Sunday, July 31, 2005

A frustrating weekend of tennis

I had to eat another Patty melt over the weekend.

What do you call it when someone is a set up, serving 40-0 at 6-5, and misses a backhand down the line into an open court? You call it choking, and for those of us who support Patty Schnyder, it was a bitter pill to swallow. Venus Wiliams was on the other side of the net in their Bank of the West semi-final, and she saved five match points to win the set. To be fair, one of those was what Schnyder was convinced was an ace, but the umpire called it out, just as she was preparing to go to the net to shake hands with her oppponent. On a hard court, there is no line in the clay or in the grass to help you prove your point.

Williams went on to win the third set handily--no surprise, considering the extent to which Schnyder had been demoralized-- which put her into the finals, where she was defeated by Kim Clijsters, who is tearing up the hard courts this year. It should have been Schnyder in the finals. Fortunately, Clijsters is another of my favorites.

Last year's champion, world number one Lindsay Davenport, had to retire in the second round because of a back injury she sustained in her Wimbledon final. Today, she withdrew from the Acura Classic, of which she was also the 2004 champion. Lindsay fans--and tennis fans in general--are hoping she will be okay for the JP Morgan Chase Open, which she also has to defend. No one on the tour has had the rotten luck Davenport has had in the last year and a half, and we can only hope she will be healthy for the U.S. Open.

As for Schnyder, she is a player of unusual and exceptional ability who shines on clay, but is also quite good on the hard courts. Her career had taken a dive until this year, in which she has been quite consistent, but she has yet to win a Tier I or Tier II tournament. Schnyder's game is one of cleverness and invention, and she is capable of beating the top players (she recently eliminated Maria Sharapova in the Italian Open and went on to reach the final), but she has yet to break through with a major win.

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