Monday, July 26, 2010

US Open Series Champ

ATLANTA- JULY 25: Mardy
Getty

Mardy Fish won his second consecutive title with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(3) victory over John Isner at the Atlanta Tennis Championships. Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram took the doubles title.

The last set of the singles final was the only tennis I was able to see all week. Apparently it was a sauna on the court. Isner, who really can't stand the heat, looked like he picked up where he left off in that indescribable Wimbledon first round match. Fish played the last stretch of the match with the renewed confidence of a winner and found his way to another title.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Face Of The Day

ATLANTA- JULY 22: Lleyton Hewitt
Getty

Atlanta Tennis Championships

Singles - Second Round
[1] [WC] A Roddick (USA) d R Ram (USA) 61 67(1) 63
L Lacko (SVK) d [3] L Hewitt (AUS) 64 62
[7] X Malisse (BEL) d I Marchenko (UKR) 63 63
K Anderson (RSA) d [WC] D Young (USA) 75 63

Doubles - Quarterfinals

S Huss (AUS) / A Sa (BRA) vs M Fish (USA) / A Roddick (USA)
J Blake (USA) / J Isner (USA) d M Kohlmann (GER) / R Schuettler (GER) 64 61

::

German Open Tennis Championships

Singles - Third Round
A Golubev (KAZ) d [1] N Davydenko (RUS) 64 64
[3] J Melzer (AUT) d J Chardy (FRA) 75 76(4)
[6] J Ferrero (ESP) d J Nieminen (FIN) 62 36 64
[7] T Bellucci (BRA) d [10] P Kohlschreiber (GER) 75 64
F Mayer (GER) d M Gonzalez (ARG) 76(1) 60
A Seppi (ITA) d F Fognini (ITA) 64 64
D Istomin (UZB) d [WC] J Reister (GER) 36 63 76(3)
P Starace (ITA) d [Q] P Riba (ESP) 46 64 64

Doubles - Quarterfinals
[WC] A Beck (GER) / C Kas (GER) d [3] F Cermak (CZE) / M Mertinak (SVK) 62 76(7)
M Lopez (ESP) / D Marrero (ESP) d [4] W Moodie (RSA) / D Norman (BEL) 67(4) 64 10-7
J Chardy (FRA) / P Mathieu (FRA) d S Aspelin (SWE) / P Hanley (AUS) 63 10 ret. (Aspelin - neck)
M Melo (BRA) / B Soares (BRA) d F Polasek (SVK) / S Stakhovsky (UKR) 76(5) 64

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday's Winners

by Savannah

A listing of the winners at Bastad and Stuttgart for the ATP as well as Prague and Palermo for the WTA can be found HERE along with news of Andy Roddick and Nicole Vaidisova.

Monday, July 12, 2010

David Nal-Davis-Cup-Ian

Argentinian player David Nalbandian celebrates after winning  against Russian player Mikhail Youzhny on July 11, 2010, during their  quarter-final match of the Davis Cup World Group in Moscow. Nalbandian  won 6-7, 4-6, 3-6.
Getty

Argentinian player David Nalbandian celebrates after winning against Russian player Mikhail Youzhny on July 11, 2010, during their quarterfinal match of the Davis Cup World Group in Moscow. Nalbandian won 6-7, 4-6, 3-6.

::

He can't seem to play anywhere else anymore. I can't even remember the last time I've seen him hit a tennis ball at an ATP event, yet here he is doing what he does in Davis Cup once again:

Winning.

Russian team players haven't exactly been in the mood for great tennis of late, but still: DaVEED led Argentina to a victory over Russia in Davis Cup in Moscow.

Mardy Fish added a grass court title to his resume in Newport, completing the career, all-surface title holder list with only his fourth career title.

Mardy Fish of the United States holds his trophy after defeating  Olivier Rochus of Belgium in the final match of the Hall of Fame Tennis  Championships in Newport, R.I. Sunday, July 11, 2010. Fish won 5-7, 6-3,  6-4.
AP

And Rafael Nadal was in South Africa to witness his nation's history-making performance in the World Cup.

I watched a bit of it. Given that my mate is from the Netherlands and we have a visitor from the Netherlands interning on the farm, it's safe to see I flew solo in the field for most of the day yesterday.

