Monday, May 23, 2011

Day one ends in Pennetta's upset.

The women's tournament kicked off on Sunday with a solid win by 2010 runner-up Samantha Stosur and ended with a stunning upset of Flavia Pennetta by Varvara Lepchenko. In between, all the relevant seeds survived despite being pushed at and there were some impressive moves by new names.

No. 10 and three-time semi-finalist Jelena Jankovic thrashed Alona Bondarenko 6-3, 6-1, former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova ran past Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2 6-3, no. 14 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova struggled yet beat Yaroslava Shvedova and no. 17 Julia Goerges flattened Mathilde Johansson 6-1 6-4.

There was only one other upset on paper when Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez overcame No 19 Shahar Peer 7-6(4) 6-1, but the Spanish serve and volleyer has won a WTA Premier title on clay before and Peer is no lover of the surface, so the result did not come as total surprise. Bethanie Mattek-Sands, the highest-ranked American in the tournament due to the absence of the Williams sisters, came back to best Arantxa Parra Santonja, 2-6 7-6(5) 6-3, finally winning a tough three-setter at a major after a year of struggles. Young Canadian Rebecca Marino bested Kateryna Bondarenko 6-3, 6-3.

There was also an emotional win by France's Alize Cornet who wore a black ribbon on her dress in her 6-4, 6-2 win over Renata Vorakova as a tribute to Stephane Vidal, the coach and fiancé of fellow French player Virginie Razzano, who just passed away due to a brain tumour. "I will not be the only one to wear this black ribbon," Cornet said. "It's really moving for all of us and, I'm a good friend of Virginie's. The French players paid a tribute to Stephane to show Virginie that we would support her daily because we're always by her side."

Stosur, who reached the final of Rome last week, seems to have recovered from a virus which affected her in the final at the Foro Italico and pounded serves and forehands past Iveta Benesova 6-2, 6-3. Jankovic, who said on Roland Garros radio that she is starting to feel her age even though she is only 26, had few problems with Bondarenko, but has been less than satisfied with her clay court season. At 2010 Roland Garros, she admittedly did not show up mentally against Stosur in the semis and was crushed. But hopes springs eternal, even for the tired Serbian. " I really love playing in Roland Garros," said Jankovic, who also reached the 2007 and 2008 semis. "I really love these courts. Hopefully I can do well here again. Obviously my dream is to one day win it."

After winning Stuttgart and taking down no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, Goerges is one of the tournament's dark horses and showed it in win over Johansson, pasting forehands, moving quickly and rarely backing off the ball. She is more of a known quality now, and whether or not she can produce consistent, stunningly good tennis at a major with the pressure on remains to be seen, but she has the game to go very far. "I don't think I have a big chance for the title here because I have never reached further than the third round in a Grand Slam, so we shouldn't be talking here about winning a Grand Slam," she said.

Marino has very little familiarity with clay but has a big enough serve and forehand to hurt anyone on a good day and hit through Bondarenko, who is just back from injury. She will have a much more difficult time against the net rushing and tricky Martinez, but does not appear fearful of the lefty. "She is a clay-court player, so that's always difficult playing someone who is so used to the surface. I'm lucky. My dad's a lefty, so I grew up with that."

Mattek-Sands and Lepchenko will face off and while they have played each other in the past, this time both will be brimming with confidence, having beaten a competent Spanish clay-courter and stunned an excellent Italian seed respectively. Mattek played aggressive and vowed not to let go of another close three-setter like she did at the 2010 US Open against Andrea Petkovic or at the 2011 Australian Open against Arantxa Rus, where on both occasions she fell 7-5 in the third set. "I thought about my Australian Open three set match that I lost and thought 'I am not doing that again, I am going to win this match'. For me it was mental, because a lot of times I like to feel good when I win. I like to hit winners. Today I had to grind," said Mattek after the match.


Carlos said...

Including RG 11 Pennetta played only three clay tournaments this year, she lost in the first round in all of them. Including Miami Pennetta has been one and done in four straight tournaments. Shje also did poorly at I.W. Ever since The Big Stuffed Bunny spanked Pennetta in the QF in Qatar, Pennetta has been spinning her wheels.

