Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the top 10

There was more top 10 damage in Madrid today when Ekaterina Makarova defeated 3rd seed Victoria Azarenka 1-6, 6-2, 6-3. Everything went well for Azarenka in the first set, but after that, the former world number 1 put on a display of anger reminiscent of the "old" Vika. She broke a couple of rackets, she said a lot of angry things, and she took a cheap shot at chair umpire Mariana Alves.

In the past few years, Makarova has learned how to win at important moments, and it wasn't difficult for her to exploit Azarenka's runaway emotions.

Just a few weeks ago, a television commentator said of Petra Kvitova, "She's kind of mixing it up, Kvitova--the sublime and the ridiculous." Well put. Today, the 8th seed tried to pull off her usual "wait until the last moment and storm the gates" strategy, but wild card Daniela Hantuchova had something to say about that. Kvitova went down 2-5 in the third set, broke Hantuchova, held her serve, then came very close to breaking Hantuchova the second time the veteran player served for the match. But Hantuchova prevailed, with a 2-6. 6-2, 6-3 victory.

Hantuchova, who has been playing quite well lately (and has, in fact, always played quite well--her game usually wasn't her problem) and holding her nerve, did everything she could--changing pace, spinning, etc.--to unravel Kvitova's pace and big groundstrokes, and it was a good strategy. She played clay court tennis. Of course, it helped her cause that Kvitova made 54 unforced errors.

These days, watching Kvitova--especially when she just barely wins--makes me think of Thrill Ride (for those new to reading this blog, Thrill Ride was my name for Dinara Safina). I miss Thrill Ride, but--despite the thrills--her last-minute desperate action doesn't make for a good example to be followed. Especially by someone who won the Madrid tournament only two years ago.

Probably the most a agonizing match was played between Laura Robson and Ana Ivanovic. It went to three sets, and neither woman appeared to want to win. Up 5-2, Robson served for the match twice and was broken both times. But when she served for the match at 6-5, Ivanovic was broken. Finally, Ivanovic won the match by winning the third set tiebreak, which ended with a double fault. Robson committed eleven of those in the match, and Ivanovic committed ten.

Also today, top seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka were beaten 6-2, 6-4 in the second round by Svetlana Kuznetsova and Flavia Pennetta.

The third round is still in progress, and, for the record, there are only four top 10 players remaining in the draw: Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Angelique Kerber, and Sara Errani.


Anonymous said...

I give up. I don't understand how someone with the finest ball striking ability of all can do what Kvitova is doing. To be sure, many young players are all over the place, but I think that Petra has cornered the market on all that is mind-bogglingly ridiculous.

Diane said...


Anonymous said...

Fortunately, I disagree.

Enjoy the rest of Madrid and all!


Diane said...

Quid, would you nominate Oh Nadia!, or someone else? :)

I'm glad you disagree. I'm holding on to some belief--hope Petra is.

Doug said...

I think that you have two different 'anonymouses,' hence the contradicdtory take on Petra. I agree that she's mind-bogglingly ridiculous but I do hold out hope because I know how rare a talent she possesses. I comfort myself with the thought that it took Pete a few years, Andre a few years and Serena a few years to get it together. Hmm. Also Stosur, Li, Schiavone... more years that that.

Diane said...

Oh, sure--two different Anons (didn't occur to me that that could be confusing--there are lots of Anons).

I know; it's entirly possible that Petra could get it together any moment (though I do worry that she may not be getting appropriate asthma interventions; asthma can be much more effectively controlled by intervening on the stress response).

However, I really don't recall anyone with her talent having this kind of dramatic inconsistency. It's painful to watch.