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2009 Sony Ericsson Open Saturday March 28

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The weather turned warmer on Saturday, but it got off to a bit of cloudy start, with a few raindrops thrown in. The 10AM matches were delayed a few minutes while the ballpersons wiped down the lines. Before that, I made the usual rounds of the practice courts and found Fed practicing before a good sized crowd. This time I was able to get some decent photos and video, shot through a narrow space in between bodies crowding the fence.

I also found Safina practicing in her pink t-shirt, and for the first time I really was aware of how thin she has gotten. She's lost a ton of weight, even from last year around this time. She's still pretty muscular though.

The first match I shot on Saturday was the doubles between Ammanmuradova/King and Shvedova/Dushevina. I'm not sure, but I think Akgul and Vania must have set a record for biggest disparity in height on a doubles team.

I then went to sit in on a four games of Agi Radwanska and Tanasugarn. I saw Tami break to go up 4-2, I think it was, and left on the next changeover. Tanasugarn was playing cleaner at that point, as Agi was making several forehand errors and netting a number of shots. Apparently, she picked it up after I left.

I decided to make the rounds of the practice courts again, and was lucky enough to snap a pic of Nadia Petrova stopping to sign an autograph on the food court. Dinara was out practicing again on a different court and when she finished she broke out a Sharpie and happily signed a ton of autographs for dozens of kids holding out their super-sized tennis balls.

I then spent the next few hours hopping in and out of matches to take photos of as many different players as I could, for those who had requested them. I can't really say too much about these matches because I was taking so many photos. I found and shot photos at Peng v. Santangelo, Kanepi v. Martinez Sanchez, Makarova v. Sugiyama and Kudryavtseva v. Medina Garrigues but didn't really stay long at any of those matches.

Flavia and Makiri were out practicing about that time, and this was where I got the beautiful face shot of Makiri, a one in a million that I doubt I could ever duplicate. Also got shots of Lisicki, Kleybanova, Kuznetsova and Mauresmo around this time.

I did catch a bit of ALG against Sara Errani. i didn't see any off the charts serving for ALG, but she was pretty well in command of this at the time I left. About what you'd expect--Errani was steadier, ALG was the bigger hitter.

I also got to see some of Benesova v. Lisicki. Lisicki is clearly the bigger hitter, but Benesova was much steadier from the baseline. Most of the games in this match were tight, going to at least one deuce. Lisicki threw away a number of games with bad errors from the baseline.

In the mid afternoon I went strolling the practice courts again and found, to my total shock and utter delight, Aravane Rezai practicing. When she finished, a few people asked her for her autograph, and while I don't really consider myself an autograph hound, I couldn't help holding out my Nike hat, which Aravane signed on the brim. She smiled at me when I said "Thank you, Aravane!" and that was my single favorite moment of the entire week, and I still haven't gotten rid of the smile on my face.

I spent the rest of the afternoon watching the women on courts 1 and 2--the first set of Cornet vs. Zahlavova Strycova, followed by some of Petrova v. Krajicek, Zvonareva v Garbin and then Cibulkova v. Sprem. Misa looked pretty good in black. As for the tennis, Zahlavova Strycova was making Cornet work harder than I would have expected, but neither was hitting with much pace in comparison to other matches I had seen, and I imagine this would have been more entertaining had it been played on clay. Petrova had lost the first set against Krajicek by the time I got to that match but was slowly and surely turning it around as she was steadier from the baseline and serving a better. What is with the Russians? What's in the water over there? I don't think I saw a single match featuring a Russian where there wasn't some kind of loud tirade--in Russian--accompanied by raquet throwing and/or demonstrative gesturing. Petrova, true to form, exploded at one point and I have to give her credit because it seemed to turn her match around. Go figure.

Vera was just too much for Garbin. Not too much to report here. Zvonareva was simply playing her steady basline game, not making errors and waiting for Garbin to self-destruct, which she eventually did. A comfortable win for Vera.

Into the early evening, I watched Cibulkova out-run and out-steady Sprem, who was clearly off her game from the prior couple of rounds. I don't think Domi was playing her best, but she fought off some break points and survived a number of see saw games that had plenty of deuces, and had enough to win against a very inconsistent Sprem.

The Saturday night session promised to be entertaining, and it was. Ultimately disappointing, but entertaining. Nadal handled Gabashvilli 2 and 2, but that score is quite misleading, as Gabashvilli won some breathtaking rallies. I'd love to have seen the guy put a pedometer on his shoe because he ran miles on some of the points. The crowd was entertained, definitely, and Nadal won comfortably in the end.

The nightcap was JJ's match against Dulko. While Nadal played to a packed house in the stadium, JJ's match was about 20-25% full. The predominately Latin Miami crowd was very pro-Dulko and very vocal in their support. Jelena had a few fans, me included, but between the crowd and her complete lack of inspiration in this match, it spelled trouble. Jelena's game was so far off in this match I really don't know what happened. She made dozens of errors, and every time she'd get up a break, she'd cough it away in the next serve game. As the crowd got behind Dulko more and more, it inspired her and Gise lifted her game at the right times, though if JJ had cut her errors in half she would have won going away, I think.

At any rate, after losing set 1, JJ broke on top in set 2, and it looked like she was breezing toward a third set, having taken a lead in overall points for the match. Then, I'm not sure what happened. She repeatedly bent over with her hands on her knees, looked up to the sky for answers, and generally looked very annoyed as she blew opportunity after opportunity to win her serve games. Some of the games late in this match were long, drawn out affairs that started out looking like easy holds of serve for Jelena. In the tiebreak, she bolted to a 4-1 lead and I again prepared for a late night epic comeback, but it wasn't meant to be, as she choked away 6 of the next 7 points to fall in front of a small, but wildly cheering crowd. Can't tell you how disappointing this one was, but such is life, I suppose. It was 12:30 A.M. Sunday before I left the stadium.

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  1. GVGirl's Avatar
    So do you go every year?
  2. Paszekfan's Avatar
    Hi. Yes, I have been the past three years and I love it! First it was two days, then three last year, and now five this year. If you go the first five main draw days, that gives you the 1st, 2nd and 3rd rounds for the women and 1st and 2nd rounds for the men. And that means you can pretty much set your own schedule for seeing whatever matches and players you want to see. It sounds corny, but it was the best five days of my life, I think. I would love to be able to do this at the US Open some year!

    Do you go to the Miami tournament too?
  3. patrick's Avatar
    Read all of your reports from each day. Good reporting. If I ever go to a major Slam or prestigous event with the ladies around, that would be my agenda also.
  4. rabbit's Avatar
    Loved the blogs! Absolutely great.

    What did you think of Lisicki's game? From what I have seen of her, she seems to have a great personality. Hope she has success in the rest of the season!

    As for Sania, this result was really disappointing. Did you see any problems with her wrist, or was it just her usual inconsistency? I had hoped that she would return with a renewed focus, but don't know what to think anymore.
  5. Paszekfan's Avatar
    Hi. I'm guessing Sabine Lisicki was probably not in great form, because she sprayed a lot of shots around the court against Benesova. Each time she'd get ahead in a game, she'd cough away the lead with UEs. She has the tools, but I probably just caught her on a bad day/week.

    As for Sania, I couldn't see any sign of her wrist injury. She looked pretty healthy. She should have won in 2 against Johansson, but I think maybe after losing the second set she got a little tired. The first set was over so fast I hardly knew what happened, but Sania was hitting some nice winners.
  6. rabbit's Avatar
    Thanks for the reply!
  7. mysterX's Avatar
    Just reading these reports now. Well done. Thanks for posting.