Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Stosur moves past Shvedova in Charleston

Photo by Daniel Ward

It took her three sets, but 2010 Family Circle Cup champion Samantha Stosur defeated Yaroslava Shvedova today in Charleston to advance to the third round. Shvedova went up 5-2 in the second set but then took a medical timeout for a leg problem. The timeout seemed to put Stosur back in the mix, as she broke to get the set to 5-all. Shvedova held at 40-love to go up 6-5, and it was within that game that she had a real "Radwanska" moment, doing a half twirl as she hit a backhand volley over her shoulder.

Stosur, after losing the second set, quickly went about the business of closing the match, and defeated Shvedova 6-3, 5-7, 6-1.

Photo by Daniel Ward
2004 champion Venus Williams also had to go three sets to get a victory, and her situation was more complicated than Stosur's. Williams has been ill lately, apparently the victim of some type of bug, and there were times in her match against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova that she appeared breathless and exhausted. But that certainly wasn't
her only problem: Zahlavova Strycova played at a very high level, serving very well and engaging Williams in long rallies.

Photo by Daniel Ward
It's obvious that the Czech player spent her recent "time off" in the gym. She doesn't physically resemble the player she used to be. Zahlavova Strycova has become stronger and more muscular, and is hitting from a really stable core. After losing the first set 3-6, she won the second set 6-0. In the third set, she impressively saved four match points when Williams served at 5-4. But in the end, after playing for two hours and 18 minutes, Williams was able to take the last set 7-5.

Gladys Knight was in the house, and caught one of Venus's autographed tennis balls. "She's got some hand-eye coordination..." Williams said of the singing legend.

Of her opponent, Williams said, "I've never seen her play that well, truth be told.
" "And she was so extremely focused today."

Williams seemed tired during her press conference, yet she talked at length about what her past year has been like as she has learned more about how to manage living with Sjogren's syndrome. "...you're not doing anything wrong; you've always done things right your whole career and you're kind of facing something that you can't control."

Photo by Daniel Ward
Things didn't go as well for 2006 champion Nadia Petrova, who lost in three sets to Marina Erakovic. Petrova got a line call she didn't like, and proceeded to go on a rant about the "blind people" in her midst. Oh, Nadia.

This morning, Zhang Shuai and Hsieh Su-Wei went at it for two hours and 48 minutes on the Althea Gibson Club Court. Hsieh isn't having a very good season in singles, and today's match didn't help. There was a third set tiebreak, postponed a bit because of some type of medical timeout that Hsieh took. Zhang then won the tiebreak 7-0. With a 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 victory, she advanced to the next round.

Also winning today were Elena Vesnina (def. Anna Schmiedlova), Peng Shuai (def. Caroline Garcia), Andrea Petkovic (def. Lesia Tsurenko), Vania King (def. Julia Glushko),  Lourdes Dominguez Lino (def. Anabel Medina Garrigues), Eugenie Bouchard (def. Alla Kudryatseva), Teliana Pereira (def. Sorana Cirstea), and Lucie Safarova (def. Virginie Razzano).

And could there be anything more fun than a doubles team composed of Jelena Jankovic and Andrea Petkovic? Hmm....no, there couldn't be. Cracking each other up from start to finish, the wild cards beat Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond 7-5, 2-6, 10-7 in the opening round of doubles. Jankovic was on fire, rushing the net and smacking winning volleys as though she did it all the time. It was a really good match with some stunning rallies.

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