Big Guns Take Aim at Family Circle Cup Title
April 14, 2010 -- Caroline Wozniacki, the top seed at this year's Family Circle Cup, made her debut on center court today. It was her first match here, and her first match since she hoisted the trophy at The MPS Group Championships on Sunday -- her second consecutive title there.
Wozniacki admitted on Monday that she was tired. She has had a busy spring with back-to-back tournaments. She was happy, though, with her match schedule here. "I don't have to play until Wednesday," she said, smiling.
The two days of rest obviously benefited the teen who handily defeated Barbara Zahlavova Strycova 64 61.
"I'm really happy that I finished it off in two sets," Wozniacki said. "I've been playing a lot of matches lately so I was really happy that I managed to win the first set and closed it off in the second."
Wozniacki was the second seeded player to do her thing on Stadium Court. Daniela Hantuchova slid past her opponent Ayumi Morita 64 20, when the Japanese firehouse retired with a left thigh strain.
"It was unfortunate that you had to finish like this because I felt like it was a good match," Hantuchova said.
However unfortunate the moment, the 'W' went to the #8 seed Hantuchova. And with her victory came a spot in the round of sixteen. This was the Slovakian's first clay court tournament and match of the season. She last played in Miami at the Sony Ericsson Open where she lost a hard fought match against Venus Williams.
"I was really trying to be focused today and work on the things we did last week in Orlando," she said. "I felt like I played pretty well."
Hantuchova revealed on Monday that she has quite a sweet tooth and can't go a meal without feasting on a sugary delight. Yesterday was no exception for the 27 year-old, who turned pro eleven years ago.
"We went for great seafood at Blossom," she added, smiling. "I had chocolate cake, too. It was very nice."
Sweet sentiments came Patty Schnyder's way on Althea Gibson Court this morning, too. Schnyder has entered the Family Circle Cup fourteen years in a row. No wonder people react to her with such devotion. Patty Schnyder is as reliable as the well-mannered and friendly people of Charleston.
"We love her here," one fan said, smiling and nodding her head. "She's come here so many times. We just love having her."
Michelle Larcher De Brito didn't feel the love, though. She was at the wrong end of the court against Schnyder, losing in straight sets 63 61 to the #16 seed. Larcher de Brito is probably headed for a high ranking, over her tennis career. However, her tempestuous on-court attitude will have to change if she wants to remain mentally focused.
Larcher de Brito came to the attention of the tennis world at last year's French Open when her shrill wails, 'grunting,' rattled opponent Aravane Rezai to the point she asked the chair umpire to intervene -- not a normal course of action. The request ignited an incident and a bevy of stories about grunting, coming from both men and women. Larcher de Brito told the world in her press conference in Paris that she refused to change. Today, though, her brand of pandemonium had toned down a bit.
Third seeded Victoria Azarenka (#3 seed), also known for high-pitched and lengthy clamor when striking the ball, became the second casualty of the day. She retired with a left hamstring injury in the second set of her match against qualifier Christina McHale. Azarenka initially pulled her hamstring in Marabella, Spain, at the Andalusia Tennis Experience last week. She came on court with her thigh wrapped today.
"It's not that bad," Azarenka said. "I had hoped that it probably got better, and you know, healed. It obviously didn't, but you know, I just need to keep rehabbing it."
Because of Azarenka's exit, Christina McHale, the new kid in the draw now that Larcher de Brito has more than likely boarded a plane home to Portugal, was gifted a berth in the round of sixteen. The seventeen year old was a bit miffed with the turn of events.
"I'm still a little shocked," McHale said. "You could tell her leg was bothering her, but I didn't think she would retire.
Next up for the youngster is Melanie Oudin (#13 seed). She advanced by defeating the last qualifier in the draw, Sophie Ferguson of Austria, 62 64.
The last time Oudin played McHale was at the Easter Bowl in Palm Springs, California, in 2008, a junior event.
"I'm excited about the match against Melanie," McHale said, still a bit incredulous.
Oudin was also thrown now that she won't play Azarenka, the opponent everyone expected to pull through.
"I thought that if I got this far I'd play Azarenka. She's playing so well," Oudin remarked. "But Christina's been playing really, really well. I've beaten her the past times. I've never lost to her."
Oudin, though, knows better than anyone that a slight opening can provide any player enough incentive to change the course of a tournament.
"You never know what's going to happen," Oudin said. "Tennis is pretty funny because anyone can beat anyone on any given day. Anyone in the draw now is going to be a good player. I'm going to have to be on the top of my game."
Other seeds to move on: Nadia Petrova (#6) defeated Vania King 62 61; Alona Bondarenko defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands 46 75 75; Vera Dushevina (#14) defeated Kai-Cheng Chang 62 62; and Elena Vesnina (#10) defeated Sofia Advidsson 75 62.
What About Doubles
It's common knowledge that doubles doesn't get much attention nowadays with singles stealing all the glory. Except when Rennae Stubbs and partner Lisa Raymond take to center court and, somehow, appear to be failing at their game. But that's what happened this evening against their opponents, the youthful and aggressive team of Ekaterina Dzehalevich and Olga Savchuk whose combined age doesn't come close to that of veterans Raymond and Stubbs -- 76 years!
Aside from the age difference, Raymond and Stubbs are considered doubles legends. They have won three Majors and 32 tour titles during their on-again, off-again partnership that started in 1995.
So when Stubbs and Raymond lost the first set 63, after having been down 5/0, it's no wonder Stubbs kicked up a fuss and a bit of green clay. She was frustrated, no matter the calm influence Raymond exuded. But never fear, the legends reversed the course of the tournament. They came back in the second to even the match and went on to win the tiebreak (third set) 12-10.
Roars rose from Stadium Court as if a Sunday final had just come to an end and the fan favorites had won.