Vera Zvonareva, the Australian Open number 2 seed, played her fourth left-handed opponent (and her third left-handed Czech opponent) today in the quarterfinals. Zvonareva expertly defeated an unsteady Petra Kvitova (seeded 25th) 6-2, 6-4. The match wasn't without its drama. Australia Day cannons were firing, and a fan apparently fell and hurt herself on some steps in the stands. Sometimes I think Australian Open and U.S. Open officials compete to see who can distract the most players. Zvonareva was obviously bothered by all the goings-on, and she slipped and let Kvitova in in the second set. Kvitova took the opportunity, but she made too many careless errors to make much of an impact. Zvonareva made only twelve unforced errors in the match; Kvitova made 28. The young Czech player has big hitting talent, but she showed tonight that she isn't ready for a really big stage. She's definitely one to keep an eye on, though. A calmer, more cerebral Kvitova could be a force in the future; the good news is that she has already made refinements in her game in the past year.
3rd seed Kim Clijsters won the other semifinal. Clijsters defeated 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 7-6. The Belgian went off her game in the second set, and Radwanska used her court savvy to throw Clijsters off her rhythm. But Radwanska's serve, which drags behind the rest of her game, holds her back from defeating someone like Clijsters, who is not only athletic and powerful, but can also pull out several different shots when she needs to.
Radwanska served for the second set at 5-4, 30-0, but was broken. She also made unforced in situations in which she had carefully set up winners. All the same, it was an entertaining second set--though not so much when the Australian Day planes buzzed over the court repeatedly. And Radwanska, having just returned from foot surgery, is to be commended for making it to the quarterfinals.
The percentages for Clijsters are worth examining. She hit 41 winners and made 37 unforced errors. That is officially a "good" statistic, but Clijsters has been making a very high number of unforced errors throughout the tournament.
Wednesday, as previously mentioned, was Australia Day, which means that the ESPN crew eats
Vegemite and invites a player to do likewise. Vera Zvonareva tried the
Australian staple (Kim Clijsters didn't), though she recalled that she didn't like it when she
sampled it five years ago. It turns out that she still doesn't
like it, but she made an effort. Meanwhile, the sight of Brad Gilbert
chewing with his mouth open was revolting. The good news is that, as soon as the Australian zoo creatures were
brought onto the set, Gilbert made an exit.