Wednesday, June 29, 2011

And Then There Were Four...

by Savannah

Carnage. That's the word that comes to mind when taking a look at the results of round of 16 play for the women at SW19.

It started with Marion Bartoli's defeat of Serena Williams. Serena's ragged breathing was audible and even her tremendous will could not get her past Maid Marion who played the match of her life to defeat her.

Then there was the Tsvetana Pironkova Grand Slam Tour wherein she gets to play Venus Williams and leave The Great One shaking her head while she moves on to the next round.

Lost in the shuffle was Dominika Cibulkova, the self proclaimed party girl, sending the computer ranked WTA #1 Caroline Wozniacki home.

So how did the perpetrators do in the quarterfinals?
Maria Sharapova made quick work of Domi who was not allowed to get into the match at all. By defeating her so definitively - 1 and 1 - Sharapova got a measure of revenge against the diminutive one and put herself firmly in the favorite's role heading into the semi finals.
Sabine Lisicki faced Marion Bartoli who at the end of their match had absolutely nothing left mentally or physically. To her credit Marion, who has made herself much more fit than she was even a year ago finished the match without any of the injury timeouts she's become famous for.
Petra Kvitova showed Tsvetana that her bag of tricks was not going to deter her from her goal.
Victoria Azarenka took advantage of Tamira Paszek's inexperience (despite Paszek's dramatic defeat of Francesca Schiavone) at the highest levels of play. It wasn't the beat down Sharapova delivered to Cibulkova but there was never any doubt who was going to win their match.

So what is there to say about the all blonde semifinals? Surprisingly the quality of tennis should be quite high. All of the women who made the semifinals showed that they know how to play the game of tennis. The winners were aggressive, used a variety of shots and were able to prove they were at the top of their games.

Sharapova had the only blow out. Kvitova had mental lapses that against a stronger player could've cost her the match. Azarenka was determined to show she could get past the quarters and try to erase her most recent efforts this year that saw her unable to complete her matches.

The best match of the day was the one between Marion and Sabine. Marion lost because she had used everything she had to defeat Serena. Would the result have been different if the matches had not been back to back? Maybe. But Sabine, who was in the tournament via the granting of a WC - she is now ranked in the 60's - had to be stung by the criticism she received for getting the wild card and she is playing the tennis of her life right now. Maybe we'll get to see these two later in the year and see if they can produce the same quality of tennis we saw in the first two sets.

So we have Maria Sharapova vs Sabine Lisicki and Victoria Azarenka vs Petra Kvitova as the semifinal matchups. Who will be playing on Saturday?

I don't know. I think the contrast in styles makes it difficult to pick a favorite for each match. Sure Maria can come out throwing bombs and Kvitova could have a mental collapse she won't recover from. Sabine can't let herself be intimidated and Azarenka will have to keep her cool.

I said Azarenka didn't have the temperament to win a Slam. She just may prove me wrong.


Chris said...

"So what is there to say about the all blonde semifinals? Surprisingly the quality of tennis should be quite high."

"Surprisingly high"? I am not sure where the surprise lay in the idea of blonde women producing high quality tennis at Wimbledon. Perhaps I should ask Martina Navratilova, or Steffi Graf, or Chris Evert, or Jana Novotna, or, yes, Maria Sharapova. I really don't know what you were thinking with this comment.

Karen said...

I am thinking a Lisicki v. Azarenka final with Azarenka coming out on top. I think Vika is ready and I just don't see Sabine being able to pull out the win. Frankly, I would be very surprised if she makes it past Sharapova who seems quite determined to add another GS to her collection. Petra needs to learn to keep it together. She should have finished that match against Pironkova in straights, but she lost her focus and had to play a third.

As I said elsewhere, if not now for Azarenka, then when?