Good News: Dinara played well. She fought her heart out. She changed her service motion (incredibly Lena-esque) and it (mostly) worked. She hit some delicious down the line backhand winners. Her back didn’t explode. She fist pumped, yelled, squealed, and…
(Bad News:): Lost.
But really? I’m ok with that. Wicky was playing damn good tennis, and putting away just about all the points she should have won, including those off of big first serves. That being said, Dinara’s defense looked solid and I saw very few needless or silly errors.
Dinara really had to fight and scrounge for the second set and by the third set, the tank was pretty empty. Wicky kept playing consistent, attacking tennis and took it pretty easily. However, fear not Dinara fans! I was impressed. I’d love to see her take on some lower ranked opponents, and see how well she can dictate play on her terms. Things are coming together.
Those who follow me on Twitter know how the match went, but for those who don’t, or missed it, here’s a quick recap. Both players came out firing, absolutely crushing the ball and turning on everything. Errors were generally far and few between with both trying to get position on the other. Big babe tennis to the nth. Dinara got the break at the end of the first set to take it, saving two break points earlier in the set, one with a wicked ballsy drop shot. There were only four break points in the second set, and Nads took one of hers with Dinara serving at 4-5 in the second.
The third set was pure madness. Dinara was broken early, got it back, and then was broken again. Everything seemed to be going all WTA. But the quality picked up, and with Nads serving at 4-2, Dinara got her second break back. The following game was a total bloodbath. It went to seven, eight deuces (?) and Dinara just couldn’t seem to convert a game point. At one point she smiled and said to the ball boy, pointing at one ball “this one, this one!”. Even the uber-serious line judge cracked a smile. It was pretty clear that this was the most important game of the match, and whoever took it was likely to win the match. Especially if Nads got it, because then she would serve for it.
That wasn’t to be so, however, and once Dinara won it, the crowd went absolutely bananas. She did an awesome double fist pump “come on!” and then the train got steam rolling. Dinara loosened up in the next game, got the break, and held easily for the match. The crowd went absolutely bonkers and gave her a standing ovation.
The match made my week, and is by far the greatest live match I’ve seen. I’m so glad it got stuck on the second court (sorry everyone) because being able to sit that close was amazing. The atmosphere was just fantastic (mostly made by all the people up top) and by the end the crowd was clearly behind Dinara. She acknowledged us in her presser too “The crowd was unbelievable today. They were so much behind me. I could not let it go so easy.”
It would be easy for me to say that this could be the match that turns Dinara back in the right direction. It’s her first notable win since defeating A-Rad back in January. The timing seems to be back (no silly long or net errors) and she served at a fantastic 71% en route to saving 19/23 break points, an absolutely crazy stat rarely seen in the WTA. She also has a beatable opponent up next in Franny, and says that the back is feeling good again.
I can’t wait for her match tonight. Except a bit of crowd support.
It’s hard to not feel bad for the girl. Remember when she was number 1? We felt bad for her then. Now? Her ranking is in total free fall.
If there was ever a time for things to be on the up, it would be now. Slowly, the nagging Doha injury all the way from last year is finally subsiding, and Dinara is able to put it in solid practices and go all out in matches.
I saw her opening match against Petko, which she won, and snooped in on several practices the past couple of days. Each time she’s going full tilt, grunting and ripping the cover off the ball. Today she was hammering cross court backhands off short balls, as a drill, and it was pretty clear to me that very few players on the tour hit as hard as Ms. Safina.
Up next is a tough, tough match against Nads (which I will most definitely be at) but after that, her draw is pretty forgiving. I’m not expecting a win, but we’ll get to see how far along the recovery road Dinara is tomorrow. I’ll make sure to have a post dedicated to that match, should be a good one.
Who doesn’t love waking up to nice things? It’s always nice to sit down at the computer in the morning with a nice coffee, but I had no idea what giddy love was awaiting me. Thanks, @MercuryInsOpen, you rule. They hit together under the lights of Stanford last Sunday, and now are besties. Guess they couldn’t wait to see each other in San Diego.
Pretty sure I’m tiling this as my wallpaper. Like, in my bedroom, not my computer.
What happens when you get a whole bunch of top players and stick them in a tiny-ass draw? One of those weeks, my friends, one of those weeks.
Only Sven knows what the hell is going on in Stuttgart right now. Caro’s ankle is still messed, loses to Lucie. Vika wants to go shopping, loses to Lapuschenkova (who?). Justine beats Wicky, who just beat Franny easily a day before. JJ and Sam win, fine, but… Dinara returns, drops the second set to Agi, all seems surely lost. And then she serves a bagel. A BAGEL. She even served 64% in the first set that she won in a tiebreak. Oh Dinara, you’re the icing on the cake of this crazy week. And you even frickin’ won. Love it.
