Anyone who reads this blog knows how much I enjoy Maria Kirilenko and how much I like her game. The Russian is on the rise, and I'm very pleased for her. However, her quarterfinal win in Indian Wells yesterday reflected more than just her enviable tennis skills. Her opponent, 5th seed Petra Kvitova--once again--imploded on the court. Kvitova hit 10 aces and made 13 double faults, and those numbers in themselves tell a story. It is increasingly frustrating to watch someone with so much talent lose matches that are really on her racket.
The (unfortunately) memorable part of this match occurred when Kvitova served at 2-3 in the third set and made four double faults in a row, handing Kirilenko a 4-2 advantage.
Kirilenko defeated Kvitova 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, then let out a shriek. Who can blame her? Prior to doing away with the Czeck player, she had beaten another top 10 player--3rd seed Agnieszka Radwanska. Kirilenko has now played 12 sets in Indian Wells, which is a lot. Next up for her is countrywoman Maria Sharapova.
As for Kvitova, here's my summary: Dubai--coach absent, wins tournament; Indian Wells--coach in attendance, flames out in quarterfinals. I just don't think it's a coincidence.
In the opening set of the other quarterfinal match, Sara Errani, playing on a relatively slow court, put on a show worth watching in her attempt to best Maria Sharapova. Errani pulled Sharapova on a string, repeatedly attacked the net, and hit more drop shots (all successful) than I've seen hit in one set since Patty Schnyder was on the tour. It was a pleasure to watch Errani, who was more aggressive than usual (she knew she had to be), and whose finesse was often beautiful.
On the other side of the net, that image of the freezing, slipping bovine came to mind. Sharapova just wasn't moving well at all, which made it easier for Errani to pull her around and win the point. Errani had a set point, but was broken. She had the set on her racket again during the tiebreak, but somehow, Sharapova prevailed and won the set. The Russian won the second set 6-2.
In doubles, Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai advanced to the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-7, 10-4 victory over Daniela Hantuchova and Anabel Medina Garrigues. 3rd seeds Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik defeated Nuria Llagostera Vives and Zheng Jie 6-1, 6-2.