Monday, March 16, 2009

Pennetta and Hantuchova survive challenges in Indian Wells

Flavia Pennetta started her BNP Paribas Open third round match against Angela Haynes by going up 3-0, but soon, she was down 3-5. Pennetta lost that set, 4-6, and it wasn't until a little way into the second set that she looked like herself, cutting way down on the errors and hitting crisp, accurate groundstrokes. She took that set 6-4, and by the third set, Haynes--who had looked good for two sets--faded away, and made enough errors of all kinds for Pennetta to take the set 6-1.

Daniela Hantuchova and Petra Cetkovska each wasted so many game and break points in their third round match, it looked as though each was trying to lose. Hantuchova's game was often a mix of bad serves and failed dropshots, and Cetkovska would gain momentum, only to neutralize it with unforced errors. It was a frustrating match to watch. In the end, Hantuchova's experience and Cetkovska's inexperience combined for Hantuchova to eek out a 7-5, 7-5 victory. The two-time winner in Indian Wells is going to have to come up with something better, however, if she is to survive much longer. As for Cetkovska, it was nevertheless a pleasure to watch her; she has a lot of potential.

There was one upset today. Nuria Llagostera Vives defeated 21st seed Alisa Kleybanova. I didn't get to see the match, but to some extent, it had to have been a clinic on how to beat a player much taller than oneself.

Here is how the 4th round looks:

Dinara Safina vs. Jill Craybas
Shahar Peer vs. Victoria Azarenka
Vera Zvonareva vs. Li Na
Caroline Wozniacki vs. Urszula Radwanska
Ana Ivanovic vs. Flavia Pennetta
Sybile Bammer vs. Daniela Hantuchova
Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Agnes Szavay
Nuria Llagostera Vives vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Even with Maria Sharapova and Nadia Petrova absent, there are three Russians in the final sixteen. The biggest surprise is probably Jill Craybas, though--these days--it is surprising (a pleasant surprise, too) to see Agnes Szavay in the group. And in the next round, she will be playing one of her phenom peers, Agnieszka Radwanska.

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