Tenaciously Tennis

Schnyder Teams with Klemenschits in Istanbul

Patty Schnyder and Sandra Klemenschits make for a compelling story as the third-seeded pair at the Istanbul Cup. Schnyder, who’s potentially retiring after this year, is out of the singles, but looked strong with Klemnschits in their first round match. The duo won over Johanna Larsson — the player that defeated Schnyder in singles — and Tatjana Malek in two sets, advancing 6-3, 6-4.

Klemenschits made news not necessarily for her doubles play, although she did win 20 titles on the ITF circuit, but more so for the cancer that took the life of her doubles partner and twin sister Daniela in 2008.

Seeing both players come together in doubles must be a special thing to watch. I hope they go far in the tournament.

Here’s a recap of some of the highlights on the WTA tour at both the Istanbul Cup and in the US Open Series tournmanet at Stanford:

  • Wimbledon semifinalist Tsvetana Pironkova continues to be a rollercoaster ride on tour after her amazing run. She lost to Anastasia Rodionova 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.
  • The Latvian teenager Anastasija Sevastova, who beat Petra Kvitova in the first round, was ousted from Istanbul with a three-set loss to Vera Dushevina, 6-3, 6-7 (8), 6-2.
  • At the Stanford tournament, Sam Stosur reached a career-high ranking of 5 in the world after beating American qualifier Christina McHale in two sets. Stosur advanced with her 6-1, 7-5 win.
  • Agnieszka Radwanska and Yanina Wickmayer both needed two sets to advance. Melanie Oudin, however, needed a tough three-setter to close out Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada. The teenage Oudin eked through 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-3.

Williams Sisters Reclaim Top Rankings Despite Shaky Play on Clay

With their continued success over the past few years, it is not surprising that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have recently reclaimed the number one and two rankings in the world. Their ascension in the rankings, or more specifically, Venus’ move to number two, comes at a time of stark contrast to their recent play on clay. Although excellent by most standards, the Williams sisters must be held to a much higher level. When they enter a tournament, one of the two is expected to win. However, in their last two events, neither have claimed anything, except the longest match of a career (Serena) and a debilitating loss in a final (Venus).

The first tournament to recap: The Italian Open, which began on May 2. There, Serena bowed out in the semifinals against Jelena Jankovic at the Italian Open, while Venus sister lost a round earlier to none other than the same Serb. While the quarterfinals and semifinals are respectable, losing to Jankovic was a surprise. However, on paper it’s a different story. Serena’s head-to-head with Jankovic is a close 4-4, while Venus’ is 5-6. Take those records and combine them with Jankovic’s success on the surface, and you have a better understanding of their loss. However, while Serena is justified in her hard fought, three-set encounter with the Serb, what is Venus’ explanation for the lopsided 6-0, 6-1 affair that ended her Italian Open run?

The next tournament to look at: Madrid. Here, the sisters’ showing was even more stinted with Serena bowing out in the third round to Russia’s Nadia Petrova, while Venus made a run to the final. First up: Serena. The younger sister played the longest match of her life in the second round (after a first round bye) against Vera Dushevina, a player she’s beaten in the past quite handily, including a 6-2, 6-2 win in Sydney this January. Serena claims she wasn’t playing at her best, which is reasonable given that she typically saves her best for the Grand Slams. However, to pull through that marathon match and then lose against Petrova, a player she held a 6-2 record against previously, was shocking. Yes, it was a good effort to take it to a third set, but losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 is atypical for Serena, who usually shines in the third set.

As for Venus, she sailed through the draw, making it to the final against the unseeded Aravane Rezai of France. In a quick 6-2, 7-5 drubbing, Rezai ousted the older sister to take home her third title on the tour and her second win over Venus. On a roll, Rezai’s win means she’s taken home her third straight title when making it to the finals, according to an article on the WTA Tour’s official website.

In sum, the Williams sisters deserve their rankings. Despite clay being their worst surface, they both played well enough (for the standards of the normal professional tennis player) to ensure their dominance of the top spots in the world. Thankfully, they probably won’t meet before the finals of a tournament for quite some time now, which is a benefit not only to their high level of play, but also to tennis fans around the world.

Serena Struggles to Win; Plays Her Longest Match

Posted in Jelena Jankovic,Nadia Petrova,Serena Williams,Vera Dushevina by Ben on May 11, 2010

The clay court grind continues for Serena Williams at the tournament in Madrid. Williams, who “wasn’t playing [her] best tennis,” won the longest match of her career in a three and a half hour marathon against the forty-third player in the world, Vera Dushevina. Williams slid through to the third round with a score of 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).

According to the CNN article “Serena Survives Epic Madrid Opener,” “Williams had beaten the Russian convincingly in straight sets in their past two encounters, the most recent in Sydney in January, but needed to save a match-point at 6-5 down in the second set and also had to battle back from a 4-0 deficit in the deciding tie-break.”

Therefore, the score shows that Serena is far from her best form. With her recent loss to Jelena Jankovic in the semifinals of the Italian Open, the younger Williams sister and current number one player in the world has a lot to prove going into the French Open, the only Grand Slam that she has not won more than once.

Williams’ next opponent is Nadia Petrova, who she has a career 6-2 head-to-head. Will Williams re-group after what must have been a truly physically debilitating match remains yet to be seen in the coming days.

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