Friday, January 26, 2007

Pavlyuchenkova Defends Australian Open Title


Although I obviously didn't see a single point of the Australian Open Junior Girls Championship match, I can say that it was much more exciting than the Serena Williams demolition of Maria Sharapova I just watched on TV.

Pavlyuchenkova defeated Madison Brengle 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3) to win her second straight Australian Open and her second consecutive Junior Slam; she won the U.S. Open Junior title last September.

As I watched the scores change on my computer, I could tell that Brengle let a lot of opportunities slip away, but of course I have no idea if Pavlyuchenkova raised her level to contribute to that. Neither could rely on holding serve, so it was no surprise when Brengle had set points in the first set when Pavlyuchenkova was serving at 4-5 and then again in the tiebreak at 6-5. In the second set Brengle took a 3-1 lead, lost the next four games, but somehow managed to stave off defeat when Pavlyuchenkova was serving at 5-3, 40-0. Brengle saved four match points in that game, and when the 16-year-old from Delaware held and broke, she was serving for the second set. But Brengle got no closer than 30-30 in that 6-5 game and in the deciding tiebreak, the 15-year-old Russian didn't repeat her mistake of letting Brengle back in the match, taking 3-0 and 6-3 leads and finishing on her first opportunity.



Brengle was the first U.S. girl to reach the finals of the Australian Junior Championships since Lindsay Davenport in 1992, and it might offer her a little comfort to know that Davenport also lost. And not to a junior with six grand slam titles either (Pavlyuchenkova has won three in doubles too). It was Joanne Limmer of Australia, whose highest ranking on the pro tour was 141, who beat the three-time Grand Slam champion 15 years ago.

The boys' final between unseeded Australian Brydan Klein and No. 2 seed Jonathan Eysseric of France is scheduled to take place after the men's double final and in Rod Laver Arena, a new twist this year. So I won't be updating that result until Saturday.

4 comments:

AndrewD said...

Collette,

I was fortunate enough to be court-side for the Brengle-Pavlyuchenkova final and, despite the close score, I think it could best be summed up as a 'keenly contested but scrappy affair'.

I don't have access to the match stats but I'm pretty sure they'd show that Pavlyuchenkova had almost twice as many unforced errors as Brengle, not to mention a good half dozen, or so, double faults. That isn't to suggest Brengle only stayed close due to her opponent's errors (although they certainly did help). On the contrary, she seemed more than able to hang with Pavlyuchenkova but it's very hard to impose yourself on a match (or convert break points)when your opponent is ending most points with either a winner or an error. The most you can do is maintain your work rate, keep errors to a minimum and not give your opponent room to breath. For the most part, that's exactly what Brengle did.

I guess, to take the next step, she'll have to be more proactive, increase her 1st Serve %, points won on first and second serve (Brengle was poor on the first serve, Pavlyuchenkova was appaling on the second serve), do more with break points (which is where being more proactive would help)and winners.

Oh, and we were very happy with the result from the Klein-Eysseric match. If you're going to win it must make it extra sweet to take out the number 1, 2, 5, 10 and 14 seeds along the way.

Anonymous said...

wayyy to go for brengle anyway shes playing some amazing tennis

AndrewD said...

Collette,

In case anyone was interested, Brengle acquitted herself extremely well and, given the level of her play, if she'd won it would have been no surprise at all.Personally, I did feel that had she won the first set she would, most likely, have won the match. She didn't, but Pavlyuchenkova, who looks quite a bit stronger, physically, than Brengle, wasn't allowed the luxury of most junior matches - an easy final set.

We did also see the final set and a half of Brengle's match against Schnyder and I felt it was a far more impressive effort than her run in the juniors. Admittedly, Schnyder isn't the biggest or strongest player on the WTA but her left-handed style and very heavy topspin isn't something many juniors, especially junior girls, will have had to face. It does take a fair bit of physical strength to counter that style of play, especially when it comes from the world #9, but Brengle did well. Actually, she did a bit better than 'well' and did have two break points in the second set that, had she taken them, would have put her ahead 5-1 and serving for the set.

Also worth noting is that Schnyeder does play better in Australia than anywhere else in the world (4th round or better at the Aus Open 8 of 11 attempts, including the last 5 years in a row: 3 of her 10 singles titles have been won in Australia) so a match against her at the Aus Open is a far greater test than even her #8 seeding might indicate. To lose 3 and 4 was a very credible effort and should give Brengle hope for the future (if she can continue adding to and improving her game).

(*Just noticed that I didn't mention the weather conditions which were reasonably blustery and, no doubt, played a small part in the overall tone of the girls final.*)

Colette Lewis said...

Andrew D.--
Thanks so much for your reports on the girls' final. It's by far the most informative writing on the match that I've seen. I appreciate your effort on our behalf.