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April 18, 2010

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Family Circle Cup 2010, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
April 18, 2010
Editorial by Jane Voigt, Photography by Pablo Sanfrancisco.

 

Jane Voigt Photo
Jane Voigt

Stosur Stomps; Wins First WTA Clay Court Career Title
 
April 18, 2010 -- The Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island was quiet, an hour prior to the singles championship match between Vera Zvonareva and Samantha Stosur. Eliminated players slept in, awaiting clearance for flights to Europe. The sky still scattered with enough ash to choke jets.
 
Around the exterior of Stadium Court, Buffie Belle, the soprano slated to sing The Star Spangled Banner, warmed up her voice. A couple feet away, the six members of a cadet group from South Carolina's state military college The Citadel marched through their routine, relocking rifles made more for show. Their eyes so young. Their hair so short.
 
As start time approached fans arrived. Trickles at first then a steady stream. Women with their wide-brimmed hats of pink broadcloth, woven exotic grasses, and a few baseball caps that promoted their favorite sports team.
 
All week women fans outnumbered men by an 80/20 margin. Today, the ratio tipped. Men accompanied their spouses, fathers came with daughters, boyfriends and girlfriends held hands. Men, too, sported head wear. The revolution against harmful sunrays was not gender specific.
 
Their favorites seemed to be baseball hats, straw stiff-brimmed hats accented with narrow belts, and wide wide-brimmed ones with a hang-down flap in the back that protected their shaven necks from rays.
 
The ESPN crews adjusted their cameras. Lynn Welch took her throne as today's chair umpire. She was perched immediately above the net for an exacting view -- her words the final say on line calls since the eye of Hawkeye has closed until The French Open ends.
 
Then... the players. The WTA guests who worked their bodies the hardest, their victories tickets for a chance at another tour title. Stosur looked for her second while Zvonareva looked to hoist her 11th trophy.
 
Little did anyone know what was in store.
 
Samantha Stosur, the 4th and highest seed remaining, found the zone within minutes. She dominated, winning the first four games in ten minutes. Her harder-than-dirt serves clocked 117 mph. If she missed a first serve, she threw in a twisty slice or crocked topspin heater. Her game gears clicked and everyone in this stadium could feel it.
 
First set to Stosur 6/0 in eighteen minutes.
 
Crowds were silenced by the drubbing. At the break between first and second sets, you could sense they hoped for more... at least a slight swing in momentum that would clear a path for Zvonareva to collect points. But, really, she couldn't do anything.
 
"I think she played really well," Zvonareva said. "A couple things I tried to do today didn't work. I didn't put her in trouble enough."
 
Score: 6/0 2/0, Stosur. Time: 27 minutes.
 
Zvonareva mooned ball Stosur, to change things up. But they landed short and Stosur rushed forward to put them away. Zvonareva sliced, dropped a few shots. Nothing helped. Stosur's anticipation was keen. It happens that way in the zone.
 
"As far as a game plan or anything like that goes, it just kind of happens," Stosur said. "I was very clear before I went out to play what the plan was. And when you can execute that straightaway, then -- you just do it."
 
In frustration, the Russian crushed her Prince tennis racquet. You couldn't really blame her.
 
"Warning, racquet abuse," Welch said from her perch.
 
Oddly enough, the ferocity of Vera's action woke up the crowd. They cheered their heads off. Wildly applauding the woman who was getting throttled. Fans yearned for something that would stop their collective gawking at a match they couldn't quite hold on to. They were cheated yesterday when Caroline Wozniacki retired in her semifinal with a right ankle injury. They certainly thirsted for more today.
 
Zvonareva did get back on serve, in the second set. For an instance the momentum swung.
 
Hope died as soon as it was born. Stosur was way too far gone. She had reached the Zen garden of the zone. A place few people approach, let alone experience.
 
Score: 6/0 4/3 Stosur. Time: 45 minutes.
 
"The clay suits my game, definitely," Stosur began. "I can use my kick serve, and it's pretty effective on the clay, especially when it's a bit warmer. It can get up pretty high from the bounce. On clay I have a bit more time to run around my backhand and really try and set up points and use my spin."
 
The power, precision, and game that came from Samantha Stosur today clearly demonstrated what she is capable of. Serve like that. Hit like that. Stay mentally calm like that and the tennis world will be hers.
 
"I mean little things always creep in your mind," Stosur admitted. "I'm going to win, what if I don't play so well in the next set, what if this happens, what if that happens. You just have to keep going back to, okay, next point, next point, and then take your mind back."
 
Score: 6/0 6/3 Stosur. Time: 52 and 1/2 minutes.
 
This was the shortest singles final in the 37-year history of the Family Circle Cup, which was first staged on Hilton Head Island and moved to Daniel's Island in 2001.
 
To put Stosur's dominance in perspective, she won 86% of points off her first serve and 69% of points off her second. She only had one break point against her, which Zvonareva converted. Finally, Stosur won 72% of the match's total points -- twice as many points scored by Zvonareva.
 
With international flights still grounded, Stosur planned to celebrate in Charleston, a treat she rarely experiences. Normally, she boards a plane and flies off to the next Tour stop.
 
"I'm actually going over to a friend's place for dinner," Stosur said, smiling. "We're going to have a bit of a barbecue and celebrate and just enjoy the night."
 
Sometimes cloudy skies provide a perfect setting for a well-deserved celebration.
 

 
(4) Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. (7) Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 60 63
 
Samantha Stosur Tennis
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Earlier Columns from this Event:
 
April 17, 2010 Family Circle Cup: Onward WTA Winners -- Zvonareva, Wozniacki, Stosur, Hantuchova
April 16, 2010 Family Circle Cup: Having A Good Week in Charleston -- Hantuchova, Jankovic, Wozniacki, Petrova, Zvonareva, Oudin, Stosur, Peng
April 15, 2010 Family Circle Cup: Teenage Tennis - Oudin, McHale, Jankovic, Rodina, Stosur, Dushevina, Hantuchova, Kerber
April 14, 2010 Family Circle Cup: Big Guns Take Aim at Family Circle Cup
April 13, 2010 Family Circle Cup: Love The One You're With
April 12, 2010 Family Circle Cup: Power and Perfume Launch Family Circle Cup
 

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