Thursday, January 20, 2011
Zvonerava forced to step up against rising star
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.