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Nadia Petrova: The Undeserving Winner?

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 22:  Nadia Petrova of Russia celebrates after winning her third round match against Kim Clijsters of Belgium during day five of the 2010 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 22, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Sudeshna BanerjeeAnalyst IJanuary 23, 2010

Meet Nadia Petrova, the 27-year-old veteran who is sitting prettily in the fourth round of the Aussie Open but lo and behold, she is nowhere in the news!

Her only sin—she beat the reigning US Open champion, Kim Clijsters, who was one of the leading contenders for the title!

While I am a fan of the Belgians and it pains me to see Kim bow out this way, it equally saddens me to see Nadia hardly getting any recognition for what she has managed to achieve.

Petrova had always been a very talented campaigner. A junior French Open champion, she has reached as high as World No. 3 in the rankings and is no stranger to big-match play.

On Friday, she did exactly that. She came prepared with the perfect gameplan and executed it with accuracy and precision.

Not once did she take her foot off the pedal which truly testifies to her having 15 winners with five aces and a paltry 10 unforced errors. Nor did she even let her temper get in her way.

The composed Petrova found the lines consistently and her deep, booming forehands made the hapless Clijsters, a mere spectator. She beat Clijsters fair and square and that too for the first time in her career.

Yet she loses out.

It is indeed true that Kim Clijsters’ epic meltdown can hardly be explained and she herself stumbles to find the right words to provide an explanation. Under normal circumstances, she surely would not have exited in such an unceremonious fashion—at least not without providing some resistance.

Her comment, ‘’I let her’’ has seemingly sparked off a raging debate around the world with people questioning her sportsmanship. Even comparisons between her and Serena Williams have started pouring in.

In this brouhaha unfortunately the victor who rightfully deserves some credit can hardly be seen.

Not that she had made a pact with Clijsters before the match so that Kim fizzled out that way nor did Kim retire in the midst of the match. The Russian was a clean winner over the Belgian.

Yet interestingly Petrova remains forgotten.

Nadia had been having a tough time finding her groove coming into the Australian Open. She had lost two tight matches to Justine Henin and Kimiko Date-Krumm in the first rounds at Brisbane and Sydney respectively.

Leaving behind those failures, Nadia had refocussed herself and started anew. That had paid rich dividends and her third round win clearly showed why she had always been considered a fearsome opponent for any player.

On Sunday she has a tough fourth round encounter against her fellow Russian and two-time Grand Slam champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova. A mouth-watering prospect that is and Nadia might just end up losing to her compatriot who has been playing some serious tennis as well.

In a Grand Slam you get to be in the spotlight for only two days before you face your next opponent. Sadly for Nadia, she did not even manage to get that much time to enjoy the glory in spite of securing one of her biggest victories ever.

It is high time people stopped this mindless debate comparing Kim and Serena and started applauding the actual victor.

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