving 4-2: Tsvetana's deep crosscourt backhand induced Vera to hit an off-backhand wide. 15/0. Vera spread Tsvetana with a deep down-the-line backhand + penetrating off-forehand into the corner, forcing Tsvetana to net a backhand – and Vera was ready at the net just in case it had gone over. 15/15. Vera forced a floater, went to the net and hit an off-forehand forehand winner. 30/15. Deep first serve down the middle forced Tsvetana to bunt a forehand return long. 40/15 (GP #1). Tsvetana hit a huge, deep forehand return down the line, forcing Vera to earth a backhand. 40/30 (GP #2). First serve out wide: Tsvetana's backhand return clipped the netcord; inviting Vera to go to the net behind a sliced off-forehand deep into the corner; Tsvetana's down-the-line backhand pass made Vera have to stretch wide to hit a crosscourt forehand volley; Tsvetana ran it down and bunted a very short forehand down the line; Vera hit an easy crosscourt backhand winner into the wide open court. Held.

Tracy Austin: “Everything was going perfectly for her [Tsvetana]; she was in the zone. Zvonarëva has just upped her level a touch.”
Simon Reed: “Zvonarëva is a different player now. She's thinking clearly, moving well, and executing.”

Tsvetana serving 2-5 (new balls): Body-jamming first serve induced Vera to dump a backhand return into the bottom of the net. 15/0. Ace #2: first serve down the middle. 30/0. Vera forehand long. 40/0 (GP #1). First serve out wide + crosscourt forehand winner. Held.

Vera serving 5-3: Tsvetana forehand long. 15/0. Tsvetana's crosscourt backhand return induced Vera to net a backhand that she wouldn't normally miss. 15/15. Tsvetana netted a forehand. 30/15. Tsvetana hit a backhand return just long, and challenged Vera's serve: Hawk-Eye showed that it caught about 20% of the breadth of the service-line. 40/15 (SP #1 for Vera). Vera's forehand clipped the netcord and dropped dead for a winner. Vera won the second set 6-3 at 14:17 BST (second set 36m, match so far 1h08m).

Simon Reed: “Zvonarëva has got that pendulum swinging on her side. She was the favourite before the start, and I guess she is again now, but Pironkova is dangerous – we've seen that.”


Third set
---------
ZVONARËVA @*_*@*_* 6
PIRONKOVA __*___*_ 2

Tsvetana serving 0-0: Vera hit a pinpoint crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. 15/0. Tsvetana's deep off-forehand induced Vera to hit a down-the-line backhand wide. 30/0. Vera hit a deep off-forehand into the corner, forcing Tsvetana to net a backhand. Simon Reed: “She's just missing when Zvonarëva turns on the turbo.” 15/30. Tsvetana's deep crosscourt forehand forced Vera to bunt a forehand lob long. 30/30. Tsvetana off-forehand just wide. 30/40 (BP #1). A well-controlled rally by Vera with good depth ended with Tsvetana hitting a backhand just long. Broken.

Vera serving 1-0: Deep first serve out wide induced Tsvetana to hit a forehand return just long. 15/0. Vera forced a floater and hit an off-forehand smash-winner; Tsvetana had no play on the ball, but lost her footing on the slick green grass behind the brown patch, and had a nasty-looking fall. 30/0. Double fault #1 (second serve long by a whisker). 30/15. Vera netted a forehand. 30/30. Vera's deep forehand down the line forced Tsvetana to hit a down-the-line backhand wide. 40/30 (GP #1). Service-winner out wide. Held.

Now Tsvetana's the one having to do all the defending, and the exciting thought of Vera in the Wimbledon Women's Singles final is already running through my mind!

Tsvetana serving 0-2: Second serve: Vera slapped a cheap forehand return into the net. 15/0. Tsvetana crosscourt forehand wide. 15/15. Double fault #1 (second serve just long). 15/30. Tsvetana backhand just long. 15/40 (BP #1). Tsvetana's deep crosscourt backhand forced Vera to slide wide and earth a backhand. 30/40 (BP #2). Vera hit a down-the-line backhand just wide. Deuce #1. Vera forehand just long. Ad Tsvetana (GP #1). First serve down the middle forced a short return; Tsvetana went to the net behind a rather short off-forehand; Vera sprayed a makeable down-the-line backhand pass wide, and groaned. Held.

Vera had one foot in the final at 2-0* (40/15*), but she has to put that disappointment behind her, and hold onto the one break that she does have. Still a lot of work ahead of her in this match.

Vera serving 2-1: Deep first serve forced Tsvetana to net a forehand return. 15/0. Double fault #2 (second serve into the net). 15/15. Vera hit a pinpoint backhand winner down the line: just inside the sideline. It's the shot that has worked so well for her this week. 30/15. Vera sprayed a wild off-forehand long. Simon Reed: “The Bulgarians are getting excited, because there /are/ signs that Zvonarëva is faltering here.” 30/30. Vera let a lob bounce... it landed on the sideline... Vera's crosscourt backhand induced Tsvetana to net a backhand, and Tsvetana looked very disappointed. 40/30 (GP #1). Tsvetana dumped a wild backhand return into the net. Held.