Don’t mess with the Russians, y’all. Sorry, Dina..ra. I’ve pretty well called you said evil name in… oh… every blog post or Tweet ever referencing you. So you know, not very often. We’ve gotta get you a real nickname, don’t we? I’ll get working on that. Unfortunately, my blog tag for you is “Dina” and there’s no way to switch it over so all my old posts can get a new tag. So uh, yeah, that’s gotta stay.
Oh, and I told her to get Marat on Twitter, and she replied: “i dont think he will be into it!!!!” Pssh. Ah well. Welcome to Twitter, girlie. It just got a whole lot awesomer.
And once again sorry about the lack of posting. Stupid year end exams. They really shouldn’t exist. Last two are tomorrow and Friday and it’s freedom for four months. Hells yeah.
“Rafa’s knee is getting better,” Toni said. “The recovery is going pretty well. From the stands I first advised him to call the physio and then to retire since it was obvious to me he couldn’t keep playing. Retirement was the right decision to take at that time.”
Gooood. Uncle T knows what’s up, y’all.
Dina is NOT playing Dubai. As if you didn’t know that. Looks like she, like Rafa, is shooting for an Indian Wells return.
The article is sort of poorly worded and confusing, but by the looks of it, they want indoor and outdoor court, shopping areas, and… shit, someone wants the ATP to pay attention. Masters tournament? Fifth grand slam for Sven’s sake? And maybe Ana and JJ could have a wicked home tournament as well. That looks like a whole lot of money. Kind of cool to see the investment into tennis in Serbia taking off.
As for Monday rankings updates, nothing for the women cause of Fed Cup. For the dudes, Tomasz jumped 7 spots up to 28 and Feli jumped 6 to 33.
But it was all going so well? What is this, the US Open?
No Justine/Kim, not even Justine/Kuz. Instead we have Nads, who has been playing incredibly solid tennis all week. I’m a little bit sad that Kuz lost… but at the same time, if you saw the first round of Brisbane, Nads and Justine were absolutely ripping the cover off the ball. Nads will be looking for revenge, and let’s be honest, probably has the upper hand. She’s been pretty consistent all tournament, and Justine, if anything, may start running out of gas sooner than later. If it’s anything like Brisbane, a match you do NOT want to miss.
And then there’s the other quarter, which was a mindfuck to start out with. Questions around Dina… Mono and JJ? Didn’t happen. So sad to see Dina go down. She apparently was in so much pain she could barely move, and it was exactly what happened in Doha. The really unfortunate part is that she’s been playing quite well, and getting progressively better. Not to mention if she were to have won, JZ is an easily beatable opponent.
And how about JZ? She’s a pesky one all right. She took out A-Bond, which is really not that huge of an upset, and will take on MaKiri next round. The two of them have been pretty solid all tournament, especially Kiri, who is out to prove something (which she did, making her first ever slam quarterfinal. Props.) I actually think that may be a really fantastic match, despite detractors likely looking to go blabbing about two unseeded players in a quarterfinal. So JZ or Kiri and Justine or Nads will be in the semis. And one of them will be in the final. I’ll let you take a moment to wrap your head around that.
Was it pretty? Well, it’s Dina. Was it an agonizing win? No.
No USO shenanigans this time. Plenty of errors, but a straight sets win is a straight sets win as Dina seems to be slowly getting her shit together (and by that I mean her serve and her forehand, mostly.) She also has the wonderful gift of a pretty looking draw now. Eye on the prize Dina, eye on the prize.
Double faulting, firing every other ball long, and looking down right confused, Dina fell down 0-5 to Iron Chef Agi, and it looked like all anyone hoping to see something of a match could hope for was for Dina to get herself together for a second set, and start using her brain. But they don’t call the WTA the WTA for nothing. (Whacked-out Tennis Association?) Dina looked pissed, and she started hammering the ball up the middle. Then side to side. Before you knew it, or she knew it, she was getting winners, looking in control. Then Agi failed to close it out THREE times. All in all, it was 9 games in a row for Dina from 0-5, and eventually she took the match 7-5, 6-4.
Was this match totally WTA? Totally. Was it all because of Dina? You know it. Once she got it together, she showed how she’s not number 2 in the world by accident, and hell, her serve wasn’t even half bad most of the time. Agi really just lacks a weapon, and her sad excuse for a second serve was getting absolutely crushed by Dina at points. Despite Agi’s ranking, it should be an easy win for Dina, with her ability to smack the ball and really dictate against someone who generally relies on pushing and other people’s errors. Sure enough it happened. As for her next trick? Stick around and see, who knows. Positive things to take, crazy DinaKADs, positive.