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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 09:51 PM   #1
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My Prague Open 2009 reports (quarterfinals added)

Mirror of those posted in GM. Here they won't get lost as easily.


Saturday

Korzieniak vs. Pervak
was the first match on ECM court (second biggest court) and the first one I attended this year. Pervak played according to a plan hit everything to Korzieniak's backhand until the court is open enough to hit to Korzieniak's forehand, eventually finish the point at the net. Pervak is a lefty and didn't have any problems to hit crosscourt forehand, which seemed to be her best shot, consistently. This tactic worked quite well till I believe 5-1 for Pervak in the opener, Korzeniak played her best game, which involved hitting more agressive shots and even several net approaches. Even though she lost that game and the set 6-1 she probably took some positives from it and gave Pervak a hard run for her money in the second set which eneded in tiebreak for Pervak. I left after the first set to watch Chvojková for a while and therefore can't say much more though


Chvojková vs. Kubičíková
I entered the centre court (colossaly named Coliseum) at 6-0 for Veronika and after seeing the scoreline was thinking about going back to watch Pervak again. But there was no need. Chvojková was much stronger from the baseline than her opponent whom I didn't know anything about, but for some reason started playing passively instead of finishind her fellow Czech quickly. Kubičíková's forehand didn't look very convincing at the first sight (loopy shot without much bait), but I assume she saw Chvojková not doing much in order to win and decided to play a bit more aggressively and flatened her forehand, even hit some good winners. Chvojková did have a lot of problems until 3-3. Then I left because I wanted to see whether Tabáková's looks deserve all the hype they've gotten recently. Maybe it was my presence because Chvojková lost all 3 games when I was watching and won 6-0 6-3.


Tabáková vs. Pochabová
A battle of two young promising Slovaks. Seems like Slovakia is doing better when it comes to young players than their bigger brother Czech, which I would never expected. But that's okay.
Concerning Tabáková's looks, it's good, though she reminded me of Cibulková for one reason and that was her belly, although I think it is sexy when women have a little one so no objections from me. Pochabová also looks good, a tall blonde with long legs.
As for the actual match, Tabáková could be a good player one day, she has all the tools (maybe movement could be a bit better) needed to be at least top 20 player. Good serve (probably the best technique from all players I watched today), penetrating groundstrokes, willingness to go forward or play dropshots, change rhythm etc. What she lacks is a better return and controlled aggression from the baseline. I didn't count all of her unforced errors but there were many. Tabáková was angry with herself and twice said that it was "sprostá hra" stupid game in English.
Pochabová saw that Tabáková wasn't in her best form and resorted mainly to counterpunching, despite living dangerously at some moments it paid off in the end. Don't think she is a retriever or something though, her shots were almost as penetrating as Tabáková's when she wanted.


Kapshay vs. Bovina

Saw only a few games. Bovina didn't lose any power over the years when she was in oblivion, but her movement looked almost worse than Hantuchova's last year. She was willing to attack the net but due to poor movement and anticipation was caught in the dead zone three or four times. After a while I left for the centre court as I never liked Bovina that much.


Hrdinová vs. Juríková from 6-2 to finish (excluding few games for lunch)
Longest match of the day? Very likely. Also one of the most emotionally draining.
Hrdinová is a really big girl, she towered over Juríková and when I saw 6-2 on the scoreboard I felt with the Slovak player. David against Goliath if you want. But after several rallies I realized that Juríková's chances were far from non-existent. Hrdinová has such a bad backhand ouch. It lacks proper followthrough and it was begging to be exploited. Juríková's tactics were to hit everything to Hrdinová's backhand until she got a short ball to end the point. Easy and efficient, needless to say that it worked pretty well. Hrdinová won most points due to her serve and forehand, both being big shots. Later in the third set it looked to be over for her, she was very angry, even told one ballboy who threw a ball to her to fuck off because she already had another ball in her hand. Dropshots saved her in the end, one wasn't even intended.
After the match Hrdinová came to us to say thank you because we were cheering for her loudly. Best moment of the day for me.


Domachowska vs. Besser

First I would like to mention that Marta's famous tits are not nearly as big in reality as they seem to be on pictures.
Besser belongs to group of players who use two-handed forehand, though she uses one-hander too. I didn't see any pattern as to when she used the former and when the latter, it seemed quite random. Of course when she needed a little more reach she used one-hander.
I didn't like this match at all, both players hit quite hard and were making way too many errors. Typical match of two similar styles when both players don't play well, almost unwatchable. I left after 6 games.


