2010 Wimbledon Coverage
Day Twelve Thoughts
- LADIES' SINGLES
- GENTLEMEN'S SINGLES
- LADIES' DOUBLES
- GENTLEMEN'S DOUBLES
- MIXED DOUBLES
It just wasn't meant to be Vera Zvonareva's day at Wimbledon. The Russian missed two opportunities on Centre Court to walk away from the All-England Lawn Tennis Club a champion on Saturday, losing first to #1 Serena Williams in the ladies' singles final and then later to another American (and her Kazakh partner) in the ladies' doubles final. Still, despite the letdowns against both Serena and in doubles, it was a breakout performance for a woman whose career seemed to stall over the past eighteen months.
Last year Zvonareva seemed poised to make a major impact on women's tennis, launching into the top five in the world in February 2009 after reaching the semifinals at the Australian Open. But after tearing two ligaments in her ankle at the WTA Family Circle Cup in Charleston in April, she was forced to withdraw from the French Open and came back to make just the third round at Wimbledon. She advanced one round further at Flushing Meadows for the U.S. Open, but it was a year lost for Zvonareva.
Coming into 2010 healthy once more, she was unable to repeat her final-four feat in Melbourne and lost in the fourth round. In her first action at Roland Garros in two years, she won just one match before being bounced in the second round. So the #21 singles seed was completely off the radar as action began a fortnight ago in London. Merely making the finals in both singles and doubles (knocking out defending doubles champs Serena and Venus along the way) was a victory for the Russian.
But it would be a Pyrrhic victory, as Serena avenged the doubles loss with a tidy 6-3 6-2 victory on Centre Court to claim her thirteenth career Grand Slam title and fourth Wimbledon crown. Zvonareva simply had no answer for the dominance of the girl straight outta Compton despite playing as sound a game as a player might possibly hope to play. Serena was simply on fire, putting in two-thirds of her first serves and winning an astounding 94% (31 of 33) of those points. Zvonareva was serving even more cleanly, but was unable to match that sort of power. It would take just 67 minutes in the end, Serena preventing Zvonareva from earning a single break chance en route to the straight-sets win.
And then, to add insult to injury, Zvonareva returned to Centre Court after the gentlemen's doubles final (but more on that in a second) to pair up with Elena Vesnina one last time, the ladies' doubles crown on the line. On the other side of the net, Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova were harboring their own hopes of an improbable Wimbledon title landing in their lap after a wild women's tournament yielded these wholly unexpected finalists. The first set would go to a tiebreak, both sides yielding little on the way, but it would be King and Shvedova who earned the 8-6 clincher there. After dropping the first set, Zvonareva and Vesnina crumpled, nothing left in the tank to stave off the service breaks as the American and the Kazakh knocked off the Russian favorites 6-2 in the second set for the championship...
It was an equally-unexpected batch of men's finalists in doubles that served as the break period for Zvonareva between her two finals appearances. #16 Horia Tecau and Robert Lindstedt represented the last seed standing. Against them would be the Austro-Germanic pairing of Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner. Melzer has been hot lately, reaching the semifinals at the French Open before losing in the fourth round of singles at Wimbledon to Roger Federer. With Petzschner, who at Wimbledon this year equalled his best singles effort from a year prior with a third-round appearance, the two would prove formidable competition for the ranked team across the net.
It would end up being more than merely formidable... for Tecau and Lindstedt, who upset both #4 Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi (in the third round) and #11 Marcel Granollers and Tommy Robredo (in the quarterfinals), Petzschner and Melzer would prove their Kryptonite. The hard-hitting "underdogs" quickly were ahead by a set, allowing a single game to go their opponents' way in a 6-1 opener that portended the course of the match from there.
