Category Archives: Tournament Blogs
Caroline Wozniacki, Caroline Wozniacki. This woman forever perplexes me. On one hand there’s just so much about her that makes me dislike her, and then on the other hand, like a smelly fungal infection, she’s really, really growing on me.
After Wozniacki’s second round victory over Kucova, the Stuttgart PR person came into the press room and asked us (in German, so I couldn’t reply) all if we wanted a presser from her. That in itself I thought was funny because most of the other prominent winners had pressers arranged with no questions asked, yet here he was asking us all if we wanted a press conference from the top-ranked tennis player. Even more shocking still is that the response was a resounding ‘no’. And when I say “resounding”, I mean that every single person in the press room said no. Every. Single. One.
And so I asked a couple of people around me why they said no. Again, they replied as one with comments to the effect of “she’s boring”, “she always says the same thing” and even “it would be a waste of my time”. Ow.
After the reporters at the Australian Open called her boring, she responded by criticizing their questions as being boring and repetitive and leaving her with no choice but to rehash the same answers over and over again. And so I decided to put this theory to test in her press conference after the Petkovic match. After yet another boring question followed by a similarly bored and dry answer from Wozniacki, I finally had enough and chipped in;
Me: You obviously joined the player council last year. Why did you want to join it?
Woz: First of all I think that as a top player I think we have some possibilities to change a few things on the tour. And just make it better with the players. I felt that if me, Serena and Venus are on there we can make a few decisions. Serena and Venus asked me a few times if I wanted to join so I decided I wanted to do it, I think it’s a good way to get involved and really make it better for everybody. Not only the top players, but everybody.
Me: What specifically did you want to change?
Woz: Well, there are a few issues. Obviously next year with the Olympics coming up, we have a few questions about the scheduling of tournaments. And then a few things with the roadmap that, you know, could be changed to be better for the players
Me: You also tweeted that you came here on a private jet. How did that come about?
Woz: Yeah, I did. I have good friends[laughing]. You know, my friend he was in monaco. He asked where I was going and I said I was going here, and he said “ok, I can drop you off on my way.”
Me: You think maybe you should get Turkish Airlines to get you your own one?
Woz: Yeah, I actually asked them… I saw that Barcelona has their own plane with their colours on it…
Me: Yeah, you can get one with your face on it
Woz: [laughter] yeah, I made that joke - that I should get a plane with my face on it [laughing].
She’s no Petko, Serena, Jelena, Venus, Martina and even Maria etc. who can create interesting or hilarious answers out of seemingly nowhere, but if you put just a little effort in, then she can, at the very least, deliver answers worth quoting. Maybe the problem is that people don’t try hard enough.
Sam Stosur is the first player through to the semis here in Stuttgart, with a 2-6 6-3 7-6(3) victory over Vera Zvonareva.
I don’t even know where to start, so I’m just going to start with the most ridiculous fact. VERA MANAGED TO BREAK 9 (NINE!) STRINGS in this match. It was just so weird. We saw her break 4-6 back in the US Open semi against Wozniacki, and it came back here again. Back then, she really held her nerve and didn’t let it bother her too much, and it seemed like she would do the same here, until the impossible happened.
The impossible being that she managed to break every single racket in her bag, forcing her to play with her coach’s babolat racket while she waited for the stringers to do there thing. That’s really when she broke and went from dominating off the ground to spraying errors and losing three games in a row from a set and 3-3.
More weird was to come as both began to serve well and the match quickly became akin to a hardcourt match. They literally one-two punched up until the tiebreak. And while Vera was returning exceptionally well before, that quickly went out of the window in the third set.
She left the court in tears, and it goes without saying that something has to change. Whether it be the rackets, the design or the actual racket sponsor. Frankly, I hope it’s the latter.
But full credit must go to Sam. She was smart enough to reign in her game when the errors flowed drom Zvonareva and began to play very well in the third set, playing the clutch points particularly well and powering through the tiebreak. It’s definitely good to see her back in the mix. She called it her “best match of the year”, and I can’t argue with that.
Oh, and the match finished at 5pm with three matches to go. So, yeah, it’s going to be a long one tonight.
Tuesday was Germany Day down in Stuttgart, with the three German Muskerteers, Sabine Lisicki, Julia Goerges and Andrea Petkovic all taking to the court to play their first rounders in front of full crowds. All three won through.
First up was Julia Goerges. After going fown a break early in her match against Michaella Krajicek, she quickly broke back and went on to record an easy 6-3 6-1 win. I have so much love for Miss Gorgeous and her game. When she’s on, everything about her game just seems so effortless - her blistering serves, groundstokes and she’s also competent at the net to top it all off.
