Sunday, April 20, 2008

She Did It

She wanted it so badly, she almost let it slip away. But Serena Williams recovered from her lapses and took her first Family Circle Cup title over Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in a well-fought, high-quality battle.

For the Russian's part, her world-class ground strokes and superb court coverage put her right with Serena for the entire match. Had she controlled her nerves a bit better, either of the sets Serena won could've been much tighter.

But Serena was not to be denied a title she so coveted. Aside from the lapses that prompted two double faults on two break points in sets two and three, Serena played like a woman who sees herself holding up another Roland Garros trophy.

It was her third consecutive title (Bangalore, d. Patty Schnyder; Sony Ericsson Open, d. Jelena Jankovic), her second consecutive Tier 1 title, and her first title on clay in nearly six years.

Six years.

That's right. The last time she took home a championship on the slippery stuff was, well, Roland Garros 2002. We know what happened after that.

Times have changed. But Serena's game is looking as good as it did back then, if not better. A healthy Serena is a dangerous Serena. Always.

He Did It, Too

But he had it handed to him. Roger Federer won his first title of the year when the Man with the Magic Racquet retired in the second set.

Oh well. A win is a win. And I'm sure all his fans feel he was overdue.

He Almost Did It

But this isn't horseshoes. Or hand grenades. James Blake seemed poised to win his first claycourt title at the U.S. Men's Claycourt Championships at the new venue in River Oaks, Texas, but he faltered late in the match to hand the well-earned title to newbie Marcel Granollers-Pujol of Spain.

A win on clay would've given him some confidence on the slippery stuff to help increase our steep chances against Spain in the Davis Cup semifinals, but it wasn't meant to be.

Next time.

David Ferrer rallied from 2-5 down in the final set when two-time defending champion Nicolas Almagro choked (he served for it twice!) to claim the Valencia title.

Maria Kirilenko won the Estoril Open women's title with a straight-set victory over Iveta Benesova.


Pamela said...

Craig, Serena defeated Venus in the semifinals at Bangalore. The final was against Patty Schnyder.

Karen said...

Craig, as an ardent Fed fan, I dont care if he had crossed the net, taken out his Swiss army knife taken out Kolya's knees and arms without the umpire seeing. He needed this win. It is clear that he is really not playing at his best right now for whatever reason, but right now, especially going into the toughest part of the season, he really needed this win, so as a Fed fan, I really dont care how he got it. He got it. I guess Nadal's fans are the ones who have to worry about their guy now - no title in over 11 months, but it is now his time of the year so he should do very well. Glad to have this part of the season on again so I can hear really good commentary and watch tennis 24-7 if I want. Whoo hoo

Craig Hickman said...

thanks, pamela. I forget these things.

Dan Scarlett said...

Bravo Craig, for a really elegant summary of all the week's tournaments. Really neat!

oddman said...

LOL, Craig - how do you play 'Hand Grenades'? Very carefully I'd expect. Too bad, this was Blake's for the taking, one would think.

Congrats to Serena and Ferrer on their fight and grit to win on clay.

Next up, Monte Carlo. Let's see how well Fed is feeling.
Vamos, Rafa! Vamos, Spaniards!