Friday, 9 October 2009

Beijing Quarters (WTA Edition) and some Retirement Speak

Williams praised her 27-year-old opponent and said: "I ran into a girl today who has never played so good in her life.

"I don't feel like I ever got into high gear ... I felt like in the second set I got one break and then I just made sure I held serve so I could go to a third set."


I only saw the closing stages of this match, including that controversial call.

But I can vouch for Serena’s comments: I can’t remember Nadia ever playing as well as that even back in her world #4 heyday. What I do know is she’s long been touted as having the weapons and the muscle to do exactly that sort of damage.

petrova (Feng Li/Getty Images)

She also has one of the more powerful and surprisingly underrated serves out there – something of a rarity on tour. Peng Shuai seems to have this angle figured out on turning former world #1’s into her pigeon. Nadia’s no one’s pigeon, but is all too frequently her own.

Kuzzie’s match with Alona Bondarenka yesterday, was of a similar high quality.

I’m not quite ready to forgive the Russian top twenty female tennis-playing population for that gutless debacle we saw at Flushing Meadows this year.

But if one of these two pick up this title, which is btw now anyone’s for the taking, I might just be persuaded to stop grimacing at them.

In the other quarter, I’m backing A-Rad over Elena.

Here’s why:

1) I’m still not on what you’d call cordial terms with Elena, partly because of her post-Wimby slump, but mostly because of her outlandish insistence that her extended post-Flushing guttural excursion has something to do with not having had enough recovery time.

2) Like many, I haven’t seen A-Rad play as well as this since 2007. Could this finally be her time to shine in the shithouse? Why not? Everyone else is.

She should at the very least be able to fashion a fairly secure top ten position on the back of this showing, but I’d like to see her do so much more.

Finally, Vera takes on Bartoli, after avenging her US Open loss to Flavlova. Flavlova picked things up after a horrendous start (including a comic spell in the third set where Flavs moonballed her way into Vera’s head), but was otherwise, essentially, out of town.

Vera’s capable of some extremely fine things on a tennis court. We’ve seen that both at Flushing and back in Indian Wells. Unfortunately, she all too often gets in her own way of achieving them.

I’ve sort of learned to live with that. I could do without the annoying tick she’s developed of holding her hand up before every point on which she’s receiving serve.


(AFP/Getty Images)

Vera, like Nadia is her own worst enemy, but is still very open to all forms of mental manipulation. A tendency Bartoli seems exquisitely well placed to take advantage of. Bartoli in three.


Some retirement speak I forgot to include in my last Marat post.

"I don't think today's match is going to be the key to my deciding to play another year, definitely not," Safin said.

"It's easy to play when you have nothing to lose, no points to defend, so you have no pressure at all so you can just play, just go for it.

"If I was playing and had to defend something, it would be a different matter. I would get nervous at some point."


I still do think he will call it quits at the end of the season, but this is a lot more ambiguous than any of his recent comments on the subject have been

Someone a little less ambiguous, on the same topic:

Mauresmo said on her Web site: “Since I came back from the U.S. Open, I’ve been trying to practice but I can’t find again the desire to come back to competition. I don’t want to rush or force things. (I will take) some time to think before making a decision regarding the remainder of my career.”

(Yahoo! Sports)

I shudder to think I may already have witnessed the last ball Amelie every struck.

Volleying is officially dead . But you already knew that.

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