Category Archives: Vera Zvonareva
So, we finally had the much anticipated follow up to last year’s ‘Hit For Haiti’ exo, with this year’s ‘Rally For Relief’ taking place today. This exhibition was to benefit all those affected by the Queensland floods, with Andy Roddick, Novak Djokovic, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Pat Rafter, Justine Henin, Vera Zvonareva, Andy Murray, Jim Courier, Lleyton Hewitt, Kim Clijsters, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Sam Stosur all taking part. It was a massive success with the players raising $1.5m thus far, a figure likely to be doubled, tripled and God knows what esle over the next fortnight.
The first part was pretty much a free-for-all in a similar vein to last year. As usual it was Novak and Andy who stole the show with their perving on the WTA players, going into the photog area, perving again, sitting in the linesman’s chairs, perving a little more and just generally cracking joke after joke (most of which were to do with their female counterparts). Also gotta hand it to Ana and Vika who were the supporting cast in this exo. Most of the other players were (expectedly) quite boring, and Serena was clearly missed after her effort in the last exhibition. But Murray and Ana had sex on-court, people.
I think we all rolled our eyes after looking at the program for the second match of the exhibition, billed as the “main event. The four got down to the mic-less *srs* business, with Kim teaming up with Rafa and Fed with Sam. There were some fun moments but all in all it wasn’t the most riveting of viewing experiences. But then they flipped it round for a good ol’ battle of the sexes, and it went from boring to goddamn amazing in the blink of an eye. I don’t even care that this was an exhibition, I just found it so enjoyable and to watch the WTA players, our WTA players, go up against the men and give such a great account of themselves. The men did try to play it cool with their little dinks and slices, but when they did step up and go for their strokes there were some pretty electric rallies. Two of the most prominent being the forehand-to-forehand exchange between Rafa and Sam, in which both were killing the ball, and the second was when Kim and Sam loaded up on heavy topspin, imitating their male counterparts. The women eventually won the tie 45-43 with a massive forehand winner from Kim. Bow down to them.
The one thing I will say is that, as great as this and last year’s event have been, I just wish that it wasn’t simply a response to a disaster. They raised so much money with just a 1hr30 hit ‘n’ giggle, and there are so many other causes that need help, so why not make events like these a regular occurrence at the other slams (bar the US Open which obviously has the Arthur Ashe Kids Day) also? Not only does this raise a lot of money for charities and relief efforts, but it’s a brilliant advertisement for the ATP, the WTA and tennis as a whole.
In comparison to the top half, the second half of the women’s singles draw is fairly spacious. Highlights of the third section include, of course, the first round match between Kim Clijsters and Dinara Safina, in addition to Agnieszka Radwanska’s comeback match against Kimiko Date-Krumm. Seeded to face in the quarters are Kim and Jelena Jankovic, but we all know Jelena will probably be out in the first round, extending her run of losses to 7 straight.
The most intriguing potential third rounder is between Ana Ivanovic and Nadia Petrova for the right to play Clijsters in the next round. It could go either way, really. Ivanovic has improved of late, but Nadia remains a dangerous threat. After the smackdown she handed to Clijsters in the fourth round of last year, I don’t think anyone will be underestimating her this time around.
Expect all eyes to be on Kim in this section, though. Not that they weren’t already since she is widely seen as the overwhelming favourite, but Na Li has really put a spanner in the works here. She’s the one to beat, but certainly doesn’t come into the tournament with an undisputed aura surrounding her, so her opponents will probably have no qualms about stepping up and attempt to get that scalp.
Looking at this section, I can’t really see anyone who could trouble Clijsters. Nadia and Ana could make things interesting, and certainly have the games to beat her, but can they believe in themselves enough to defeat her? Doubtful. I’d love to say that Jelena could give Kim a run for her money, but even the thought of it is just laughable at this moment. However, with that said, if she could get a few wins under her belt and play herself into form, then who knows? Stranger things have happened on the WTA tour.
