Sunday, 20 January 2013

Makarova shock quarter finalist again

As 19th seed the task of defending 500 quarter final points from the 2012 Australian Open for Russian Ekaterina Makarova was tough enough, even without the need to overcome the tournament's fifth seed Angelique Kerber to achieve it.
Already she had taken care of 11th seed Marion Bartoli in three sets and I hear that Marion was quite happy with the care save for the beating for which she was not quite so enamoured.
Kerber, for all the good things on her resume, had not much terrific to say for the Aus Open, until this year never daring past the third round.  So despite being the favourite, a fourth round win would be something new for the German star, whereas the fourth round last year for Makarova saw the demise of Serena Williams.

The players were relatively evenly matched around the court, but Kerber's usually tight error free style had visible chinks early which Makarova concentrated on to a worthwhile end.  The break of serve in the third game gave the Russian a 2-1 lead which stretched further with solid holds and another crack at the Kerber serve at 2-4.

After a few attempts the double break occurred and Kerber's back was firmly against the wall, a position from which very few point scoring opportunities arise.  However, the off season practise sessions leaning back against various German walls, notably the Berlin one, came to her assistance when she needed it.  The fifth seed broke twice and held once in order to level at 5-5, and immediately the recovery seemed complete she lost focus and let Makarova in once again for 6-5 and the chance to serve it out.

Ekaterina won the set 7-5 and visions of another quarter final appeared ever nearer.

For much of the second set Kerber appeared in control.  Serving first she retained the advantage, managing to absorb the hard hitting Makarova game and give plenty back in return.  The rallies were often quite long and some of the recovery shots outstanding, particularly memorable two of Makarova's.

At 4-3 and following a solid hold of her serve - to date no break points had been faced in the set - Kerber left the court to seek medical attention to we think her back.  Her shot making hadn't seemed affected until now but forensic television eyes may have noticed something.

After keeping Makarova waiting for long enough to annoy her, which was probably a sub-motive in the exercise says cynical me, the games continued.
The medical aid obviously worked because the first break points for the set materialised immediately on the Makarova serve.  However she wasn't happy about the circumstances so deferred any break point conversion to another time while directing the scoreboard to read 4-4.

Now panic became a liability passed on to Kerber as she struggled in the ninth game.  A stumble here would give Makarova the keys to the quarters should she pass one final test.

Stumble she did, and another German wall came down.

Makarova directed another top seed out of the Australian Open 7-5 6-4, and her quarter final opposition could very well be Sharapova for the second year running.

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