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Tenaciously Tennis


Schnyder Signals Potential Retirement for 2011

Veteran Patty Schnyder discussed the possibility of retirement this year after losing her Australian Open first round match to Lesya Tsurenko. Suffering from bronchitis, the former top ten player, now ranked 44th, did not win a set. She lost 6-3, 6-2 to the 157th-ranked qualifier from Hungary.

Schnyder recently told reporters — probably in her post-match interview — that “I haven’t made any commitments beyond the next one or two months. I’ll play Fed Cup against Israel and then Doha and Dubai. After that I don’t know.”

Schnyder, whose best major result came at the 2004 Aussie Open when she reached the semifinals, has had a difficult couple years at the biggest events. After making it to the quarterfinals at both the French Open and US Open in 2008, she has failed to get past the third round since.

In 2010, she did not play the Australian Open for the first time in 13 consecutive appearance. After losing in the first round at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon, Schnyder got to the third round at the US Open. There, she was a heartbeat away from advancing to the fourth round against Yanina Wickmayer, having held match points. In the end, however, Schnyder lost 7-6(5) 3-6 7-6(6).

With these recent, relatively lackluster results at majors, she has seen a dip in the rankings. Having ended the year in 2005 and 2006 in the top ten, Schnyder finished 2010 ranked 41st.

Regardless, she did enjoy two runner-up performances last year in the smaller tournaments at Budapest and Linz. Schnyder lost to Agnes Szavay and Ana Ivanovic, respectively, in those finals.

Fun to watch with her loopy, left-handed shots and ability to hit beautifully-placed winners at tricky angles, it would be sad to see her hang up the racket. In a sport that now places so much emphasis on power, especially on the WTA tour these days, Schnyder will be missed if she does decide to retire. At age 32, she’s been a professional for over 17 years.

Watch below for a fun video of Schnyder and Daniela Hantuchova playing some “street tennis” in Linz last year.

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Almagro, Kanepi, and Szavay Succeed on Clay

In a stunning upset, Nicholas Almagro beat Robin Soderling on his home turf at the Swedish Open. For the women, Kaia Kanepi and Agnes Szavay posted wins, improving upon their current streaks on tour.

Soderling, the French Open finalist for the past two years, was a heavy favorite to win the event. To fall to Almagro, a strong clay-court player, is even more surprising given the home-court advantage. Regardless, I’m not seeing it as indicative of a lapse in the Swedes’ play. He’s done well making it to the finals at Roland Garros, followed by his quarterfinal showing at Wimbledon. Soderling lost to Almagro in a close 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 match. I strongly believe that Soderling will end the season with continued impressive play at the US Open and at the year-end event. There’s no evidence to say otherwise.

About the WTA, it’s pleasing that Kanepi and Szavay took home titles. Kanepi, the qualifier that made her way to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, deserved the win against Flavia Pennetta. She beat the Italian to win the Palermo event with an easy 6-3, 6-2 match. Kanepi’s on a roll, and there’s no sign of her stopping any time soon. I’m guessing she’ll be a threat on the hard courts of the US Open series, too.

Finally, Szavay,  who beat Patty Schnyder in Budapest, beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-2, 1-6, 6-2 to win the Prague Open. I see Szavay also continuing this form into the US Open series.

It’s great seeing these hard-working athletes garnering the benefits of their dedication. Hopefully, their success takes them far into the last major. They’re ones on which to keep a close eye.

Serena Cuts Foot; Szavay Advances, Schnyder Loses

In a stunning shake-up to the US Open Series, Serena Williams reportedly cut her foot on glass, prompting her to need stitches and miss her three warm-up event before the year’s last major at the US Open in August. The injury prevents the current world number one from playing in Istanbul, Cincinnati, and Montreal.

This recent news puts a big question mark on Serena’s chances at the US Open. If seriously hurt, who knows if she’ll even make it to the event? Even if she does, can the younger Williams sister play through the pain and the rustiness after not playing competitive tennis for about two months? If anyone can, it’d be Serena. At the same time, it’s unreasonable to expect anything of the sort. Hopefully, she’ll keep the tennis community posted.

