Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Capitals' Govortsova shocks Stosur at Stanford

Olga Govortsova upset second-seeded Samantha Stosur
6-2, 6-4 in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   STANFORD -- Taylor Townsend's injury turned out to be a lucky break for Olga Govortsova.
   It helped the 24-year-old Belarusian stun second-seeded Samantha Stosur 6-2, 6-4 tonight in the second round of the 43rd Bank of the West Classic, the longest-running women's professional tennis tournament in the world.
   The Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis signed Govortsova for four matches last week after Townsend, 17, strained an abdominal muscle. Then Govortsova beat Julia Goerges of Germany 7-6 (2), 6-2 on Monday in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic.
   Stosur, meanwhile, played in her first match since falling to eventual runner-up Sabine Lisicki in the third round at Wimbledon in the last week of June. Stosur, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, received a first-round bye at Stanford.
   "I played really well today," Govortsova, ranked 83rd after reaching a career-high 35th at 19 years old in 2008, said after her first meeting with Stosur. "I think it helped that I had the extra match yesterday, and (playing WTT) was a really good warmup for the hardcourt season."
    Initially, Govortsova wasn't going to play WTT, in which eight teams spread across the United States play 14 matches in a three-week regular season. After Townsend's injury, Govortsova agreed to play two matches in California. She ended up playing in Springfield, Mo., and the Boston area, too.
Stosur, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, committed 10 double-
faults in tonight's match. Photo by Paul Bauman
   "(WTT) is kind of tough with a lot of traveling, but I was in (Los Angeles), and Sacramento asked me to play in California. They had a private jet, so I couldn't say no," Govortsova said with a laugh. "But I really enjoyed it. Next year, I would love to play for them."
   The victory over Stosur, ranked 13th, was one of the biggest of Govortsova's career. She beat Agnieszka Radwanska, Marion Bartoli and Daniela Hantuchova when they were No. 2, No. 11 and No. 12, respectively. But Radwanska retired from that match with a shoulder injury, and the win over Bartoli came on clay.
   "I actually didn't think today what is her ranking," Govortsova said of Stosur. "I felt really good yesterday and today in the warmup. I was feeling the ball really well."
   Govortsova, who will meet the winner of Wednesday's match between fifth-seeded Sorana Cirstea and 2012 runner-up CoCo Vandeweghe, was the last direct acceptance in the tournament. If she had been ranked any lower, she would have had to play in the qualifying event.
   Stosur returned to Australia after Wimbledon, took a week off, then practiced for a week. The winner of the 2010 WTA Diamond Aces award for doing the most to promote the game on and off the court, she was cordial as usual after her loss.
   "It is what it is," Stosur said of her layoff. "I certainly needed to take a break after Wimbledon, and that's what I've done every single year. It would be nice to start off better in your first tournament back."
Govortsova said playing for the Sacramento
Capitals in World TeamTennis helped her
beat Stosur. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Stosur, a semifinalist at Stanford in 2009 and 2010, became the latest big name to exit the tournament. Serena Williams, who has won the last two titles, did not return. Four-time Grand Slam singles champion Maria Sharapova, reigning Wimbledon champ Bartoli and Lisicki withdrew before the Bank of the West with injuries.
   The only headliners left, Radwanska and 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, meet on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the second round.
   But there is an outside chance of Radwanska facing her younger sister, seventh-seeded Urszula Radwanska, in the final. Urszula coasted past American Christina McHale 6-1, 6-3 in tonight's late match. McHale has plunged from a career-high No. 24 last August to No. 94 after being diagnosed with mononucleosis last September.
   In a matchup of past Bank of the West semifinalists, Daniela Hantuchova, 30, of Slovakia eliminated Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 6-2, 4-6, 6-0 in the first round. Hantuchova, a former top-five player who owns a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles, reached the semis at Stanford in 2007. Wickmayer, a U.S. Open semifinalist in 2009, advanced to the final four in last year's Bank of the West Classic.  
    Stosur trailed 4-0 and 5-1 in both sets against Govortsova. Stosur won three straight games to pull within 5-4 in the second set, but Govortsova converted her third match point with a service winner.
