Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Martinez Sanchez upsets Azarenka in 3rd round of BNP Paribas Open

Hitting seven aces and prevailing in a tiebreak, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez pulled off the second biggest upset yet tonight in this year's BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. She defeated 3rd seed Victoria Azarenka 7-6, 6-2. The 28th seed is a doubles specialist (and co-winner of the 2009 Sony Ericsson Championships) with an attractive singles game that includes a very good serve.

9th seed Flavia Pennetta also dropped out today, a victim of 17th seed Shahar Peer, who defeated Pennetta 6-4, 6-7, 6-1. Pennetta looked very good when the season began, but she has gone out earlier than expected in most tournaments this year.

14th seed Kim Clijsters will likely be asking herself "What happened?" for some time to come. Clijsters played 23rd seed Alisa Kleybanova, who--at first glance--appears to personify what Mary Carillo long ago defined as "big babe tennis." Kleybanova is a hard hitter who is happy to go head-to-head with other big ball-strikers. But there is more to Kleybanova's game than just hard hitting, as Clijsters learned tonight. Kleybanova can volley, she can do quick change-ups, and she can hit some difficult angles.

Kleybanova won the first set 6-4. The second set was all about Clijsters, who performed so well that she grabbed the set 6-1 in no time at all. Then she went up 3-0 in the third, and it looked like she was going to make short work of winning the match. But things changed. Kleybanova appeared troubled but determined, and Clijsters started getting sloppy. Before long, it was 3-all. The pair stayed on serve, and there were some tense moments, especially for Kleybanova, who still looked a beat behind Clijsters. When Kleybanova served at 4-5, Clijsters was two points from winning the match. But she didn't. When Kleybanova served at 5-6, Clijsters as two points from winning the match. But again, she didn't.

The match went to a tiebreak, and Clijsters went up 4-0. And then Kleybanova won seven straight points, and that was that.

Kleybanova did a great job of moving Clijsters around the court, and she also did a good job with her second serve, which often kicked up high enough to give Clijsters problems.

In other third round matches, Carla Suarez Navarro defeated 27th seed Agnes Szavay, 13th seed Yanina Wickmayer defeated Roberta Vinci, Jelena Jankovic defeated Sara Errani, defending champion and 12th seed Vera Zvonareva defeated Anastasija Sevastova, and 8th seed Sam Stosur defeated 25th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The scoreline for that match, 6-3, 6-0, was somewhat of a surprise.

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