Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Madrid and Rome, and the women who turned them upside down in 2010

Clay court tennis is known for producing unpredictable results, and it's hard to beat the results that occurred in Madrid and Rome in 2010. 

Aravane Rezai, the small woman in the gold lame tennis dresses, surprised a lot of people when--as an unseeded player--she won Madrid by defeating Venus Williams in the final. Rezai began her Madrid campaign by upsetting four-time French Open champion Justine Henin, and adding a bagel for good measure. That was just the first round. The hard-hitting Frenchwoman went on to defeat the likes of Andrea Petkovic and Jelena Jankovic, before defeating Williams in straight sets. But it wasn't an easy task; Rezai was down 2-5 in the second set and had to save six set points.

The same year, Jankovic--who had won Rome twice--once again reached the final, and this time, her opponent was the unseeded Maria José Martinez Sanchez, who defeated Francesca Schiavone, Caroline Wozniacki, Lucie Safarova, and Ana Ivanovic--all in straight sets. The Spaniard had a good, rather tricky, serve, which she used to her advantage against JJ. But what fans will probably remember most vividly was Martinez Sanchez's use of the drop shot as a return of serve.

When Roger Federer introduced SABR, he was a genius. But when Martinez Sanchez used a drop shot as a return of serve, some fans said that she wasn't playing "real tennis." (This kind of thing isn't unusual. Once, when Francesca Schiavone hit a tweener, a commentator said "oh, she's copying Roger." Right. Schiavone was hitting tweeners while Roger was still figuring out his game.) 

She was playing very clever tennis, and she defeated Jankovic 7-6, 7-5.

No comments: