KREMLIN CUP (Moscow, Russia; carpet (Supreme); WTA Tier I)
I don't have access to Eurosport myself, but videos of Bepa's first- and second-round matches have come into my possession, so I have incorporated them into this report (hence the long delay).
Bepa scored a stunning 6-1 6-3 upset of a weary Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round. But the girl who may have studied Computer Science (like me) had she not become a tennis-player, came up against an NP-hard problem in the quarter-finals!
I see she still has a problem with her left wrist.
A lot of left hand goes into that backhand of hers, which is why it's such a good shot, but...
She has stunning facial beauty in these photos - better than her average.
Videos (in Russian), including an exclusive interview! (with an English translation):
"I have changed my racket because of the problems with my shoulder Ė I just couldn't play with the same racket last half of the year. Now it's better with my shoulder, but now I feel some pain in my hand. [Vera had an ice compress on her left hand during the interview]"
First round (Monday 9th October)
+ Vera Igorevna ZvonarŽva d. Vera Eugeniyevna Dushevina [WC], 6-3 6-2
The girl who is something special actually smiled during the match!
Sam Smith: "I quite like the new grown-up ZvonarŽva. There's a lot of warmth to her on court, a lot of natural charm."
Dushevina serving 0-0: She held to 15 with a backhand winner down the line.
ZvonarŽva serving 0-1: Three unreturned serves made it 40/0. Dushevina pegged our Bepa back to 40/30 with a forehand smash-winner, but she held with a serve out wide to set up a crosscourt forehand winner.
Dushevina serving 1-1: She faced two break-points at 15/40, but recovered to 40/40 with a forehand dropshot-winner. However, our Bepa hit a delectable forehand drop-volley winner to get another break-point, and Dushevina hit a backhand just long, giving our Bepa the break for *2-1.
Eurosport skipped the next two games.
ZvonarŽva serving 3-2: She held to love with an ace out wide and, at 40/0, a virtual ace down the middle.
Dushevina serving 2-4: With both girls at the net, our Bepa hit a backhand drive-volley winner down the line. Sam Smith: "Smart tennis, margin for error - that's what ZvonarŽva is all about" (in contrast to Dushevina). Our Bepa hit a crosscourt forehand pass-winner. 15/40 (two break-points). Dushevina saved the first with a forehand smash-winner, and the second with a short-angled crosscourt forehand that forced our Bepa to net a forehand. 40/40. Dushevina forehand just wide. Ad ZvonarŽva (BP #3). In a long rally, our Bepa frustrated Dushevina with great retrieval, including a backhand drive-volley; Dushevina retreated, but came back in later, and our Bepa hit a forehand pass-winner down the line to break for *5-2.
Sam Smith: "ZvonarŽva doesn't often come forward; when she does, she makes sure of it" (in contrast to Dushevina's ill-advised approach at the end of that game).
ZvonarŽva serving for the match at 5-2: Service-winner out wide, in the corner. 15/0. Ace down the middle. 30/0. Body-jamming service-winner. 40/0. A service-winner down the middle sealed the 6-3 6-2 victory. Bepa really did serve magnificently in that game!
Second round (Wednesday 11th October)
+ Vera Igorevna ZvonarŽva d. SVETLANA ALEKSANDROVNA KUZNETSOVA , 6-1 6-3
Kuznetsova's form going into this tournament was very impressive: singles-titles at Bali and Beijing, and a win over Amťlie Mauresmo. She also had a 7-2 head-to-head record against Bepa.
But against Bepa - who played very well - Kuznetsova looked weary, almost disinterested having already qualified for the Sony Ericsson Championships.
Kuznetsova, seeded No.3 this week, had been playing arguably the best tennis of the fall season, claiming consecutive titles at Bali and Beijing and reaching the semis last week at Stuttgart. But not only did she look uncomfortable on the brand new Kremlin Cup court surface, she was also up against inspired former Top 10 player ZvonarŽva, who has had an impressive year herself. ZvonarŽva went for her shots from start to finish, and never faced a break-point during the 61 63 dismantling.
ZvonarŽva's victory over the No.4-ranked Kuznetsova represents the sixth Top 10 victory of her career and first in nearly two years. It is just her second Top 5 victory, having beaten a No.3-ranked Venus Williams at Roland Garros in 2003. The Russian, who has been as high as No.9 herself, is now through to her third Kremlin Cup quarterfinal.
Sebastian: "Vera didn't face a BP in the entire match, serving really well and always forcing Kuznetsova to go for the lines. She also never looked back when being up a break in the second set and stayed clam throughout the whole match. It was a great win for Vera who seems to slowly find her form that took her to the Top 10 in 2004."
