Sunday, August 5, 2007

The rivalry no one talks about

There isn't a rivalry with more depth in women's tennis than the one between Patty Schnyder and Elena Dementieva, yet it is rarely discussed. Prior to their Acura Classic semifinal yesterday, they had met twelve times, and each of them had won six of the matches. After last night, Schnyder now has a slight edge, with her 7-6, 6-0 win.

And what an odd win it was. Dementieva has been out with a training-induced injury, and though she has had trouble with her serve since she did a post-injury temporary service compensation some time ago, she has shown improvement throughout the Acura Classic. But last night, she had problems again. And there was a difference: Usually, Dementieva shrugs off her double faults and moves on. Last night, she became upset by them, possibly because she thought they were more or less behind her.

Schnyder, for her part, did all the things she does best--spinning, slicing, changing pace, and staying steady on the ground. Her serve was not as sharp as usual, however. And then there was the now-famous closing difficulty. She served for the first set at 5-3 and was broken. But that was nothing compared to the difficulty she had serving for the match. At 5-0, 40-0--a dream position--she saw Dementieva not only save six match points, but create three break points. Credit to Schnyder, though--the match ended on her seventh match point.

She now faces Maria Sharapova in the final. Schnyder has had a great week, looking like her old self again, and for her fans (and I am an enthusiastic one), that is great news.

No comments: