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Old Jan 15th, 2006, 01:37 AM   #1
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Australian Open 2006: Andrew's tournament-report

===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------


This is a cut-down, Vera-focused edit of my full Australian Open preview:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/message/3113

1. UK TV-alert
5. Andrew's analysis of the draw


--------------
1. UK TV-alert
--------------


For those in the UK who have a Freeview box or other form of digital TV, there will be extra coverage of the Australian Open on BBCi! They will be televising the evening-session of the Rod Laver Arena from 8:30am GMT each day, in addition to the usual weekend-coverage on BBC 1 & 2.

Further details:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/4582096.stm


--------------------------------
5. Andrew's analysis of the draw
--------------------------------
5.4 Fourth quarter
------------------


* MARY PIERCE [5] v Nicole Pratt [WC] (allez Mary!)
* Iveta Benešová v Rika Fujiwara (pod'me Iveta!)
* Emma Laine v Nuria Llagostera Vives
* Martina Hingis [WC] v VERA ZVONARËVA [30] (davai Vera!)

* ANA IVANOVIC [21] v Shenay Perry (ajde Ana!)
* Samantha Stosur v Séverine Brémond (allez Séverine!)
* Eva Birnerová v Sybille Bammer
* Yan,Zi v NATHALIE DECHY [11] (jia you Zi!)

* FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [15] v Antonella Serra Zanetti
* Vera Dushevina v Catalina Castańo
* Lucie Šafárová v María Sánchez Lorenzo (both nice; my loyalty is to María)
* Laura Pous Tio v ANNA-LENA GRÖNEFELD [22]

* MARION BARTOLI [27] v Amy Frazier (allez Marion!)
* Roberta Vinci v Meghann Shaughnessy
* Yuan,Meng [Q] v Melinda Czink
* Yoon Jeong Cho v KIM CLIJSTERS [2]

1r: As foretold by the prophet rrfnpump, Bepa has drawn the great Martina Hingis in the first round. Hingis reached six consecutive Australian Open finals in 1997-2002, winning the title in 1997-1999. This is her first Australian Open since 2002, having "retired" from tennis for three years due to foot-injuries (i.e. cold feet about playing the Williams sisters). But now she's back to fill the current power-vacuum in women's tennis with her tactics, guile, and a reputation for which the journeywomen have way too much respect.

It's worth remembering what John Lloyd said at the French Open 2003: "The days of the Hingis-type player, I'm afraid to say, are over. It's power now, and Zvonarëva certainly has got that."

Bepa's power and amazing retrieval-skills should be more than a match for a rusty Hingis and her weak serves. It just depends which Bepa turns up on Tuesday - the one who played so brilliantly to reach the Auckland final, or the one who crashed out to Vera Dushevina in the first round of Sydney after suffering one of her infamous emotional meltdowns in the horrible heat of Australia.

I just hope that Bepa v Hingis is scheduled on the evening session of the Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday, so that it will be televised on BBCi (the BBC didn't televise Bepa at all last year, apart from her doubles quarter-final at Wimbledon). The media agree that it's the pick of the first round, so why not?

2r: If Bepa is playing well, then Emma Laine or Nuria Llagostera Vives should be a routine win - although Bepa lost her only previous meeting with Llagostera Vives 3-6 6-3 6-1 in the horrible heat of Miami last year.

3r: Bepa met Mary Pierce at the same stage of the French Open 2005 - and lost 7-6 7-5. It's certainly a mighty tough draw against the resurgent Mary, who is one of the most likely finalists from the bottom half along with Clijsters and Mauresmo. But if Bepa plays like she did in beating Maria Kirilenko 6-2 6-0 at Auckland, and is able to exploit Mary's lack of mobility and of instinct, she'll have a chance for the upset.

