Vera Zvonareva played strategically superior tennis and executed her winning formula to near perfection in a distraction-filled 6-2, 6-4 win over flamboyant Petra Kvitova.
Aside from a brief period in the second set, when a fan was suddenly stricken and a series of canon salvos were unleashed to celebrate Australia Day, Vera Zvonareva showed great patience as the powerful Czech hit countless errors.
Vera Zvonareva was willing to play long points and countered Petra’s powerful ground strokes with deep but safe volleys that made Kvitova hit more balls than she expected. Indeed, it seemed Kvitova was determined to take a high-risk offensive position against the second seed.
The match result boiled down to Kvitova’s 28 unforced errors against Vera’s 12. Zvonareva only had two miscues in the 29 minute first set.
Down a set and a break, Kvitova put a nice run together in the second set seemed in control of the set up a break at 4-3.
Zvonareva did not accomplish her number two record without comeback wins and when the dust settled, she forged a break, assisted by an untimely double fault and ran off the last three games. For her part, the Czech has already made a name for herself in 2011. The long lefty has plenty of game including a bruising forehand a crisp two-handed backhand and a nice kick serve. When her serve stabilizes, she will land in the top ten.
But, today the news is Zvonareva. The Russian is playing as well as possible. Every aspect of her game, including her emotional psyche, seems focused on this tournament. This trimmed down, savvy Russian is the real deal.
Clijsters Downs Gritty Agnieszka Radwanska
In her 6-3, 7-6 (4) triumph over Poland’s top player, the third seed said her legs felt heavy. That accurately describes the game she brought to center court in her quarterfinal match against Agnieszka Radwanska. The Pole played with fire and tracked down an unerring number of shots Clijsters has won with in previous matches.
The Belgian started fast, surging to a 4-1 lead before Radwanska managed a break and a hold to pull within 3-4. Clijsters appeared uncomfortable as she served up double faults and a number of carelessly played points. Clijsters only recorded 12 winners against 13 unforced errors in the first set and the unforced errors would only become more dominant as the second set unfolded.
Clijsters had an uncharacteristically high 6 double faults and even more surprisingly failed to convert three match points before landing in a tiebreaker. The three seed continued to play aggressively and gradually accumulated 41 outright winners against 37 unforced errors. These numbers will not serve the three-time Grand Slam Champion well against Vera Zvonareva.
Predictions Women’s Semifinals
Na Li (9) vs. Caroline Wozniacki (1)
China’s Li is the hottest player on the tour. She defeated Clijsters in the finals at Heineken, yet has remained under the radar in her quest for her first Grand Slam title. She has a decided advantage over Denmark’s Wozniacki in several categories, including serve and offensive firepower. The two baseline powers both patrol the baseline but Wozniacki relies on errors from her opponents to win. Li makes very few errors, is willing to stay on the court as long as it takes and will out-duel the top seed on the way to the finals.
Clijsters wore a tight wrapping on her right leg and she seemed ill at ease shifting weight from side to side. To defeat Zvonareva, Kim will need to be mobile and healthy. As both semis are played today, she has little time to recover. Most troubling for Clijsters must be her serving inconsistency. She will need to reduce the errors yet serve crisply, landing a high percentage of first serves.
Zvonareva has played clean, relatively error-free tennis from the beginning in Melbourne. Vera lost in the finals of the U.S. Open to Clijsters but appears to have taken her game to a higher level. She presents some match-up problems for Clijsters in that she has good power, is a sound shoemaker and commits fewer errors than her adversary.
Yet, Clijsters has the uncanny ability to play above the competition’s level. Look for Clijsters to continue aggressive shot making of her own and to bear down on Zvonareva’s backhand in a narrow win.
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