Internationaux de Strasbourg (4)

Coverage of the 2011 Internationaux de Strasbourg WTA International-tier tournament, May 14-21, 2011

Saturday, 21 May 2011 20:32

Strasbourg: A Subdued Au Revoir

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A new location, perfect weather, exciting matches throughout the week and both top seeds reaching the Singles Final: the 25th Internationaux de Strasbourg offered plenty to the spectators. But an untimely injury that led to a sudden end of play put a shadow on a bright and sunny Finals Day.

Two's Company
Akgul Amanmuradova and Chia-Jung Chuang, the No. 4 team in the doubles draw, took on the 2nd-seeded team of Natalie Grandin and Vladimira Uhlirova for the Strasbourg doubles crown.

Grandin and Uhlirova, whose previous success as a team includes an ITF title and reaching the Final in Barcelona, were looking for their first WTA Tour title together. Grandin has yet to win a WTA title, while Uhlirova's last WTA tournament win came in 2008. Therefore, it wasn't surprising to see both players act very animated from the start. Uhlirova, the 33-year-old veteran from the Czech Republic, was especially emotional, both in cheering on herself and Grandin and in showing her frustration over errors. At one point, she even turned to the crowd and loudly asked if she should "just sit down" with them.

Saturday, 21 May 2011 00:15

Strasbourg: Spotlight on the Top Seeds

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In the first Semifinal, the tournament’s No. 1 seed and highest-ranked French player in the world, Marion Bartoli, took on three-time Strasbourg Champion Anabel Medina Garrigues. The two faced each other last week in Rome, a marathon two-set match that lasted over two and a half hours before the Spaniard pulled out the win. For a brief moment, Medina Garrigues had hopes of making today's encounter equally competitive.  She broke Bartoli's serve in the first game of the match, but the Spaniard would win just four more points in the entire first set, and only one of them on her own serve. After the initial struggle, Bartoli dominated the match virtually at will, hitting the ball deeper, harder, and at better angles than her opponent. “It's not much I can do when she is playing like that,” Medina Garrigues said afterwards. “She did not miss.”

In just under 30 minutes, Bartoli railed off eight straight games to go up, 6-1, 2-0, before Medina Garrigues won her second game of the day.  While the second set was closer in terms of points won by each player, it was far from a turnaround. Medina Garrigues' sole break opportunities came when Bartoli served for the match. However, the Frenchwoman saved the first break point with a service winner and the second with a clean ace before taking the match, 6-1, 6-2.

After reaching the Final of the Internationaux de Strasbourg, second seed Andrea Petkovic took the time to answer a few questions for ProTennisNews.net

PTN: How does it feel to be seeded in the Top 16 for a Grand Slam for the first time [Petkovic is the 15th seed in next week's French Open –Ed.]?

Andrea Petkovic [AP]: It's great, it's really great. Actually, Australia was the first time I was seeded at all. Last year, I wasn't seeded and I got some tough first rounds. But, nonetheless, I play Bojana Jovanoski in the First Round, which is not an easy draw actually, for being seeded Top 16. [Laughs] But anyway, still, it's good to avoid the Top 10 players in the first few rounds, just to get into the matches.

PTN: Going back on something you said yesterday. You said you've improved, but don't quite see yourself winning Grand Slams yet. Anything in particular you feel you need to improve to get there?

Friday, 20 May 2011 00:07

Strasbourg: Roadtrip

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The sign before the autoroute exit to Strasbourg kindly informs visitors about what lies ahead: Paris, 487 km. Indeed, with the first coin toss on Philippe Chatrier just three days away,  it's hard to keep the year's second Grand Slam off one’s mind as one of the two last women's warm-up events unfolds in Strasbourg. Win or lose, next stop for all of today's quarterfinalists will be Paris.

Detours

Fourteen years ago, Mirjana Lucic played the Final in Strasbourg, against Steffi Graf.  She was 15 years old. A year later, she became the youngest Australian Open winner when she won the Doubles title in Melbourne with Martina Hingis. Yet another year later, she reached the Semifinals at Wimbledon. In short: Lucic was said to become the next big thing. Instead, however, a series of personal problems, in particular related to her abusive father, saw her stop playing altogether. She returned to the WTA Tour in 2007 and, next week, she will play Roland Garros for the first time in eight years.