4r: Could be last year's semi-finalist Nathalie Dechy, but I hope and expect it will be Ana Ivanovic, who upset Mauresmo at Sydney, and Bepa at Warsaw 2005. Ana has a huge forehand and plays nice spreading rallies, but her stamina in a tournament is questionable.

qf: US Open champion Kim Clijsters is regarded as the favourite for the title after her awesome hardcourt record in 2005, but she pulled out of Sydney with a hip-injury that could threaten her participation - but is not as serious as first feared.

If Clijsters is to be beaten at this tournament, it needs to happen in the first week when she'll be at her most vulnerable - if not in the first round, then perhaps in the third round by Marion Bartoli, who played so magnificently to beat Bepa 6-2 6-2 in the Auckland final.

If Clijsters does fall early, then another potential quarter-finalist besides Marion is Francesca Schiavone, who played Justine Henin-Hardenne so close in the Sydney final, but has never won a WTA singles-title despite six finals. Bepa has a 3-0 record over Schiavone.

sf: Mauresmo is the most likely suspect, and has a 7-0 record over Bepa including Fed Cup; perhaps Patty Schnyder or Anastasia Myskina has an outside chance of reaching the semis if Mauresmo falls. But I really hope that the semi-finalist from that third quarter will be Nicole Vaidišová.

Final: My dream final would be Bepa v Maria Sharapova; the other likely finalists from the top half are world number one Lindsay Davenport, or French Open and Sydney champion Justine Henin-Hardenne.

--
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Last edited by andrewbroad : Jan 25th, 2006 at 12:27 PM. Reason: Remove "UK TV-alert" from Title
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Old Jan 16th, 2006, 11:04 PM   #2
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Order of play for Tuesday

===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Order of play for Tuesday
-------------------------


Rod Laver Arena (start 11:00 EST = 00:00 GMT)
MS 1r: ROGER FEDERER [1] v Denis Istomin [WC]
WS 1r: Sun,Tiantian v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [3]
MS 1r: LLEYTON HEWITT [3] v Robin Vik
|
Evening session (start 19:30 EST = 08:30 GMT)
WS 1r: Martina Hingis [WC] v VERA ZVONARËVA [30]
MS 1r: SÉBASTIEN GROSJEAN [25] v Mark Philippoussis [WC]

Davai Vera - you show her what it's like to be in "the easier half of the draw"!

It's good that Bepa will be playing in the evening. The temperature was only 24°C on Monday evening - not 40°C like it was in Sydney!

The commentators on BBCi got me all excited by announcing that they would be showing Bepa's match at 8:30 GMT... then later reneged on that promise, saying that they're now going to show a full replay of Murray v Chela instead!

Every single British player is now an enemy of my fanship. If they are not all destroyed, it will be men's tennis without end. Do what must be done, Lord Vader!

---------------------------------
Women's Doubles: First-round draw
---------------------------------

* VERA ZVONARËVA/ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA [3] v Beti Sekulovski/Cindy Watson [WC]


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Old Jan 25th, 2006, 12:28 PM   #3
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Andrew's tournament-report

===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Photos
------


http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtaz142.html
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=zvonareva
Search Getty Images for "zvonareva"


Video
-----


First set of Bepa v Hingis:
http://vswfan.tennisvidz.com/HingisvsZvonarevaSet1.avi

Place to go if the above link is no longer valid:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=181968&page=49

-----------
First round (Tuesday 17th)
-----------

- VERA ZVONARËVA [30] lt. Martina Hingis [WC], 6-1 6-2


Bepa suffered the most embarrassing loss of her career: a dispapsinating scoreline against a player just coming out of retirement after three years, and on the centre-court of a Grand Slam at prime-time.

But Hingis is a three-time Australian Open champion (five Grand Slams in total), amazingly still only 25 years old, and looked to have lost none of her class. She frustrated Bepa with her all-court control, and all the pressure was on Bepa in terms of being the seeded player not supposed to lose to the world #349.

