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Pro Tennis Showcase
August 19, 2009

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2009 Rogers Cup (Women)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada - August 19, 2009
Editorial by Jane Voigt.

Photography by John Meaney.

 

Jane Voigt Photo
Jane Voigt

Safina Out - More Seeds Fall
 
August 19, 2009 -- Aravane Rezai came out to win. And she did, defeating number-one seed and defending champion Dinara Safina in three roller coaster sets during which the Russian committed seventeen double faults. Safina crumpled her racquet with a swift whack on the court to commemorate her loss, before shaking hands at the net with Rezai.

"Disaster," Safina said. "But, you know, big tournament is coming up in two weeks. Hopefully tomorrow will be better and get ready for the U. S. Open."

Rezai, who is unseeded here at Roger's Cup, was ecstatic about her victory over Safina, the world's number one player. "I'm happy because it's my first time I've beat No. 1 in the world; and, I'm happy because I take revenge from French Open. It was very important for me, because she beat me at home."

They played at Roland Garros for the first time this year. Safina sent the French woman home in a tidy rip 61 60. But today was a different story all together. Their match lasted a little over two hours. It was anyone's guess who would hold serve, break serve, and/or double fault. Rezai had 7 for the match -- more than any pro would want.

All up-and-coming players want to win and be the number one player in the world. But Rezai cracked groundstrokes with speed that equaled and surpassed Safina's, and she is considered the hardest hitting female on tour.

"I have always hit the ball like this," Rezai said. "My dad taught me to hit the ball strong, and [I] kept training like this. I push hard and it's easier to play like that. I practiced six to eight hours a day growing up like that."

But it was the combination of Rezai's wicked ball bashing and Safina's meltdown-of-a-serve that was the deadly cocktail she drank.

"You need to write a book then what's going on with my serve," Safina said. "I don't bend my legs, I'm kicking it too much instead of hitting it more because I kick it so much that the ball doesn't fly anywhere and it goes in the middle of the net. I drop my head, I don't hold the left arm. And I'm still so stupid that I continue doing it."

Her comments drew lots of laughs, but the fact remains she's out of the tournament. Safina's exit opens up that quarter of the draw for Jelena Jankovic (#4 seed) who advanced today by defeating Patty Schnyder 75 64, and for Wildcard Kim Clijsters who took out another hopeful: #9 seed Victoria Azarenka 75 46 61.

Dominika Cibulkova, seeded #16, also lost today in a tight three set smack down against # 16 seeded Alisa Kleybanova 61 46 76 (4). Cibulkova was up 6/2 in the third set tiebreak, but let the lead slip away. Cibulkova was last year's finalist.

Talking about matches slipping away· Caroline Wozniacki had a 5/4 40-15 lead on Jie Zheng in the first set, lost that game, got to 5-all, didn't hold, and then Zheng won the set 7/5. Wozniacki lost the next nine games as Zheng persisted in running down every shot the Dane fed her. Wozniacki did manage to hold off a complete drubbing, winning the next three games. Zheng, then, raced to a 40/0 lead as she served for the match. But Wozniacki made one last attempt to stymie her opponent. It was too late. On the fifth match point Zheng won 75 63.

Caroline Wozniacki broke down in tears, as she sped off in one of the tour's golf carts. They were tears of disappointment, probably. She knew she should have had the match. She knew the win was on her racquet, and that she had lost it.

Maria Sharapova pulled through today in a straight set victory over Sybille Bammer 63 76 (5). But it was a sketchy affair. Sharapova, like Safina, wracked up 17 doubles faults.

"I'm actually having a competition with myself to see how many errors and double faults I can make and still win the match in two sets," Sharapova said.

Maria admitted, after a couple of chuckles, that she needed to "step it up" if she wanted to advance in this tournament let alone at the big show coming up the last day of the month· the U. S. Open.

Kim Clijsters victory today over Victoria Azarenka says a bunch about Clijsters and a bit about the state of the women's game. Azarenka was up 4/1 in the first set and lost it 7/5. Clijsters' game took a temporary dive in the second. She served for the match, but pulled back and played safely while Azarenka filled the void. In the third, though, Clijsters knew she had to take the ball early and control the points.

"I was trying to take those first chances, and trying to return well and just, you know, trying to look to those angles from the beginning," Clijsters said.

