Tennis anyone

Today I went to the Tennis Center at Hod Hasharon to see Shachar Pe’er play Maria Sharapova in the women’s Federation Cup competition of Israel vs. Russia.
Yesterday I watched on TV as Pe’er (#16 in the world) beat Dina Safina (9) two sets to one. In the first set it was as if Pe’er wasn’t there, she played abysmally and lost the set 6-0. Everyone thought it was almost over. But, then gradually Pe’er started playing and raised her game and broke Safina’s serve in the third game of the second set, and from then on Pe’er dominated and Safina made many unforced errors and Pe’er won the second and third sets 6-2 each. It was a great win for Israel and the crowd went wild!
In the next match Sharapova (5) steam-rolled Tzippy Obziler (83) 6-0, 6-4. Only at the very end did Obziler who is 34 years old (!) get a chance to play some good shots as Sharapova eased up slightly. Clearly it was a mistmatch, although both matches provided the crowd with exciting tennis, and the crowd at the Tennis Stadium in Israel is well known to be noisy and very involved in the match.
Well, today I must say that it was an exceptional experience actually being there in perfect weather, in the 70’s with a cool breeze. We had great seats in the Tennis Center and it was amazing particularly to see Sharapova. She is a tall, slender, beautiful woman, who makes a strong impression and when she’s playing, the power that goes into her strokes is quite exceptional. Pe’er played very well, and returned serves and strokes also with a lot of strength. But, she was unable to keep up with Sharapova who won 6-1 6-1. This was a great experience, the atmosphere being quite electric, with the crowd being very animated and the drums banging out their tattoo between rounds. They certainly wouldn’t allow this kind of noise and performance in Wimbledon.
In the second game today, Obziler played Anna Chakvetadze (9) who is a young woman who only recently showed her ability. Her name is Georgian but she plays for Russia, and she replaced Safina, who probably was not feeling too good after being defeated by Pe’er yesterday. The two players were more closely matched than the first match, but after a strong start by Obziler, Chakvetzade’s ability and youth took over and although she was upset by the noise she won 6-4 6-2. So overall, the Russians won this Federation Cup quarter finals by 4 games to 1 (they also won the doubles that we didn’t see). Since Russia is the Federation Cup holder from 2007, this result was not unexpected, but it was great to see Israel’s players out there competing and doing very well indeed.


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