Thursday, March 19, 2009

Azarenka sends top seed out of Indian Wells

If the Ivanovic-Pennetta fourth round contest was a bizarre and unsatisfying see-saw of a match, the Safina-Azarenka quarterfinal was an exciting see-saw. There was hard hitting, screaming, chronic double-faulting by Safina, frayed nerves, some wonderful shot-making, and at least one disgusted coach.

Something about being among the elite seems to make Safina uncomfortable. I called the tall Russian the most exciting player of 2008, and now it looks like the pressure has gotten to her. That is too bad; Safina has worked so hard, and brings so much to women's tennis. Here's hoping she pulls herself together. As a Safina fan, I felt bad when, responding to a question about the match this morning, I found myself predicting an Azarenka win.

And win Azarenka did. In fact, I think Azarenka has "winner" written all over her. She still has to learn to tame her emotions, but she is capable of playing very solid and excitng tennis, and she has doubles skills galore. The number 8 seed now moves to the BNP Paribas Open semifinals, after defeating Safina 6-7, 6-1, 6-3. And no matter what happens in her next match, Azarenka enters the world's top 10 next week.

Earlier in the day, 4th seed Vera Zvonareva defeated 9th seed Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets. I didn't get to see much of the match, which--judging from the part I did see--is nothing I should regret. Zvonareva double-faulted twelve times, and Woznniacki was able to convert only one of nine break opportunities. Zvonareva won, 6-4, 6-2.


Anonymous said...

Last night when I checked the match score Azarenka was way up in the second set and I thought to myself then (remembering Australia) that she was capable of pulling it out. So it was no surprise to find out today that Safina lost. And what is it with the WTA "elite" that whenever the pressure's on -- #1 ranking, business end of major title -- they just fold. You talked about the serve of the top players, how about their mental strength (or weakness).


Diane said...

I think it is definitely mental. But why now? King and Evert and Navratilova and Sanchez and Graf held tough.