Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wickmayer wins thriller against Schnyder

If you're a fan of Patty Schnyder, I feel your pain.

Actually, I may be too preoccupied with feeling my own pain.

Wickmayer defeated Schnyder 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 today in Flushing Meadows, and now advances to the U.S. Open round of 16. Wickmayer, who was a semifinalist last year, was visibly relieved to escape Schnyder, who pulled out every shot for which she is known--and then some--against the 15th seed. The Swiss veteran dropped, spun, served out wide, changed pace, kicked the ball up in the wind, and generally made a nuisance of herself against a player who likes to play short  points.

The first set was tense, and Wickmayer won secured the tiebreak 7-5. In the second set, Schnyder appeared to conquer the wind, and was able to play her classic lefty, spinning, dropping, "I don't care how hard you want to hit the ball" game. She took the set 6-3.

The third set was so tension-filled, it was impossible to take your eyes away from it. Each player had multiple opportunities to get ahead, and--serving at 3-4--Schnyder saved three break points to hold serve. She then forced Wickmayer into a deuce service game, but the 15th seed hit a huge serve, which was followed by a point won on a mis-hit from Schnyder. Soon after, Wickmayer held a match point, which Schnyder saved, and the pair wound up in a second tiebreak.

As a viewer, I was exhausted at this point, and I could only imagine how the players felt, especially since the wind sometimes made it so hard for them to hit toward the lines. And just when you thought that one of them might let up mentally, a winner or a stunning defensive shot would be produced.

Schnyder went up 5-3 in the tiebreak, but could not hold on to the mini-break. Later, she held a match point, but Wickmayer saved it. Schnyder then saved another match point, and there was every reason to believe in her mental strength at that point. But at 6-7, she missed a serve out wide, and the second serve (which she either hit too far out wide, or it was carried a bit by the wind) went out, also. And just like that, it was over.

The match lasted two hours and 33 minutes, though it seemed to go on much longer. Schnyder hit 40 winners and made 41 unforced errors. Wickmayer hit 31 winners and made 47 unforced errors. It was hardly a clean match for the Belgian, but she fought impressively for every point she made, and was able to defeat not only a very clever opponent, but one whom she had never before played.

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