Tenaciously Tennis

Recap: Murray Beats Nadal; Sharapova Edges Pavlyuchenkova

Although the finals are just about over in Canada for the men and in Cincinnati for the women, the semifinals suggest interesting momentum shifts as we head to the US Open. Let’s recap the results.

On the ATP tour, Andy Murray knocked out world number one Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 with his devastating, counter-punching style. This brings his head-to-head against Nadal to 4-8, a decent record against the fiery Nadal. Despite the loss, I’m not worried for the Spaniard’s chances to win the US Open this year. Although he certainly gives it his all in every match, it’s harder to beat Nadal in a major with three best-of-five match structure.

At the same time, Murray should feel increased belief in his game after exacting revenge over the Spaniard for the three-set drubbing he got in the semifinals of this year’s Wimbledon. In that match, Nadal outplayed Murray to win 6-4, 7-6 (6), 6-4 before taking the tile. Murray’s opponent in the final: Roger Federer, the victor over world number two Novak Djokovic in a long 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 affair.

On the WTA tour, Kim Clijsters quickly advanced to the finals after Ana Ivanovic, who’s played inspired tennis to get far in the tournament after a shaky season, retired due to injury. In a tearful goodbye to Ohio, where she’s had her best results on hard courts in a long time, Ivanovic left the stadium with doubt for the future of her season. If the injury is as serious as it sounds, it’s a real pity. She’s finally playing with purpose again, and it’d be sad to see her sidelined for the rest of year.

In the other semifinal, Maria Sharapova battled teenager Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in a match filled with errors and delay. In the first set, the players were locked at four-all before Pavlyuchenkova double-faulted away the game to give her opponent momentum. In the second set, after a ten-minute delay due to a lighting problem in the stadium, Pavlyuchenkova regained focus as Sharapova began spraying more shots out.

It’s refreshing to see a game like Pavlyuchenkova’s in the top tier of the women’s game, despite the serving troubles that plagued her during the match — granted, she’s been playing lots of tennis recently. In fact, the 19-year old Russian comes off a win in Istanbul, while also playing doubles in Canada. Pavlyuchenkova, who enjoys clay, stays far behind the baseline, gets to tons of balls, and plays with a finesse and touch that’s beautiful to watch. As a former junior champion, she has a bright future on the professional tour as well. She’s well on her way, too. Mark Pavlyuchenkova as one to watch at the US Open.


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