I attended the Birmingham 2005 tournament from Monday to Sunday, and now that I've uploaded to my website all the photos I took, it's time to share my observations of Tatiana.
I had a notable sighting of Tatiana on Tuesday. By Court 4 there is a locked gate which separates the public from a players-only area, and Tatiana was on the other side of this gate just a few feet away from me! She was wearing flip-flops, so I could see just how heavily her right ankle (which she sprained in Paris) was strapped.
Second round (after a bye):
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN  d. Natalie Grandin, 6-4 7-5
I only saw the last game of this match, because it started at the same time as Maria Kirilenko's match, and I chose Maria because I liked them equally (after Maria's disappointing performance I like Tatiana more) but I have many fewer opportunities to watch Maria than to watch Tatiana.
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN  d. Rika Fujiwara, 6-4 6-4
Tatiana may have won in straight sets, but her performance was every bit as unimpressive as Maria Kirilenko's had been in losing to Jamea Jackson, if not worse than that. Tatiana was extremely lucky that she was playing such an incompetent player who basically donated the match to her with a string of unforced errors. Tatiana made so many errors herself that she would probably have lost to any of the other 14 players in the third round.
In Tatiana's defence, her ankle-injury had flared up badly, and it was clear from her grimaces in the first few games that she was in pain. Unfortunately this made for a boring, low-quality match, but kudos to Tatiana for fighting through the pain.
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN  d. Anna Chakvetadze, 6-4 7-6 (7/3)
This was an entertaining match between two very attractive players. Tatiana played much better than her dire performance against Rika Fujiwara in the previous round, although still well short of the standard required for induction into my eternal fanship, or the standard she showed at Birmingham 2004 (where she was runner-up to Maria Sharapova in a mouthwatering final).
At Birmingham 2004, Tatiana was placing the ball much better than at Birmingham 2005, with immaculate length, engineering the points beautifully to create open spaces for her winners. She also had the sexiest grunt in tennis ("uy... uy... UY!"), and those microshorts! But these three ingredients were missing for much of Birmingham 2005, robbing her of her unique "Golovinesque" appeal.
So, while part of me was loyal to the memory of the Golovin I found so entertaining to watch in 2004, part of me wanted Chakvetadze to win. Anna has been a revelation to me since I first saw her play on TV at the French Open, with her cuteness and animated beauty - I actually found her more attractive than Tatiana in this match.
Anna went for her shots and was making all the nice noises in this match (apart from a couple of points early in the second set when Tati decided to grunt), but she was nervous from the start, and Tati emerged victorious with a handful of spectacular winners on the way.
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA  d. TATIANA GOLOVIN , 7-5 6-1
This was a mouthwatering match, and a repeat of the Birmingham 2004 final. Tatiana had been very lucky with her draw to reach the semi-finals, struggling as she was with a right-ankle injury. Maria had a sore throat and a right-thigh injury, so it was a battle of the walking wounded.
Tati put her injury-problems aside to produce her best performance of the tournament in the first set, contributing fully to the set of the tournament in terms of the quality of play from both players. Both girls hit their fair share of brilliant winners in the first set, not to mention their fair share of grunting, with Tati's alluring "uy" providing the perfect duet to Maria's song-grunt.
Normally I would be very anxious with Maria struggling like this in a set, but against Tatiana in this entertaining form, I simply enjoyed every moment of it. It was the kind of display from Tatiana that makes me still believe I might one day induct her into my eternal fanship.
For a point-by-point description of this match, please visit my Birmingham 2005 report for Maria Sharapova:
I have also uploaded the many photos that I took on my digital camera at Birmingham 2005:
Maria Sharapova (75 photos)
Daniela Hantuchová (47)
Maria Kirilenko (41)
Anna Chakvetadze (28)
Yuliana Fedak (16)
Marion Bartoli (14)
Ai Sugiyama (13)
Arantxa Parra Santonja (11)
Alina Jidkova (10)
Eleni Daniilidou (10)
Maria Elena Camerin (7)
Jelena Jankovic (7)
Jennifer Russell (6)
Samantha Stosur (6)
Tamarine Tanasugarn (6)
Rika Fujiwara (6)
María Sánchez Lorenzo (5)
Nicole Vaidišová (5)
Akiko Morigami (4)
Amanda Janes (4)
L'udmila Cervanová (3)
Tatiana Perebiynis (3)
Mashona Washington (3)
Alyona Bondarenko (2)
Anne Kremer (2)
Tatiana Panova (2)
Bryanne Stewart (2)
Shinobu Asagoe (1)
Evgenia Linetskaya (1)
Laura Granville (1)
Jamea Jackson (1)
Anne Keothavong (1)
Natalie Grandin (1)
All these photos can be found in the Photos section of my website (subject to the image-host being up at the time you visit):
Dr. Andrew Broad