Anyone who watched Stephanie Dubois play at the Rogers Cup today had to be asking "Why is this woman ranked only 122 in the world?" The short answer is that she chokes. But not today. I saw the first two sets of this very fine match, then had to go to work just as the third set began. At that point, I really had no idea who would win, but history favored Dubois's opponent, Maria Kirilenko.
First, a few words about Kirilenko: She is having a very good season, which pleases me because I thoroughly enjoy watching her play tennis. Kirilenko employs the court the same way Martina Hingis and Anna Chakvetadze and other more cerebral players do. She works it, angle by angle, and watches, and waits. Her first set against Dubois was far better than the scoreline indicates, just as Dubois's second set was far better than the scoreline indicates. The games were long and drawn-out; the chair umpire must have grown weary of saying "deuce."
What happened after that is probably not what was expected. Not only is Dubois prone to choking, but how many times have we seen lower-ranked hometown players clean up in the first set and then fade away against more experienced opponents? Today, though (if only I had seen it!), Dubois prevailed, in a third set tiebreak, no less, which she won 7-4. This could be the breakthrough that Dubois needs for building her confidence. Her highest-ever ranking was 95, but she can do better.
Dubois def. Kirilenko, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6