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Friday, June 26, 2009

Dulko's dreams ended by Petrova

Photo Titled Gisela Dulko
Gisela Dulko

Maria Sharapova’s conqueror Gisela Dulko looked to be well on the way towards ousting another big name Russian seed before running out of steam against Nadia Petrova and falling in three sets.

Argentine Dulko, ranked 45th in the world, became a crowd favourite on Wednesday after her unexpected and stylish win over 2004 champion Sharapova. And another upset looked on the cards after she took the first set against Petrova in little over half an hour.

But her play quickly went downhill and, despite much fighting spirit, she could not keep her dreams of further progress alive and ended up on the wrong end of a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 scoreline.

But it had all looked so good early on for the buccaneering blonde from Buenos Aires. Petrova seemed visibly frustrated at conceding the first set so empathically, giving herself a good talking-to in Russian in a bid to psyche herself up for the rest of the match.

Dulko briefly continued her exceptional play in the second, including an advantage battle in the second game, which see-sawed its way through six deuces. Dulko was determined not to concede an early break and that iron will proved to be enough to keep the Russian at bay.

But after winning that epic battle, Dulko seemed to lose her bearings – and the ball’s journey from her racket to the net became a regular one. Suddenly the player that had looked like such an accomplished conqueror of big-name seeds looked a very different player.

The match statistics underline this turnaround in fortunes. In sets two and three, the Argentine only managed to win 20% of her points on return, compared to it being a 50-50 prospect in the opening set.

That meant that Petrova’s ability to regularly pull aces out of the bag - she’s top of the aces leaderboard at The Championships – were now really beginning to hurt her opponent, as opposed to earning her the odd consolation point.

After levelling the match, the experienced Russian broke her opponent in the first game of the second set and then powered down five aces in her first two service games to build a quick 3-1 lead. Although her display from there on was far from convincing, she had already done enough to take the wind out of the sails of the Argentine.

Consistency was the key in this match and it seemed that Dulko just didn't have what it took to keep it up for a full three sets. Petrova spotted her moment early in the second set, committed to a riskier game plan and used it to her advantage to pull off the win in under two hours.

Petrova will next cross rackets with Belarussian Victoria Azarenka, world no.10 and the 8th seed here.

Court 3 - Ladies' Singles - 3rd Round
Gisela Dulko ARG 634
Nadia Petrova RUS (10)Winner366

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