July 11, 2010

Ladies, to Your Corners

Patty Schynder and Agnes Szavay began the week on the same side of the court, paired in doubles at the GDF SUEZ Grand Prix in Budapest. But I'm not sure either thought they'd end the week on opposite sides of the net. It's been a rough couple months for both ladies on the singles Tour, and since they last met in the finals here in 2009, neither has advanced deep into their brackets.

Szavay had beaten Venus Williams in the third round of the French Open last year, but hadn't progressed past a quarterfinal in 2010. She lost in the first round of three tournaments, including Wimbledon and saw her ranking drop to #49 -- she'd been thirteenth in the world only two years ago. Veteran Schnyder has fallen even farther. Once in the top ten she's now in the low fifties and hasn't made it past the second round of a Major in two years.

But when they returned to Budapest, they once again looked like their old selves. The championship round last year was the only full match they'd ever contested -- Szavay had to retire while trailing in the first set in Madrid this past May -- and the Hungarian had rallied from a set down to beat Schnyder for her third career title. But this year after dismissing top seeded Alisa Kleybanova in the second round, Patty looked good to get revenge on her vanquisher's home turf. She dropped a couple sets -- one to up-and-comer Polona Hercog and qualifier Zuzana Ondraskova -- but was playing solid tennis. Szavay had also been doing well on her side of the draw though, staying perfect until she dropped the second set to Alexandra Dulgheru in the semis, but holding strong to take the match in three and earning the right to defend her title.

Agnes might have learned a thing or two during her court time with Patty -- she didn't need time to get her bearings this go-around and rolled through the first set, 6-2. Schnyder picked up her game in the second set, trading breaks with the seventh seed early. But ultimately she just couldn't make much impact on Szavay's serve, winning less than a third of the points on return. After less than ninety minutes the hometown girl was able to clinch her second straight title in Budapest and add one more trophy to the mantle.

But it was a good showing from the ladies, both of whom had lost a bit of their punch recently. And if they can keep up the momentum, it could make for an interesting summer!

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