"The tension was so thick, you could cut it with a knife." That can be said of the Samantha Stosur-Francesca Schiavone match today in Doha, but another "version" of the idiom can be deemed appropriate. "The humidity was so "thick" and sticky, you could cut it with a knife. Samantha Stosur summed it up perfectly: "Obviously, it's very humid. You're sweating a hell of a lot and try to drink as much as you can and catch your breath between points." And yes, Smashin' Sam, your fans were sweating a hell of lot watching the first few games of your first match at Doha.
The WTA Championships offer the 8 best active players to compete against each other in a round robin stage, and then knock-out rounds. In a match pitting a novice versus a novice, Francesca Schiavone of Italy looked like she would steal another winnable match from Australian Samantha Stosur.
Stosur, despite having a 4-2 record against Schiavone, struggled early on an quickly fell behind 4-0 in the opening set. Forehand after forehand found the net, while backhand after backhand missed the line. But point after point Stosur coiled herself back into the match with stellar play, winning the next 6 games to clinch the first set of her first ever match in Doha, 6-4.
Talking about comebacks, Stosur has saved 9 match points in total this year. Is Stosur about to rival the injured Serena Williams for the title, "Queen of Comeback"? Serena surely does not want to lose that status after losing "her" No. 1 position to fall behind to No.3, with the two people in front, non-slam winners.
It could go either way at 4-all in the second set, but Stosur rose to the challenge once more. She broke the playful Italian and served out the match with confidence.
It was obviously a disappointing loss for Schiavone, but it probably could not match the grief suffered by the shy Aussie when she lost in her maiden grand slam final, Roland Garros, to none other than Francesca Schiavone.
Stosur's reward was a big pay day, cashing in 200,000 US Dollars in her ever-expanding bank account. Stosur's next match: World No. 1 Wozniacki
Caroline Wozniacki (World No. 1) versus Samantha Stosur (World No. 7)
A win in this match for Caroline Wozniacki equates to heaven for her. After a dream year for the Dane, she usurped Serena Williams for the No. 1 position, and a win against Stosur guarantees her the Year End top spot. Not even the legendary Venus Williams, also absent, has been able to match that feat. The only player who can challenge Wozniacki for the top spot is Russia's newly composed Vera Zvonereva, who is also in the form of her life. However, Samantha Stosur can claim the No. 2 year end spot if she goes 5-0 in this tournament. How 'bout that, Sammy?
Wozniacki has the goods to counter a Stosur topspin onslaught, but is she imposing enough to force the ever accurate Samantha Stosur into errors? If Wozniacki wants even a chance to win, she has to move Stosur around the court, exposing Stosur's "weakness," her movement. Wozniacki should be at least normal speed, but doesn't necessarily have to be on top flight because of the top spin ground strokes generated from Stosur.
A first set win from Stosur should give Smashin' Sam the confidence to beat a current World No. 1 for just the second time in her career, but a win from behind isn't that all unlikely. Wozniacki is in for the fight of her life, but don't expect a win. Sure, it wouldn't be surprising, but a newly focused Samantha Stosur is treating this YEC as a "5th grand slam."
Game, set, match, Ms. Samantha Stosur. Three sets.
Elena Dementieva and Jelena Jankovic were getting smashed about by their opponents, Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonereva, respectively. An ankle injury didn't do Russian Dementieva any good, and nor did a sinus infection do Jelena Jankovic an help. Jelena Who?
Kim Clijsters(World No. 4) versus Jelena Jankovic (World No. 8)
Don't watch this match. Seriously. Besides, how can Jelena Jankovic even be ranked in the top 10? Kim Clijsters may have suffered from a foot injury recently, but she should definitely prevail. If Zvonereva can defeat Jankovic, why wouldn't Clijsters? It would be a major shock if Clijsters loss, but no doubt there will be some rustiness after having not played for a month.
If Kim Clijsters is even moderately consistent, and can pin Jankovic to the corners, it'll be Clijsters all the way. The only thing to watch out for is Jankovic's moon-balls. They're very, very tricky!
Game, set, match, Ms. Kim Clijsters. Striaght sets. Double bagel, anyone? They're for free!
Vera Zvonereva (World No. 2) versus Victoria Azarenka (World No. 10)
Attack of the V's! Vera vs Victoria serves as a mouth watering match. Zvonereva's court smart certainly pairs well against the firepower of Vika. The hot-tempered Belorussian Azarenka probably won't enjoy the match as she would hope to. Zvonereva is just to much on a streak, if that could be said of the emotional-turned composed woman.
This match will probably be a baseline duel, but watch out for net forays attempted by both players. Zvonereva has the consistency and enough strength to beat the hard hitting fire mouth Vika. But can Azarenka stand up to the challenge?
Game, set, match, Ms. Vera Zvonereva. Straight sets.
Tomorrow is going to be an exciting day! The year-end world No. 1 is at stake. The year-end world No. 2 is at stake. Matches are at stake. Semifinal berths are at stake. The tournament is at stake! Yippeeeeeeeeee!