WTA: The 2012 Korea Open

I rarely cover the WTA here, although I keep up with the news and occasionally watch matches.  The Korea Open KDB took place this week in Seoul, and I got to see a few matches on Tuesday and both SF matches on Saturday.  This is a long post, but I included plenty of photos I took.  I hope you enjoy!

The WTA Korea Open KDB is hosted at the 1988 Seoul Olympics venue.  They have the old draw sheet posted outside center court:

The apartment complex in the background was the “Village” where the Olympic athletes stayed, during Korea’s proud hosting of the ’88 Olympics.  A quick glimpse at the men’s draw sheet reveals many familiar names: Cahill, Gilbert, Forget, Leconte, Jaite (ARG’s DC captain), Sanchez-Vicario (Spain’s former DC captain), Ivanisevic … and Andrew Castle.  The women’s draw had Graf, Sabatini, Novotna and Pam Shriver.

In the future, fans will look at the 2012 London Olympics draw sheet and delight in the tennis that took place.  It’s strange to think that 20 years from now, many of today’s familiar faces will become commentators and eccentric figureheads for tennis.  Picture this: What if Tipsarevic became a commentator?  He’d be the guy who talks endlessly, and everybody has to politely tolerate his ramblings about Nietzsche and the stories behind his tattoos.  Can you imagine Federer and Tipsarevic in the same commentary booth?  Awkward comedy gold.  DelPo would be the silent commentator: every 30 minutes, he’ll give a loud sigh and mumble something, just to remind viewers that he’s actually present.  It is my personal hope that DelPo does tennis commentary 20 years from now, and he becomes that person who occasionally rambles about his past victories, including that Olympic medal, among other things.  It would be epic. 🙂

I honestly had no clue about the ’88 Olympic gold medalist Miloslav Mecir.  Mecir defeated Stefan Edberg in the SF, then beat American Tim Mayotte to win the gold medal for then-Czechoslovakia.  This draw sheet was a nice history lesson for me.

Back to the Korea Open!  Caroline Wozniacki ended up defeating Kaia Kanepi in the final, 6-0 6-1.  I didn’t attend the final, but I did get to see both players on Tuesday and Saturday, when I stopped by for a few hours of R1 matches and both SFs:

I saw the last points of Kanepi’s 6-1 6-0 win over Korea’s Sung-hee Han on Tuesday.  Next up was the match between Caroline Wozniacki and Arantxa Rus, which looked promising:

Ever since Rus defeated Kim Clijsters at Roland Garros last year, I’ve been interested to see her game.  She looked like she was having a severe “off-day” though.  During the warm-up, Rus was missing volleys and she hit overhead smashes into the net.  The match hadn’t even started and she looked like she had a mountain to climb.

Woz won easily and advanced to the next round.  Her backhands were pretty impressive to watch and watching her live made me appreciate her defensive abilities.  It’s not my favorite style of tennis to watch, but she was playing well:

Given that it was a weekday, the stands were pretty empty.  Woz’s father is in the lower left corner of the photo above.  He ran down for coaching breaks and then he’d occasionally shout encouragement to Woz.  By the end of the match, I’m sure that whole section of the crowd knew he was Woz’s father.

During the changeover, I switched seats to get closer to the court.  Russian player Ekaterina Makarova came out with her coach to watch Caro’s match, and she sat down two seats next to me.  I wished I could have taken a photo of her there.  Makarova and her coach spoke in Russian throughout the match.  I wish I understood Russian, because it’d have been great to overhear how the pros talk strategy with their coaches.

I walked out of the Woz-Rus match before it ended, to see French youngster Caroline Garcia play Romania’s Alexandra Cadantu.  Garcia came through qualifying to reach the main draw, and I’ve been interested in her results too, ever since she played that thriller of a match against Sharapova at Roland Garros last year:

Wozniacki’s parents showed up (they’re in the upper left corner of the photo) to scout the players, as the winner of this match would face Woz in R2.  This match took place on a smaller outside court, and the stands were filled with spectators, young and old.  Old men smoked cigarettes and drank beer as they watched (I personally don’t understand how this is allowed at a public event).  Ball kids who were off-duty watched the match from the sidelines — they were fans of Garcia’s game.  The set-up offered very close access to the courts, which I appreciated.