So it proved to be a nightmare first-round draw - and Bepa had only ever lost once before in the first round of a Grand Slam (Australian Open 2003, to Elena Bovina).

Commentator John Lloyd had said he expected Hingis to get back to the top 20 but not the top 10, but he was so amazed by Hingis's performance against Bepa that he hastily revised that prediction!


BBCi reneged on their agreement to show Bepa's match, showing a full replay of Murray v Chela instead! So I followed live scores at www.AustralianOpen.com, and have extracted some details of play from the following scores-thread:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=213794&page=57

I later watched the video of the first set (link above). Bepa started off hitting the ball hard and well, with the acoustics of the Rod Laver Arena providing a lovely "thock" every time she hit a groundstroke.

But errors crept into Bepa's game after she led 40/15 on Hingis's serve in the first game, and Hingis was also ruthless in exploiting anything short or floating from Bepa, often managing to finish the points at the net. Hingis made very few errors herself, and Bepa was under constant pressure both tennis-wise and mentally.

Even when Bepa played well, she found it very difficult to hurt Hingis because Hingis anticipates so well - it's just so difficult to create a gap on the court against Hingis, while Hingis opened the court very effectively against Bepa with some pinpoint groundstrokes down the lines.


First Set
---------
ZVONAR ___*___ 1
HINGIS *@* *@* 6


Due to a late finish to the day-session, the match started at exactly 20:00 AEST (and had to be still going at 21:16 to have any chance of being televised on BBCi, as Murray lost to Chela in 1h46m, and BBCi started showing that at 19:30 AEST - in other words, Bepa v Hingis had to last more than 1h16m).

Hingis serving 0-0: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad H, Deuce #2, ad B (BP #3), Deuce #3, ad H, held.

Bepa needs to exploit Hingis's weak serves, and not squander break-point opportunities with errors as she did there.

Bepa serving 0-1: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.

Apparently Bepa is looking nervous, and complaining about music being played (it was Pat Cash's band, and they were forced to stop after Bepa's complaint).

Hingis serving 2-0: 30/0, Bepa backhand pass-winner, 30/15, 40/15, held.

I hope this is an indication of a long win for Bepa rather than a quick one for Hingis! Bepa already appears to be crying into her towel at the changeover.

Bepa serving 0-3: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), 30/40, Bepa forehand winner, 40/40, ace, ad B, Deuce #2, ad B, held.

Phew! A very, very important game for Bepa - and hopefully a turning-point rather than a minor bump in the road for Hingis! I still have raw memories of some very embarrassing losses that Monica Seles suffered at the hands of Hingis in the olden days.

Hingis serving 3-1: 30/0. Bepa forehand return-winner DTL. Bepa forehand smash-winner. 30/30, 40/30, held.

Bepa threw her racket against the court, it bounced back up and the handle smacked her in the face.

Bepa serving 1-4: Bepa crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline. 15/0, 30/0, 30/15. Bepa hit a sweet backhand down the line to set up a backhand drive-volley winner off a lob from Hingis. 40/15 -> 40/40, ad B, Deuce #2, ad B, Deuce #3, ad H (BP), broken.

Four wasted game-points, and a scoreline that Bepa does not deserve.

Female ESPN commentator: "[Bepa] always looks flushed; she always looks like there should be smoke coming off the top of her head."

Demented seagulls were screeching above the court.

Male ESPN commentator: "Are those buzzards, circling overhead, for Zvonarëva?"

Hingis serving for the first set at 5-1: 0/15, 30/15, 30/30. Hingis forehand smash-winner. 40/30 (SP). Hingis won the first set 6-1 with an off-forehand winner at 20:36 AEST (36m).

Bepa looked distraught as she walked to her chair (at the end of the video), and apparently spent the set-break in tears.

The question now is: can Bepa detain Hingis for over 40 minutes more and get televised?


