Friday, March 7, 2014

Redemption in the desert, Italian style

Roberta Vinci finally won a match. It's been a long losing streak for such a good player, but it ended today in Indian Wells when the world number 14 defeated Madison Keys 6-3, 6-3 in the first round. Yesterday, Francesca Schiavone finally turned her losing ways around, too, beating Mona Barthel in three sets.

Sara Errani won today, also. She defeated Sharon Fichman 6-1, 6-1. Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi won her opening round (def. Andrea Petkovic), but Karin Knapp was taken out by wild card Taylor Townsend. All in all, though, it's been a good tournament so far for the Italians. Except in doubles: Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci went out in the opening round to wild cards Svetlana Kuznetsova and Samantha Stosur. This is definitely a wild card team to watch.

Qualifier Heather Watson had a great win in the first round against wild card Belinda Bencic, but lost her second round match against Agnieszka Radwanska today. Karolina Pliskova has played just one round but has already hit 20 aces. Pliskova is now regularly hitting aces like it was nothing.

Simona Halep and Genie Bouchard both won their second round matches, defeating Karumi Nara and Peng Shuai, respectively. Annika Beck has already beaten both Stefanie Voegele and Elena Vesnina.

An obviously troubled, pain-ridden Victoria Azarenka took to the court tonight against Lauren Davis and looked as if she might retire any moment in the first set, which she lost without winning a game. It was painful to watch. Azarenka, who spent the entire month of February in a walking boot because of her injured left foot, approached the second set with more spirit, but it was quite clear that her foot was hurting her.

The world number 4 did not look pleased. She smashed a racket in frustration at one point, but still managed to get to a tiebreak, after she broke when Davis served for the match. But Davis prevailed in the tiebreak and advanced to the next round. One of the television commentators noted that Azarenka had not been practicing on the Indian Wells courts, which indicates that she probably wasn't really ready to return to the tour. She didn't look ready. Was this simple poor judgment, or is all the criticism thrown at her carrying a lot of influence in her decision-making?

Azarenka has always been injury-prone, but she has worked hard to overcome this tendency. There will always be injuries in professional tennis, however, and if a player hurts her ankle and has to wear a boot for a month, that's pretty serious. Maybe she needs more rehab. All credit to Lauren Davis for exhibiting a lot of poise while her opponent was publicly dealing with anger, pain and frustration. Davis played well and looked unruffled (hanging out with Chris Evert pays off). Vika, on the other hand, looked quite ruffled, but that's Vika.


Todd.Spiker said...

I was surprised that no one on TC mentioned that Vika had a very similar situation at last year's Tour Championships, playing on despite being obviously injured/hurting when most players would have likely retired.

Diane said...

Probably too attached to the "old Vika" story.