Depressed, they emerged after the final ready to sow fall crops. Carrots, beets, scallions, leeks, lettuce, rutabagas, celeriac, sugar peas, and more carrots. They were quite industrious.

Had to break the news to the mate, after the fact, of course, that while I couldn't exactly cheer for Spain, I didn't see the Netherlands winning their first World Cup title in South Africa. Karma and all that.

But that's an essay for another blog and another time.

Back in Davis Cup, France kicked Spain squarely in the teeth. Guess the Spanish team was somewhere else...

Rafa Nadal and skipper Iker Casillas

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

US Summer Swing Open Thread

Dustin Brown of Jamaica walks off the court after losing a game  against Austria's Jurgen Meltzer at the 2010 Wimbledon Tennis  Championships in London June 21, 2010.
Reuters

Dustin Brown of Jamaica walks off the court after losing a game against Austria's Jurgen Meltzer at the 2010 Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London June 21, 2010.

::

At your request, here is your thread to discuss Newport and the upcoming US summer hard court season.

It's time to plant fall crops so I'm about to be in the weeds again.

I'll do my best.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Powerful No. 8

Spain's Rafael Nadal holds the Wimbledon Trophy after beating Czech  Republic's Tomas Berdych 6-3, 7-5, 6-4, in the Men's Singles Final at  the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at the All England Tennis Club, in  south-west London, on July 4, 2010.
Getty

By now the world knows Rafael Nadal has reclaimed the Wimbledon crown, notching his 8th Grand Slam singles title.

I have yet to organize my thoughts on this reclamation.

I'll try to have something up sometime tomorrow.

WIMBLEDON 2010: Men's Final Preview

Tomas Berdych CZE (12) vs. Rafael Nadal ESP (2). For the first time I will be watching a grand slam final live, on site. Sadly, it is also the first time in 8 years that my favorite male player Roger Federer will not be in the Wimbledon men's final. It's also doubtful that this year's final will be as monumental a battle as the 2008 classic now called "the match of the century" won by Rafael Nadal or Federer's 2009 triumph of will over Andy Roddick.

I have previously predicted the results of the quarterfinals (1 of 4) and semifinals (0 of 2), so clearly I've not been having great results in predicting the men's matches this year. It's also difficult to pick a winner between Tomas Berdych and Rafael Nadal. On paper, Nadal should win since he has a 7-3 career head-to-head record against the young Czech. However, clearly Berdych is not the same player who has lost to Nadal 7 times.

Berdych is playing in his first Grand Slam final, which very few people win (Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick and Robin Soderling have all failed to do so. Juan Martin del Potro is the exception which proves the rule.) The great ones (like Federer and Nadal) do. Will Berdych be following in the footsteps of his countryman Ivan Lendl and become a late-blooming great?

[Correction by Craig Hickman: In addition to del Potro, Rafa and Raja, Andy Roddick (USO 2003), Lleyton Hewitt (US Open 2001), and Gaston Gaudio (Roland Garros 2004) are all active players who won their first Slam final. Of the recently officially retired, Gustavo Kuerten (Roland Garros 1997), Marat Safin (US Open 2001), Thomas Johansson (Australian Open 2002) and Albert Costa (Roland Garros 2002) did as well. Some of these players are great, some are not.]

If Berdych wins today, he will become the first player to beat the World #3, World #2 and World #1 to win a slam. This would definitely be an indication he is on his way to a Lendly-like career, instead of a Soderling-like career.

If Nadal wins today, he will have completed the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double for the second time, will have a 14-match undefeated streak at Wimbledon and will have claimed his 8th Grand Slam title, just 8 behind Roger Federer, despite being 5 years his junior.

MadProfessah's prediction: Nadal (in 3 or 4 sets).