Hlaváčková vs. Daniilidou
The Greekwoman played her typical game of hard serves (and doublefaults) and rhythm changes. The only time Hlaváčková got used to it was in second set which was almost flawless from her. But in first and third set she was making countless errors, her footwork wasn't good and anticipation poor. She wasn't happy with the court because of bad bounces (and righfully so, I played on it and can say that there were some tricky areas). Hlaváčková had her chances in the third set, even was one break up, but it made no difference in the end. Maybe if the crowd had been more supportive she would have won, but who knows.








Sunday



Chvojková vs. Martić
First thing to note was that this match attracted more people (which was not many anyway) than Bovina vs. Baczinsky which was being played simultaneously on another court and Chvojková had her own cheering camp consisting of local club players.

According to Sexysova someone from Hrvatska (Martić's coach?) said that Martic's serve was the best in the world. That of course is worth a good laugh, but for this level it was more than decent, though she could do without both feet being almost in parallel position to the baseline. First serve usually flat, but sometimes a good kicker, particularly outwide, which was an irresolvable problem for Chvojková. However, majority of kickers came from Martić's 2nd serve, they were returnable but not attackable, at least not by Chvojková.
The Croat's groundies were pleasant to watch as she hits them cleanly and more than on power relies on their accuracy. Her speed and court coverage looked above average.

We didn't see much of a fight in the first set, Chvojková was passive and couldn't find anything what would hurt Martić. Scoreline 6-2.
Second set much better, Veronika's serve improved and she started to dictate from her forehand, particularly inside-out one. Hit several good dropshots and volleys but all her efforts were spent in vain. Martić is a class above her.


Hrdinová vs. Pervak
I thought this was a dreadful match-up for Hrdinová and felt sorry for her when I learned she faced this young Russian. Pervak's lefty serve and forehand against Hrdinová's unimpressive backhand, needless to say that I expected the worst.

First set was exactly that, aside of the first game when Hrdinová hit her best serves in the match. Pervak going mainly crosscourt with her forehand, waiting for Hrdinová's errors. Surprisingly more of them came from Eva's forehand when she tried to run around her backhand.
In second set she simply stopped making errors (which is how most of these WTA three-setters are made). Hit only crosscourt backhand, low-paced but deep, it wasn't harmful but also didn't give any opportunity to Ksenia. Forehand and serve did most of the damage. One note on Hrdinová's serve, it is big but if she really is as tall as WTA website states it should be overwhelming, which is not. Better placement wouldn't hurt either.
Third set was influenced by rain, at least its beginning. Pervak held and then when the rain was heaviest broke Eva who started making unforced errors again. I think that the rain disrupted her rhythm and she never found it back despite that sun returned relatively soon. Everything good from the second set was gone.


Domachowska vs. Fedossova
Fedossova is a B-class power player, decent first serve, ok groundstrokes, worse second serve and movement typical for tall players.

Imo the best performance of the day award, should we have something like that, would go to Marta (that doesn't say much though). When Fedossova managed to hit her 1st serve in she won a decent % of points, but that was it. Domachowska was all over her second serve, and her own serve matched Fedossova's without problems despite that she is more than 10cm shorter. Her game was faster, she didn't have problems to turn defense into offense, hit the ball sooner after bouncing than her oppo. Marta's performance was entirely different than what she produced on saturday. Some of her dropshots were amazing, particularly cross court ones.


Mladenovic vs. Pochabová
The Slovak was lucky (or unlucky) to meet another power baseliner and so I didn't get a chance to see how would she play against someone less powerful than her. Instead I got a counterpunching session once again (which doesn't mean I have anything against this particular style of play). Anyway, this time it wasn't enough. Mladenovic, contrary to Tabáková, knows how to hit her shots in (at least in this match she knew, her grundstrokes, particularly forehand, are low %). Her service motion looked pretty smooth and I didn't find any significant shortcomings from technical point of view. Forehand is her stronger wing and she hits it with plenty of power, driving straight through the ball with speed, making it quite flat. She was one of the few players in qualies able to hit a winner out of nowhere on clay. In the end she just overpowered Pochabová who hits her forehand a bit more from underneath the ball to make it more safe.


btw. it seems the Slovak players are a friendly party, Tabáková, Rybáriková and Pochabová were all in stands to watch Wienerová's match against Daniliidou, chatting together and laughing.