Kuznetsova serving 1-5: Eurosport started showing it at 30/15. A long rally ended with Bepa hitting a forehand winner down the line. Jo Durie: "She's so cool about this, and playing brilliantly." 30/30. Kuznetsova netted a backhand. 30/40 (set-point). Kuznetsova backhand just wide. Bepa won the first set 6-1.
Jo Durie: "ZvonarŽva's been hitting the ball hard and deep, and she's been hitting winners."
Chris Bradnam: "When she was up in the top ten, we saw such enormous emotion and angst and aggro with coaches courtside - maybe trying too hard to go even further, but it seems a more relaxed ZvonarŽva."
But Bepa still sat at the set-break with her head in a towel! Then the camera cut to a woman in the crowd with a striking facial resemblance to Bepa - her mother?
Then Bepa got up and did some stretching-exercises as Kuznetsova took a long bathroom-break. If the rules were changed according to Sam Smith's suggestion from the Schiavone v Kirilenko match, Bepa would get an extra Hawkeye-challenge for that.
Bepa serving 0-0: Bepa netted a forehand. 0/15. Service-winner down the middle. 15/15. Kuznetsova netted a forehand. 30/15. Service-winner out wide. 40/15. Bepa hit behind Kuznetsova a down-the-line backhand winner.
The commentators said Bepa was playing very well, but accused Kuznetsova of a lack of effort, suggesting that all the travelling had caught up with her, and that she wasn't motivated as she had already qualified for the Sony Ericsson Championships.
Kuznetsova serving 0-1: Off a very short ball from Kuznetsova, Bepa hit a crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline. 0/15. Bepa forehand just wide. 15/15. Bepa forehand just long. 30/15. A good serve out wide forced a short return, but Kuznetsova pushed back a weak crosscourt forehand; Bepa pounced on it with a forehand pass-winner down the line. 30/30. Kuznetsova at the net forced Bepa to net a backhand pass. 40/30. Double fault. 40/40. A good serve forced a backhand return wide. Ad Kuznetsova. She held with a backhand winner down the line, on the sideline.
Bepa serving 1-1: Double fault. 0/15. Kuznetsova hit a deep forehand winner down the line, just inside the sideline. 0/30. Bepa hit a forehand winner down the line, with a very low bounce! 15/30. Kuznetsova backhand just wide. 30/30. Kuznetsova mishit a forehand return way out. 40/30. Bepa held with a down-the-line backhand drive-volley winner.
Kuznetsova serving 1-2: Forehand return just long. 15/0. Bepa forehand just wide. 30/0. Kuznetsova forehand just wide. 30/15. Kuznetsova netted a forehand. 30/30. Kuznetsova forehand just wide. 30/40 (break-point). Service-winner. 40/40. Kuznetsova netted a forehand. Ad Bepa (BP #2). Kuznetsova netted a backhand to give Bepa the vital break.
Chris Bradnam: "When you look at the way she [Bepa] moves, the way she plays, if the attitude is right and the emotions are in check, there's no reason why she shouldn't find herself back in the top ten!"
Bepa serving 3-1: Bepa netted a forehand. 0/15. Bepa hit a short second serve, but Kuznetsova hit a forehand return just wide, and threw her racket very high. 15/15. Ace down the middle. 30/15. Kuznetsova netted a backhand. 40/15. Kuznetsova hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line, just inside both lines. 40/30. Bepa backhand long. 40/40. Kuznetsova netted a forehand. Ad Bepa. Bepa hit a serve out wide to set up a crosscourt forehand winner: Kuznetsova challenged it, and Hawkeye showed that it caught the back edge of the baseline and the inside edge of the sideline!
Kuznetsova serving 1-4: Bepa struck a stunning backhand winner down the line, off an off-forehand on the sideline from Kuznetsova. Jo Durie: "I'm glad ZvonarŽva is still going for it and not just waiting for Kuznetsova to miss." 0/15. Bepa forehand just long. 15/15. Bepa challenged a service-winner out wide: Hawkeye showed that it was wide, so they replayed the point. Bepa forehand just long. 30/15. Kuznetsova backhand just wide. 30/30. Kuznetsova crosscourt forehand winner. 40/30. Bepa served & volleyed with a serve out wide and a forehand volley-winner.
Bepa serving 4-2: Kuznetsova mishit a backhand wide. 15/0. Kuznetsova sprayed a forehand long. 30/0. Bepa forehand just wide. 30/15. Kuznetsova came in behind a forehand down the line; Bepa hit a backhand pass wide of the tramlines & long, and emitted a loud scream! Jo Durie: "And there you can see the underlying tension within ZvonarŽva - so near to this big win, but it's not quite over yet." 30/30. Kuznetsova netted a backhand return. 40/30. Brilliant point: A good serve out wide, deep in the corner, forced a very short floating return from Kuznetsova; Bepa hit a deep crosscourt backhand right at Kuznetsova's feet to force a floating half-volley forehand, which Bepa dispatched with a delectable backhand drop-volley winner.