Pick: Kim Clijsters
The final section of the Women’s draw is headed by Sam Stosur and Vera Zvonareva. The more I look at this section, the more I can’t help but think that Petra Kvitova is going to break a hell of a lot of Aussie hearts next week. I just can’t see any other outcome. Petra was so impressive at Brisbane, and should she take that form with her to next week, It’s just going to be so tough for Stosur to beat her. Kvitova’s height and the fact that she’s left handed completely neutralizes Stosur’s serve, and I can see Kvitova just taking Stosur’s kicker serve apart. Stosur relies so much on her serve working, so as far as I’m concerned, this is a nightmare draw for the Aussie.
Over at the bottom part of this section, Vera Zvonareva has an interesting projected second round match against young Serb Bojana Jovanovski. BoJo seems to really be making moves now, and is on the verge of breaking into the top 50, so Vera will need to treat this match with caution. I actually think her biggest early test will come in the form of last year’s quarterfinalist Maria Kirilenko. Though Vera holds a 5-0 lead over her, their last two matches have been perilously close with rain coming in Cincinnati as Maria served for the match, and then their brilliant encounter in Beijing later on in the year.
Still, Vera should scrape through to the quarterfinals and I think Kvitova has a great chance of joining her there.
Pick: Vera Zvonareva
Justine Henin def. Venus Williams
Vera Zvonareva def. Kim Clijsters
Vera Zvonreva def. Justine Henin
Vera Zvonareva, Jelena Jankovic, Flavia Pennetta and Victoria Azarenka all got glammed up for a photoshoot at the Sydney player party yesterday. Check out the other pictures underneath.
Russia whitewashed the USA 4-0 in the first match of the Hong Kong Exhibition’s group stage, with Vera Zvonareva defeating Venus Williams 6-4 6-2, Maria Kirilenko saving double match point to take out Melanie Oudin 6-0 in the third, and there were some other results that nobody cares about involving John McEnroe and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, so I won’t waste my time. The main thing is that Venus is back and so far the knee doesn’t seem to be bothering her. Check out some pics of the Hong Kong competitors below.
Ahead of the Hong Kong exhibition, star players Venus Williams, Vera Zvonareva and Li Na took to the courts to practice throughout sunday. Check out the full gallery here.
So the semifinals are set. Kim Clijsters vs Sam Stosur, followed by Caroline Wozniacki vs Vera Zvonareva.
As we know, yesterday Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva faced each other. It was quite an interesting situation as both were already through, but their semifinal opponent would depend on who won the match. It comes as no surprise that Kim looked like she couldn’t care less. Before the match she said that she was just treating it as a practice match, and that is exactly what she did. On the other hand Vera played her hardest from the very first point, and that was exactly what I expected.
After the match a lot of people were condemning Kim for “bad sportsmanship”. But is it really? I remember a couple of years ago at the ATP World Tour Finals when Andy Murray played Federer in the final rubber. Though he was already through, pushed himself and beat Fed in three sets. He would lose in the semifinals and many people blamed that tiring match against Federer for that loss, and so Kim did the right thing. Not to mention the fact that Kim is the queen bee of this tournament. I’m sure she didn’t care about who she has to face in the semis. I know I wouldn’t be, if I were her. It’s the others who should be afraid of her. She’s just that much better than them.
That’s not to say that Sam doesn’t stand a chance in their match. She does, but Kim will undoubtedly go into the match as the clear favourite. For Sam to win, she will have to be decisive, sharp and play to her strengths time and time again. Serve and forehand, serve and forehand. She will need to use all the angles of the court, and then look to finish points off at the net. And when I say finish, I mean finish. She may be a former doubles number one, but her net game just isn’t good enough to withstand the endless resources of Kim Clijsters. So she will need to pick her moments and then commit fully.
As for Kim, she will undoubtedly look to move Stosur around and expose her movement. To the forehand side, she should look to employ acute angles - not only does Stosur move poorly to her forehand side, but on the run her forehand is extremely ineffective on the run. To the backhand side, she will look to use her wide array of shots - giving the backhand different paces, spins and trajectories to deal with, and exposing her poor technique. It should be an interesting match, but as I said before, one that Kim should win.
