Tenaciously Tennis

Schnyder Reaches Third Semifinal; Thoughts on Ivanovic’s Bathroom Break

Veteran Patty Schnyder continues to make noise on tour at the smaller events with her recent upset of Daniela Hantuchova at the Generali Ladies tournament in Linz. This semifinal appearance marks her third for the season, having advanced to the finals in Budapest and the final four in Prague back in July. Schnyder beat Hantuchova in a routine 6-4, 6-4 win as the world’s 47th-ranked player.

Up next for Schnyder is Andrea Petkovic, who is currently ranked 36. The two last met in 2009 at the Budapest tournament. There, Schnyder won 7-6 (3), 6-3. As a personal favorite and an experienced player with a strong record this year, I’ll take Schnyder over Petkovic in straight sets. Schnyder’s done well so far this tournament. In fact, she hasn’t dropped a set so far. I predict that she continues the same trend to make the finals. There, she has the chance to meet either Roberta Vinci, or a resurgent Ana Ivanovic.

Speaking of Ivanovic, what’s up with the recent bathroom break / game deduction that Ivanovic suffered during her match against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. After holding to lead 1-0, Ivanovic left the court to use the bathroom, complaining of stomach problems related to yogurt consumption. “When she returned,” writes a recent Associated Press article, “the match was tied 1-1.”

Although it’s typical for players to use the restroom after the conclusion of the first set, they may also go before preparing to serve. Ivanovic, however, believed the chair umpired had agreed to let her go before Strycova’s service. That, obviously, wasn’t the case. Ivanovic blames the lost game on a miscommunication. “I was really surprised to be punished,” she told reporters.

Regardless, Ivanovic didn’t lose focus. Instead, she won 6-3, 6-2. Now, she has a strong chance to face Schnyder in the finals in what would be an exciting match. Schnyder will need any free points she can possibly get, although their career head-to-head is locked at 4-all Ivanovic has taken the last four matches. During their last meeting during the 2008 French Open, Ivanovic won 6-3, 6-2. I strongly doubt that Ivanovic will be taking more bathroom breaks before her opponent’s serve any time soon.


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.

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