Sunday, April 30, 2017

How to Siegemund: part 3

I've written before about how to Siegemund, and today, the German gave us a new chapter when--playing as a wild card--she won the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in a final that, as I expected, was dramatic, thrilling and chock-full of high quality tennis. I could watch both Siegemund and Kiki Mladenovic play tennis all day because they have all the shots, all the style and all the cleverness that clay court play requires.

Both finalists had very difficult draws. Siegemund had to defeat Zhang Shuai, Svetalana Kuznetsova (8), Karolina Pliskova (2) and Simona Halep (4), while Mladenovic, who was unseeded, had to go through the always-tough Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, defending champion and top seed Angelique Kerber, Carla Suarez Navarro, and Maria Sharapova (and that match had its own dramatic backdrop). 

I have thought, for some time, that Kiki Mladenovic could be a pretty important figure on the tour if only she could get control of her nerves. She's done just that, and the difference in her performance has to be putting fear into many opponents. Mladenovic has the serve (consistent now that the nerves have calmed), the elite doubles skills, and the ability to read the court well.

Siegemund has speed, grit, variety, and a drop shot that would make even Patty Schnyder proud. One of the German's strength, however, is also sometimes her downfall. She's able to grind out a victory if it takes hours, but then that drawn-out grinding on clay can catch up with her, rendering her too exhausted to carry on. But that didn't happen in Stuttgart. Siegemund also had the added strength of having the crowd behind her, as well as the knowledge of what it feels like to be in the final--she was last year's runner-up.

The German wild card came out on fire, playing almost perfectly and not allowing Mladenovic to do much of anything; Siegemund took the first set 6-1. Not surprisingly, the Frenchwoman found a way to impose herself in the second set. She was more aggressive, and the set was hers, 6-2. The stage was set for a thriller of a third set, and the players gave us one.

Mladenovic was broken right away, but--unlike in the first set--Siegemund's early lead faded quickly. The set became a battle of nerves, with both players holding steady, despite setbacks. The most dramatic setback occurred when Siegemund was given a point penalty for a time violation after she broke Mladenovic and was serving for the match at 5-4. Already down 15-30, she then went down 15-40 and was broken.

But--after expressing her displeasure in no uncertain terms (while the crowd booed and whistled), the German player was able to carry on, and the set--quite appropriately--went to a tiebreak. Mladenovic took an early lead in that tiebreak, and before you could say "Tennis is such a cruel sport," it was 4-1. Siegemund, however, was having none of it, and brought the score to 5-all. She ended the whole thing with--what else?!--a drop shot--for a 7-5 tiebreak score, and collected a bouquet of flowers, a trophy and a red Porsche, which she (hesitantly) drove around the stadium.

And that is how you Siegemund.

It was a great match in every way, with both players playing the kind of tennis I love to watch. This is Siegemund's second WTA title, and her first premier title.

The doubles final was also interesting, in that two former (and long-time) partners faced off against each other. 3rd seeds Racquel Atawo and Jelena Ostapenko defeated top seeds Abigail Spears and Katarina Srebotnik 6-4, 6-4.

Meanwhile, in Istanbul, top seed Elina Svitolina defeated 6th seed Elise Mertens 6-2, 6-4 in the singles final. The doubles event was won by the unseeded team of Dalila Jakupovic and Nadia Kichenok. They defeated 4th seeds Nicole Melichar and Elise Mertens 7-6, 6-2, making it kind of a tough day for Mertens.


Arsdorf said...

Thanks for sharing your always thoughtful, incisive commentary. How wonderful it would be if you were a WTA match commentator. Banality would be banished. Kudos, again.

Diane said...

Thanks! You're very sweet to say so :)

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