Saturday, October 12, 2013

Losing at any cost

If anyone was really expecting Sloane Stephens to reach her first WTA final by the end of the season, those fans have perhaps lowered their expectations by now. Stephens had multiple opportunities to reach the semifinals in Linz yesterday, but she fought against all chances. The world number 12 competed against Stefanie Voegele, the streaky Swiss player who beat Caroline Wozniacki in Charleston earlier this year.

Stephens was up 5-2 in the first set, but needed 10 set points (two of them in a tiebreak) to finally get the job done. Voegele took the second set 6-4, and Stephens led 5-2 in the third, but never won another game. Voegele took that match 7-6, 6-4, 7-5. The Swiss upstart lost to Ana Ivanovic today, however, and Ivanovic's 6-4, 6-4 victory puts her into the final against Angelique Kerber, who beat Carla Suarez Navararo. Kerber is now the eighth--and final--player to qualify to play in the WTA Championships in Istanbul.

The draw in Linz opened when Petra Kvitova withdrew from the tournament. With all her issues, Kvitova is still at her most deadly on indoor carpet because the surface is fast and there is nothing around to trigger an asthma attack.

Meanwhile, in Osaka, former champion Sam Stosur pretty much rolled over Madison Keys in their semifinal. The good news for Keys is that this was the highest round she has ever reached in a WTA tournament. Stosur's opponent in the final will be Eugenie Bouchard, who defeated Karumi Nara (her first tour semifinal, too) in straight sets.

This will be Bouchard's first WTA final, and she'll be playing against someone who has won the tournament before. This is Stosur's third Osaka final: She won the event in 2009 and was the runner-up (lost to Marion Bartoli) in 2011. Stosur is 4-12 in tour finals. The two played each other in Charleston this year, but the match didn't last long because Stosur had to retire on account of a calf injury.

Bouchard is ranked number 35 in the world, and gives every sign of moving that number up sooner than later.


Doug said...

The asthma issue is resolved to a great extent when the tournament is indoors. Also, pure ball strikers are rarely as good in windy conditions as are the opportunistic players, the pushers and counterpunchers. Kvitova, Azarenka and Li will benefit the most.

Diane said...

That's a good point, Doug.

Anonymous said...

Add Serena. No wind makes for fewer ball toss problems, and her game is really tied heavily to her serve.

Diane said...

It probably goes without saying :)