Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Eyes On The Prize: Doha

Greetings tennis nuts,

Things are underway in Doha, and while it doesn't quite feel like a grand-slam (note the myriad empty seats for the Kuznetsova - Williams match), there is grand-slam-type money on the line.

It's 100k per round-robin win in Doha, with a potential 1.55 million dollar cheque awaiting a champion who can get the title without a loss.

With the top 8 players in the game also battling for precious ranking points and for chunks of that little mentioned but ever present intangible known as pride, some fierce battles are sure to take place in Qatar this week.

Todays results are already in:

Victoria Azarenka bagged her first 100k with an easy straight sets win over Jelena Jankovic in today's first match, 6-2, 6-3. Azarenka, the WTA's fiercest returner was as ruthless as ever against Jankovic's lollipop serving - she won 50% of points against the first serve and 60% against the second, and she also secured 5 break points in 9 games against the Serbs serve.

The performance prompted Jankovic to say something to the effect of 'I basically gave her the match,' and Jankovic's comments prompted Azarenka to say something to the effect of 'I'm happy she gave me the match - it worked out well for me,' in mock of Jankovic's habit of rarely giving her opponents credit for blasting her off the court.

Unfortunately for fans, the post match press conferences were a tad bit more entertaining than the actual match.

Jankovic, the 8th best returner in the WTA in terms of return games won, was only able to manage one break today against Azarenka. That and the 33 unforced errors that she committed made this affair a laugher from the start.

Elsewhere Elena Dementieva overcame some very poor serving (15 double faults) to outlast Venus Williams. This one appeared to be in Venus's grasp, but after losing the second set tie-break to the feisty Russian, she wilted in the third and went down easily, 6-2.

It was an end to a six match winning streak against Dementieva for Venus.

But things are not all bad for the Williams sisters as Serena has just successfully served for the match against heavy hitting Svetlana Kuznetsova. It is always enjoyable to watch these two phenoms go toe-to-toe, as they obviously have a lot of respect for one another. After trading hard fought wins during this years Grand-Slam season (Serena triumphed in Australia, Svetlana got her back in Paris), Serena, in typical Serena fashion, fought off match points in the first set tie-breaker, then used clutch serving to finish the dangerous Kuznetsova off in the second.

Tomorrows schedule is headlined by a battle of first-timers at the year end championships: Victoria Azarenka will take on U.S. Open finalist (also No. 4 in the world as of Monday - wow!) Caroline Wozniacki.

Check here for the Doha website and here for tomorrows order of play.

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