It just seemed so celebratory at first. After rain and a backlog of matches, the Sony Ericsson decided to pluck Kim Clijsters and Ana Ivanovic from the main stage and instead put them on Court 2. Delighted fans cheered at their luck, convinced they were waiting for the conclusion of a doubles match involving Nuria Llagostera Vives. The players were jovial, too, laughing as they walked onto the tiny court; they almost looked like dolls too big for their playhouse.
In the first set it seemed everyone was getting used to the surroundings, including the crowd. Clijsters fell hard early on and everyone screamed and then chuckled in embarrassment for the outburst. They gasped when Ivanovic hit a laser forehand and seemed concerned when Clijsters hit some of her signature splits. It was tennis’ version of keeping it real.
The level was very high in the first set. Although not the most entertaining points, many rallies ended quickly with a winner and both women held serve throughout fairly easily. Clijsters knows how to win much better than Ivanovic these days and she closed out the set in a tiebreak.
In the second with Ivanovic up 2-0, I thought about the difference between 3-0 and 2-1. Clijsters was broken in the first serving at 2-0 and it changed the set; Ivanovic held for 3-0 and pretty much rolled through the second. Funny thing about Clijsters: when she drops her level, she becomes an amateur. She lost her timing, seemed confused on the court, sprayed balls well out or mishit them so badly they landed at the service line on her side of the court. Ivanovic took the set 6-3.
The third set was all about focus. Ivanovic had it; Clijsters didn’t. The result? A quick 5-1 lead for Ivanovic and 0-40 on Clijsters’ serve. Done, right? Wrong. Typically at this point you see kids with large balls making their way to the front of the court. It’s not really possible on Court 2 but we did get a rush of photographers who swooped in to catch match point. And the newest vulture out there, Cari Champion from Tennis Channel suddenly emerged, ready to do her on-court interview.
But focus changed quickly. We’ve seen this before from both women and usually Kim wins them and Ana doesn’t. All I can say is: it went fast. Truthfully, although there was some nice play at times from both players, it wasn’t really a thrilling match until it became about nerves. Ivanovic couldn’t hit through five match points; Kim only needed one at 6-5 in the tiebreak to win it. Poor Ana.
I thought parties were supposed to be fun?