Bank of the West Classic (4)

Coverage from the WTA Tour premier tournament from Stanford, California, USA, July 27-August 2, 2009.

Monday, 03 August 2009 04:00

A Grand Finale

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Venus Williams and Marion Bartoli at the 2009 Bank of the West ClassicA Surprise Twist

If the final of the 2009 Bank of the West Classic were written to be a diva turn by Venus Williams, showcasing the same dominant form she has displayed throughout this week, then someone forgot to give the script to Marion Bartoli. The Frenchwoman used her improved fitness to last in enough rallies to draw 59 unforced errors from the American star, and win the hard-fought match 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.

Bartoli was extremely gracious of her vanquished foe. “[Venus,] it was so hard for me to beat you. You were always my role model when I was younger.

“I think what makes me special is I’m mentally tough. Just tough on the court. We practice for these types of matches. She’s one of the greatest players ever. One of the greatest champions. To be able to beat her is a great challenge. That’s why I practice for the biggest challenge. I just hope that I can play again in a Grand Slam final.
Sunday, 02 August 2009 04:00

Stanford Semis: A Match in Three Acts

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Marion Bartoli - Bank of the West Classic at StanfordIn the second semifinal of the 2009 Bank of the West Classic, Marion Bartoli defeated Samantha Stosur 6-3, 1-6, 6-1. The three sets had the appearance of a topsy-turvy three-act play.

Act I: Shrinking Violet?
Perhaps nervous at the prospect of reaching her first final of 2009, Stosur began the match uneasily, and coughed up a double fault to get broken in the very first game. Meanwhile, Bartoli was doing a surprisingly good job of running down shots, and extending points until the Australian made an error. The Frenchwoman credited a new level of fitness – particularly in her legs – for improving her serve, which produced three aces.

Act II: Waiting for Intermission
Stosur emerged a new woman in the second set. Her forehand especially took center stage, and was responsible for two early breaks of Bartoli’s serve. Stosur had to fend off three break points at 3-0, but did manage to extend her lead, and later wrapped up the set comfortably.

“Samantha started to play some awesome points. She was unbeatable in the second set. She was hitting winners on both sides, serving well. I couldn’t do anything,” said Bartoli after the match.
Sunday, 02 August 2009 04:00

Stanford Semis: The Leading Lady

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Venus Williams at the 2009 Bank of the West Classic at StanfordVenus Williams is starting on an excellent re-enactment of her starring role as the WTA Tour's most feared player in 2000-2001 this week at the Bank of the West Classic. She followed up an impressive 6-2, 6-2 win over Maria Sharapova with an even more dominant 6-0, 6-1 thrashing of third seed Elena Dementieva in the semifinals. Williams played well from all over the court, moving well and on balance, hitting howitzer forehands, and blasting serves that drew return errors or set up winners on the next ball.

While the Russian often successfully ran around her backhand to hit fierce forehands against Daniela Hantuchova in the quarterfinals, doing so was ineffective in this match. Williams frequently exposed the open court with deep crosscourt forehands that left Dementieva scrambling just to get a racquet on the ball.

Dementieva was full of praise for her conqueror, who now leads their head-to-head series 9-2. “It’s always tough against [Venus]. Today she was playing very solid. She was playing too good for me, too powerful. She was too good at the baseline and didn’t give me any chances. I could win, maybe, one or two games more. I was watching her last night against Maria and she played pretty good. But today she played even better.
Saturday, 01 August 2009 04:00

The Cast

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Maria Sharapova at the 2009 Bank of the West ClassicFor your enjoyment, here are the eight quarterfinalists at the 2009 Bank of the West Classic.

We’ll start with the biggest upset of the day, Stosur d. S. Williams 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.

Samantha Stosur: Unflappable

Down two break points at 2-2 in the third set, Stosur ripped off 13 straight points to hold, break Serena at love, hold at love, and put the World No. 2 down 2-5, 0-30. Williams threw down an ace, but then netted a backhand to face two match points. Serena watched as Stosur framed one nervy backhand, but then handed over a double fault, and one of the the biggest scalps of the Australian’s career.

“I think that was really the turning point of the match. If I’d lost that game, she would have had all the momentum, and it would have been really hard to get back in there. Then, I was in control more than she was,” Sam commented.

Stosur repeatedly used a short fomula reminiscent of the ATP Tour: Big serve + Big forehand = Short point.