   "She had nothing to lose," Govortsova said of Stosur's rally. "She started going for shots, and she started making more. I got a little nervous. It was kind of the same situation as the French Open. I had two match points against Bartoli (in the first round). I lost, and she won Wimbledon."
Stosur said double-faulting so often in the match
was "inexcusable." Photo by Paul Bauman
   Stosur committed 10 double faults in the match, including three in each of her first two service games.
   When asked why she double-faulted so often, Stosur said with a laugh: "I wish I had that answer. The way I serve and how reliable my second serve is, it's kind of inexcusable to hit that many in one match. There's certainly a lot of (issues) I've got to work out."
   Govortsova is reminiscent of former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, right down to jerking her head slightly before serving to get her ponytail out of the way. Both are powerful at 6 feet (1.83 meters), grunt loudly and reside in Minsk. They grew up together in the juniors and won the Wimbledon girls doubles title in 2004. 
   "I'm happy she's from Belarus and doing well, but I have my own career," Govortsova said.
   At the moment, it's looking pretty good.
At Stanford
First-round singles
   Varvara Lepchenko (6), United States, def. Michelle Larcher de Brito, Portugal, 6-2, 6-4.
   Tamira Paszek, Austria, def. Alla Kudryavtseva, Russia, 6-1, 6-7 (4), 3-0, retired.
   CoCo Vandeweghe, United States, def. Monica Niculescu, Romania, 6-0, 6-3.
   Vera Dushevina, Russia, def. Marina Erakovic, New Zealand, 6-2, 6-1.
   Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, def. Yanina Wickmayer, Belgium, 6-2, 4-6, 6-0.
   Urszula Radwanska (7), Poland, vs. Christina McHale, United States, late.
Second-round singles
   Olga Govortsova, Belarus, def. Samantha Stosur (2), Australia, 6-2, 6-4.
First-round doubles
   Jacqueline Cako and Natalie Pluskota, United States, def. Nuria Llagostera Vives, Spain, and Francesca Schiavone, Italy, walkover.
   Natalie Grandin, South Africa, and Alicja Rosolska, Poland, def. Varvara Lepchenko, United States, and Ajla Tomljanovic, Croatia, 4-6, 7-5, 1-0 (10-6).
   Asia Muhammad and Allie Will, United States, def. Nicole Gibbs and CoCo Vandeweghe, United States, 7-5, 6-3.
   Hao-Ching Chan, Taiwan, and Vera Dushevina (4), Russia, def. Gabriela Dabrowski and Sharon Fichman, Canada, 6-4, 6-0.
Wednesday's schedule
(Starting at 11 a.m.)
   Dominika Cibulkova, Slovakia, and Monica Niculescu, Romania, vs. Julia Goerges, Germany, and Darja Jurak (2), Croatia.
   Tamira Paszek, Austria, vs. Varvara Lepchenko (6), United States.
   Sorana Cirstea (5), Romania, vs. CoCo Vandeweghe, United States.
   Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears (1), United States, vs. Christina McHale, United States, and Tamira Paszek, Austria.
(Not before 7 p.m.)
   Agnieszka Radwanska (1), Poland, vs. Francesca Schiavone, Italy.
   Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, and Lisa Raymond (3), United States, vs. Mallory Burdette, United States, and Sorana Cirstea, Romania.
Court 6
(Starting at 1 p.m.)
   Olga Govortsova, Belarus, and Alla Kudryavtseva, Russia, vs. Miki Miyamura, Japan, and Olga Puchkova, Russia.
In Springfield, Mo.
   Men's singles -- Rik de Voest (Springfield) def. Sam Querrey, 5-2.
   Mixed doubles -- Jean-Julien Rojer and Vania King (Springfield) def. Mark Knowles and Taylor Townsend, 5-4.
   Men's doubles -- Rojer and de Voest (Springfield) def. Knowles and Querrey, 5-3.
   Women's singles -- Townsend (Capitals) def. Alisa Kleybanova, 5-2.
   Women's doubles -- King and Kleybanova (Springfield) def. Megan Moulton-Levy and Townsend, 5-3.   
   Team records -- Springfield 9-4, Capitals 5-8. The Lasers will host Texas in the Western Conference finals on Thursday. Sacramento, which has one regular-season match remaining, was eliminated from playoff contention on Monday.

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