The second semi-final will be between the top two players in the world. This will be far more of a toss-up, and will of course be decided by Vera rather than Wozniacki. Vera should look to play aggressive, outmanoeuvre Wozniacki and then finish points off at the net. That’s how she has beaten Wozniacki this year. The big question is if she can hold her nerve against the steely consistency of Wozniacki when the shit really hits the fan. If this was a final, I would say “no” without a second’s hesitation, but it isn’t. And so I’m going with Vera.
Lets hope our girls put on a good show.
Lets be serious here, 2010 hasn’t exactly been the greatest year ever for the WTA. Outside of the obvious injuries and ~slamless number ones~, the actual tennis has also been lacking. Watching two players play well in the same match has been mostly the thing of dreams this year.
Heard about the Beijing match between Maria and Vera a couple of weeks ago, and after checking out some clips and watching these videos, this is without a doubt one of the best matches of the year. It’s always so fun to watch Maria when she’s playing aggressive and moving into the forecourt, and of course Vera herself has been playing some top class tennis this year
outside of finals. Here the pair combine to play some fantastic tennis, using the full court and really pushing each other to the limit in some gruelling rallies. Enjoy.
It’s also interesting that Maria has been involved in two of the best matches of the year (also the French Open third round match against Kuznetsova). I remember when she made the quarters of the Australian Open this, her wins were met with so much skepticism and ridicule. However, with some great tennis throughout the year, she has really showed us that she is a great player. If she can improve her consistency outside of slams, I have no doubt that she could wind up reaching the top 20 at sometime in 2011.
And I’m not talking about the winner of the final. Though lackluster throughout the tournament, Kim showed up and played her best match of the fortnight, defending spectacularly well and seamlessly flicking the switch to attacking. It was great to watch. Well, it would have been, if we all weren’t to busy feeling sorry for Vera on the other side.
At this year’s Wimbledon, though she only won two more games than in this final she had actually given a good account of herself. She had stuck to her plan and just came up against the best player in the world playing incredible tennis. While it was universally agreed that Kim would come out the winner as Zvonareva is essentially a lesser version of Kim, many also thought that Vera would again give a good account of herself and at least push Kim to two tight sets. Of course that didn’t happen. After the first few games all seemed well, but then as Kim found a new gear Vera’s serve, which had been stellar all week, completely deserted her. She tried to compensate by taking huge cuts at the ball. Bad move.
In her last two wins over Clijsters, she had won by mixing up the play and looking to move into the forecourt. There is no way she could go blow-to-blow with a player who is essentially a better version of her. But emotions had taken over and that was that. Vera was distraught at the end and of course there were tears. The trophy presentation was awkward as hell as a result, with Kim looking like she wanted to cry at the sight of Vera crying.
I’m guessing they had a lot of time left over at the end because, well, the final lasted like 2 minutes. And so they gave Kim the mic to address the crowd again. And I’m glad they did. I’ve never been a huge fan of Kim. For the longest time I just felt like she just smiled, said “you know” a lot and we didn’t really do anything else. But I definitely warmed to her after Hit for Haiti and her monologue also helped. She touched on a lot of things and got very emotional when speaking about her late father. Pretty touching and definitely the highlight of the match. Check it out below.
So a big congratulations to Kim, and hopefully 2011 will bring some better and more memorable slam finals. The first two actually weren’t that bad compared with prevous years -- obviously we had a three-setter between Serena and Justine and then the French Open final was high-quality and tight, with Francesca playing possibly the best match of her career and one of the best tiebreaks I’ve ever seen, but it has quickly gone downhill since then. Here’s hoping.
Q. If you had to go out for dinner with a Russian tennis person, which one do you choose between the women and which one do you choose between the men?