Last edited by Lunaris : Jul 18th, 2009 at 12:52 AM.
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 09:52 PM   #2
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Re: My Prague Open 2009 reports

Monday reports


Baczinsky vs. Ivanova
Both played qualification but I watched none of their matches so I thought it was time to change it.

Ivanova was mostly retrieving in first set, too bad for her that she lacks necessary speed and ability to hit consitent deep shots for it to be effective. She called her coach before the last game of the set and I guess he told her to take initiative in rallies and generally play a bit more aggressively. She tried, but most of the points when she was dictating ended in her own errors as she lacked raw firepower to hit through Baczinsky. Her net skills are definitely entertaining, three times she found herself at the net in an offensive position, in this order:
1) three smashes aimed exactly at Timea and all of them she managed to get back
2) good smash for once
3) smash hit bottom of the net, Ivanova screams and then yells "kurva"

As for Baczinsky, I was surprised to see her serve being quite aggressive and really well placed, she was hitting corners of the service boxes seemingly at will. 1st serve usually flat, sometimes a kicker, 2nd serve also a kicker, but the only really effective variant was out wide from ad court (this one usually works best for most players). Aside from that and some moonballing in order to get a short ball I saw nothing worthy of note in my pad.


Tatishvili vs. Mladenovic from 3-4 in 1st set
I must reasses my perception of Mladenovic a bit. When she wants or is forced to she can play a high % game and wait for a convenient time to unload her big forehand.

Tatishvili was an enigma for me as I never saw her before, nor did I know how she looked. Now I know that she is an aggressive player whose groundstrokes lack topspin when she is in offense. She relies on power more than on accuracy and doesn't change rhythm very much. Unlike Mladenovic she didn't wait for anything and attacked whenever she could. And I should mention I liked her jumping crosscourt backhand she occasionally used.

As for the actual match, neither player could hold serve because even though it provided them good offensive positions they couldn't take advantage of it and made too many unforced errors. I thought who played more defensively (Mladenovic) would win and she did, though just barely.


Bammer vs. Pironkova from 2-6 3-4
First and foremost this was god awful to watch.

Pironkova seemed to have issues with tossing the ball, the worst tosses came when she served for the match at 6-2 5-4, I could tell when her 1st serve wasn't going in just from watching the ball toss. It was nothing as drastic as Ivanovic's one but Dementieva's post fall 2007 comes close, not completely horrible but still bad. How I wish she served it out.
Anyway, most people know Pironkova as the girl that beat Venus Williams at Australian Open (2005?), now I understand why she never built on that. Aside from rather inconsistent ball toss we have a forehand which just sucks - she pushes it forward without much of a swing, sometimes even runs around it to hit backhand (no wonder that today in doubles she played on backhand side). With such forehand she has no hope to make it to higher echelons of the game.

Bammer was Bammer as we know her, the only notable thing about her being a nice dark green outfit.

There was a guy sitting next to me and talking with someone via a mobile phone. His words were of a "frozen" forehand (don't know which player he was referring to, though) and that he would rather watch some motorsport on TV than this. After that he left. The only reason I stayed to watch this was that there was only one match being played at the same time - Daniliidou vs. Martic, which I believed wasn't much better.


Záhlavová-Strýcová vs. K. Kučová
I could watch either this or Dulgheru vs. Suarez-Navarro. Not a great prospect imo. Monday was probably the worst day when it came to match-ups. Most matches saw two defensive players against each other and on clay. Tuesday was so much better.

Neither Strýcová nor Kučová have any kill shots, both are rather short for modern tennis players. Most of their winners were dropshots, no wonder since they scored at least 1,5 dropshot attempts per game. Kučová plays on both wings two-handed, her 1st serve ranges between 120-140 km/h, 2nd serve about 105 km/h, yet Strýcová wasn't able to beat the crap outta them, which only shows her lack of weaponry off the ground.

