No one on the tour can break a racquet quite like Vera Zvonareva, and when she cracked her Prince today during the second set of the Charleston final, it seemed as though everyone in the stands was experiencing a catharsis along with her. Zvonareva, who was the finalist in 2008, acknowledged earlier this week that she is still not as fit as she was before she tore two ligaments in her ankle last year (also in Charleston), but it looked as though no degree of fitness could have helped her today.
Sam Stosur, the tournament's 4th seed, walked onto the court and immediately began serving a series of unreturnable balls. And when Zvonareva did return them, Stosur found the lines over and over, completely dominating Zvonareva, and taking the first set 6-0, dropping only five points.
Stosur, not even breaking a sweat, quickly went up 3-0 in the second set. After Zvonareva double-faulted, she smacked her racquet on the court three times and headed toward the Charleston-style sofa provided by the tournament for each player. She received a racquet abuse violation warning from chair umpire Lynn Welch, then smashed the racquet again on the court near her seat. Zvonareva looked at the crumpled racquet, and then gave it few solid kicks for good measure. She returned to the court to loud cheers of encouragement from the crowd, and held serve for the first time.
Zvonareva then broke Stosur, and it wasn't unreasonable to think there would be a momentum change in the match. But for Stosur, that was just a brief interim in a performance of almost total domination. She got the break back, and went on to win the second set 6-3, holding at love in her final service game. The 52-minute match was the shortest in Family Circle Cup history.
Stosur served only three aces, but her first and second serve win percentages were a whopping 86 and 69, and her first and second return percentages were 63 and 73. This was only her second tour singles title, but there is every reason to believe there will be more.
When she received her runner-up trophy, Zvonareva, recovered and good-humored enough to deliver a one-liner, said, "I would like to thank my team...for supporting me this week, even though I think they did a terrible job today." Later, when told that she didn't seem to have an answer for Stosur's power, a more serious Zvonareva said "No, I think there were answers. I think I just didn't make the right decisions at the right time...."
Zvonareva also gets credit for the best line of the tournament: "...you got to try to change something up, you know, maybe just change even like emotionally, try to maybe relax more and, you know, just relax and enjoy the game, just maybe break a racquet, forget about what was happening for the past half an hour and start all over again."