Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Great Fun At The Classic

It was a terrific day of tennis at the ASB Classic today. I’m still excited about the last match, where Maria Kirilenko beat Kaia Kanepi 62 26 63. Being quite the Kirilenko fan I’d love to say I knew she could do it, but I was sweating when she went down a break in the third set. But Maria kept her cool and played some great tennis to come back and win, much to the delight of the evening crowd who had quite taken to her charms. Maria Kirilenko is not just a pretty face, a pretty dress and a pretty pair of legs, she’s also a pretty exciting little player.

If that match was a fun fast-paced three setter in the cool of the evening, then Michaella Krajicek vs Sara Errani was a long, gruelling and intense 3 hour 25 minute epic in the hot sun. And I mean gruelling in the nicest possible way, it was great. I was speaking to a fellow tennis goer before the match and he said he thought that Eranni would win that one. And he was right. Errani pulled off the upset, 75 67 63. Both women came up with some beautiful shots, especially Krajicek who was very successful at the net. But Errani was the more consistent player, and was happiest when she was keeping the ball in play during long rallies, which would inevitably end with an error from Krajicek. Michaella had her chances with set points and things, and also saved two match points in the second set, but this was Errani’s day. I hope the Italian keeps up her good form. I think if an unseeded player upsets a seed then the least they can do is take the seed’s place in the quarterfinals.

I spent some time on the back courts today which is always fun. You can get awfully close to the players on those back court benches you know. I watched Aravane Rezai win her first round match. I knew that Rezai was good, I just couldn’t remember what she had actually done. But she has done things, I know that. I saw Eleni Daniilidou and her coach come sit down on the benches to watch the match as well, scouting her second round opponent no doubt. On the wrestling they will often show the champion watching the number one contender match that will decide his next challenger. It’s quite a powerful visual image really. Daniilidou vs Rezai might be worth another trip to the back courts tomorrow.

I also got to see Camille Pin vs Martina Muller on the back courts, while top seed Vera Zvonareva was dismissing Kiwi number two Sacha Jones on centre court. I was sitting near Muller’s coach, and whenever Muller lost a point she would stare daggers at him. Seriously, if looks could kill Martina Muller would be doing hard time. It was scary. But I like Muller and hope she’s happy. And Pin is great, but boy she has a little serve. Her feet don’t leave the ground very much at all. Still, it got the job done today, but she’ll need to bring her A game if she wants to upset Tamira Paszek tomorrow. I’m sure she’s thinking about it as she has semifinal points to defend from last year’s Classic.

So it was a really good day. Second round action kicks off tomorrow. New Zealand number one Marina Erakovic will be taking on American Ashley Harkleroad, which I think is a winnable match for Marina. Won’t be easy, but it would be awesome if she could book a place in the quarterfinals. Lindsay Davenport will be back in action too. Her quarter has opened up a bit with the exit of Michaella Krajicek, but Anabel Medina Garrigues could give her some trouble tomorrow.

Again no time for a photo op right now I’m afraid, but I’m totally going to come back tomorrow night and find some good pictures for these posts. Kirilenko was wearing a swell little white dress with tennis-ball-neon-yellow underwear, but it was the evening session so I think all the photographers had gone home. Good thing she won, we should see it again.

UPDATE! Here’s a picture of Sara Errani looking fired up during (or maybe a second after) her win over Michaella Krajicek. She’s pretty small, but she’s always running.

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