Friday, August 7, 2009

Cirstea goes to Los Angeles semifinals, but not without drama

There was a medical time-out. There was foot wrapping and unwrapping. There were tears. There was conflict with the chair umpire. And there was a brief, but impressive, tantrum.

Sorana Cirstea, who does not have a good record against Agnieszka Radwanska, entered the court today in Los Angeles with a good game plan, and was even able to carry most of it out in the first set, which she won in a tiebreak, after losing a chance to serve for it. Some time during that set, she hurt her right heel, and she had to have treatment for it. She looked to be quite troubled by it, and later, she told her coach she could not push off on it. "Then you have to change your tactics," he said.

Cirstea crumbled in the second set, which she lost, 1-6. Even a more than casual observer would have expected her to either retire or just slog through the last set and leave the court "a winner," as Sven Groenefeld advised her. She was hurting. She was frustrated. She was angry. And it did wonders for her. She steadied herself in a way that did not seem possible, and which appeared to unglue her opponent.

Cirstea did what any smart opponent of Radwanska's should do--she took advantage of Radwanska's throwaway second serve. Her first set confidence returned, but Radwanska fought back. Then, when Radwanska served for the match at 5-4, Cirstea broke her. Cirstea then held, and on her third match point on Radwanska's serve (which included a double fault), she won the match--probably as much to her surprise as to anyone's. It is unknown whether Cirstea's foot will permit her to perform well (or to perform at all) in the next round, but she has to be pleased with her effort today, and she has to be pleased with Groenefeld, who obviously helped her believe in herself.

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