What a nice way to start off a day this morning, even with all the rain and clouds here on the east of Croatia
I'm just delighted for Donna! Congratulations once again!
After I almost missed the match and realised that it's already the second game being played before I tuned in, I already had something nice to see. Donna was cruising right from the start, slight problems in the second game, but the first set was a breeze, in part thanks to mistakes and inconsistency of Birnerova, but partly also due to Donna being ready to take her chances.
What happened at the start of the second is something Donna's team should analyze today, as it might give them valuable clues about the suitable direction of their work in the upcoming period. It looks to me that one thing played a key part, and that was Donna getting carried away by her own great play, and particularly the result of the first set. Seems like she realized that she is far better than her opponent and that she can do even better than in the opening set, which I think led to her going for too much too soon. This got her to increase her UE's and influenced her serve, which became very unreliable. Birnerova sensed it and capitalised on it.
But Birnerova's own game is too inconsistent to play a key role against a player like Donna. At times she plays like top 50, hitting those powerful DTL returns and serving very well, while at other times she is making so many errors and repeating silly mistakes that it makes you wonder how she got this far. She definately has no serious weapons and her thought process is not working properly all the time.
Donna's thought process however, is one of the things that delights me the most about her. She came out totally relaxed (or at least she seemed like that), as if she is completely aware of her own quality and an opportunity to seriously challenge her opponent in this match. When things don't go the right way she doesn't panic but looks for a way to calm herself as much as possible, although frustration does surface at times, which is understandable. After losing a set she turned a new page and played as if nothing bad has happened, finding a way back to her focus. That's a great attitude to have.
Donna's serve is a part of her game that worries me the most, as it's not something she can completely rely on, although at times it works miracles for her. In fact, it's the one part of the game that she really needs in order to bring stability and rhythm to her own game. When she finds the right range of that serve and learns to better control her ambitions during matches, she'll become a very dangerous opponent for many girls out there.
Exciting time for Croatian fans again - some would say that it was about time
I'm not sure Donna will be able to find her way against Begu, but let's hope that some inconsistency will kick in on the other side of the net tomorrow. It's not something that Begu is not familiar with, cause her only other win on HC this summer (apart from the one against Woz) came against Cohen, while she lost to King, Soler Espinosa and Dellacqua. She did take out Ula here, which at first glance is quite a result, but Ula is not as great in the past few weeks as she was in the few weeks before that, so I'm not sure how much value should we give to that result. Also, Begu is now ranked below 80, while her c-h is around 40, so her confidence is probably not overwhelming, especially not compared to Donna's. Of course, she didn't have to qualify so played much less this week, but I don't think that'll be the deciding factor tomorrow. It could influence Donna's game, and it'll ba a shame if that happens, cause in normal circumstances on this surface Donna could prove to be too strong and too fast for Begu. If this were clay, however, odds would be considerably different.
Did anybody watch the other semifinal? Was Begu really that good or was Ula having a meltdown? I really wonder about that. Either way, we have a stunning match ahead. I believe that the last time someone so young (or younger) won a WTA title was about 8 years ago (Vaidisova in Vancouver '04), not sure about it but it could be true. So this is possibly a historic moment of sorts. Hope Donna will come out ready and driven, but most of all calm and focused on the goal. Could be a turning point of her career. Whatever happens she's positioned herself on the map and the tennis world will be watching her closely.
Good luck Donna