I am pleased to have James of Moo's Tennis Blog guest posting on Women's Tennis Blog for the first time. James' blog is one of my favorite daily reads, with unique, insightful and comprehensive previews and predictions of matches. His guest posting here will include two parts summing up his 10 favourite matches of the 2013 season. Enjoy Part 1!
10. Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Angelique Kerber, 6-4 4-6 6-3 (French Open, R4)
In recent years, the French Open has struggled to deliver high quality women's matches; however I thought 2013 was a much better year and this 4th round match between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Angelique Kerber was my favourite match from Roland Garros. When the pair had played a few weeks prior in Madrid, Kerber won 7-5 in the third set despite Kuznetsova leading by a set and a break. This match had a similar vibe to it as Kuznetsova raced into a set and a break lead, but was pegged back by Kerber, who forced a deciding set. In a match dominated by gruelling baseline rallies, it was Kuznetsova's surprisingly sound 3rd set performance that saw her turn the tables on Kerber and seal the win with a thumping down-the-line forehand winner. This was a very enjoyable watch and the main thing I took away from it was what a great player Kuznetsova is on the clay.
9. Petra Kvitova d. Venus Williams, 3-6 6-3 7-6(2) (Tokyo, SF)
Tokyo was a great tournament this year and both semifinals were brilliant in their own unique way. I particularly enjoyed this hard hitting encounter between Petra Kvitova and Venus Williams. It was a match of intense rallies and super serving, which is not something you always see on the WTA Tour. The pair split sets before battling out an absorbing deciding set. This was one of Kvitova's best mental performances of the year and we saw an EPIC, Petra "pojd" as she fought to stay in the match. After a valiant display by Venus, she crumbled in the tiebreak after putting a regulation forehand into the net on the first point. Kvitova raced through the tiebreak to record one of her best wins of 2013. It was great to see Venus serving to her heart's content and this tournament definitely showed that if she can stay injury free, there is more tennis in her. A superb contest, made even better by a classy handshake.
8. Angelique Kerber d. Ana Ivanovic, 6-4 7-6(6) (Linz, F)
Linz had all kinds of draw drama this year, but the final, which featured the late wildcard, Angelique Kerber and Ana Ivanovic had everything you could ask for from a final. Both played some sensational tennis throughout this match; Kerber's down-the-line forehand was majestic for much of the first set, meanwhile Ivanovic hit some magnificent winners as she looked to get into the net whenever she could. After one of the most dramatic and intense sets of tennis I watched all year, it was Kerber who prevailed in the second set tiebreak. Ivanovic showed moments of absolute genius, but her tennis swung too violently from the crazy good to the crazy bad. In the end, it was consistency that won the day for Kerber with her only title of 2013.
7. Sabine Lisicki d. Serena Williams, 6-2 1-6 6-4 (Wimbledon, R4)
Perhaps the shock of the year at the Grand Slams in 2013 was this 4th round clash between Serena Williams and Sabine Lisicki on Magic Monday, arguably the finest day of the tennis year. Lisicki had proved her credentials on the grass and had a rather curious record of defeating French Open champions in 3 of the last 4 years. Lisicki, who seemingly lives and breathes for Wimbledon, came into this match with the belief that so many players lack when playing Serena. After cruising through the first set, she wobbled in the second and at the start of third set; however she recovered marvellously well as Serena continued to look ill at ease. It was a terrific match that had bucket loads of drama and saw a vocal British crowd get behind the underdog. This was definitely the match that invoked the most emotion from me and I was on my feet at the end along with most of the crowd.
6. Kaia Kanepi d. Angelique Kerber, 3-6 7-6(6) 6-3 (Wimbledon, R2)
I don't think this second round match at Wimbledon between Kaia Kanepi and Angelique Kerber got a great deal of coverage, but for those who watched it, it was a real treat. There was absolute winners galore and probably the best winners to unforced error ratio I saw for a women's match all year. There were a total of 94 winners (Kanepi 52, Kerber 42) compared to just 44 unforced errors (Kanepi 27, Kerber 17). Kerber played some incredible tennis to win 6 straight games and the first set, 6-3. The second set was very even and deservedly went to a tiebreak. Kerber looked close to victory at 5-1 up, but Kanepi, not known for her mental toughness or fighting to the death in matches, staged a remarkable comeback to force a decider. Kanepi was sensational in the third set as she consistently painted the lines. Despite a good old fashion wobble where she served two double faults on match points, Kanepi showed great nerve in the closing moments to put the number 7 seed out of the tournament. Perhaps the most underrated match of 2013…
Coming Soon – Part 2 of James' review of the best WTA matches of 2013 with numbers, 5 to 1. Thank you, James, for contributing to Women's Tennis Blog!