Saturday, November 2, 2013

Drama, drama, drama!

Those Italians. When Russia had a medical timeout during one of today's Fed Cup rubbers, the hosts cued up "Funiculi, Funicula" while the trainer was working. Funny. Not so funny was what Roberta Vinci went through to defeat Alexandra Panova. Vinci has been injured for a while, and undoubtedly wasn't expected to be at her best today. To make things tougher, Panova threw everything at her that she had.

I wasn't sure I was even going to watch the Fed Cup final, but when I got up this morning and saw what was going on, I bought my viewing pass. Somewhere in Sardinia, as I write this, poor Panova is probably struggling to stay away from the Chianti (she has to play again tomorrow) and drown her memories of today. The Russian led Vinci 7-5, 5-2, 40-15. She held four match points, and saw them all disappear; Vinci won the three hour and thirteen-minute affair 5-7, 7-5, 8-6.

Sara Errani then defeated Irini Khromacheva 6-1, 6-4. Khromacheva gave the world number 7 something to think about in the second set. The Russian player got her rhythm, used her second serve to her advantage and hit winners off of both sides.

There was more drama at the Tournament of Champions in Sofia, as top seed Simona Halep took on two-time champion and wild card Ana Ivanovic. It was hard not anticipate drama in this semifinal, as a matter of fact. Ivanovic, when she's on, is exactly the kind of player who can give Halep trouble. In this case, the Romanian star was ripe for an upset because of a niggling leg injury.

But you know how it can go with Ana Ivo. She took the first set 6-2, after winning five games in a row. Halep's serve was off, and she was making too many unforced errors. Between sets, Halep received medical treatment for her injury, then calmly walked back onto the court, made the needed adjustments, and won four games in a row. She took the second set 6-1.

"Momentum" isn't a four-letter word, but it might as well have been in this match. Because, before you could say "I'd like the next flight to Belgrade,"  Halep was down two breaks and serving at 1-3, 0-40. And that was it.

That was it for Ivanovic, not Halep.

At one point, toward the end, Ivanovic called for the trainer, who appeared to be working on practically everything on the Serb's body, but really--it was the "throat constriction" problem that needed tending. Ivanovic could hardly get a ball over the net, and Halep--not one to miss an opportunity--won 25 of the last 32 points. Her 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory puts her into the final. The Romanian player has yet to drop a set in Sofia.

Her opponent tomorrow will be Sam Stosur, who beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 1-6, 6-3. The scoreline says it all: Stosur dominated the opening set, Pavlyuchenkova dominated the second, and the third was pretty competitive.

Stosur last played Halep in the final in Moscow, which Halep won 7-6, 6-2.

A couple of side notes:

Brit commentator, whoever you are, those WTA players cannot possibly be "countrymen"--you know, on account of their being women.

And I really enjoyed Stosur's walk onto the court for the final. The little girl who accompanied her adopted the same stoic-cool expression and gait as Stosur, and they made quite a pair.

Finally, in Nanjing, Ayumi Morita and Zhang Shuai emerged as the finalists. Morita is showing some fitness; she spent the week playing marathon matches and saving match points. Today, she had a straight set victory over Jarmila Gajdosova, while Zhang needed three sets to beat Yanina Wickmayer. The question now is: Will Morita have enough energy left to win her first WTA title? Zhang won her first title this year, in Guangzhou.

With partner Yaroslava Shvedova, Zhang is also into the doubles final. The top seeds will take on Misaki Doi and Xu Yi-Fan.


sunny nine said...

I am not being a stickler-well maybe I am ;)-but the tournament in Nanjing, although a WTA event, is a Challenger event not a main tour as it seemed you implied when comparing it to Guangzhou(which is a WTA main tour International tournament). The Challengers are equivalent to the ATP Challengers, both of which are a step above the ITF circuit. The ATP has a full Challenger schedule whereas the WTA just started. I am only bringing this up because I have seen other people confused over the way the WTA markets these events. I wrote the WTA once just to make sure that it really wasn't a WTA title. They admitted that it was confusing but it is not a WTA title is the sense that is usually meant. That is why on their career highlights it says 125/"name of tournament", instead of just name of tournament. It is just like ITF/"name of tournament."
Well I have taken up enough of everyone's time but I know that in reading some comments on other blogs there seemed to be some confusion :)

Diane said...

Except that the WTA does count it as a tour title. Every champion has been described as "winning a WTA title." I finally just gave up because of that. My bad, but WTA ambiguity persists.

bill said...

"poor Panova is probably struggling to stay away from the Chianti..." This made me laugh. We've all been there, in tennis and elsewhere.

Diane said...

That was a heart-breaker. Both Russians comported themselves well, though, and Panova may have even caught the Fed Cup bug. I think we'll see her again.

Todd.Spiker said...

I loved the sight of Schiavone, Pennetta and Knapp cheering Vinci from the stands, switching ends of the court along with her throughout the match. Of course, it was a bit ridiculous for Alison Hughes (Lang) to issue a coaching warning to Vinci for what they were shouting to her in the 3rd set, though.

Coaching... in the Fed Cup? Well, I'm just shocked that coaching was going on there, of all places. Imagine that.

I thought the glare Vinci gave her on her way to the changeover area at the end of that game said it all. ;)

Diane said...

You know, I forgot to mention that--the switching ends was wonderful--but what in hell was Alison H. thinking? Has she never been to a Fed Cup tie before?

I love the Italians. Can't wait to see Giorgi as a regular member of the team. And I'd like to see Flavia kick some ass a few more times.

Doug said...

Simona has done it again. SIX titles this year. Recall that she was the world's number one junior and junior French Open titleist. GO SIMONA! A brave girl who rarely has lapses, so unlike so many others.

Diane said...

Proud to say I've been following Simona for years--and waiting. This was the year :)