Kuznetsova serving to stay in the match at 2-5: Kuznetsova came to the net, forcing Bepa to net a forehand. 15/0. Bepa sprayed a forehand return just wide. 30/0. Service-winner down the middle. 40/0. And again.
Bepa serving for the match at 5-3: Kuznetsova netted a forehand. 15/0. Bepa came in behind an off-forehand, forcing Kuznetsova to hit a backhand pass wide; Kuznetsova threw her racket. 30/0. Kuznetsova forehand netcord-winner. 30/15. Bepa hit a forehand smash-winner, having come in and retreated earlier in the rally. 40/15 (two match-points). Deep first serve out wide; Kuznetsova crosscoutr forehand down the middle; Bepa backhand down the middle; Kuznetsova netted a forehand to complete Bepa's 6-1 6-3 victory in 1h02m. Bepa raised her fist in triumph.
Bepa hit some balls into the crowd, and caused a riot between four people by hitting one onto some steps.
Kuznetsova: "I think it was my worst match this season. I'm a bit tired after weeks of continous playing. I just had no time to adjust to this fast surface."
Bepa: "It was an advantage for me to play a match already, as she had a first-round bye. The court is a bit sticky, but I was already used to it. The score may make the match look like it was easy, but to play someone like Svetlana is never easy. We have always had tough matches. I kept going for my shots, and today it worked."
From these quotes, we see the difference between the two women: one has character; the other, muscles.
Quarter-final (Friday 13th October)
- Vera Igorevna ZvonarŽva lt. NADEZHDA VIKTOROVNA PETROVA , 5-7 1-6
Bepa recovered from 0/30 at 2-3, but there weren't any break-points either way in the first 11 games.
ZVONARň _* * * * *__ 5
PETROVA * * * * * *@ 7
Bepa was broken in the last game of the first set, and then fell apart: on the WTAworld.com scoring-thread people were writing things like "going crazy", "total meltdown" and "become unhinged".
ZVONARň ____@__ 1
PETROVA *@*@ @* 6
Well, she wouldn't be Vera ZvonarŽva if she didn't go a little bit crazy, but that second set is a disappointing anticlimax to her fine form in her first two rounds here. The Kremlin Cup is the biggest sports-event in Russia (according to www.wtatour.com
), and Bepa has said that it's the tournament she'd most like to win in her career!
Petrova quotes (before the match)
"She's a very good player, very consistent, and always intense on the court from start to finish."
From Thursday's blog-entry for www.wtatour.com
The quarter-finals are tomorrow, and I'm playing Vera ZvonarŽva. She's another Russian, and she's going to be tough. She had a great win against Svetlana yesterday so she must be pumped up. She's a really tough competitor, is very solid from the back, and is moving great. She can be very, very difficult. I'll try to be more aggressive, put lots of pressure on her, work hard for the important points, and try to break her down mentally.
I wonder what she meant by "try to break her down mentally" - with her shots, or with gamesmanship?
Petrova quotes (after the match)
"I'm getting better with every match; last week's title has obviously given me lots of confidence. It's great to be in the semi-finals here in Moscow, my home town, so I hope just hope I can keep going."
From Friday's blog-entry for www.wtatour.com
I won my quarter-final match with Vera ZvonarŽva today. I'm very happy with the way I finished off. At the beginning, neither of us were taking our opportunities on each other's serve. We were holding pretty well; I was trying to do something with my returns, but she was dictating so well. It was like this until 5-all in the first set. I knew I had to stand more along the baseline and move in when I had the chance. That helped me win the first set, and I kept on doing it in the second. As soon as I saw her out of position, I'd step in and end the point.
From Sunday's blog-entry for www.wtatour.com
I absolutely did not think two weeks ago I'd do so well at Stuttgart and Moscow. I was really struggling. It was really hard for me to find my form. But I'm really glad now! Last week was just amazing, and this week was also great. I never did so well here but I fought hard and it's amazing what I've done, especially with all these injuries. I just squeezed my teeth together and really went for it. I feel like I did everything I could, and was just a little unlucky in the final.
Vera ZvonarŽva/Meilen Tu:
1r - Iveta BeneöovŠ/Galina Voskoboeva, 5-7 3-6
ZURICH OPEN (Zurich, Switzerland; indoor hard; WTA Tier I)
Bepa has withdrawn from this week's tournament to get some rest ahead of Linz (week of 23rd October) and Hasselt (week of 30th October).
Dr. Andrew Broad