To my eyes, Garcia looks equally as thin as Arantxa Rus.  Yet she carries herself much more fluidly and she can hit with deceptive power, whereas Rus looked like she should eat more.  Perhaps it’s because Rus is much taller than Garcia?  Garcia has an elegantly powerful game, and she hit this drive volley during the match that was just delightful.

She also returns second serves from a meter inside the baseline:

I want to make a poster of this and mail it to Richard Gasquet, with a note: “This is how you should return serves! xoxo”

Garcia’s ball toss suffers under pressure though, and I think more experience will help her build up mental strength.  She did get easily frustrated during the match, although she closed it out in straight sets.

Garcia’s opponent Cadantu, a 22-year old from Romania, trudged off the court after losing.  I watched to see where she was heading: Cadantu sat down on the path right outside the court and she sat crying like this for a good thirty minutes.  It was sad to see her so upset — I don’t think she traveled to Seoul with a coach, so she was all alone:

I couldn’t stay for long on Tuesday, but I made plans to attend both SFs on Saturday.  The Seoul semifinalists were Wozniacki-Makarova and Kanepi-Lapchenko.

For me personally, Makarova was the real revelation of the Korea Open.  I’d never seen her play before, but I liked her game.  She’s a lefty who plays attacking tennis, with slightly loopy but line-hitting forehands.  What’s more, she hit an incredible number of volleys in this match — although the crowd were more familiar with Wozniacki, they gradually began to shift allegiance to Makarova:

Woz was too steady for Makarova though, and she was also playing well herself.  Woz ended up defeating Makarova in three close sets.  Here she is being interviewed by Korean television after the match:

I watched the second SF between Kaia Kanepi and Varvara Lapchenko.  Kanepi was not playing very well, but she was still a touch above Lapchenko.  She won the SF in three sets to reach the final, but she ended up losing badly to Woz.  Still, it was a great run for Kanepi this past week:

And that concludes my lengthy post on the Korea Open this year!  I definitely enjoyed the matches I got to see.  Watching live tennis is always a nice emphatic reminder of just how awesome tennis is as a sport.

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About mariposaxprs

I play favorites with Juan Martin Del Potro, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez, Gilles Simon and the long line of mercurial talent that drives me to despair in front of the screen at odd hours during the week.
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8 Responses to WTA: The 2012 Korea Open

  1. Candy says:

    The header! :’) Thanks this header for reminding me of those good “old” (*sigh*) days!

    Haha! Delpo to be a commentator? He would only say 1-2 sentences only when the hosts/ other commentators asked him questions/ needed his responds. Commentator A: “(Player ABC) played brilliantly today! Bla… Bla… Bla… (*then look at Delpo*)” Delpo: ”Yea yea, he played very well today. ” 😛 I hope we’ll still be joking around here 20 years from now. 🙂

    Sad for Cadantu & other low-ranked players who don’t have enough support, resources, money, etc. They travel & play alone, & have to manage everything by themselves. It’s really so tough. I know there’s something called “talent”, but without enough “resources”, I think only one in a million can become a successful tennis player. Not everyone is from a wealthy family or gets enough support from their government/ relevant organization. 😦

    • Iram says:

      I agree with u too Candy. People with wealthier backgrounds do have a better chance to use the state of the art facilities or hire the best coaches. But let’s also look at the flip side. You can be broke but still have so much passion and desire to succeed. Look at Nole whose family struggled during the war-torn times. Or perhaps look at this year’s Gabby Douglas from Olympics. Her family was struggling and barely making ends meet and now look at her…she has so many deals with huge companies.

