Sunday, 4 September 2011

US Open Day 7 - Fighting Pennetta into Quarters

Flavia Pennetta beat Peng Shuai in an extraordinary 4th round encounter, 6-4 7-6. Pennetta was the better player in the first set as she controlled the rallies hitting many winners of her consistent backhand. She also served extremely well producing some superb aces down the T and out wide. Peng started to fight back at 5-2 down as she started to mix up her play introducing some loopier balls, which Pennetta failed to deal with. Pennetta held on to take the set as Peng hit too many unforced errors at crucial stages.

Flavia Pennetta put in a courageous performance to come through against Peng

The second set started with a succession of breaks; Peng started to come into the net more but Pennetta was winning the longer rallies as she moved her opponent around the court and exploited her two handed groundstrokes. Peng got the first hold of the second set and began to look the stronger player as Pennetta started to become tired and hit some loose backhands. Peng eventually got her chance to serve out the set... but she completely folded with a number of nervy shots. The game at 5-5 was unbelievable; Pennetta looked exhausted and was suffering from illness, and Peng's nerves looked totally shot. Pennetta eventually got the break, but looked close to being sick as she served for it. She somehow got to match point but Peng tightened her game and clawed it into the tiebreak by keeping the ball in play.

Peng seemed to have finally got things sorted again as she raced into a 6-2 lead in the tiebreak; however Pennetta gradually clawed each set point back with some courageous hitting and some support from an excited crowd. She then earnt a match point with an outrageous shot that came off her racket and landed in the court. Peng then folded as she came in on match point down and tamely hit into the net. As a Peng fan, this was a gutting loss :( I don't normally associate her with choking but the occasion got to her today as she played the key points poorly and kept trying with the useless drop shot! This kind of loss can be devastating (both for Peng and I!!!) so I really hope she can recover and learn from it.

It was the worst match I have ever seen Peng play :(

Pennetta deserves a huge amount of credit for this battling performance... her reward for this win is a Quarter-final with Angelique Kerber. I think knowing that the QF would be such a winnable match was why this match was such a nervous affair and explains Peng's nerves! If Pennetta has recovered in time, she should make it into the Semis...

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