Friday, June 27, 2014

Czeched in!

If today's Wimbledon activities keep up, the Czechs will be soon able to party like it's 2011. That was the year that players from the Czech Republic won the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles at Wimbledon. Today, two of those players were simply stunning, and they were joined in victory by two of their countrywomen, who weren't too shabby, either.

2011 champion Petra Kvitova defeated five-time champion Venus Williams in a third round match that would have made an awfully nice final. In fact, two women will have to play extremely well in the final to top this match. One of the the television commentators speculated that the people in the stands probably hated the idea of one of the players losing, but of course, one of them had to. That's the sad part about a really great match.

Kvitova, the 6th seed, defeated Williams 5-7, 7-6, 7-5. The match lasted two and a half hours, and was everything anyone could have expected it to be, with both women living up to their Wimbledon champion credentials. Kvitova broke Williams only once, but it was right when it counted, at 5-6 in the third set. There was a total of three--three!--break points available in the entire match. The serving was outstanding by both, and both wound up with good winner-to-unforced error ratios--Kvitova's was 48/34, and Williams' was 25/19.

Earlier in the day, Czech player Barbora Zahlavova Strycova out-nerved, out-played and out-smarted 2nd seed Li Na. Anyone who knows anything about Zahlavova Strycova's game knows that she can do this, but that nerves are likely to get in her way. Not today. She came to the match with a perfect tiebreak record (eight of eight) for the season, and then added two more tiebreak wins (5 and 5) against Li.

The end of the match featured some drama. Li hit a ball that was called out and Zahlavova celebrated her victory and went to the net to shake Li's hand. But Li challenged the call, and she was correct. But no worries--Li then double-faulted, giving the Czech player a legitimate reason to celebrate the upset. Commentator Lindsay Davenport said she had never seen this before--that a player had what she thought was a successful match point and it turned out that she didn't. Funny, I've seen it happen several times, but then I actually watch women's tennis.

Zahlavova Strycova's drop shots were beautiful, and she didn't really have to change her strategy because Li just kept letting herself get set up over and over.

That's half of the Czech story. Qualifier Tereza Smitkova, continuing her out-of-nowhere run, beat Bojana Jovanovski 4-6, 7-6, 10-8. The match lasted two hours and 46 minutes; the final set alone lasted an hour and 39 minutes. Smitkova has now played six matches, and might be kind of tired, you think? Smitkova hit 16 aces in this match, by the way.

It gets better--her next opponent will be countrywoman Lucie Safarova, the 23rd seed, who today upset 10th seed Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets.

All the news isn't about the Czech Republic, though Czech players certainly grabbed today's headlines in a big way. Not surprisingly, Ekaterina Makarova put an end to Caroline Garcia's run, Aga Radwanska put a quick end to Michelle Larcher De Brito's run, Peng Shuai defeated Lauren Davis, and Caroline Wozniacki defeated Ana Konjuh.

Lesia Tsurenko lost to Simona Halep, but she took a set off of the 3rd seed. And Belinda Bencic defeated Vicky Duval 6-4, 7-5. Does the Swiss teen have a "bad" surface? She won the junior Wimbledon title last year, and also the junior French Open title.

In doubles, 13th seeds Lucie Hradecka and Michaella Krajicek were knocked out by Flavia Pennetta and Sam Stosur (each of them has held the number 1 ranking in doubles). The 15th seeds, Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond, were beaten by Shuko Aoyama and Renata Voracova. And 12th seeds Anabel Medina Garrigues and Yaroslava Shvedova defeated Zarina Dyas and Patricia Mayr-Achleitner 6-0, 6-0.

The Murray/Mauresmo nonsense continues. Today, Patrick McEnroe noted that Andy Murray has a tendency to "show angst" toward his coach while he's playing a match, but "surely he wouldn't do that to Emily." Why not? Because she's so fragile? Oh, and McEnroe, you might want to at least learn what her name is before you start with the sexist blather.

John Isner noted the other day that--although he thinks a woman can coach just as well as a man can--he probably wouldn't have a female coach because of the housing situation during a tournament. Right, John--that's why no WTA players have male coaches.

The Genie Army is missing! There is some speculation that Wimbledon is too "formal" and "stuffy" to tolerate the likes of these fans. The Genie Army could dress in blazers and sing "God Save the Queen" while they toss hundreds of teddy bears at Bouchard. But they're nowhere in sight. Some army.

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