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Lucky No. 13

Serena Williams of the U.S. holds the winners trophy after  defeating Russia's Vera Zvonareva in the womens' singles final at the  2010 Wimbledon tennis championships in London, July 3, 2010.
Reuters

Serena Williams of US holds the Wimbledon Trophy after defeating  Vera Zvonareva of Russia 6-3, 6-2, in the Women's Final at the Wimbledon  Tennis Championships at the All England Tennis Club, in south-west  London, on July 3, 2010.
Getty

Richard Williams, the father of Serena Williams of the U.S. , takes  a photograph on Centre Court during her womens' singles finals match  against  Russia's Vera Zvonareva at the 2010 Wimbledon tennis  championships in London, July 3, 2010.
Reuters

Serena Williams of the U.S. celebrates defeating Russia's Vera  Zvonareva in the womens' singles final at the 2010 Wimbledon tennis  championships in London, July 3, 2010.
Reuters

Serena Williams of US holds the Wimbledon Trophy after defeating  Vera Zvonareva of Russia 6-3, 6-2, in the Women's Final at the Wimbledon  Tennis Championships at the All England Tennis Club, in south-west  London, on July 3, 2010.
Reuters

Serena Williams poses with her trophy, after defeating Vera  Zonareva to win the women's singles final on the Centre Court at the All  England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, Saturday, July 3,  2010.
AP

Serena Williams of the United States holds her trophy after  defeating Russia's Vera Zvonareva in their women's singles final at the  All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, Saturday, July 3,  2010.
AP

Serena Williams (L) of US and Vera Zvonareva of Russia hold their  respective trophies after Williams won the Women's Final 6-3, 6-2, at  the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at the All England Tennis Club, in  south-west London, on July 3, 2010.'
Getty

It's been a long time since I've seen Serena Williams this happy after winning a Slam title. Melbourne 2005, maybe. But she seemed more emotional and relieved for different reasons it seemed. New York 1999?

Today, she emoted pure jubilee. Four Wimbledon titles, 13 Grand Slam singles titles, surpassing Billie Jean King, and entering rarefied air. She has now defended both her Slam titles from last year, the first time in her career to defend two Slams in the same year, and only the third time she's defended a singles Slam crown at all.

Vera Zvonareva's composure held up throughout all of the first set and most of the second, and she was absolutely radiant and gracious, even through tears, after the match. Calling out the surgeon who fixed her ankle when she feared she'd never be able to play again was at once poignant and bizarre. Such is life on Centre Court at SW19. One hell of an effort from a player who's hoed through a tough, tough row.

Sometimes, players do re-invent themselves in a year.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Runner up Vera Zvonareva of Russia  poses after losing the Ladies Singles Final Match to Serena Williams of  USA on Day Twelve of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All  England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 3, 2010 in London,  England.
Getty

WIMBLEDON 2010: Women's Final Preview

Serena Williams waves to the crowd, after defeating Petra Kvitova  of the Czech Republic in their women's singles semifinal on the Centre  Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon,  Thursday, July 1, 2010.
AP

Serena Williams USA (1) vs Vera Zvonareva RUS (21). For the third consecutive year and sixth time in the last eight years, Serena Williams is in the Ladies' Final of the Wimbledon championships. Surprisingly, she is not facing her older sister this time, as she has four times before, winning three titles in the process. Serena did well to get past a spirited challenge from Petra Kvitova, but, as predicted, she left the court with a victory after two sets.


The 12-time major champion is playing Russian Vera Zvonareva who is in the first Grand Slam final of her career. Zvonareva has a very strong backhand and a good forehand. She has previously shown an extreme level of mental frailty (the celebrated collapse against Flavia Pennetta at the 2009 U.S. Open where she blew 6 match points in the second set and lost the third set 6-0 while in tears). However, by dispatching Kim Clijsters from a set down and outlasting a determined Tsvetana Pironkova in their closely contested semifinal demonstrate this is a brand new Vera.

Russia's Vera Zvonareva punches the air as she defeats Tsvetana  Pironkova of Bulgaria, in their women's singles semifinal on the Centre  Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon,  Thursday, July 1, 2010.
AP

Unfortunately for her, she is playing a new Serena. This Serena has yet to lose a set in this entire Wimbledon tournament and is lapping the field in the number of aces delivered. The two have played 6 times before with Serena winning all but once. If Zvonareva can keep the game score close then perhaps Serena will get nervous and give her a chance. As Francesco Schiavone proved in the 2010 Roland Garros final, anything is possible.

Yeah, I don't think so either.

MadProfessah's PREDICTION: Serena in 2 sets.

