Saturday, 29 October 2011

WTA Championships: Pre-Finals Catchup

12 RR matches and 2 SFs later we have our finalists.

And, truth be told, it’s exactly who we thought it would and should be. 

Vika’s start went swimmingly. Hardly surprising, what with Pova being injured and Li and Stosur playing at being Li and Stosur [not to be unkind, but both their top ten rankings come with air-quotes until further notice]

But whatever you might say about those last two (and believe me I’m holding back), Vika came through those matches playing as well as we know she can – the remaining “dead” RR match merely a formality, yes? No. 

Nothing’s ever quite that simple with Marion (1st alternate) is it? Win or lose, you just know some volatile sh*t will ensue – and there won’t be anything “merely” about it.

My feeling was, not only that she would make a point of sullying Vika’s unbeaten record, but also that she would do so in straights. Mostly because this would be a most Marion-like thing to do. But, really, with it being a dead RR match, and with no less than $115K at stake, what else was gonna happen?

We all saw what happened. And it didn’t end well for Vika.

You can generally glean all you want to know about someone by their attitude to a) fistpumping and b) tanking.

I know how much controversy this “tanking” thing generated on Twitter – heck, Vika got booed off court by a crowd that (up to that point) had been appreciative, respectful, fair, and not at all given over to applauding UFEs from anyone.

But really, what else would you have her do? She might perhaps have looked a little less irritable (and committed earlier to either winning or losing more economically), but expecting her to thrash it out late into the night in a dead match before a potentially career-defining SF is  hopelessly naive.


Petra’s story, like her matches, is far less complicated.

Her A-Game beats everyone – without it, she loses to most anyone.  If you’re bored of hearing that, it’s because it’s true. There’s practically Cliff Notes to that effect.

Petra mostly brought that A-game – her one and only blip in the group stages coming against Agnieszka, a match she still went on to win in straights. And today’s semi against Sam saw her drop her first set of the week.

Yet it wasn’t with recourse to the A-game without which her critics insist she is hopelessly vulnerable that she got through either of those two matches. Not for the most part. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Blitzing opponents in straights is fun but its no substitute for exactly the kind of matchplay Petra needs – winning without your A-game, winning ugly, winning ugly-on-the-inside, whatever you want to call it.

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