Sabine Lisicki was up next, and she too put on an impressive display to see off newly-crowned Queen of Class Dominika Cibulkova in straights. I think it’s safe to say the serve has returned, as she fired fown 14 aces en route, with only 2 DFs - the best Ace/DF ratio all year. However, what most impressed me was her fighting spirit in the match. Since her comeback, she has lost so many tight matches, dropping substantial leads and looking extremely fragile. It looked like it was all about to go horribly wrong again as she messed up on match point at *5-3 and promptly lost three games in a row, giving Cibulkova the chance to serve for the set. But instead of panicking, she composed herself, broke back and then served out the tiebreak without a care in the world.
Now can someone please get this woman a clothing sponsor please?
With all that said, the queen of German tennis, both on and off-court is still Andrea Petkovic. on court, the German number one was taken all the way to a third by a resurgent Tamira Paszek in an extremely high-quality match. For a set and a bit, Paszek dominated proceedings - her backhand pummeling ball after ball like nobody’s business, but the inevitable dip eventually came in set two and Petkovic lost control, never relinquishing it. From being a set and a break down, Petko lost a measly two games to close out the match, and everyone went home happy.
The presser afterwards was just like any other Petko presser. Even speaking in German and with the fact that I spent more time chatting up girls and what not in my six years of German lessons as opposed to actually, you know, learning the language, she just draws you in and forces you to listen and laugh. The questions eventually concluded, and as everyone was getting up to leave, I literally had to jump up and wave my arms in the air like a crazy person, shouting “English questions!!” to get attention. Petko replied “oooh, English” and to cut a long story short, our short exchange went something like this;
Me: You’ve obviously had a great 2011 so far. How different does it feel to be back in Germany, compared with 2010?
Petko: I felt the pressure, the expectations rising from the audience, from the media. But I think I handled it well in Fed Cup and now the only new problem was, you know, to redo it in a normal tournament situation only two days later. But I think I managed it quite well, and I’m happy that I won
Me: Do you feel like a superstar?
Petko: Like a superstar? (giggling) No. (laughter) I don’t feel like a superstar. In my town Darmstadt, when I walk through the city nobody ever talks to me - only one guy and he always tells me ‘you parked wrong’ (laughter).
Me: If you go back there now, it would be different though
Petko: “Yeah, maybe but.. No I’m still normal. I’m not Paris Hilton.(laughter)”
And that’s why so many people love this woman. She sure ain’t Paris Hilton - she’s just a down to earth, nice woman trying to make it in tennis. Lets hope that never changes.
(Pic via AP photo)
Me: Pavlyuchenkova obviously came out playing really well. How do you adjust your game? Is it more instinct or do you kind of think about what shots are troubling her?
Vera Zvonareva: Yeah, I was thinking ‘you know, I think it’s too early to get instincts on the clay yet’, so I was always finding myself, you know, thinking about ‘ok, from this position I better go for this kind of shot’. Sometimes I felt like I was making wrong decisions, but I was just trying to adjust. I kept telling myself ‘ok, if you’re in this position next time, just play deeper - put more rotation on the ball. Don’t go for a winner because it’s impossible on a clay court. So I just, you know, kept talking to myself like this. And at the end, I think I was able to manage to play like I should play on the clay, a little better in that third set. Of course still it wasn’t perfect but overall, I was able to change the momentum of the match, and I’m really happy about that’.
Yep, crazy indeed.
After two matches ending 7-6 in the third, it was stupid to even think that Petra Kvitova would reach the final of Paris here in one piece, let alone demolish Kim Clijsters to take the title. Yet here she stands, the champion of the Open GDF Suez.
I’ve always been pretty torn on Petra Kvitova. Such an insanely talented ballstriker, but she has always been so, so inconsistent. However, her transformation over the past year has been unbelievable. Not only is she now in the best shape of her life, but she has finally learnt the art of winning ugly. Before, there were only two sides to Kvitova – the huge hitter that bulldozed through opponents, finding every line on the court. And, then, well, the huge hitter that self destructed, finding every part of the stadium but the court.
But as witnessed by her matches this week, she now knows how to reign in her game when not playing well and find away through. Those matches only helped her confidence, and from then on it was plain sailing.
As for Kim, I don’t think she can or will be too upset with this result. A good week for her still, and even though she doesn’t care very much, rising back to number one on Monday will be a pretty good consolation prize, no? And if that isn’t enough, she still has those Grand Slam titles to keep her warm.
But there are an exciting few months ahead for the WTA. I expect Petra to be exhausted in her next few tournaments, but with the Williams sisters on the way back in the near future, these two playing extremely well, and then a series of other contenders waiting to pounce, this clay season could well prove one of the most exciting in years.
(Pic via Getty)
I guess it’s only fitting that the two players with the best records so far this year (16-1 for Clijsters and 15-1 for Kvitova, with one loss each) should complete in the final here in Paris.