Friday, July 02, 2010

The Best Organic Surface Player

by peytonallen

Serbian player Novak Djokovic's racket is pictured after he hit a  chair during play against  Czech player Tomas Berdych during the men's  semi-final match in the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at the All  England Tennis Club, in southwest London on on July 2,  2010.
Getty

The Joker was overcome by nerves. He rarely went for his shots which was surprising. He seemed content to just get balls back in play and hope Tomas [Berdych] missed. [Novak Djokovic] seemed swallowed whole by the occasion. Hats off to Berdych. Nice to see a new face in a slam final.

Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic reacts as he wins his men's  singles semifinal against Serbia's Novak Djokovic, on the Centre Court  at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, Friday, July  2, 2010.
AP

Not sure how much of a chance he has Sunday. I said earlier this year [Rafael] Nadal's comeback wouldn't start until he got back onto the salt of the Earth. He seems poised to take the Euro double again and as Craig said he's hands down the best organic surface player, maybe since Borg. It's stunning to think about the '07 Wimby final, or even the '06. He's a few points away from going for his 3rd or 4th title right now.

For as much talk about the future of tennis being giant men flinging new age rackets with ease, there's a great percentage the first three slams of the year will still be won by Nadal and Roger Federer.

I don't think the second semifinal was as close as the score indicated. [Andy] Murray served out of his head to keep both sets close. But really for three sets once the rally was even it was all Nadal all day. He brutalized Murray with that lefty forehand. Down the line, hooked cross-court, the depth, the power, the sheer confidence the stroke was hit with today was stunning.

Nobody moves as well on grass as Nadal does right now, and maybe nobody volleys as well. From ball one he was the aggressor.

Britain's Andy Murray holds his head during a press conference  after his defeat to Spain's Rafael Nadal in their men's semifinal at  theat the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, Friday,  July 2, 2010.
AP

Andy did not play poorly, but its clear he doesn't have a weapon off the baseline. I agree with [graf_sampras], it's a great crowd and they deserve to have a champion and one day Andy will take home a Major title, but right now he's simply not in the same grass court league as Rafa is in.

I don't think a lot of pundits really realize how great Nadal is on this surface. The crew, sans Bee Jay [Brad Gilbert] (quiet Craig), all went with Murray. And I don't see NBC pushing the story of Rafa engaging in a true defense of his title. What if he played last year? What if they had a roof in '07? I know tennis can write a different history with 'what if's' but Rafa has been the best player at this event for some time now. If he wins Sunday will people finally admit as much?

Berdych has a puncher's chance, but Rafa has improved with every match, and when he unleashed the running, leaping fist pump in round 2 I knew he was locked in mentally. He wants this title and Sunday he gets it.

Spain's Rafael Nadal lies on the court after defeating Britain's  Andy Murray, in their men's singles semifinal on the Centre Court at the  All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, Friday, July 2,  2010.
AP

WIMBLEDON 2010: Men's Semifinals Preview

BY MAD PROFESSAH

Here are my predictions for the men's semifinals at the Wimbledon Championships for 2010.
I previously made predictions for the men's quarterfinals (1 of 4 correct) and the women's quarterfinals (2 of 4 correct).


(I have now arrived in London and I have tickets for the men's final on Sunday.)

