Number one seed Anna Chakvetadze was taken out of the FORTIS Championships today by Marion Bartoli, who defeated her, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. It was the first time they had ever played each other, and I wish I could have seen it. For several weeks, Bartoli has told the press that her post-Wimbledon stress issues are behind her, but she did nothing to prove that until she got to Luxembourg. Having beaten Both Sybille Bammer and Chakvetadze in succession, she now goes to the semifinals, in which she will face Daniela Hantuchova.
Hantuchova played Patty Schnyder today. Schnyder saved three match points in the second set, and three in the third, but Hantuchova prevailed, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5. Apparently, Schnyder had some problems with the umpiring, and things got a bit out of hand. I'm told she broke her racquet, gave Hantuchova a less-than-cordial handshake, and that her coach/husband, Rainer Hoffman, kicked some of Hantuchova's water bottles over after the match.
Schnyder has an undeserved reputation for poor sportswomanship. The fact is that her peers generally cite her as being a very good sport, and she is one of the few players I know who, as a rule, is very warm toward her opponents during the handshake, no matter how bad a loss she has suffered, and very gracious when she wins. But because of an incident involving Conchita Martinez several years ago at the Family Circle Cup, Schnyder has developed a reputation among some fans as being "rude."
Martinez, as many will recall, had a habit of insisting on using the same balls over and and over if she had won points with them (Henin has now developed this habit to some extent). During this particular match, she apparently slowed things down considerably because of her superstition, and Schnyder became very annoyed. When the match was over, Schnyder pulled her hand away as the handshake was about to take place. She later said, in an interview, that she pulled her hand away so that she could get Martinez's attention and say something to her. No one but Schnyder and Martinez knows what she said.
For her part, Hantuchova, though a charming and intelligent person, has also been known to annoy several opponents because of the way she stalls. Some think that tour umpires have been too kind to her. Schnyder, who is all business on the court, probably had her fill of the stall tactics, too.
My purpose here is not to defend Schnyder regarding today's activities; I'm sure she should have given Hantuchova a regular handshake. My purpose, rather, is to present facts in place of mythology. Yes, Schnyder possibly acted out of line; no, it is not usual behavior for her.
As for Hoffman, he is the latest of several coaches who misbehave; one never knows what to expect of him.