Friday, May 18, 2012

Oh, Petra

You have to give Petra Kvitova some credit for playing out her Rome quarterfinal match against Angelique Kerber. I watched the match on Tennis TV, and commentator David Mercer was more than a little upset that Kvitova felt compelled to continue playing, despite the pain she was in because of what appeared to be a pulled stomach muscle (she's had that problem before). I had mixed feelings about it. I wanted her to stop, since we are so close to the French Open. But I also admired her tenacity, and her obvious desire to give her opponent a "real" win. There's a reason that her peers awarded Kvitova with a prize for sportswomanship.

Kvitova had so much pain in her abdomen that she couldn't really serve; she was just spinning her serves in. She was also wearing a back support. She was a mess. After going down 1-3 in the first set, the Czech star won four straight games, and eventually took the set to a tiebreak. But Kerber completely dominated that, and took the first set 7-6.

She didn't take it easily, though. Kvitova--despite her handicap--pulled Kerber around as though she were on a string, and practically wore her out. Kvitova took full advantage of Kerber's fatigue, and won the second set 6-1. But Kerber got a second win and won the third set 6-1 against an obviously ailing opponent. Kerber's fitness was a real plus in this match, and her victory put her into the top 10, which is a very good thing.

The question is: Will Kvitova's injury heal in time for the French Open, and will it matter? She appears so fragile these days.

She wasn't the only one to go out injured. Flavia Pennetta hurt her wrist, and retired against Serena Williams after only four games. The Italian player also pulled out of the Strasbourg tournament.

In the other quarterfinals, Li Na defeated Dominika Cibulkova, and defending champion Maria Sharapova defeated Venus Williams. Cibulkova looked next to clueless in the first set against Li, but gave her opponent a contest in the second. Li won in straight sets, however--6-1, 7-6.

In semifinal play, Li will play Williams, and Kerber will play Sharapova.

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