Simon Reed: “Zvonarëva is probably more than a little relieved. Her form started to go down in the last seven or eight minutes, but Pironkova was unable to take advantage.”
Tracy Austin: “A few more nerves are creeping in. She must have been thinking, ‘Is this slipping away just a touch?’”

Tsvetana serving 1-3: Tsvetana's crosscourt forehand to the sideline induced Vera to net a forehand dropshot – a very low-percentage shot in that position. 15/0. Vera's deep backhand forced Tsvetana to hit a forehand long. 15/15. Tsvetana hit a couple of sliced forehands followed by a couple of steered forehands, then hit a backhand just long. 15/30. Tsvetana went to the net behind a crosscourt forehand, forcing Vera to hit a down-the-line forehand pass wide. 30/30. Ace #3: out wide: on the sideline. 40/30 (GP #1). A nailbiting rally ended with Vera hitting an amazing crosscourt backhand dropshot-winner from the baseline! Deuce #1. Tsvetana went to the net, but Vera's dipping crosscourt backhand forced Tsvetana to bunt a backhand half-volley lob wide. Ad Vera (BP #1). Tsvetana on the fourth stroke hit a wild backhand very long. Broken.

Vera pumped her fist and shouted something in Russian that sounded like “komm-yee-shah”. Simon Reed said that Pironkova was “beside herself”.

Vera serving 4-1: Vera's off-forehand dropshot forced Tsvetana to run forwards and hit a backhand long. 15/0. Vera went to the net, but Tsvetana's short sliced backhand forced Vera to net a backhand. 15/15. Tsvetana's deep crosscourt backhand forced Vera back on her heels to hit a backhand wide. 15/30. Tsvetana dominated the rally, forcing Vera to chop a forehand just long. Vera's grunting sounds increasingly anxious! 15/40 (BP #1). Tsvetana netted a cheap forehand return. 30/40 (BP #2). First serve out wide forced Tsvetana to net a backhand return. Deuce #1. Vera went to the net and hit a backhand drive-volley winner down the line. Ad Vera (GP #1). Vera ran down a dropshot and hit a backhand winner down the line; Tsvetana looked like she had a play on it but let it go. Held.

Tsvetana serving 1-5: Tsvetana spread Vera, opening up the court with a crosscourt forehand but hitting an off-forehand long. 0/15. Tsvetana hit a deep forehand onto the baseline, forcing Vera to spray an off-forehand wide. 15/15. Tsvetana hit a crosscourt backhand winner onto the baseline. Vera challenged it: Hawk-Eye showed that it caught about 20% of the breadth of the baseline. 30/15. Tsvetana hit a beautiful off-backhand winner just inside both sideline and baseline. 40/15 (GP #1). Vera's forehand return clipped the netcord and dropped dead for a winner. She apologised. 40/30 (GP #2). First serve out wide forced Vera to hit a forehand long. Held.

Vera serving 5-2 (new balls): Vera opened an exhilarating rally with a first serve out wide + off-forehand, then went to the net behind a down-the-line backhand; Tsvetana hit a dipping crosscourt forehand, but Vera picked it off with a deft crosscourt forehand half-volley dropshot; Tsvetana ran it down and bunted a forehand down the line; Vera hoisted a fabulous skyscraper-lob; Tsvetana, running backwards, hit a high backhand volley that made the crowd gasp, but sat up nicely for Vera to hit an off-forehand winner. 15/0. First serve down the middle forced Tsvetana to hit a forehand return long. 30/0. Tsvetana hit a deep backhand down the middle, inducing Vera to net a forehand. 30/15. Vera's deep crosscourt forehand forced Tsvetana to earth a forehand lob. 40/15 (MP #1 for Vera). In another great rally, Vera's backhand clipped the netcord; Tsvetana hit a sliced forehand dropshot onto the sideline; Vera ran it down but hit a makeable forehand pass just long. 40/30 (MP #2 for Vera). First serve out wide + off-forehand forced Tsvetana to earth a backhand. Vera won 3-6 6-3 6-2 at 14:55 BST (third set 38m, match 1h46m).

Simon Reed: “She countered the demons that she had within her, and they didn't become a factor at all.”

Tracy Austin: “Everybody expected Vera to come out the winner today, and she held strong mentally. For so many years, we've been talking about the talent of Vera Zvonarëva and the expectations. Now she's fulfilling them.”


Vera's BBC interview
--------------------

Phil Jones: “Congratulations. Can you even begin to put into words what this means to you, Vera, to be in your [first] Wimbledon final, your first Grand Slam final?”

Vera: “I'm very excited. I think I'm not realising it at the moment, but it was very tough out there. She's a very young player [Tsvetana was 22 at the time], but a very, very tough opponent. She started so well, and I'm happy the way I was able to hang in the match, and was able to turn it around.”

Phil Jones: “So what was your mindset after losing that first set?”

Vera: “You know, I was just not thinking about it. I was just thinking about what I've got to do. I've got to be a little bit quicker; I've got to play a little bit more aggressive. And that's about it. I was not thinking about... that I lost the first set.”

