Saturday, January 21, 2012

Russian team knocks out defending champions in Melbourne thriller

It was impossible to tell, until the very end, who was going to win the 3rd round Australian Open match between defending champions Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta and Russians Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva. Dulko and Pennetta won the first set 6-3, but their opponents made fewer errors in the second set, and took that set 6-3.

The entire match was tense and entertaining, but the third set was especially so. The defending champions were broken early, but caught up, then found themselves about to go out when the Russian team served for the match at 5-3. A spectacular 28-shot rally occurred in that game, with all four players moving to the far reaches of the court. Dulko and Pennetta broke. Down 0-30 at 5-6, the defending champions got some breathing room when Kuznetsova made two mis-hits in a row. They were broken, though, when Dulko double-faulted on break point.

Kuznetsova and Zvonareva served for the match a second time, but were broken on the first of two break points. The match then went to a tiebreak, but the Russian team was too strong, and advanced to the next round with a 7-4 tiebreak score.

This was a really high quality match that featured everything from body blows to an amusing cheering section to some really stunning shot-making. Dulko and Pennetta create so much drama on the court because they fight so hard and keep coming back, even when it appears they don't have a chance. Today, though, their opponents were too strong in closing, though, and Kuznetsova, in particular, should be credited for her skills--at the net and from the baseline.

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