Friday, March 20, 2009
Zvonareva goes to Indian Wells final
A few days ago, when asked, I said I thought Vera Zvonareva had an edge over Victoria Azarenka should they meet in the semifinals at the BNP Paribas Open. Then I saw Zvonareva play against Caroline Wozniacki, and Azarenka play against Dinara Safina, and I gave the edge to Azarenka.
They fooled me today. Zvonareva did not in any way resemble the player who defeated Wozniacki in that mess of a quarterfinal match, and Azarenka did not in any way resemble the player who took out the number 1 seed. It was all Zvonareva from the first ball that was struck. She could have served a bit better, but it didn't matter: She played a smart, relatively clean game, and dispensed of Azarenka in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3. Azarenka had numerous opportunities to break Zvonareva, but instead, she behaved like the head case she sometimes is.
When Azarenka finally won a final, after mentally wilting in several previous ones, I thought she would become mentally tougher, and she did. But perhaps the occasion got to her today. She had taken out the top seed, she was playing as an about-to-be member of the top 10, and--perhaps most important--she was playing someone she had never defeated.
I think Azarenka will mature and continue to overcome her mental fragility. In the meantime, Zvonareva has become one of the most impressive players on the tour. For those of us who always knew she had it in her, it is a real pleasure to see her become such a threat.
I watched the match on the Fox Sports Network, and was tempted to turn the sound off. The commentators were chronically inaccurate in reporting various items, and the inaccurate commentary was riddled with sexism. The payoff at the end, however, was a nice interview with the charming Zvonareva.
Zvonareva, the 4th seed, will meet either defending champion Ana Ivanovic or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the final. Zvonareva has never played Pavlyuchenkova, and she is 3-4 against Ivanovic overall, and 2-3 against her on hard courts. Last year, Ivanovic defeated Zvonareva in straight sets in the Indian Wells quarterfinals.