I couldn't get into this match at all, it was possibly even worse than Bammer vs. Pironkova, and fell asleep to miss last several games. My sleep was only interrupted thrice, once by Bára's loud swearing and twice by a car alarm, there is a car in the stands promoting one of the tournament sponsors.


Schiavone vs. Peer
Until 1-5 in 1st set Peer played an excellent match, returns and groundstrokes were very deep, her forehand looked to be at 2007 level, maybe even better (it was flattened out and she was attacking and hitting winners). Schiavone didn't stand any chance. Peer's level dropped then but still was ok. 10th game was decisive, Schiavone hit two doubles to offer Peer a chance to make it on deuce. Many deuces followed, but in the end Peer missed a bh return when Schiavone had an advantage. 5-5 and Peer called her coach but despite that couldn't make it to tie-break.
In 2nd set Peer's game dropped even more, back was the moonball forehand, serve didn't help her at all, she tried some bh slice approaches but those were regularly too short and became an easy prey for Fran, she just passed and passed and passed.

Shame for Peer, because she looked really good in first 6 games, and shame for the crowd because it lost one of the best players in the tournament. Unfortunate draw having Schiavone and Peer against each other in 1st round.
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 09:52 PM   #3
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Re: My Prague Open 2009 reports

Tuesday reports


Sprem vs. Malek
Malek faced a match-up she couldn't survive unless Sprem played a dreadful match. I noticed that when hitting 2nd serve with spin the German falls a bit backwards like on her heels, which I believe costs her certain amount of control. Pervak (I think it was her) has a similar problem.
Sprem was dictating most rallies as expected, Malek tried her best to defend, hitting deep slices from both wings. The longer the rally the bigger chance Sprem would miss. Karolina used dropshots when Malek was meters behind the baseline with a good % of success. But her best winners came from bh dtl.



Benešová vs. K. Plíšková
Plíšková as much as she is hyped here in tennis media in Czechia doesn't have almost any chance to ever make it big. She is a b-rate Hantuchova's clone, only a bit taller. Flat 1st serve, not as fast as it could be (170-180 km/h), but she can produce venomous angles due to her height. 2nd serve is a wannabe kicker, which might work against shorter players with less than average returning skills, but not against anyone else (it's speed about 120 km/h). Her own return is great when facing slower serves, very well placed, but when facing a fast serve she's in trouble. Good clean groundstrokes, but not that powerful. Sucky movement and footwork. Pretty much like Daniela with the exception that Plíšková is yet to develop any kind of all-court game.

I couldn't believe what Iveta was doing in the 1st set, footwork was dismal, timing entirely off. Unforced errors followed naturally.
2nd set was so much better, Benešová's footwork and timing improved several notches, she started to make Plíšková move (some good angles and dropshots). Plíšková's serve held nicely in the 1st set and won her a good amount of points, but in the 2nd set was considerably worse.
3rd set followed in footsteps of the 1st, until 3-3 when Iveta managed to break, since then she was in control.



Rybáriková vs. Baczinsky
I saw only last 7 points in the tiebreak, but it seemed that Timea was torturing Magda's backhand with moonballs. Considering how bad Magda's backhand is I imagine she made tons of unforced errors. Shame as I wanted to watch at least one complete singles match with her.



Zakopalová vs. Hercog
Hercog is another tall blonde and as I understand one of the latest subjects of Tennisforum hype. Needless to say I was curious whether this hype was justified.
First thing to strike me was her serve, she uses kicker more often than flat variant, which is highly unusual. In comparison to Baczinsky's or Plíšková's kicker Hercog's one is much better. She gets very low in knees when serving and leans backwards, which enables her to hit a good kick serve.
Her forehand is quite versatile, she can hit a flat bomb, offensive topspin, accurate inside out forehand and also defensive fh with a longer trajectory. Another thing worthy of note was that she hits dropshots almost exclusively from her forehand, most of them also inside-out.
Hercog's backhand is much weaker, she cannot hit a proper two-handed drive. To hide this she developed a nasty slice which is how she hits her bh in 80% of times. When she decides to hit a drive it's a moonball - 4 times she tried to hit a backhand winner and missed each one, even from promising positions.
Her movement is surprisingly good considering she is a tall player.

