Thursday, January 20, 2011

Zvonerava forced to step up against rising star

Vera Zvonareva must be the most unassuming No.2 seed women's tennis has ever seen at a major. The Russian Muscovite, who has been frequently overshadowed by the glamorous Maria Sharapova and athletic (now retired) Elena Dementieva, has never really been big into publicity.

But what Zvonareva does well, even better than her countrywomen of late, is put her head down and find ways to get out of tough situations in the early rounds of the Grand Slams. A case in point was her second round meeting today on Hisense Arena with Serbian young gun Bojana Jovanovski.

Not surprisingly, Jovanovski was the name on everyone's lips before the match began. And it didn't take long to see why. Bossing the ball around the court with Monica Seles-like conviction, the 19-year-old frequently out-hit the second seed with relative ease. She went up 4-2 in no time and after two double faults from Zvonareva, she had a chance for 5-2.

She took it with a majestic backhand down the line, and soon after, the set followed 6-2. Impressively, Jovanovski habitually hit the ball not only on the rise, but with her point of contact well in front of her powerful torso. Remaining steady throughout the baseline exchanges, the youngster seldom appeared out of position when pounding backhands left, right and centre past the awe-struck Zvonareva.

However, after losing the first set, Zvonareva gave the entire Hisense Arena crowd a master class in counter-punching. Never one to shy away from scurrying left and right along the baseline, the Russian played intelligently to open the second set with a hold, frequently wrong footing her opponent.

She remained on the defence throughout the set, even when she broke to lead 4-2; but somehow, she seemed to relish the challenge. After holding on to seal the set 6-3, it was clear that the second seed had broken through the stronghold.

It was moments such as those which propelled Zvonareva to both the Wimbledon and US Open finals last year. No longer the player who crumbled to tears mid-match in the fourth round of US Open 2004, Zvonareva showed her developed maturity by calmly breaking in the opening game of the third set.

From then on, it was smooth sailing for the Russian, who lost only one additional game to take the set 6-1.

"It is definitely getting better, and that's what I wanted, this kind of match," Zvonareva said about today's encounter. "Maybe you're not playing perfect throughout the whole match, maybe a little bit inconsistent yet, but you still getting through this kind of match. And I really think that it will really help me to improve for the next one. I'm very positive about it."

"I'm maybe not as sharp yet as I want to be, but definitely this kind of match will help me to be better the next one."

Vera will meet Safarova in the third round who battled to win 6-3 6-7(2) 7-5 against fellow Czech Klara Zakopalova.


Carlos said...

1)The Serbs are done. With the Fist Pumping Imbecile and JJ struggling is nice to know there is someone else. Last year I read that JJ was mentoring Bojana, at least she didn't pick up JJ's glitter habit.

2)Captain you lost another of good of good guys "The Princess" lost in straight sets to Benesova in the second round. Speaking of Czech women what is gotten into them? They are playing rather good in AO 11.

3)Peer against Flavia in the third round. Lets see who has it.

4) Now for Vera, she may have been calm because it was only the second round. To me the real test will come when she is in the pressure cooker, in the second week of the AO with a tougher and much more experienced opponent who can adapt or change the game plan to Vera's plan B. To Vera's credit mentally she has improved but I want to see if she can handle the pressure cooker.

Emily or as Carlos likes to call me "Captain" said...

1)Thank god Serbia has Bojana, other wise women's tennis in Serbia would be gone! I think its good for Bojana to be mentored by JJ, as long as JJ just talked about her career pre 2009.

2) I know, I was sad when I saw her loosing! The worst thing is know her ranking will go down again. I know there are so many Czech players left, and playing well! Maybe they will be a new dominate force in tennis.

3) Peer and Flavia are basically playing for a berth in the QF IMO.

4) So far Vera look to have everything under control and she seems calmer, but then again like you said it not at a do or die stage of the tournament yet, and she has never really been put under huge pressure.

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