Second Set
----------
ZVONAR __*___*_ 2
HINGIS @* *@* * 6


Bepa serving 0-1: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.
Hingis serving 1-0: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad H, held.
Bepa serving 0-2: 15/15, 30/30, 40/30

C'MON BEPA!! 26 minutes more and I'll see you on TV!

Hingis serving 2-1: held to love (T minus 23 minutes).
Bepa serving 1-3: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), 30/40, broken (T minus 20 minutes). Bepa throws her racket and bursts into tears.
Hingis serving 4-1: 0/15, 40/15, held (T minus 16 minutes).

Bepa serving to stay in the match at 1-5: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held (T minus 14 minutes).
Hingis serving for the match at 5-2: 0/15, 40/15 (2 MPs), Hingis won 6-1 6-2 at 21:04 (1h04m).


Statistics
----------


Bepa had a W:UE ratio of 10:21, Hingis 17:11.

Bepa got 52% of first serves in, winning 58% of the points when she did so, and 33% on second serve (Hingis 67%, 74% and 65%).

Hingis broke 4 times from 7 break-points, while Bepa failed to convert 3 break-points.

Hingis beat Bepa by 62 points to 38.


Hingis quotes
-------------


"This so far was the best match I've played since I came back. I wouldn't necessarily say that it was easy, I just played really well. I don't know, I just didn't make many unforced errors, stick to my strategy, pretty much did what I was supposed to do out there.

"I just think I just really carry myself that way from the past years, just knew what I had to do, how to play well. I was thinking, 'what did I used to do on this surface?'. I mean, I practise on this every day in and out at home, though it's indoors, [it] might be different. Still, you know, I love the surface - I love coming here.

"I've been living a different lifestyle, but never really walked away totally from tennis. Even tonight, it didn't seem like it was that long ago. I knew I was well-prepared for the situation, for the occasion. If I wasn't, maybe it's a different story. But I knew, you know, tonight I felt close to being 100% like physically, mentally, everything.

"I mean, I really felt well going on court today. Being a night-match, it's a little cooler, you don't have to really face the humidity and the heat. It definitely helps when you know that you can last probably longer, because that was always my biggest fear, can I really last physically?

"It was beautiful to walk in there. I mean, already the previous days I got to practise there. Really a lot of players say it's kind of slow surface, this and that, but any time I come back into these grounds, it just feels amazing. There were so many memories coming back. I love coming back here, and this stadium has been so great to me.

"Although it was still empty when I was practising, you could feel the atmosphere already of a Grand Slam. So many memories coming also back here, thinking about, you know, all the previous years.

"I'm just really happy that I won tonight. I'm probably more eager to win now than when I was a 17-year-old.

"I don't know, just hopefully, day by day I can even improve and get better, carry myself really with the occasion and step it up in the next matches. But I know I'm facing a tough draw."


---------------
Women's Doubles
---------------

VERA ZVONARËVA/ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA [3]:
1r + Beti Sekulovski/Cindy Watson [WC], 6-2 6-3
2r + Viktoriya Kutuzova/Anastassia Rodionova, 6-3 6-2
3r + Stéphanie Foretz/Antonella Serra Zanetti, 6-2 6-1
qf - ANNA-LENA GRÖNEFELD/MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY [5], 6-3 6-3

-------------
Mixed Doubles
-------------

VERA ZVONARËVA/BOB BRYAN [3]:
1r + Sania Mirza/Stephen Huss, 6-3 6-3
2r + Lucie Šafárová/Leoš Friedl, 6-2 6-1
qf - ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA/DANIEL NESTOR [6], 6-4 6-4


Ironic that Bepa and Elena were on opposite sides of the court today.

And to add insult to injury, Bob said that he would rather have played mixed doubles with Hingis than with Bepa.

--
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Old Jan 26th, 2006, 06:56 PM   #4
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always a great pleasure to read your reports
you get tho whole package there!

Thanks for mentioning me
My next prediction is Vera winning Pattaya 2006
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