Jie Zheng - CHN
CHINA'S ZHENG DEFEATS WORLD
NO. 1 SAFINA
By Kelly Richards
CARSON, CA - At first it
looked like a huge mismatch. It turned into the battle of the
At 5’ 4”, China’s Jie Zheng barely brushed the shoulders of
Russia’s Dinara Safina who tops 5’11”.
At the Los Angeles Women’s Tennis Championships in Carson
Thursday night, 14th seed Zheng proved size doesn’t matter. She
upset Safina, last year’s champion and current world number one
in a tough, tense three-setter 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.
This is the fifth time the two have played, the first time Zheng
has won. Zheng explained, “I knew playing her before she had a
huge serve, a good back hand, but she doesn’t move well.”
“I tried to play more aggressive.”
Point after point, game after game, set after set both players
traded powerful groundstrokes deep in the court, waiting
patiently until the other made a mistake. It seemed as if Zheng
had to move twice as fast and twice as far to win the first
break. She had to hit the ball deeper and wider.
“She’s a good player,” Safina said. “It’s tough to play her.”
By the end of the first set, Safina’s frustration was palpable.
She looked baffled at her coach sitting on the sidelines. And
Jie Zheng - CHN
The rallies were long and
captivating. Zheng worked extra hard to keep the ball away from the
long reach of Safina. It begs the question, where does the
petite player hide all that power?
In the second set, the first three games were all breaks. The
fourth game seemed to go on forever with some of the longest
points of the match. Safina had four chances to win the game. Zheng
had two. There were five deuces before the tenacious Chinese
slammer shut the door to lead 3-1.
Safina was down but not out. She fought back to take the second
Both looked tired heading into the third set but both could
taste victory and neither would yield an inch. It turned into a
slugfest. Zheng zigged and zagged, anticipating Safina’s every
move. She would hit the ball just wide enough, just deep enough
and just low enough to give Safina trouble. Each waited until
the other would hit a little too high and a little too soft to
take advantage and go for a winner.
Even though she was up in the third set, 4-2, Safina couldn’t
capitalize on her lead. “I turned the match around,” she said.
“And I didn’t use my opportunities.”
Ranked 23, Zheng moves to the quarterfinals and will meet
another dream buster, Australia’s Samantha Stosur who knocked
out former number one Ana Ivanovic.
Stoser Moves Easily Into Quarterfinals
Sam Stosur (AUS)
Only five seeds continue to
flourish at the Los Angeles Women’s Tennis Championships and one
isn’t the 2007 winner Ana Ivanovic. The sixth seeded Serbian
lost in straight sets to 13th seed Samantha Stosur of Australia.
This is the second time in as many weeks she has defeated former
number one players. First, Serena Williams in the quarterfinals
at Stanford. And now, Ivanovic. Stosur has beaten six top 15
players this year alone, doubling her 11-year career total.
Stosur has always been a force in doubles but this is the first
year she’s making a name for herself on the singles side of the
tour. She credits her relentless training as the reason for her
success. “This year I’m playing better and more consistently,”
she says. “Wins like this keep up my confidence.”
The match started to go south for Ivanovic in the middle of the
first set. The two were on serve until 4-3. In the 8th game, the
former number one was down love-40. She fought off two break
points but couldn’t fight off a third.
In the second set, Stosur wasted no time taking the first game
off Ivanovic. She held the second game with a monster ace
clocked at 120 MPH.
Ivanovic’s serve is usually one of her most powerful weapons,
but today she seemed to be having issues with her toss. A clue,
said Stosur, the former champ was starting to get nervous and a
cue for her to jump on the next serve.
Ivanovic and Stosur have gone head to head three times in the
past, the last time at Wimbledon where Ana won. Now they are
even with two matches each.
After the disappointing loss, the former number one said she’s
shaking things up to get back on top. Ivanovic recently changed
coaches. She said she wants to take a little more time off the
court to make her “hungry” on the court. “I’m trying to take it
easy. I was over trained. I’m trying to relax more.”
Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Teen Wickmayer takes Second Seed Zvonereva To The Limit
Oh me! Oh my!
The number two seed was nearly supplanted Thursday afternoon at
the Los Angeles Women’s Tennis Championship in Carson,
Russia’s Vera Zvonareva barely survived a close three set
challenge from Belgium’s Yakima Wickmayer, ranked 57. 6-7, 6-4,
Thank goodness, Zvonareva won her first service in the third
set. After that it was break, break, break, break, break. The
hot Southern California sun starting taking it’s toll.
Wickmayer is considered to be Belgium’s next great tennis hope
now that Justine Henin has retired. Every time she hit the ball
she yelled what sounded like “Oh me”, perhaps that’s Belgian for
As Seeds Drop Sharapova Reaches Quarterfinals
Ukrainian Alona Bonderenka didn't have any real weapons to hurt
Maria Sharapova. Her defensive skills pushed the match to three sets
but it was determined more by Sharapova's play. Sharapova double
faulted 15 times and fired 10 aces. Her return game kept the
match in her favor as she won 4-6, 6-0, 6-3. Sharapova summed it
started serving harder and better."
About her fitness compared to other players, "physically, it
gives me a lot of confidence," referring to beating third seed
Azarenka yesterday and Bondarenka today. When asked about her
come-back after injury, she said, "I go out there and the feeling
is this is where I belong."
Sharapova, currently ranked 61 on the WTA Sony Erickson Tour
will play unseeded teen Urszula Radwanska of Poland, ranked 71, Friday night
in the quarterfinals.