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Wednesday March 25

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So here we go with the reporting...

Wednesday, March 25th Daily report

Originally, I wasn't planning on Wednesday, but when the draw was finalized and qualifiers placed I knew I would kick myself in the butt if I missed Tamira Paszek and Aravane Rezai, not to mention Sania Mirza, Jelena Dokic and Nicole Vaidisova. Had to be done, so I ordered tix for pickup at Will Call and left home at 8AM sharp. A 3 hour 15 minute drive put me in Coconut Grove before Noon and after checking into the hotel I headed for Key Biscayne. When I got to the tournament, I had a little while before Rezai took to the Grandstand Court so I snapped some practice photos and video of Cibulkova, Petrova and Peer.

After watching Dominika Cibulkova, Nadia Petrova and Shahar Peer practice, the first match I saw was Kirilenko/Katya Bondarenko, which I watched from 4-2 to conclusion. This was a weird match. The first set was tight and won by Makiri, who then must have been on a set-long toilet break because she didn't show up for set 2, which was won in a bagel for Katya. I wouldn't say there was anything of distinction in this one--it was a typical early round WTA match filled with UEs, long rallies, and frequent breaks of serve. I thought it might wind up going to a tiebreaker but Makiri broke for the match without much fight from Katya.

Rezai v Pavlyuchenkova was the next match I saw. I still am trying to figure out how Aravane lost this match. She was hitting screaming winners and out-rallying Pavlyuchenkova from the start. Her serve was very good, and she was holding comfortably and breaking with impunity until 6-4, 3-0. Pavlyuchekova was making errors, but Aravane hit plenty of winners right past her so to say that Pavlyuchenkova was giving it away is a total fabrication. Nastya's game picked up some in the second set but even so, Aravane reached 6-4, 5-3, 40-0 and I started filiming what I anticipated was going to be a big celebration. From there, it was a complete let down. Aravane couldn't keep it in the court for about the next 8 games, going down 0-4 in set 3, before fighting back valiently to 3-4 before Nastya closed it out. So crushed for Aravane, but encouraged that she is playing well. She just needs to finish these matches off. Aravane hits a hard, hard ball. Flat, but really hard. Her timing is phenomenal. How a girl 5'5" can outhit most of those giants is beyond me, but she does it. I love watching her play. I don't want to start any arguments, but I also think Aravane is the most beautiful woman in tennis. I just adore her.

Next I went to see Dokic battle Gallovits. I arrived at 2-3 in the second set and saw the match to the conclusion. I was surprised that Jelena was broken as frequently as she was. She hit some really spectacular winners, but they were punctuating a series of bad UEs. She was overhitting in a lot of rallies and missing by a good few feet. The tie break was also back and forth, and I confess, at this point, I was really getting impatient with the sloppy play from both players because Tamira Paszek was next on Court 2. Mercifully, it finally ended, Jelena winning in 2.

Paszek v Nicolescu--It was extremely windy (you can hear some of that in the MP vid I uploaded to Youtube). Both players were hitting hard, but Tamira was clearly moving Nicolescu around at will, controlling her shots, lasting longer in rallies, and serving really well in comparison to her form as of recent months. She is no longer decelerating on her 2nd serves, and doesn't look afraid to serve them. If anything, when they miss they are going a little long, which is a good sign, IMHO. She hit some beautiful serves in the corner of the box and really went for her shots all match. She is extremely confident with her backhand (for good reason) and can really end a point quickly by lulling her opponents into a false sense of security when they repeatedly go to her FH side. All of a sudden if she gets a ball to the middle of the court she steps into it and rips it crosscourt for a BH winner. I was impressed with Tamira in this match. I think she only lost serve once or twice, but quickly broke back and was in control early in both sets. The match was never in doubt. If there is one thing I think Tamira needs to change, and NOW, it is that she is still wary of hitting overheads. I'm sure this probably has something to do with her height, but she ALWAYS lets the ball bounce, giving her opponents time to get back in the points. Even in warm-ups, she would rather hit swinging volleys on the overheads than do smashes. Against some, this would not be an issue, but if she plays a Jankovic or Zvonareva, they will eat her up with defense. I will say that I was cheering hard for Mimi, very vocal, and was ecstatic when she won and moved through to R2.

Because of the long matches on court 2 on Wednesday, that match went pretty late, and it was dark when it finished. Hewitt was already a set into his match against Sela, so after grabbing some dinner I went to the stadium to see ...

Mirza v. Johansson-- OK, first, Mathilde, get some fashion sense, please. Black top, orange skirt, BLUE shoes, playing on a purple and green court. My eyes hurt a lot after watching this match, needless to say. I thought this would be an easy match for Sania, when she breezed through set 1 6-1 but I wound up being sorely disappointed. The second set she was never really in a good position, always playing catch up, and while she clearly had the bigger game, she was making tons of errors. It WAS windy, but other players were handling it. She lost a couple of serve games after having GPs, and that was pretty frustrating. After set 1, everyone in the 400 level was invited down to fill the boxes at court level, which was great. Thanks very much to Bulova Watches for missing Sania's match so I could enjoy their seats. I have some video and nice photos from this angle. Unfortunately, the improvement in my seating didn't do much for Sania. I was hoping she'd take set 2 in the TB (fought back from down a break in set 2 to get there) but she just made too many dumb errors. It was late at that point, and after waking up at 4AM, driving 3.5 hours, and sitting in the hot sun all day, I was tired, so I left and didn't see Sania lose the 3rd set in another TB. End of Day 1.

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Updated 04-03-2009 at 10:41 AM by Paszekfan



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