And what does her victory say about the women's game? When after two years away, she beats the #8 seed at a Premier 5 event and a woman who many project to be the next number one player in the world? Has the women's game stagnated, trending a line of mediocrity?

"I think a lot of the girls these days that are up there, they play a very similar game," Clijsters began. "They play a game, like a perfect game, playing that aggressive tennis, really hitting the ball over the net and not giving your opponent a lot of chances. But, I feel like the plan B is not always there."

She believes that Venus and Serena and Justine Harden, as well as Kim herself, have worked on alternative plans. They have and have had plans to fall back on if the initial one goes ka-put.

"If everything goes well and the way they want it to, they're the best," Clijsters said. "I mean, they can hit you off the court in 40 minutes."

Clijsters hung in the match today, even when she wobbled. She recalled what had worked in the first set. She threw in drop shots and found angles that took Azarenka out of her comfort zone.

"You can keep hanging in there and keep focusing on those few chances, and take them and really go for it."

Luckily for the Roger's Cup Serena Williams won tonight, defeating qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova 63 62 in just over an hour. Seems as if Serena's serve came off without a hitch. She served six aces and committed one double fault.
 

 
(WC) Kim Clijsters (BEL) d. (9) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) [blue top] 75 46 61
 
Tennis - Victoria Azarenka
Tennis - Victoria Azarenka
Tennis - Kim Clijsters
Tennis - Victoria Azarenka
Tennis - Victoria Azarenka
Tennis - Kim Clijsters
Tennis - Victoria Azarenka
Tennis - Victoria Azarenka
Tennis - Victoria Azarenka
Tennis - Victoria Azarenka
Tennis - Kim Clijsters
Tennis - Victoria Azarenka
Tennis - Victoria Azarenka
Tennis - Victoria Azarenka
Tennis - Victoria Azarenka
Tennis - Kim Clijsters
Tennis - Victoria Azarenka
Tennis - Kim Clijsters

 
 
Aravane Rezai (FRA) d. (1) Dinara Safina (RUS) [red top] 36 62 64
 
Tennis - Dinara Safina
Tennis - Aravane Rezai
Tennis - Dinara Safina
Tennis - Aravane Rezai
Tennis - Dinara Safina
Tennis - Dinara Safina
Tennis - Aravane Rezai
Tennis - Dinara Safina
Tennis - Dinara Safina
Tennis - Dinara Safina
Tennis - Dinara Safina
Tennis - Dinara Safina
Tennis - Aravane Rezai
Tennis - Dinara Safina

 
 
Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. Sybille Bammer (AUT) [white visor] 63 76(5)
 
Tennis - Maria Sharapova
Tennis - Maria Sharapova
Tennis - Maria Sharapova
Tennis - Sybille Bamme
Tennis - Maria Sharapova
Tennis - Sybille Bamme
Tennis - Maria Sharapova
Tennis - Maria Sharapova
Tennis - Maria Sharapova
Tennis - Sybille Bamme
Tennis - Sybille Bamme
Tennis - Maria Sharapova
Tennis - Maria Sharapova
Tennis - Maria Sharapova
Tennis - Maria Sharapova
Tennis - Maria Sharapova

 
 
(2) Serena Williams (USA) [yellow top] d. (Q) Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 63 62
 
Tennis - Serena Williams
Tennis - Yaroslava Shvedova
Tennis - Serena Williams
Tennis - Yaroslava Shvedova
Tennis - Serena Williams
Tennis - Yaroslava Shvedova
Tennis - Serena Williams
Tennis - Serena Williams
Tennis - Serena Williams
Tennis - Serena Williams
Tennis - Serena Williams

 
 
Zheng Jie (CHN) d. (8) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) [white outfit] 75 63
 
Tennis - Caroline Wozniacki
Tennis - Zheng Jie
Tennis - Zheng Jie
Tennis - Caroline Wozniacki
Tennis - Caroline Wozniacki
Tennis - Caroline Wozniacki
Tennis - Caroline Wozniacki
Tennis - Caroline Wozniacki
Tennis - Caroline Wozniacki
Tennis - Zheng Jie
Tennis - Zheng Jie
Tennis - Zheng Jie

 
Earlier Columns from this Event:
 
August 18, 2009 Rogers Cup (Women) Coverage: State of The Women's Game - As Venus Exits
August 17, 2009 Rogers Cup (Women) Coverage: Rogers Cup Kicks Off
 

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