Friday, October 30, 2009

Doha: All fall down

I'm on vacation, but I'm following (and watching a bit) the events in Doha, and I can't shake an image I have of Flavia Pennetta, sitting in her house, shaking a bottle of Peroni at the television and muttering. Pennetta has had her share of physical vulnerability at season's end this year, but--judging from the Fed Cup final schedule--she can still stand up, which might have made her a worthy contender in Doha. She lost her chance, though, and the opportunity to wither in the heat and fall down in pain went to other players.

As it is, Caroline Wozniacki is having serious issues with cramping, though she has steadfastly continued to play, losing today to Jelena Jankovic. Meanwhile, Victoria Azarenka retired with cramps today in the third set of her match against 2nd alternate Agnieska Radwanska. Radwanska was playing because 1st alternate Vera Zvonareva had to withdraw when she sustained an ankle injury. And Zvonareva was playing because Dinara Safina retired in her first match with a lower back injury.

Azarenka's retirement puts Wozniacki into the semifinals, but can Wozniacki play? If she cannot, the rules say that Azarenka may play if she believes she is able to and she has the permission of the tournament physician. And--in the strangest scenario ever--if she couldn't play, then Radwanska--who is about to undergo hand surgery--would wind up in the semifinals.

With me so far?

Enter Jelena Jankovic, who lost her first match to Azarenka, won her second match at 1-1 when Safina retired, and defeated Wozniacki in straight sets today. In 2007, Jankovic played herself into the ground, but Wozniacki must not have been paying attention because this year, she played more matches than anyone else on the tour.

The semifinal schedule for tomorrow involves a match between Jankovic and defending champion Venus Williams, and one between Serena Williams and Wozniacki. Venus Williams made it to the semifinals when Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Elena Dementieva today.

Doubles play begins tomorrow, too. Cara Black and Liezel Huber play Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs; Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez play Serena and Venus Williams.

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