In 1st set till 5-2 Klára played very well, returning excellently, could match Hercog's forehand by her own and her shots had necessary accuracy. But then suddenly errors, particularly netted backhands (I got an impression she didn't like that slice very much because for most of the 2nd set she attacked mainly Hercog's forehand) came in. Hercog made a good use of her kicker in combination with volley, played that like 5 times with 100% success, all of them on big points when she served from ad court out wide. Everytime it caught Klára by surprise.

So overall, I thought Hercog was good, but that backhand needs an improvement. I like players who use slices, but not when it is their only option how to hit a particular shot.


Vaidišová vs. Kudryavtseva
The root of Vaidišová's problems are her legs, they are nice to look at but absolutelly useless for a tennis pro. Confidence might play some role in why she sucks so much, but ultimately she's just clumsy and slow. She never was an athletic player in the first place but at least could get herself into position to hit the ball, now she can't. Add to that her wide swings and she is pretty much lost whenever the ball isn't going straight into her optimal hitting zone. She has many problems with balls that aim at her, just cannot make a few necessary side or backsteps even if the ball is slow. More mistakes come from her backhand, which is not surprising, in several instances she hit bottom of the net and looked like she was about to fall on the ground, as if her legs were entangled. Last year she still had some speed and could reach many balls, but now she can't even hit a defensive backhand slice over the net, simply because she is too late to play the ball, sometimes she didn't even try to run down Kudryavtseva's shots when I thought she could (and would in 2008). Her movement forward was just as suspicious. Sliding on clay very awkward, almost Sharapova-esque. Return was always bad, but now it's grisly - Kudryavtseva's serve is ridiculous. It has two phases, first she makes a standard body motion, then she suddenly stops and only after that starts with the serving arm motion (speed of her 1st serves averaged somewhere around 140 km/h) - even this Nicole managed to return 4 meters wide or hit the Sony Ericsson logo attached to the net.
Serve remains Nicole's strongest shot, though she makes too many doublefaults.

All in all, watching Vaidišová is a hollow experience nowadays, she is worse than last year. It's only about whether her opponent can return, which is not a problem on clay. She can hit a good winner off the ground when she doesn't need to make much use of her footwork. She cannot play any defense anymore. I left at 5-7 2-4 to catch my train and it seems I didn't miss anything. Crowd booed her in the end, or so I heard.

What a shame, Vaidišová could have achieved so much more, especially now when higher echelons of the game lack quality. Don't expect her back in form anytime soon. That clumsiness won't permit it.
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Old Jul 18th, 2009, 12:14 AM   #4
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Re: My Prague Open 2009 reports

Quarterfinals


Hradecká vs. Bammer
Hradecká‘s game is quite rude, no finesse just a brutal force. Her serve is one of the hardest ones on the tour, flat one ranges between 190-200 km/h. Her record at the tournaments is 205 km/h. The problem is the difference between quality of her 1st and 2nd serve. The latter doesn‘t stand out in any way. While Roddick for example produces fast 1st but also 2nd serves, Hradecká only the former.
Her return is mediocre, somewhat resembling Šafářová‘s, bad anticipation, reflexes, late start to the ball, which during this match often meant she was reduced to hit a moonball return in order to get it in. Hard to say whether the reason for that was Bammer‘s lefty serve or whether Lucie returns like that even against right-handers. Probably a bit from both.
Groundies both two-handed, when she is later to play her a forehand she can hit a one-hander quite well. Both groundstrokes are very hard, played with not much topspin over the net. I couldn‘t really decide which one was better, probably forehand but not by much.
Footwork and generally movement looked abysmal, especially in 1st set, several balls she hit way in front of her body when attempting crosscourt attacks, mainly backhands. Other times she made contact with the ball when it was at her shoulder level. Some of her misses reminded of Vaidišová's ones.
She has enough weapons but needs to improve her return big time and also move better. Based on this match these are two weakest elements in her game.

Bammer didn't show anything remarkable (well, she rarely does). Even though Hradecká won only point on return Bam Bam still found a way how to mess up the whole opening set, almost. There were points when had she been more aggressive she would have won them. But instead she was quite lucky to win the set 7-5. One example of her generosity, when she served for it leading 5-4 she was very generous and hit two consecutive doublefaults at deuce to get broken. In the last game Hradecká tried to attack Bammer's 2nd serves but again took them too late close to her shoulder level and missed.