Tecau and Lindstedt would settle down, but even then they had no way of preventing breaks in each of the next two sets when on the cusp of earning tiebreaks. And that would prove all the opening Melzer and Petzschner would need, each winning their first-ever Grand Slam title in a dominant 6-1 7-5 7-5 final that proved long on pre-match suspense and short on drama once things got underway. Look out for this partnership at Flushing Meadows... Petzschner (with former partner Christopher Kas) has already been to the quarterfinals in doubles at the U.S. Open, and these two are certain to be amongst the sixteen seeds when play begins in New York in August...
And then there was but one more championship to be settled today. We were witnes to the rise of another of the Pliskova sisters. Of course, Karolina Pliskova was seen defeating Britain's Laura Robson in the finals of the Australian Open junior girls' singles championship... and now her twin sister, Kristyna, has earned a Grand Slam of her own with a win over Japan's Sachie Ishizu in the Wimbledon final on Court 1. The Czech girl jumped out to 6-3 lead after 28 minutes, a set up on Ishizu and prepared to hoist the hardware.
But the #10 seed, who was certainly not overmatched against the #9 Czech across the net, found a second service break in Pliskova's game after Kristyna had negated her first. Ishizu would claim the second set 6-4, sending things to a winner-take-all finale. For long stretches Ishizu had the better run of play -- her serve was coming in with greater frequency, she was hitting fewer unforced errors and she'd finally even hit an ace after getting outblasted by Pliskova in the second set. But this time she could only muster one service break, and Kristyna found the reserves to neutralize Sachie twice. The second Pliskova sister had claimed Wimbledon's juniors championship, and the accolades proclaiming the twins to be the Czech Republic's answer to Serena and Venus seemed wholly possible after the win...
All around the rest of the grounds of the All-England Club, semifinals matches were deciding who would be participants in the last grouping of finals to be played on Sunday. Great Britain earned a little something to celebrate as their boys set up an all-domestic doubles final. Lewis Burton and George Morgan upset the #5 seeds, Germans Peter Heller and Kevin Krawietz, in an intense 6-3 3-6 15-13 thriller that once again reminded us how every game must be earned at Wimbledon, especially in deciding sets where tiebreakers never come into play. The other side of the draw was settled when compatriots Liam Broady and Tom Farquharson knocked off Russians Mikhail Biryukov and Alexander Rumyantsev. After racing out to a bagel in the first, Broady and Farquharson were held in check in the second set. The Russians would win a tiebreak 7-4 to level the match, but it only inflamed the young Brits' emotions to rebound in the third -- they would get the break to win out by the lopsided scoreline of 6-0 6-7(4) 6-4.
The top-seeded wheelchair doubles team of Stephane Houdet and Shingo Kunieda, on path for a calendar Grand Slam after winning in Melbourne and Paris earlier this year, kept their hot streak going with an easy 6-3 6-2 win over unseeded Frenchmen Frederic Cattaneo and Nicolas Peifer. They would find later that their opponents in the final would be not #2 Maikel Scheffers (former partner to Kunieda) and Ronald Vink but the surprisingly-unseeded tandem of Robin Ammerlaan (who won Australian Open doubles titles with Kunieda in 2007 and 2009) and Stefan Olsson. It looked poised to be a hell of a battle for the championship, after Ammerlaan and Olsson outlasted Scheffers and Vink 7-6(5) 6-2 to earn the other spot in Sunday's final.
Girls' doubles all played out to relative form, four of the top five seeds in the draw contesting the semifinals against one another. #1 Irina Khromacheva and Elina Svitolina would earn one spot in the final after ousting #3 Ons Jabeur and Monica Puig 6-4 6-1. They would find out their finals opponent soon thereafter, recent French Open champs and #4 seed Timea Babos and Sloane Stephens made even shorter work of their semifinal. #5 Veronica Cepede Royg and Cristina Dinu never had a chance to get things started, out of the tournament in just as expected a result as their mere appearance here (after upsetting #2 Karolina and Kristyna Pliskova in the quarters) was unexpected...
So only one day remains at Wimbledon... stay tuned tomorrow to find out how everything ends!