Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Some final notes on Charleston

After last year's "surprise" (I put it that way because, if you were there, you couldn't help but notice that the German had "winner" written all over her early in the tournament; we picked her after the third round) win by 16th seed Sabine Lisicki, I wondered if this year's Family Circle Cup could have any drama that would top a win by the lowest seed in tournament history.

Indeed, Sam Stosur's brilliant display of offensive tennis in the final added another episode of memorable Charleston play, though a 52-minute final is always a letdown. Vera Zvonareva's all-out attack on her racquet kept things interesting, and not in a bad way. Anyone can get angry and break a racquet, but it takes someone like Zvonareva to do it with such emphatic style, and to get the crowd behind her.

The Family Circle Cup is known as the tournament that launches stars. Could this have meaning for Stosur? A member of the press pointed out last week that Stosur's rise from doubles stardom to singles stardom may be a first.

Then there were the injuries and illnesses, both before and during the tournament, the series of which climaxed when 1st seed Caroline Wozniacki turned her ankle and had to retire in the semifinals. The irony was that she was playing Zvonareva, who had to retire last year in the third round when she turned her ankle.

The weather could not have been better. There was no rain, no excessive heat, and--though the wind appeared from time to time--it was nothing like the post-tornado wind that sometimes blows through Daniel Island during the tournament.

This year's SMASH Junior Cup winner, Shelby Rogers, lost in the first round, but did take a set. She played in a singles exhibition match, and--when Peng Shuai and Elena Vesnina gave their opponents a walkover--she teamed with Patty Schnyder to play in a doubles exhibition match. Rogers, by the way, was impressive.

This year, fans were also treated to an exhibition featuring Monica Seles, Anna Kournikova, John McEnroe, and Jim Courier. I didn't attend, but the word was that Kournikova played quite well, while Seles had trouble moving.

Other random observations:

Cara Black's absence caused even more people to ask: Are Black and Huber splitting up? I have no idea, but I can confirm that Huber's playing with Nadia Petrova was a last-minute, ad hoc event. Petrova and Stosur are a team, though Stosur will not play as much doubles this year as she has in the past.

Overheard at the All-Access Hour: "Is this tournament more feminine than the others?"

A player who really impressed me was Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan. She lost in the second qualifying round to Heather Watson, but her aggression was duly noted, and I'm keeping an eye on her. As always, it was a pleasure to observe Watson and to spend some time with her affable and funny mom in the stands.

The volunteer staff at the Family Circle Cup is a group that has been together for a long time, and its members are consistently helpful, often going out of their way to be of assistance. It is a very fan-friendly event.

As we were leaving Charleston, we saw Sam Sumyk at the airport, about to depart for Philadelphia. Ekaterina Makarova, on her way to Birmingham, was on our flight. In fact, we bumped into each other during one of those commuter plane aisle traffic jams.


Todd Spiker said...

Yeah, the Black thing had me wondering, too. I looked and looked, even on the pair's website, but also could only find the Huber "up in the air" comment to explain anything (which it really didn't, since she still said they were partners). Interesting, though, how her playing with Petrova last week cost Black the #1 ranking they'd shared for 29 months.

That said, a case can be made that even though Black/Huber is the #1-ranked team in the world, the Huber/Petrova pair might actually be the better combo... at least when it comes to taking on the Sisters in a slam, where you pretty much assume Black/Huber would come up on the short end in such a match.

Diane said...

Given that both Stosur and Petrova confirmed their partnership, I don't think that's going to happen--unless Stosur decides against playing doubles in a major.

Given the way that Raymond and Stubbs played in Charleston, though, there may be some availabilities.

April 21, 2010 11:40 AM

Todd Spiker said...

Yeah, I doubt that it'll be anything other than Black/Huber in the slams, either. At least in 2010.

But there is the thought that Black might not be playing much longer, and there were some questions about that after last season. Specifically, her comments here. At the time, she said she wanted to play long enough to break Navratilova's record for weeks at #1, then retire and think about immediately having kids. But, now, with Huber moving head of her, ever breaking that record is probably far less likely to happen.