Phil Jones: “You certainly played some wonderful points in that third set. When you're nearing victory, do the thoughts ever enter your head at that point: that you're on the verge of something historic?”

Vera: “She didn't really give me a chance to think about it, because she was a very tough opponent out there, and I had to concentrate on my game, and I knew if I will give her a little bit of chance, she will take it.”

Phil Jones: “And now for the final: at Wimbledon, the biggest tournament in the world. Just how exciting is this for you?”

Vera: “It is very exciting. It's one of my dreams to be out there.”

Phil Jones: “Congratulations on a wonderful performance. Wish you well in the final.”

Vera: “Thank you.”


Tsvetana's BBC interview
------------------------

Phil Jones: “Well, Tsvetana, I'd normally say ‘commiserations’ at this point, but it seems the wrong word to use, because you played so well; you've had a magnificent tournament. So how do you reflect, first of all, on what you've achieved here.”

Tsvetana: “Yeah, I'm definitely not disappointed. This is the biggest success in my career, reaching the semi-finals in Wimbledon. I also I think that I played well today. I tried my best; I did my shots. Vera was just playing better than me today.”

Phil Jones: “You certainly played tremendously well in that first set, especially. At that point, what are you thinking? You talked yesterday about the focus you needed to keep – you did it against Venus. So what kind of mindset did you take on then?”

Tsvetana: “Well, I tried to do the same thing. Winning the first set, it's a good thing, but it's not enough, of course. You just have to stay focused, and that's what I tried to do. I tried to play every point, you know: point by point, game by game, but at that point, Vera started to play very aggressively, and she started to push me back, and also, I had some troubles with my first serve, which is not very good. And yeah: that's pretty much it.”

Phil Jones: “And in the third set, once she got the break early on, you were still fighting. You were still hanging in there, played some tremendous points. So you still sense you had a chance?”

Tsvetana: “Well, yeah. I just wanted to play until the end. I wanted to play for every point. Of course, you have a lot of chances until the last point is finished.”

Phil Jones: “So now you've reached the semi-finals here, and your career's taken off; it's reached new heights. What next for you? Where do you go from here?”

Tsvetana: “I will play the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour tournaments, and I have to prepare for the US Open, but before that, I have a few tournaments here in Europe. I just wanna play good. I just wanna enjoy the game. Of course, I want to do also successes bigger than this, but we'll see what happens.”

Phil Jones: “Well, now you've had a taste of it, you want more of it, I'm sure.”

Tsvetana: “Well, yes, of course.”

Phil Jones: “And how is that gonna happen? You've turned it around amazingly well here to reach your Grand Slam semi-final.”

Tsvetana: “Well, I don't know how it's going to happen. I'll just continue to play, and I'm really, really hoping that one day, maybe soon, it will happen again.”

Phil Jones: “You've given us all great pleasure – tremendous performance, knocking out Venus en route, semi-final – so we wish you well going forward. Thanks.”

Tsvetana: “Thank you very much.”

Tsvetana may have started by saying that she wasn't disappointed, but her tone of voice throughout that interview certainly suggested otherwise.


Final analysis
--------------

Lindsay Davenport: “A huge game at 3-2* in the second set. Vera came out a little bit tight, and it's so hard to play a semi-final match when so much is expected of you – she was by far the favourite in this match, even though Pironkova had upset Venus – but once she got ahead *4-2 in the second set, she really seemed to calm down. She played a little bit smarter, a little bit more consistent, and then she never looked back.

“To overcome the mental problems in yourself is much more difficult than a weak shot. A weak forehand you can go work on. It's very tough to work on your mental game. Vera has done the /complete/ opposite, which is so great to see. She's always had so much talent, but she would get so down on herself and very emotional. And now she looks like one of the /most/ composed players on the WTA Tour. Credit to her for staying strong in these tight moments.

“She probably gained a little bit of perspective from being out of the game [Vera struggled with a nasty ankle-injury between April 2009 and January 2010]. Sometimes when you're forced to take a break, you realise how much you love it. You realise, ‘Okay, I really want to make a strong push when I get back healthy. What do I need to do better?’ For her, it was the mental game, and so far, it hasn't been a problem.”

Pam Shriver: “Not only is Zvonarëva playing some great tennis, I've never seen her hold it together mentally like this. She showed that no matter what your past is, you can start each tournament with a new attitude.”

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
__________________
My Eternal Fanship: 1. Monica Seles; 2. Мария Шарапова (‘Maria Sharapova’); 3. Daniela Hantuchová; 4. Jelena Dokić; 5. Iva Majoli; 6. Karina Habšudová; 7. Вера Звонарёва (‘Vera Zvonarëva’); 8. Nicole Vaidišová; 9. Анна Чакветадзе (‘Anna Chakvetadze’); 10. Lucie Šafářová; 11. Ирода Туляганова (‘Iroda Tulyaganova’); 12. Magdaléna Rybáriková; 13. Sabine Lisicki

Last edited by andrewbroad : Apr 1st, 2012 at 06:27 PM.
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