Saturday, April 16, 2005

Patty melt--with Swiss cheese

Swiss player Patty Schnyder, a favorite of mine, has been playing consistenly well at the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island. But not today. In her semifinal match with Russia's Elena Dementieva, Schnyder had one of her famous mental meltdowns and lost the match, after easily taking the first set, 6-3. Schnyder defeated Dementieva at the Australian Open, and Dementieva refers to her as "the toughest player on the clay courts." Schnyder can lob, drop, and slice, and she can loop a ball better than anyone on the tour. (In fact, few on the tour even attempt loops.) She can also hit hard on the lines, which is what she needed to more of today.

An upsetting line call in the second set threw Schnyder off her game and she never seemed to recover. She missed several drop shots, which is unlike her, and there were times when she slowed the ball down--a tactic that generally works for her--when she shouldn't have, because Dementieva could not often be tricked into hitting a slow ball out of the court. For her part, Dementieva, once she got her footing in the second set, ran down ball after ball and hit winner after winner. She bagled Schnyder in the third set. Schnyder has been a perennial finalist and semifinalist at the event, but has never won it. I was hoping this year would be different, and I am disappointed, as are many Schnyder fans.

The other semifinal was more exciting. Former world number one and 2003 Family Circle Cup champion Justine Henin-Hardenne came up against a new force named Tatiana Golovin, and it was a battle of the super-backhand versus the super-forehand. Both players served miserably, and both hit well. The winds were gusting, and both players slid back and forth on the green clay, striking hard groundstrokes and thrilling the crowd. In the end, Henin-Hardenne took the match, 7-6, 7-5, which is almost as close as you can get.

In the doubles department, the team of Viginia Ruano Pascual and Conchita Martinez defeated Lourdes Dominguez Lino and Anabel Garrigues, who have had a great run this week, upsetting seeds along the way. The other semifinal had a surprise ending: Number one seeds Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs, who won the first set 6-0, were defeated in three sets by Iveta Benesova and Kveta Peschke.

I began my day by having an enjoyable breakfast and discussion of blogging with two other guests at my bed and breakfast in Summerville. Then I went to the practice courts and got very good photos of Tatiana Golovin, Patty Schnyder, and Elena Dementieva.

Flowertown Bed & Breakfast, where I'm staying, is possibly the most beautiful B&B I've ever stayed in, with a wonderful garden, two parrots, and a small black cat, who is currently sleeping upside down on a French chair by the fireplace in my room.


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