In the next set Hradecká improved her returns. they were still weak but at least she managed to get them in, which was enough since Bammer played passively and didn't do anything to benefit from short returns.
The Austrian struggled with her ball toss, that's why she produced so many DF's. Except two specific doubles she made in 10th game, when Hradecká forced her to doublefault twice in a row by stepping inside the baseline close to the service box and then running back to the baseline (like Bartoli sometimes does). Some servers get nervous when their opponents do this and are more prone to doublefaulting - Bammer is one of them as it seemed. Hradecká eventually took the 2nd set 7-5. Lucie's movement was much much better then and her timing also improved, she wasn't making errors if she could help it.

In the 3rd set Hradecká started on serve, but I wasn't very confident, thinking her level would drop again, which is not unusual for players of her calibre.
Bammer probably realized that Lucie's return had improved a little bit (as I wrote most of the time Lucie managed to get them in in the 2nd set, whilst in the 1st set she missed majority of her returns). So instead of continuing with kick serve she began using flat serve to change something. Another variant would be that she wasn't happy with those tossing issues I mentioned earlier. Kicker requires to toss the ball over your head, which Bammer had clear issues with and often had to catch the ball and toss again. Toss for a flat serve wasn't causing her as many problems so she continued mostly with that. It comes down to the fact that Bammer's ball toss is too high and therefore prone to inconsistency.
Anyway, I thought it was a good change as Hradecká started making more return errors than in the previous set.
6th game was crucial imo, Hradecká made an unforced errors and Bammer levelled the score at 3-3. For some reason that error totally disrupted Lucie's concentration, In next two games she was clearly impatient, going for winners immediately and missing. She fought back to make the score 5-5 but lost in the end, again 5-7.



Benešová vs. Diyas
Despite that Diyaz and Benešová are in the same club Iveta doesn't know her that much according to a short interview with her from thursday.

Diyas is a baseline who doesn't have a figure to play a big offensive game. Serve is not that bad, at least speed wise (and it won't get much faster, she's prorbably close to her limit - about 175 km/h), but I think she could work on placement and spins. Most of her serves didn't exactly paint the lines and Iveta took advanatage of it, her returns were excellent.
Diyas herself showed some good returning against Kvitová, but today it looked worse (lefty serve again?) and with time less and less aggressive as she missed quite often at the beginning of the match.

Benešová played one of her better matches for sure, she was varying her serve, returning very accurately, keeping solid depth of her groundies and for once she didn't always hit the ball at her opponent when she was at the net.
Diyas made many errors when she tried to change direction of her shots or hit a winner. Easy one for Benešová.



Schiavone vs. K. Bondarenko
First I gotta say that I didn't pay as much attention to this match as it deserved.

Fran seems to be in form, she plays a colorful game, topspins, dropshots, both things very dangerous on clay, moves very well and fights for every point. Her serve, mostly slice variant, is solid and gets the job done against these players. It would be a surprise if she didn't capture this title, but everything can happen.

Kateryna played with a strapped thigh, which I believe limited her movement a bit. She made quite many errors, even from her backhand.



Instead of Baczinsky vs. Suarez-Navaro I watched doubles semifinals, so no report from this match, sorry.


Reports from semifinals and final most likely on Sunday.

Last edited by Lunaris : Jul 18th, 2009 at 09:40 AM.
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Old Jul 19th, 2009, 10:36 PM   #5
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Re: My Prague Open 2009 reports

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Originally Posted by Lunaris View Post
Hradecká [...] Her serve is one of the hardest ones on the tour, flat one ranges between 190-200 km/h. Her record at the tournaments is 205 km/h.
Is this official?

So the list of WTA players who have cracked the 200 km/h mark is:

V. Williams
S. Williams
Big Bad Brenda
Ivanovic
ALG
Hradecka

Lisicki is very very close but not there yet to the best of my knowledge.
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 09:07 PM   #6
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Re: My Prague Open 2009 reports (quarterfinals added)

I didn't see her hit the 205km/h serve personally but it was mentioned in one of the tournament newsletters. I saw Hradecka hit 202 and 204km/h fast serves, though. If the radar was accurate of course.
The newsletter also mentioned that she won 3k Euros for hitting the fastest serve at some French challenger, its speed also being close to 200km/h or maybe more, I am not sure now.
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