Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Plenty of drama, but not on the singles courts

If you've been watching the Australian Open and looking for the excitement we generally associate with major tournaments, you may have been looking in the wrong place. Yesterday--while the singles quarterfinals were interesting only because of the depth of the tournament--the real drama was going on in Margaret Court Arena. 2nd seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond played 6th seeds Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina for over three hours, and there was rarely a dull moment experienced.

Mirza and Vesnina, who wound up hitting 60 winners, got off to a strong start and took the first set 6-3. They had match points in the second set, and while Huber and Raymond can be credited for their saves, the last one went away when an obviously nervous Vesnina hit a long ball that--had it landed inside the court--would have almost surely been a (match) winner.

That mistake gave Huber and Raymond just the opening they needed. They broke the 6th seeds, and went on to the take the second set 7-5. They wondered aloud to the chair umpire about their opponents between-sets locker room break, and gave impatient looks to Mirza and Vesnina when they finally emerged and walked onto the court. The atmosphere was tense, and after almost and hour and a half of hard-played doubles, the teams arrived at a tiebreak. Mirza and Vesnina had more match points, and on the seventh one, they jumped up to celebrate their win--only chair umpire Carlos Ramos stopped them.

The ball had bounced twice before Huber scooped it up to hit it back, Mirza and Vesnina insisted. Ramos apparently didn't see it that way, or didn't see it at all. Mirza asked Huber if the ball had bounced twice, and Huber replied "I didn't see." Vesnina then went into an all-out rage, and had to be reeled in by her partner. Mirza decided to let her racket do the talking, and she soon struck a sharp forehand (we're talking a Sania Mirza forehand here) right at Huber, who fell down backwards onto the blazing court. Finally, on their eighth match point, Mirza Vesnina won the match, and advanced to the semifinals.

But there was more. After the expected cold handshake, Huber got in Vesnina's face and began talking to her after they all moved away from the umpire's chair. Mirza and Vesnina just walked away as the crowd cheered. "We won the match like, twice," Mirza said as she made her exit.

And while it wasn't as dramatic (what could be?), another good match was played between 3rd seeds Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova and 7th seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka. The Czech team upset King and Shvedova 7-5, 6-2, and moved a step closer to claiming their second major trophy.

In other quarterfinal action, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva defeated Irina-Camelia Begu and Monica Niculescu, and 11th seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci defeated Alla Kudryavtseva and Ekaterina Makarova. Both Errani and Makarova are still in the singles draw.

In the semifinals, Errani and Vinci will play Hlavackova and Hradecka, and Kuznetsova and Zvonareva will play Mirza and Vesnina. Zvonareva and Vesnina have been doubles partners in the past.


Todd.Spiker said...

And, of course, in the weird course of how draws works, Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi just took out Huber/Fleming in the Mixed QF, while Vesnina and Leanders Paes will now face Raymond/Bopanna in the same round.

Diane said...

I wanted to watch that match, but it was on too late. I figured Mirza might aim for her again :)