Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Clijsters squeaks into Miami quarterfinals

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.)


TennisAce said...

Diane, welcome to the world of Sharapova Tennis Association. Where the only person that matters is Sharapova and everyone else is just there for her to see her awesomeness.

Clearly you did not hear the beginning of the match and hear Ted's constant fawning over her. I knew that Alix would give Maria trouble. She was not intimidated and she was not to be denied. I have seen Alix play and I know while her game is not as strong as others, her mental strength cannot be denied. It would be interesting to see when they get to clay and if they play again what the outcome will be, because Alix is a demon on the red stuff.

The commentators have been driving everyone out of their collective minds these days with their drivel, but that is why we have a mute button or in my case, I can 1/2 mute which makes me hear the ball but not the commentary

Anonymous said...

I have been following WTA intensely for sometime now and the fawning over the most attractive and youngest players (notably Ivanovic and Wozniacki) really frustrates me. Often I'm convinced the male commentator on British Eurosport is commentating on their physique and not the quality of their shots and is most forgiving of their mistakes (taking a different and more critical attitude to older and less attractive players).

Victor Abadio said...

Even during the match Davenport was tweeting that she had an early flight the next day, that this match would never end, etc. No professionalism at all...

svente said...

76 unforced errors! Holy cow...

I was following the match on my phone, so mainly just saw the score line.


Diane said...

What can we expect from the woman who came forward and publicly defended a life-long bigot in the sport, of whom she is--by virtue of gender--a victim? (I'll refrain from expressing my thoughts about her Olympics stunt.)

I don't like Tennis Channel, anyway. It's called Tennis channel, which means the commentators should make fewer--not more--mistakes than commentators on other channels. Commentators frequently lack knowledge about players and events, they mispronounce most of the names, amd the on-air feature people sometimes read aloud at a poor level. And of course, Tennis Channel kept said bigot in their employ.

One of the reasons I like Tennis TV so much better is that there is usually (during majors, this can differ) only one commentator--a good one--so there is none of that "back to you, Ted" banter that has frequently, and justifiably, been the subject of so many satirical sketches over the years.

I was a neutral observer last night because I like both players, but the bias was so blatant that I began cheering for Alex just to see whether, if she won, a trainer would have to be called for Davenport.

TennisAce said...

Sometimes I regret buying that second satellite dish just to get Tennis Channel. I pay a lot of money to subscribe to Dish Network and be able to get quality tennis on my tv. It is therefore really tiring to have to listen to commentators not know who a player is, what they have won, mispronounce their names or admit that they have never seen said player play.

There are so many players out there who are keeping the WTA tour alive, and it really annoys me that they never get their due. If they do not take out some big name player, no one knows about them. The WTA thinks that having a youtube show is the proper way of selling women who play professional sports. It is galling, irritating and just makes me sick to my stomach.

As for Gimelslob, lord help me, but the man makes me sick