Bethanie as the great American hope, we are screwed.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't mind reading an article about how Peer was this/close to the top ten and now teetering on losing the #20 spot, eh?

wta rankings 5-23-11

Stosur, Samantha - current 6 - previous 8
Petkovic, Andrea - current 12 - previous 15
Peng, Shuai - current 25 - previous 31
Dulgheru, Alexandra - current 35 - previous 28
Morita, Ayumi - current 47 - previous 57
Sevastova, Anastasija - current 53 - previous 46
Dokic, Jelena - current 59 - previous 65
Barrois, Kristina - current 73 - previous 59
Lepchenko, Varvara - current 77 - previous 85
McHale, Christina - current 79 - previous 81
Zheng, Jie - current 80 - previous 47
Bondarenko, Alona - current 90 - previous 75
Lucic, Mirjana - current 94 - previous 106

Anonymous said...

I have like 6 channels of tennis and nothing but dudes are playing. That's just not right!

Anonymous said...

I tried free streaming from Tennis Channel's website yesterday. My anti virus found a malware .exe file in the java cab. Apparently its a p2p type program (octoshape) used to off load the bandwidth to other users. No thanks!

So, I had to bust out with a free stream elsewhere.. Aggie has her left thigh bandaged and is winning 6-1, 1-1.

Carlos said...

I didn't get the free preview of Tennis Channel, I guess the universe doesn't me to watch/listen to Carrillo.

Mr. Oudin was smoked, McHale lost in tough three setter.

Barrois, Crazy Czech, Rezai, all lost in straight sets.

Caps321, it is a risk watching online streaming from time to time you may find bugs.

Carlos said...

Thanks for the rankings I forgot about them. What surprises me is o Jie dropping to 80, her injury really affected her not only for the time she was off but she is having a tough time coming back from it. Jie clearly isn't the same player.

BTW The Princess vs. Coco. I didn't like this draw, I say The Princess wins in straight sets meaning Bethanie is the only American left.

Anonymous said...

Carlos if you go to, it has the link for live streaming on the left hand side.

Aggie wins and Ostrich just won the first set 6-2.

Anonymous said...

Also Kirilenko should be on ESPN3 now or at noon Eastern time. She is down 5-4 in the first set.

Carlos said...

Thanks Caps321 for some reason I'm not getting the stream. :/ I'm guessing I have to be subscribed to The Tennis Channel on cable in order to get the stream since my cable provider is also my internet provider; or I have to download octoshape plug in. Don't know if I should do that.

I have to make a correction Lepechenko is the other American who moved on to the second round.

Anonymous said...

My mistake. ESPN3's schedule says they aren't broadcasting until tomorrow.. Which is strange since it was on yesterday.

Ooooh Cocoa V. tried to hit the ball twice and got called out by the ump. She just slammed her racket down about 10X harder than the Bunny ever did!

Btw, this was on set point in the first set tie breaker.

Princess wins 7-6!

You could always uninstall the octoshape plugin after they stop streaming.

Carlos said...

Bad Cocoa, really bad. Maybe Cocoa needs marshmallows. :P

Good point Caps, I'll install it and see where it goes.

BTW The Princess won, Dokic lost.

ESPN is broadcasting college softball which I also like, too bad it conflicts with RG.

Anonymous said...

I've seen that octoshape plugin prompt while clicking on CNN's live video. (I declined and it said the video wouldn't be as good.) But, I didn't get asked on the French Open stream. Are you using Firefox?

Ha, I used to watch Softball all the time about 10-12 years ago.

Also you mentioned having access to ESPN3, right? Tomorrow at 5am and Noon Eastern will have matches on.

Carlos said...

Yes, I'm using Firefox 4.

What happened did you get bored with softball? :P I only watch the regionals, super regionals, and the college world series, I don't have time to watch the regular season. This year I totally forgot about softball because I was too concentrated in tennis. I happened to switch the channel to ESPN and they were showing softball regionals.

That would be 2am and 9am Pacific time. I'll start brewing tea right about now, I don't drink coffee.

Anonymous said...

I started off watching regionals, super regionals, college world series, Olympics, and the national team. My favorites were: Lisa Fernandez, Cat Osterman, Jennie Finch and then when softball got booted from the Olympics I lost interest.

Guess where I messed up was not continuing to follow the new crop in college softball..

Carlos said...

Lisa Fernandez was the best pitcher that I've seen. She had a ridiculous ERA in college and as a pro.

I wasn't sold on Finch, I thought she was overrated. In the last Olympic were softball was an Olympic sport she gave up the winning runs against Japan in the gold medal game. It left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. The only time the U.S. softball Olympic team earned the silver medal. All other previous occasions U.S. won gold. As I remember the U.S. team was heavily favorite to take the gold. Thank you Jennie Finch.

Give it another shot Caps321.

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