Saturday, October 27, 2012

Williams and Sharapova to compete for WTA Championships title

It certainly couldnt' have come as a surprise to anyone (least of all, to Radwanska) that Serena Williams beat Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets today in Istanbul. Radwanska--aside from having all the usual problems with Williams--did well to just show up and play after probably wearing permanent grooves into the court surface with her extremely long matches this week. Williams beat Radwanska 6-2, 6-1 in just over an hour.

The other match was more interesting, but also kind of strange. Maria Sharapova looked quite commanding from beginning to end in her semifinal against world numer 1 Victoria Azarena. Azarenka, on the other hand, looked hesitant and distracted. She appeared to be having some type of problem with both legs--or both thighs--and was focused on them throughout the match. Sharapova won, 6-4, 6-2, and looked subdued until after the handshake, when she really let loose.

Having figured out Azarenka (at least today), Sharapova now has a tougher task at hand. The last time she beat Serena Williams was at the Championships in 2004. That was, of course, the same year Sharapova beat Williams to win Wimbledon. Things have changed since those times. A win over Williams tomorrow would boost the Russian's outlook considerably. She is looking more and more "Maria" as time goes on, so the contest to determine the champion should be a good one. Williams is now 9-2 against Sharapova, with the last victory coming in the final of the 2012 Olympic Games.

The doubles team of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka advanced to the final today, after beating defending champions Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond 7-6, 6-1. In the other semifinal, Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova upset the world number 1 team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, 1-6, 6-3, 10-4. Errani and Vinci had won the last four times the two teams had played one another.

As the scoreline indicates, the first set was a breeze for the Italian team Despite having played for three and a half hours yesterday in singles Errani was as animated as ever. In the second set, however, Nadia Petrova really came alive, serving very well and making life miserable for her opponents with her volleying. Kirilenko had trouble holding serve throughout the match, but the Russian pair was good enough to take the second set.

The super-tiebreak was all about Kirilenko. She had not played her best in the first two sets, but she was a whirlwind of expert shot-making and court strategy in the tiebreak, which her team won pretty easily, even after Errani and Vinci took away their 3-0 lead.

The Russians have won three titles together; Miami is their only title this year (in the past, they have not played together as a regular team, but only from time to time). Kirilenko and Petrova were also the runners-up at the 2012 French Open. Hlavackova and Hradecka have won nine titles together, including the 2011 French Open. This year, they were the runners-up this year at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Olympic Games.


Anonymous said...

Sharapova 'beat' Serena at the WTA Championships in 2004. What is forgotten is that Serena sustained an injury early in the match. She had to push her serve in. Nonetheless, she went up 4-0 in the last set, but could not sustain her effort, and lost six games in a row, to go down.

So, the only real triumph for Maria remains the 2004 Wimbledon final, where her confidence was high, and frankly, Serena looked distracted, staring at the lithe little Maria over there across from her. Serena fidgeted with her odd Roman-ish skirt through out. Also, she did not realize how fiercely Sharapova was about to attack her forehand, which broke down. Serena's footwork has always been a mess on balls hit at her, but her great hands help her to get even those balls back, framed, chopped, whatever... but they get back. She's a great retriever, something overlooked because of her exquisite serve and power while on the run wide to either side. I ramble, so now I quit.

Diane said...

She is a great retriever--one of the best--and her tangled-feet issue is her only real weakness. I'm always surprised when opponents don't straight at her more often.