A comparison between Olivia Rogowska and Alona Bondarenko was offered to me today, and the more I think about it, the more it seamlessly fits together. There are so many similarities between the two; from the fluid movement, to the manner in which the pair excel at manipulating the ball around the court with deceptively powerful and flat strokes. Both specialize in using the full length and width of the court extremely well, and both avoid moving into the forecourt at all costs. Most signficantly however, is that I see in Rogowska a flaw that has wreaked havoc throughout Bondarenko’s career. The problem of style over substance.
That flaw was on show in its full glory today. From start to finish, Rogowska was the aggressor in her match against Ferguson. Her fluid, attractive strokes wreaked havoc on the older Aussie, and anyone with no knowledge of either player would have believed Rogowska to be the player ranked around the top 130. After all, she had more firepower, a stronger serve and her defence was far more impressive. Yet the final scoreline was considerably tight — 7-6 6-4 to Rogowska. Why? Well, the answer is simple. Every time the figurative excretement hit the fan, Rogowska would fail to deliver the definitive blow — hitting double faults, routine errors and her level just generally dropping off. Aesthetically, her game still looked great. But as the pressure rises, it becomes insanely tough to hit the same risky shots she was hitting at 1-1 in the first set.
Still, she does deserve a hell of a lot of credit. After all, it was a miracle that she was able to even record one win this week, considering she arrived here off the back of a double bagel defeat to the world #390, Mihaela Burzarnescu. And as a fan, I couldn’t be more pleased with her progress. Following Rogowska’s victory, Jelena Dokic and Alicia Molik took to the court in their highlighy-anticipated semifinal match. But it was hardly a match as Jelena stormed through, dropping only 4 games en-route to securing her finals berth. Tomorrow the pair will meet in the final of the AO Playoffs. In stark contrast to Olivia, Jelena prides herself on being 100% about substance. That’s not to say Dokic’s game is ugly — her strokes have always been astonishingly pleasing to the eye, and when at her best, not many hit the ball as powerful and cleanly as Dokic, but she knows her priorities and she sticks to them. Let’s hope that in time, Olivia Rogowska will learn to do exactly the same.