Thursday, August 2, 2012

Kiriilenko hits unforgettable match point in Olympic quarterfinals

The wind blew, but Russia's Maria Kirilenko refused to be swayed. Making just one unforced error in the entire match, Kirilenko faced Petra Kvitova and left the court a semifinalist. The first set went to a tiebreak after both players held serve throughout. It was during the tiebreak, however, that the 14th seed raised her level ever so slightly, and took the first set.

I've been spreaking the news about Kirilenko for a long time, and today, she again rose to the occasion with a poise that some time ago made me a fan. Kirilenko broke Kvitova when she served at 3-4 in the second set, and then the Russian confidently served out the match. It couldn't have been easy, with the wind still blowing, and with one of the tour's top grass court players standing on the other side of the net, doing everything she knew to get the break back. At match point, Kvitova hit one of her famous wicked cross-court angle shots that barely skimmed the net and sent her opponent racing to the outer edges to try to get it back.

And then Kirilenko did something stunning: She not only got it back--she hit exactly the same shot, only better. The ball went so wide that Kvitova could only watch it head to the line, and Maria Kirilenko won the match in straight sets.

Kirilenko's reward will be to play countrywoman Maria Sharapova, who took out Kim Cijsters in straight sets (6-2, 7-5). The first set was easy for Sharapova; the second, more challenging.

Sharapova has a 3-2 record against Kirilenko. They have never played each other on grass.

Serena Williams made short work of Caroline Wozniacki, beating the former world number 1 6-0, 6-3. Now she faces the current world number 1, Victoria Azarenka, against whom she has an 8-1 record. Azarenka beat Angelique Kerber 6-4, 7-5 in a well-played, entertaining match.

Three of the top four seeds have made it to the semifinals. Missing, of course, is 2nd seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who was the victim of a first round upset by Julia Goerges.

The semifinal winners will wind up with gold and silver medals, and then a consolation match will be played to determine who wins the bronze medal. This means that Russia is going to be represented on the medal podium by at least one player.

In the doubles quarterfinals, the Williams sisters ended the run of 2nd seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, 3rd seeds Maria Kirilenko (there she is again) and Nadia Petrova defeated Peng Shuai and Zheng Jie, and the Czech team of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka defeated Chuang Chia-Jung and Hsieh Su-Wei.

In mixed doubles, Sabine Lisicki and Christopher Kas defeated 2nd seeds Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan 7-6, 6-7, 10-5. Also winning in mixed doubles were Sania Mirza and Leander Paes, and Laura Robson and partner Andy Murray.


Anonymous said...

Take note: Kirilenko has been Sharapova's best friend since day one on the tour.

Diane said...

Not according to either Maria. They were friends as children only, they say, then they drifted apart--not in a bad way--just in a regular way.

Sunny nine said...

Thanks for writing this Diane. Kirilenko has a fighting spirit and good game. I was happy she got this far albeit in a quiet way according to the media. I have had a difficult time finding anyone writing about her matches and I was especially upset they didn't write about her match w Kvitova. You'd think that would make them take up and notice!