VERA ZVONAREVA: That’s a tough question. We go eat out with a lot of girls, you know, during the tournament, Russian girls. A lot. With guys more…
Q. Pick one.
VERA ZVONAREVA: Why? You need a story? (laughter.) You want a story?
VERA ZVONAREVA: I’ll pick Matt Damon. He might be — he might be Russian in his next movie. (Laughter.)
Well played, Vera. Well played.
I have to say, last night’s win for Vera is so satisfying for me for the pure fact that she was universally written off by so many “experts” beforehand. In the pre-match build-up Greg Rusedski and Anabel Croft were sitting in the studio and speaking about the upcoming match. Greg went first and predicted Wozniacki to win easily, which is of course fair enough. Anabel then spoke and while she too picked Wozniacki to win, she also made sure to stress the fact that Vera too is a great player, the far superior ballstriker and that she had a chance if she plays well. Greg then completely cut her off, and then in so many words, said that Vera had no chance and that Caroline was already in the final. I shook my head. Judging from the live tweets during the match, a lot of US commentators seemed to be thinking in a similar manner and were just waiting for Vera to break down and hand over the match.
It didn’t happen. Vera won, and in straights at that.
When she came out in the first game I was completely petrified. Every ball was up the middle or to Wozniacki’s backhand, and it looked like another Toronto was on the cards. But from the second game onwards, she began to be far more aggressive and looked to move Wozniacki around; one of her many talents. The match actually wasn’t a bad one by any means. There were some great rallies for the crowd to sink their teeth into and as both girls are such great athletes, there were some astonishing gets and electrifying points. However, Vera usually came out on top - mixing it up between finishing points with a big groundstroke, a volley or a dropshot. She handled the conditions ridiculously well and even used them to her advantage (as she did throughout Indian Wells 2009), and she also served extremely well. I think this also silences the idea that the only way to beat Wozniacki is to play total attacking tennis. Yes, that works but it’s also about being smart, using the whole court and playing with variety.
Above all, this match really shows how far Vera has come mentally in the last few months. There were quite a few incidents in this match that really would have unsettled her earlier on in her career, or even this year. At the beginning of the second set, Vera had double break point. She was on top of the point when Karolina just stopped, walked all the way to behind the linesperson’s chair and picked up a hot dog wrapper to throw it away. Of course in tennis you are allowed to stop a point if there is a distraction, but it just seemed pretty weird considering it wasn’t even anywhere close to the court. In typical Wozniacki fashion, Karolina recovered to win the game. It seemed like a statement from Wozniacki and it could have been a huge momentum shift.
But, again, it didn’t happen.
There was also the case of the rackets. There is apparently a design flaw with her racket and she broke a total of four strings throughout the match, and at one point she ran out of rackets and the ballboys had to run on court handing her rackets. They had clearly been finished only moments before as first one didn’t even have the stencil on it, and the second one was missing a vibration dampner. But she refused to let it faze her, and eventually closed out the match on her first match point. Bravo.
As for Karolina, I don’t think this is anything for her to lose sleep over (though i’m sure Piotr won’t stop shouting at her, day and night, for the next month). She lost to a player who simply played better than her, and she aknowledged it in her presser afterwards. She was probably even worse against Cibulkova in the last round as well, and though Vera would’ve likely won in normal conditions based on this performance, the wind really showed up Wozniacki’s flaws. She doesn’t have the hands, the feel, the shot selection or imagination (of someone like Zvonareva) to control the ball in windy conditions, her forehand is a technically very poor shot plus her serving can be great on one day and terrible on another. Someone also brought up the fact that in her quarterfinal and semifinal matches last year she played Oudin and Wickmayer to reach the final. Today was a match she had to step up to and maybe this is a bigger indication of how Wozniacki copes with big occasions.
Though I highly doubt she was fazed by it, she also had the pressure of being the “title favourite” since her Sharapova win by those experts. I don’t know how they figured out that a slamless 20 year old with a passive game was a favourite over the two multiple champions and two-time winners of this event playing in the other semifinal. But there ya go.