It should be intriguing at the very least. We saw Kim breeze past two big hitters in her last two rounds, but Kvitova undoubtedly has more to bother Kim than the other two at this point in time. When playing Kim, for aggressive players I think there are two pillars that must be followed religiously;
Firstly, it’s about using the whole court. We watched yesterday as Kanepi attempted to hit deep and heavy down the centre in order to push Kim back behind the baseline and wait for the short ball. That tactic works well against most, and Kanepi’s reigning in of her game was the driving force behind last year’s two quarterfinal runs and the reason why she will move into the top 15 for the first time on Monday. However, Kim feeds off pace and deflects it back into the corners with minimum effort, so it’s all about dragging her off the court, getting her on the run and putting the ball as far away from her hitting zone as humanly possible. Kvitova, of course, has that swinging lefty serve at her disposal which will help a lot, and she enjoys creating angles and moving opponents around, which is a good starting point.
But that’s not enough. The other vital ingredient will be to get forward behind those big shots and finish them at the net. Remember the Australian Open final? Na had step one down to a tee, moving Kim around beautigully. But. Those. Damn. Drive. Volleys. They were so bad that it got to the point where I, and practically everyone else on the planet supporting her was screaming at the TV “LET THE MOTHERF$%£*$£ BALL DROP!”. But when she did, it simply gave Kim a chance to recover back into the point, and usually win it. And so confidence in the forecourt is vital. But again, Kvitova also excels when moving forward, and she has really shown some brilliant net instincts and touch almost reminiscent of Navratilova herself, both this week and in general.
So, in a nutshell, Kvitova has the tools to beat Clijsters, but whether she can execute perfectly, and whether Clijsters will give her a chance to execute perfectly, is another question altogether. The pair have played twice before, both in 2010, with Kim dropping a mere 5 games in both matches combind. When asked to recall her previous meetings with Kim, Kvitova hilariously exclaimed “They were so quick!” But it’s a new day, and Kvitova’s form this week doesn’t compare with the error-strewn confidence-lacking Kvitova of those periods in 2010, so we’ll see what she brings to the table in the final showdown of the Open GDF Suez.
So buckle up kids, it should be a good ‘un.
As I said in the earlier post, I’ve seen a lot of hate and criticism for her recently, solely because of that bark. Apparently, it somehow makes her a horrible person.
But it’s stupid. Even after spending just a couple of minutes in the same room as her, you realise that she’s nothing more than a young girl just living her dream. It doesn’t come across in sound-only, but there were quite a few funny moments here because of her facial expressions and gesturing. Especially after the first question (that I stupidly only rememberd to press ‘record’ midway through), when I asked about Wickmayer and her bad sportsmanship. Hopefully her English will continue to improve, because though she’s no Petkovic or whatever, she’s entertaining, and it’s always great to just see an honest, nice girl on tour.
The one thing you always look for in a young player is their mental strength and fighting qualities. This week (as if it wasn’t obvious before), Petra Kvitova passed that test with flying colours. Yesterday, we watched as she fought back from match point down to defeat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in straight sets, and today it was a similar story as she fought back from Wickmayer’s *5-4 30-0 lead to again take the match on a tiebreaker.
It was a pretty interesting match. Not always the greatest quality in the world, but still entertaining. Wickmayer looked to have the upper hand at the beginning, and it became pretty obvious early on that Petra wasn’t a big fan of the lightning-fast surface. I think it’s more a preference issue rather than a technical one though, as she has easily one of the most technically sound sets of strokes on the tour. But it was bothering her. On the other side of the court, Wickmayer was doing the usual – hitting the ball as hard as she possibly can. The thing about Wickmayer is that though she is aggressive and everything, there is something lacking in her game and strokes, And even when she worked her way all the way up to *5-4 30-0 in the third, you just knew that the match was on Petra’s racket and she could still turn it around.
And turn it around, she did.
One thing I’ve noticed recently is that though Petra is a great girl with a brilliant game, everyone seems to be up in arms over her constant screams of “Pojd” (the Czech variant of ‘C’mon’) AKA “the bark”. It certainly is disturbingly high-pitched, theatrical and downright annoying. But anytime I see or hear people talking about it, my mind always wanders back to when Maria spoke some of the other player, saying that for a lot of the players who pump themselves up, and really just they are just doing it for show. But then you look at Petra, and you look at some of her results over the last year, and it’s clear that she isn’t one of those players. Nobody comes back from the brink of defeat two days in a row and nobody fights back from 0-4* down in the third set of a Wimbledon quarterfinal, saving match points, without believing in and meaning everything they do on court. Nobody.
Also, that is a pretty epic match point there. It really highlights just how much Petra has improved her movement and fitness. There’s no way she would’ve reached that just a year ago. Meanwhile, Yanina is classy as ever in the handshake.