Vera Zvonareva forgets double faults, remembers winners
When Vera Zvonareva double faulted to end the first set of a semifinal match at the Mercury Insurance Open on Saturday night -- giving it to Ana Ivanovic, who can be nervous herself -- it seemed the worst way to lose. Yet Zvonareva, the 26-year-old Russian who is seeded first, couldn't even remember serving the double fault a couple of hours after she had recorded a 5-7, 7-4, 6-4 semifinal win over Ivanovic.
The match took 2 hours and 22 minutes and earned Zvonareva a spot in Sunday's final against third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska.
Who is ranked third in the world, was asked afterward about the untimely double fault in the first set.
"I can't really remember what was the score when I double faulted," she said. "I wasn't thinking about it. ... I'm always looking forward."
This is the third final Zvonareva has reached this year but her first ever at the Carlsbad tournament and she leads the WTA Tour in winning on hard courts this season with a 29-6 record. She is also trying to become the third straight Russian to win this event -- Svetlana Kuznetsova won last year and Maria Sharapova won in both 2006 and 2007 (the tournament wasn't held here for two years).
Ivanovic said she regretted taking big swipes at two Zvonareva second serves in the second set.
"That big game, at 4-3 when I went for two second-serve returns and I missed both of them," Ivanovic said. "I just pulled off a little bit on both. That was obviously disappointing."
"And, still down, 4-5, I had chances which I didn't use. The volley that I missed. Those few mistakes kind of cost me the second set."
Ivanovic also said that when the match moved into the third set she began to get tired facing the thudding power of Zvonareva.
"I struggled a little bit physically," Ivanovic said. "I sort of went through that little bump, then started to feel better a little too late. I was just starting to feel a little fatigue because it was a lot of matches and tennis. Vera chases a lot of balls and sometimes you have to win the point over and over again."
Next up for Ivanovic? A tough first-round match against Venus Williams in the Rogers Cup in Toronto. While Williams hasn't played since losing in the fourth round at Wimbledon, Ivanovic feels as if she'll be helped by her time on the court in this tournament.
"Having lots of matches this week, it's kind of going to help me feel good coming into that match," she said. "Obviously the circumstances, the conditions are going to be different. It's tough. But I think my game is there and I'm enjoying competition and I really think I can give her a tough match. Anything is possible."
-- Diane Pucin
Photo: Vera Zvonareva of Russia hits a return to Ana Ivanovic of Serbia during their semifinal match Saturday. Credit: Denis Poroy / Reuters