Saturday, October 20, 2012

Last finalists of the season

Moscow's marathons to define the finalists

Today it was the semifinals’ day in the premier of Moscow and both of them showed a great entertainment for the Russian crowd with two very long and tough matches being featured and two former world number ones  battling for their place in the final.
In the first match Caroline Wozniacki, seeded 3rd, was facing the weekly surprise and friend Sofia Arvidsson from Sweden. The two had played eight times each other, with the Dane leading the series for 6 wins and being defeated only once actually, since one of those two losses came when she was leading of a set, but was forced to the retirement.
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Caroline came into the match with a great confidence after the good performance against Cibulkova in the previous round, mostly in the final set, but on the other side of the net the Swedish player couldn’t arrive  with a better buoyancy after having defeated top 10 Marion Bartoli and local favourite top 20 Kirilenko.
Sofia knew that this time she had to be very consistent and play a very aggressive tennis in order to make a breach in the Danish wall, which seemed stronger than ever this week. On the other hand Caroline started very focused, believing in her shots and clearly set for an aggressive attitude each time she would have got the chance to be.
Sofia’s solid game seemed at first to be powerful enough to push Wozniacki out enough of the court before closing with her favorite shot, the forehand down the line. Arvidsson took then advantage of the first – and eventually sole – breakpoint she was given and took a lead of 3-1, before experiencing Caroline’s thunderous comeback.
Wozniacki started to go more for her shots and never stepped back during the defending transitions giving no chances to Arvidsson to close any point unless taking huge risks. That situation gave the public a great show with terrifically long and intense rally, with a few of them over 40 shots! But this was Caroline’s favorite scenario and so she took the first set for 6-3.
The second set seemed to go with the exactly same plot, but Sofia this time could rise her game in time and Caroline started to be a little too defensive on her crucial moments and also her serve dropped of intensity, so that despite serving for the match she couldn’t close and with the exactly same path of yesterday’s match she ended up losing the set over the tie break.
In the third set Caroline seemed to shake out all her doubts and fears and fast took advantage of a slightly more tired Arvidsson, who seemed less and less willing to keep rallying for so long and her risks to shorten the rallies ended up with more and more UEs. Up 3-1 and serve everything seemed easy for Wozniacki, but again her service left her on her feet and the two started a long series of breaks and re-breaks, until the very end, when the Danish could finally break Arvidsson on 5-4 and close the match after almost 2 and a half hours, to score the 3rd final of the year, the first on a premier event.
Her opponent in tomorrow’s final will be Samantha Stosur, from Australia. World number 9 and 1st seed here in Moscow, needed near 2 hours to make it through Ana Ivanovic, 4th seed of the draw.
Ivanovic entered the match with a great belief in herself and her shots and by being solid with her Backhand and mostly by firing great Forehands, could score a great amount of points and with the help of a very solid serve she hardly gave chances of break to Stosur, who had far more difficulties on her service-games, being broken three times before losing the first partial for 6-2.
The second set showed a still very consistent Ivanovic, but Stosur this time raised her service level and with a renovate strength over the backhand, could save the only two break points she offered and, on the other hand, could take one of the two Ivanovic gave and so she could close it for 6 game to 3.
In the third Ivanovic suffered the mental repercussion of that tight loss and her game dropped suddenly leaving Stosur an easy way to the final: 2-6 6-3 6-2 the final score.

Luxembourg goes all unseeded

As Venus Williams defeated the last seed left in the quarter finals yesterday, there was no seed playing in today’s semifinals, but that didn’t prevent from a great quality and intense matches.
In the first semifinal Monica Niculescu continued her impressive run, showing how she has a great feeling with the courts of the smallest state of the Benelux, as she secured herself the second final in two years on those courts. Monica’s game, after such a difficult season, seemed to click again once she hit those courts, taking out big names during the week and didn’t make an exception to Daniela Hantuchova today. The Slovakian seemed to be very confused by all the variety of the Romanian player, but most of all she lacked of the footwork to deal with all the dirty balls coming from the tricky slices of Monica’s forehand.
After dropping the first set with only one game conquered, Daniela seemed to find the way of reading the crazy game of the Romanian and took a lead of 2-0, but it lasted few and Niculescu started to win points over points and after breaking back could push into the gear and close the match 6-1 6-3.
On the second semifinal it was hard to decide who to cheer for, as both of the players involved were coming from a nightmarish season, but Andrea Petkovic and Venus Williams didn’t feel any pity for their own opponent during the match and battled over every ball in order to have it done over the other.
Petkovic’s solidity and smart playing, together with some great defense seemed to be enough to trouble an uninspired Williams, who was committing way too many errors, mostly by the end of the set, lost for 7 to 5.
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In the second set the fight became even more intense, but this time Venus could count on a much more effective serve, dropping only one point on her 1st serve and saving all the break points she was forced to face by Petkovic, who otherwise couldn’t save them all and the only one she had to drop cost her the set.
In the third a greater tension signed the develop of the match, with both players being very aggressive on the opponent’s serve and that was followed by a greater number of breaks in the early games, but on 4-4 Venus could find the right speedup and after breaking Andrea’s serve, she could close it and make it to a very important final for her chances of being seeded at next year’s Australian Open. 5-7 6-3 6-4.

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