Roger Federer SUI (1) Tomas Berdych CZE (12) vs. Novak Djokovic SRB (3). For the first time since 2002(!), Roger Federer will not be playing in the Wimbledon Men's Final. (Of course, this is the year I travelled to Wimbledon after getting lucky to get tickets to the men's final. Did I bring him my favorite player bad luck?) Anyway, After winning 23 consecutive major quarterfinals, the 16-time major champion has now lost the last two he has played in a row, to two somewhat similar opponents, the hard-hitting giants Robin Soderling (in Paris) and Tomas Berdych (in London). Unlike at Roland Garros, where Federer clearly did not play his best and was blasted off the court, at Wimbledon Federer was defeated while still playing about as well as he's played most of the year. (Which is to say, not his best ever, but possibly the best he can do right now.) His failure to defend his two major titles from last year (and the fact he has won only won tournament all year, the 2010 Australian Open) means that the former World #1 will fall to World #3 in the rankings on Monday. This means that Federer will remain stuck one heartbreaking week behind matching Pete Sampras' record of 286 weeks at #1 for the foreseeable future. Will he ever get there? I believe so. And it may just be what keeps the Swiss master in the game until the 2010 London Olympics as he has promised before. Berdych has started a streak of his own; for the second consecutive major the Czech player has made the semifinals. Berdych played an astonishing match against Federer, hitting 51 winners to Federer's 44 and only making 23 unforced errors to Federer's 18 (and 6 of those were double faults by Berdych going for second serves). Although I predicted a different match-up, I am not unduly upset by what transpired today, I do believe the better player on the day won the match. As expected, with the shock defeat of Andy Roddick by Yen-Hsun Lu in the previous round, World #3 Novak Djokovic had an easy time of it to reach his second Wimbledon semifinal. Berdych and Djokovic have only played twice (a curiously low number for active players) with Djokovic having never lost. Can Berdych come back from the greatest victory of his career to date to reach his first major final? The Czech has suffered from mental frailty in the past, but is clearly playing some of his best tennis ever. Djokovic, too, is playing some excellent tennis and definitely has the game to make the most of this rare opportunity to reach his third major final (2007 US Open, 2008 Australian Open) without having to face a higher ranked player. However, he, too, has had some notably poor performances in massively important matches (the 2010 Roland Garros quarterfinal loss to Jurgen Melzer from two sets up comes to mind, as well as injury retirements at Wimbledon.) The real question is whether Berdych is on an unstoppable Juan Martin del Potro run to his first major, or will he come back to earth after beating the Greatest of all time on his best surface? PREDICTION: Djokovic (in 4 sets).

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga FRA (10) Andy Murray GBR (4) vs. Robin Soderling SWE(6) Rafael Nadal ESP (2). The bottom half of the draw is where I bravely (foolishly?) predicted that upsets would happen.Andy Murray The mouth-watering Friday tea-time match-up between World #1 Rafael Nadal and World #1 Andy Murray was predicted at the beginning of the tournament by many. But they both had to go through some excellent players to get there. Murray lost his first set of the tournament in a tiebreak to the excessively talented Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and was two points away at 5-all from losing the second set tie-break when The Frenchman inexplicably let a floating Murray service return sail past him at the net only to watch with horror and disbelief as the ball kissed the back of the line to give Murray set point instead. The rest of the match was not pretty, with Murray dominating to a 6-7(5) 7-6)5) 6-2 6-2 win. I didn't see much of the Soderling-Nadal match (since in London all eyes were geared towards their countryman's match) but from all reports Nadal started very slowly (down 0-5) in the first set but managed to break back early in the second set. Despite serving for the second set (after Soderling was treated for a blister on his left foot) at 5-4 Nadal only barely managed to eke out the third set tiebreak and then rolled past a demoralized Soderling to win 3-6 6-3 7-6(4) 6-1. With Federer out, Nadal has an excellent chance to win the tournament, as he has winning records against all the remaining players in the draw (7-3 versus both Murray and Berdych, 14-7 versus Djokovic--which happens to be the identical record he has against Federer). However, Murray is probably the toughest opponent for Nadal at this stage of the tournament. There's no question that Murray was on his way to demolishing Nadal earlier this year in the 2010 Australian Open quarterfinals when the Spaniard retired down 2 sets and 0-3. The two haven't played since, with Nadal having his best clay court season to date, and Murray his worst. Happily Wimbledon is played on grass. Additionally, the fact that Murray beat Nadal the last time they played and that this is a semifinal, not a final should help the Brit play his best tennis this year, something Murray did not do against an inspired Andy Roddick last year. Nadal has already lost the most amount of sets that he ever has on his way to winning (or defending) a major title. The 2008 Wimbledon champion has been uncharacteristically irritable and complained of pain his knees. On the other hand, Murray has lost the fewest amount of sets of any of the Top 4 players at Wimbledon this year and has been advancing later and later into the draw at Wimbledon every time he has played it. I expect that trend to continue all the way to the final, and possibly the title this year. PREDICTION: Murray in 3 or 4 sets (or Nadal in 5 sets).

