Kim Clijsters won the first set 7-6. Ana Ivanovic won the second, 6-3, then went up 5-1 in the third. She held five match points, too, but it was the 2nd seed who walked away with the win when she prevailed 7-5 in a third set tiebreak. Clijsters double-faulted eleven times in the match, but has to be given credit for making an amazing comeback against the 19th seed.
There were some upsets today. Top seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta were defeated by 8th seeds Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Anabel Medina Garrigues. The Spanish team defeated Dulko and Pennetta 7-5, 6-4 in a match that featured twelve breaks of serve. In singles, 6th seed Jelena Jankovic lost her quarterfinal match to 21st seed Andrea Petkovic. Petkovic, who has always had talent but who used to fall short in the nerve department, seetms to have turned that situation around. She defeated Jankovic 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, giving her an excellent follow-up to her defeat of world number 1 Caroline Wozniacki.
And then there was the quarterfinal match between Alexandra Dulgheru and Maria Sharapova, which seemed like the Match That Wouldn't End. At 5-all in the third, serving at 30-15, Sharapova left the court to have the trainer look at her foot after she turned her ankle (she had called for the trainer earlier, but had changed her mind); she then received medical treatment. Dulgheru can be somewhat of a wall (talk about fitness), and she was happy to hang in and continually retrieve balls and wait for the 16th seed to make errors. They played almost three hours and 29 minutes, and broke each other 18 times. It went on for so long that Dulgheru did a costume change. Once she hurt her foot, Sharapova really started taking it to the 26th seed, with Dulgheru giving it right back, as she moved Sharapova around the court as much as possible.
Sharapova, who made 76 unforced errors (including 17 double faults), won the match 3-6, 7-6, 7-6. Dulgheru's relentless defense game almost paid off, but not quite. How Sharapova will fare in terms of foot strength and energy is unknown, but she put herself back into the top 10, no matter what. She also did a very good job of working around her injury and the feelings that obviously accompanied it.
Several years ago, I watched Nadia Petrova beat down Sharapova, and throughout the match, Petrova's name was mentioned only once. Commentators Mary Joe Fernandez and Cliff Drysdale could not stop talking about Sharapova, even as she was being hammered by her countrywoman. I thought of that tonight when I had Tennis Channel on (the picture is more stable than on Tennis TV, so sometimes I have them both running). To hear Lindsay Davenport go on, Dulgheru wasn't even there. Funny--I saw Dulgheru play her heart out, change the pace when she needed to, switch from defense to offense, and skillfully run down balls that would have created winners against other players. But Davenport would not give her any credit. Even when co-commentator Ted Robinson said "Dulgheru deserves a lot of respect," Davenport changed the subject.
I enjoy watching Sharapova as much as the next person, and--as anyone who reads this blog knows--I have not been part of the "Sharapova's career is over" trend. This isn't about Sharapova: It's about a commentator's ridiculous fawning over a player--which is problematic in itself--and her subsequent dismissal of the opponent. It took Sharapova three and a half error-strewn hours to overcome Dulgheru; maybe the 26th seed could be acknowledged as at least being part of the match?
(And while I'm on the subject of Tennis Channel: The Family Circle Cup in Charleston, a premier event, takes place next week, but according to Tennis Channel, it doesn't exist. The commentators have the women heading straight from Miami to Europe.)