In other news, the Budapest finalists Agnes Szavay (the tournament’s winner) and personal favorite Patty Schnyder from Switzerland both continued their sensational play on clay to reach the semifinals of the ECM Prague Open. Szavay took her success one step further to make it to her second straight final. The fifth seed took out Lucie Hradecka, 6-2, 6-4.

Schnyder, on the other hand, lost at the hands of Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in a lopsided 6-2, 6-0 defeat. Although partly understandable given her string of wins leading to this point, it’s surprising that the match ended so heavily in Zahlavova Strycova’s favor. Schnyder, a former top ten player, is an excellent clay court player. I expected her to get back into the finals for a rematch with Szavay. No matter, however — she’s played exceptionally these past few weeks since the grass season ended at Wimbledon. Let’s see if she can continue winning during the US Open Series, and at the final major of the year.

I predict Szavay winning her second straight title against first-time finalist Zahlavova Strycova tomorrow.

Budapest Finalists Szavay and Schnyder Post Wins

Straight off Sunday’s final at the Budapest Grand Prix, Agnes Szavay and Patty Schnyder — both Budapest finalists in 2009, too — continue to advance on clay . At the ECM Prague Open, Szavay won against Liana Ungur 6-4, 6-3, while Schnyder overcame a tough test from wild card and the 215th player in the world Zarina Diyas, 6 – 7 (2), 6-4, 6-1.

With the wins, Szavay — the seventh seed — next meets with Iveta Benesova, who faced a tough three set test from the qualifier Mervana Jugic-Salkic. Given Benesova’s long match and their career head-to-head — which Szavay leads 1-0 with a 2008 clay win over the Czech — I see another comfortable win for the Hungarian.

As for Schnyder, she’ll next face France’s Alize Cornet, who edged Tamira Paszek 7-6 (4), 6-7 (3), 6-4. I see the veteran dispatching the 20-year old Cornet in straight sets. Schnyder’s clay court game is simply superior, and she shouldn’t have any trouble closing out the match.

In future rounds, Szavay’s first potential seeded opponent wouldn’t be the semifinals, where she could meet Anabel Medina Garrigues, the fifth seed. Schnyder, who’s in an open section of the draw, could potentially meet the top seed, Lucie Safarova, in the semifinals. Schnyder’s faced Safarova three times in her career. She’s beat Safarova two-of-three times, including the last win at the 2009 US Open.

Although it might be too early to call the finalists for the tournament, Szavay and Schnyder have clear draws to the semifinals. It’d be great to see their momentum continue to see another final round match-up.

For the full draw, click here.

Schnyder Loses, Plays with Inspirational Style

Posted in Agnes Szavay,Patty Schnyder by Ben on July 11, 2010

It’s been a few days since I’ve last posted. I’m sorry about that — I’ve actually been away for the weekend. Well, I’m back in action now. To begin, here’s a compelling result that I found spoke deeply to me. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Agnes Szavay beat Patty Schnyder to take the title in Budapest for a second year in a row. Despite this admirable feat, however, I’m not interested in the winner. The loser is more compelling to me — way more compelling. Schnyder, from Switzerland, has long been a favorite of mine on the WTA tour. There’s something about the 31-year old veteran’s game that catches my eye — her loopy topspin shots, the way she controls her angles, how she doesn’t punish the ball with power. Those are all the makings of a personal favorite essentially because that’s the game to which I aspire.

I’m not a power-player. In fact, I hope to one day achieve but a fraction of Schnyder’s awesome that took her to number seven in the world and an annual top twenty-five player for the past 12 of 14 years . I think it’s way more interesting to play that way, befuddling opponents with a shot that’s always different. Now, I’m not talking hitting junkball after junkball and moonball lobs  followed by dinky drop shots. I’m just saying that a mastery of spins, combined with a powerful weapon, is a beautiful game indeed.

While Schnyder’s career may be coming to a close — a sad thing for fans of this rare style on the WTA and ATP tours — hopefully, it’ll inspire more to player her game. It’s inspired me whenever I see it, and I can’t express how much I would like for others to follow in her footsteps.

Click here to view Schnyder’s profile on http://www.wtatour.com.


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