Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Defending champion moves on, former champion goes home

It wasn't much fun to watch Ana Ivanovic and Flavia Pennetta play their fourth round match in Indian Wells last night. No matter whom you wanted to win, you were bound to feel frustrated. Ivanovic was again having trouble with her serve, and making errors right and left. Pennetta was not her usual aggressive self, for some reason, and she, too, had chronic service problems.

Nor was it all bad. Ivanovic use her forehand masterfully to destroy Pennetta's weak second serves, and Pennetta used drop shots, lobs and passing shots to befuddle Ivanovic. The momentum shifts were extreme. Ivanovic went up 4-0 in the first set, only to have Pennetta win three games in a row. The service breaks--a total of fifteen--continued throughout the match, and each set began with a break (Pennetta went up 3-0 right away in the second). In the third set, Pennetta saved two match points on her own serve, but then tossed a sure-thing passing shot into the net, giving Ivanovic a third match point, which was the magic one for the defending champion.

I was not able to watch the match between former champion Daniela Hantuchova and Sybille Bammer, but a quick look at the stats told me everything I needed to know: Bammer's service game was outstanding, and Hantuchova's was horrible.

In other fourth round matches: Li Na saved four match points, but still lost to Vera Zvonareva, Urszula Radwanska was almost overcome by the heat, not to mention very questionable line calls; she lost to Caroline Wozniacki. Nuria Llagostera Vives retired with a hip strain, giving the match to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Top seed Dinara Safina won a spirited contest between her and Jill Craybas, Victoria Azarenka won a close match against Shahar Peer, and Agnieszka Radwanska won a three-setter (6-0 in the first) against Agnes Szavay.

The quarterfinals:

Safina vs. Azarenka
Zvonareva vs. Wozniacki
Ivanovic vs. Bammer
Radwanska vs. Pavlyuchenkova

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