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Her Big Break

by Craig Hickman

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 01:  Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic reacts  on Day Ten of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England  Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 1, 2010 in London, England.
Getty

The look of a broken player.

Serving down a break at 2-4 in the second set, Petra Kvitova faced break point. She swung her huge lefty serve into her opponent's backhand, and seemed surprised the ball came back. After all, for much of the match, her opponent wasn't handling that serve well at all. The surprising return led to an exchange that I described as the point of the tournament. The Wimbledon semifinal ingenue prevailed with a stinging volley winner.

Both players were whipped. Chests heaving, both let the crowd's extended applause wash over them. The longer it lasted, the better.

Petra fired another great second serve that came back with interest. The warriors were at it again. This time, Petra tried to end the point with a backhand crosscourt acute angle winner that landed half a foot wide.

She barked.

Despite her deceptively efficient movement and excellent anticipation, she doesn't yet appear fit enough for the long haul. Still fatigued from saving that break point, she tossed in a double fault.

It took the better part of two tight sets with enthralling tennis sans melodrama for Serena Williams to finally break the will of her opponent. After the changeover, the defending champion would serve for the match.

Soon as her second serve hit the tape, Petra dropped her racquet, her shattered determination captured in the photo above.

What a match.

Best thing I heard by any commentator during it came from Lindsay Davenport.

"Serena doesn't get enough credit for her strategy," said the Wimbledon champion and former world No. 1. "She's definitely a thinking player out there."

And so when Serena stopped attempting outright winners on her service returns and started striking them high and deep, she pushed Petra back, forcing errors instead of giving away points.

An adjustment that made all the difference.

Petra had no deep-Slam experience to rely upon, but her exquisite serve, raw talent and gutsy fight are a breath of fresh air on a tour populated with serveless top-10 players who fold at the first hint of success.

Petra did no such thing. She had to rally from a set down and save match points just to get here. No. Serena had to break her will in order to win. She broke it with her tennis.

Her name alone wasn't going to be nearly enough.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 01:  Serena Williams of USA in action during  the Ladies Semi Final match against Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic on  Day Nine of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England  Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 1, 2010 in London, England.
Getty

WIMBLEDON 2010: Women's Semifinals Preview

BY Mad Professah

Here are my predictions for the women's semifinals at the Wimbledon Championships for 2010. This Wimbledon is very special for me, because it will be one where I will finally visit the All-England Tennis Club for the first time.

I previously predicted the women's quarterfinals and was right in 2 of 4 matches.

Serena Williams USA (1) vs Petra Kvitova CZE. This match could be trickier than it looks on paper. Although I predicted this match up, not playing her best tennis and experiencing movement difficulties. The two have played once before, in the second round of this year's Australian Open, with Serena winning a straight sets match which was closer than the 6-1 6-2 scoreline. Kvitova is a lefty, and has a good serve and powerful groundstrokes. She's also a good mover. But with Serena serving up an average of a dozen aces per match, she is practically unbeatable. This match will be closer, but the end result will be the same, with Serena Williams the overwhelming favorite to reach her third consecutive Wimbledon Ladies' final and win her fourth Wimbledon singles title.
PREDICTION: Serena in 2 sets.

Venus Williams USA (2) Tsvetana Pironkova BUL vs. Vera Zvonareva RUS (21).One of the most stunning upsets in Wimbledon history occurred earlier this week when 5-time Wimbledon champion lost in straight sets to the unheralded Bulgarian. Pironkova is dangerous, with tricky spin and deceptive power, but clearly she can be overpowered. Venus hit 29 unforced errors in 17 games of tennis (but she also hit 22 winners). The problem was with her feet, which got her to balls late (or early) causing her to hit them feet out of the court. Zvonareva has long been one of my favorites (so is Kuznetsova) but there's no question that she's a headcase. Getting through a 3-set slugfest with Kim Clijsters was an excellent result for the Russian. It's possible that Venus' loss today and Clijsters' win yesterday were the bigger factors in the Belgian's defeat in the quarterfinal. The two have played once before, last year on hard courts in Moscow after Zvonareva had been out for months with a tn ankle injury and Pironkova won easily in straight sets. That will not be the case this time. Zvonareva deserves to win this match and I believe she will. PREDICTION: Zvonareva in 3 sets.