Friday, September 7, 2007

Kuznetsova and Chakvetadze lower the bar--to about ankle level

I don't know who struggled more--the two women in this match, or those of us who decided to keep watching it. Mentally fragile, uninspired and sluggish, both Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anna Chakvetadze sprayed balls over the place, missed shots they usually hit on target, destroyed their own service games, and generally caused embarrassment for the women's tour in a U.S. Open semifinal to forget. The rallies tended to be short because no one could keep the ball in the court or out of the net. It was painful to watch Chakvetadze melt down in the course of the match, especially if you are a fan of hers, as I am. And it was equally painful to watch Kuznetsova--who has a history of mental fragility at big moment--fail to get her nerves under control. When the wind picked up, it only made matters worse.

This should have been a great contest, with Kuznetsova's speed and super-forehand matched against Chakvetadze's superior ability to construct points. Instead, it was the kind of train wreck we have come to expect when two Russians play each other--only worse. Anyone not familiar with women's tennis who happened to walk in on this match would have found it astounding to learn that these two women are now numbers 2 and 5 in the world. Kuznetsova was finally able to get her nerves somewhat under control, while Chakvetadze went to pieces; hence, the final score: Kuznetsova def. Chakvetadze, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1

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