      • mariposaxprs says:

        That’s very true, Iram! There are plyrs who’ve succeeded remarkably, in spite of their humble backgrounds. Novak is definitely an example of a plyr who overcame many obstacles in life. Serena & Venus Williams too.

        I guess with plyrs who are “one level below” in talent, it’s a different story. On one hand, it’s entirely their responsibility to succeed. On the other hand, many plyrs also come from countries who don’t have strong tennis federations or corporate support. To me, Kei Nishikori is an example of a plyr who’s succeeded in part b/c he had a ton of sponsorship and because he also had access to the top coaches/tennis academies. He would probably have been a great player regardless of whether or not he had so much sponsorship, but the extra support he’s received has probably helped him along the way too? I certainly agree with you though that it takes passion and desire, above all else (including talent), to succeed. It’s possible for less talented plyrs to succeed, if they have the passion & desire.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      There are so many beautiful photos of DelPo at the Olympics! What a happy memory — it’s a reminder that there are good things to come in the future as well 🙂

      You are spot-on with the DelPo-as-a-commentator re-enactment. 20 years from now, DelPo should commentate a match with Federer. Fed will be speaking at a fast pace and he’ll be trying to get a response from DelPo. But DelPo will only say, “Yea yea, he played very well today.” Ahh, that would be quite funny! I look forward to it too 😀

      I def see what you mean about Cadantu. I think she reached a career-high ranking of no. 78 so far, which means she’s likely not going to be a “superstar player.” From watching tennis over the yrs, it’s toughest for those players who are ranked below no. 50. They don’t have enough resources/money, and once they reach their 21st birthday, they’re no longer considered a “young prospect,” which means sponsorship dries up. The toughest part for tennis plyrs is that they have to prove themselves so early on in life. What pressure they deal with!

  2. Iram says:

    first of all is your name Joanna? I’m only asking because the other commenter is referring you in that name.

    secondly, I’m glad u got to go see some tennis- it’s always a fun break from the normal routine. Out of curiosity would u have tried to comfort Cadantu?

    P.S. I like the new header. I hope for your sake one day you can put the Argentinian DC lifting up the trophy and you’ll be able put that as your header. I know that would be sweet.

    have a good week

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Hi Iram!

      Yes, my name is Joanna. I go by @janie5jones on Twitter, but I based my Twitter name on an old Clash song!

      I definitely wanted to head over to comfort Cadantu — even though she lost in straight sets, she gave a strong challenge. At the same time, she was so upset and I didn’t know what I could say to her! I didn’t know who she was before that match, so I wasn’t even sure she spoke English. I was watching another player do training on a nearby court, so I kept glancing over at Cadantu — I kept thinking it’d be so much better if she had a coach with her, someone who knew her & could comfort her 😦

      Thank you for the compliment about the header! It was DelPo’s birthday over the weekend, so I thought a new update for the blog would be appropriate! 😀 And YES, I would def love to put up a header of Argentina winning the DC trophy next year! That is the goal.

  3. This is great, Joanna! Thanks for the personal perspective. Poor Cadantu, that’s all the information I need about her to cheer for her next time– I hardly know her game, but her tears have tugged at my heart-strings.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Thanks, Arienna!! it was great to see live tennis and new players I hadn’t been following before! Was definitely an experience 🙂

      Seeing Cadantu cry like that after losing really did show how lonely life as a tennis plyr in the lower ranks can be. There’s an old interview that Steffi Graf did for Vogue, where she said that the tennis player’s life is not glamorous at all, and that it’s really not an environment that allows long-time friendship/relationships. If Graf felt that way, it surely must be tough for the others as well, esp the ones who can’t afford to have a full-time coach traveling with them. To see her cry like that, in plain sight of everyone, tugged at my heart. I’ll def be keeping an eye out for her name in qualifying draws in the future (she lost in R1 qualies to V. Razzano in Tokyo this week. Uff.)

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