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Drama at the end! Zvonareva, 39, failed to become a six-time Slam champion

Date: September 29, 2023 Time: 15:58:54

Celebrating her 39th birthday this week, on September 7, 2023, Russian tennis player Vera Zvonareva continues her incredible sporting career. For the first time in her life, the Muscovite won the Grand Slam title 19 years ago, when she won the mixed doubles at the US Open in a mixed duet with the American Bob Bryan. Since then, the Russian has reached the decisive phase of the TBS seven times in different categories and has won four more titles: three in pairs and one in mixed doubles. Thus, in total, at the age of 39, Vera managed to become a five-time Slam champion.

The last time one of the most experienced participants on the WTA circuit won a major was in 2020. All this happened at the same US Open, where 16 years earlier Zvonareva won the first TBS of her career. In 2020, together with Germany’s Laura Siegemund, the Russian won the US Open doubles for the second time in her life. Since then, the Russian tennis player has not played as a couple in the American Slam until this season.

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Three years later, Zvonareva and Siegemund teamed up again at the US Open and great success awaited them again. Five victories in a row on the New York courts allowed Vera and Laura to extend their joint American Slam winning streak to 10 matches and reach the final stage for the second time in a row (albeit after a three-year hiatus). The current rivals of the Russian-German duo are the Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski and the New Zealand representative Erin Routliffe.

These couples had never played with each other before. However, this is not surprising, as the duo of Dabrowski and Rutliffe was formed recently, just last month. They reached the second round in Montreal and Cincinnati before becoming semifinalists in Cleveland. For Zvonareva, 39, today’s match turned out to be the fifth final of her US Open career. In New York, Vera has two titles in pairs (2006, 2020), another in mixed doubles (2004), and also lost in the singles final (2010).

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It is curious that at the beginning of the current US Open, Siegemund, 35, encountered a real obstacle from the local stands. In the first round singles match, the German, who had reached the base through qualification, put up desperate resistance against the local favorite Cori Gauff, who finally won the title here the day before. But for the 19-year-old American, everything could have ended from the beginning, when she lost the first set to Laura, and then she achieved a very difficult and determined victory: 3: 6, 6: 2, 6: 4. In that match, Corey complained to the chair umpire about Siegemund’s slowness, and the home crowd, who supported her in this, made the German cry with her violent reaction.

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“I am very disappointed in the way people treated me today. I’m a fighter. She never did anything against the public, she remained calm, she did not even make a gesture against the public. They didn’t respect me, they didn’t respect my way of playing, they didn’t respect the player that I am. There is no doubt that I am slow. There is no doubt that I need to be faster. But I play like that, I play alone and not against an opponent,” Siegemund said immediately after the match.

As a result, that match proved to be perhaps the toughest test for Gauff en route to the tournament’s decider against Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka. But the vicissitudes of fate for Laura did not end there. She in New York she also played mixed doubles, where she also did not have much luck in the tie. The Filderstadt native, in a duet with the Belgian Sander Gille, fell to the first seeds of the Americans, Jessica Pegula and Austin Krajicek. The match was a fierce fight and was left in the hands of the hosts of the local courts, who subsequently reached the final of the US Open 2023. Thus, in this tournament, Siegemund managed to be eliminated in two categories at once in the first round after of losses in matches with the future winner and finalist of the competition.

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The compensation for the failures described above was that Laura herself reached the final in doubles. The start of the match was an even fight, with each of the duos winning games quite confidently on her serves. The first real opportunity to break came for the Russian-German duo in the fifth game, at the beginning of which Dabrowski, who was at the net, made several serious unforced errors. Zvonareva and Siegemund first got a double break point and then two singles, but Gabriela and Erin survived and did not lose their serve.

Vera and Laura missed another break point opportunity in the ninth game, when Rutliffe’s serve was again on the brink, but the Canadian and New Zealander again found the strength to escape the break point. Without losing a single game in the set with their serves, the girls reached the tiebreaker, the plot of which turned out to be very strange and intricate.

The beginning of the decisive game was extremely unfortunate for Zvonareva. At the start, Vera lost both of his serves, committing a double fault on the second of them. Dabrowski and Rutliff won four draws in a row and took the most comfortable lead: 4-0. A running over technique executed by the Russian began the comeback of Zvonareva and Siegemund. Now Vera and Laura won four games in a row, allowing them to restore the balance 4:4.

Then Gabriela and Erin made another advance and took the lead 6:4. On the first of the set points, Rutliff was able, as they say, to finish everything off, but Erin missed an elementary final blow and, a few moments later, Vera executed a perfect twisted sail and the score was tied again: 6:6. The Canadian and the New Zealander then lost the third set point, but Siegemund also thwarted the rally on the first set point for the Russian-German duo: 8:8.

The exchange of jokes continued in the following plays: Rutliff made a double and Zvonareva made a serious volley error when hitting from half court (9:9). The outcome of the set came a few minutes later: the New Zealander made a move, after which the German made a mistake when executing a smash, and the set, which lasted 76 minutes, went to the treasure of the 16th seed. Dabrowski and Rutliffe.

Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliff

Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

After a dramatic set loss, Zvonareva and Siegemund began the second set unsuccessfully, immediately losing a game on the Russian’s serve. An additional headache for Vera and Laura was their crazy waste in breaking balls. After five failed break points in the first set, the Russian and the German continued to squander their chances at the start of the second set. Three chances for Zvonareva and Siegemund were not enough to achieve the counterattack, so Dabrowski and Rutliff took a 2:0 lead. The situation in the final developed increasingly unpleasantly for the winners of the US Open 2020. The game of the Russian-German duo went completely wrong, thanks to which the Canadian and the New Zealander achieved another 3-0 break. At that moment, Laura called the doctor to the court. The German woman had back problems and needed medical attention.

Vera Zvonareva and Laura Siegemund

Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The medical leave definitely benefited the German. Finding themselves three games from defeat, Zvonareva and Siegemund managed to convert from break point for the first time in the final. On the ninth (!) attempt. And the party took on new colors. Vera and Laura reduced the difference to one break and continued to fight a tenacious battle for the title. In addition, in the seventh game, with the score 4:2 in their favor, Dabrowski and Rutliff were able to finish off their rival with another break. Siegemund served for 15 minutes, received two warnings for taking too long and, together with Zvonareva, “exactly” beat seven and one break point, but still withstood the most difficult game – 4:3.

However, neither the Russian nor the German managed to turn the game around. Gabriela and Erin led the match to victory, winning it 7:6, 6:3. For Dabrowski, 31, this title became the third in Grand Slam tournaments (the first in doubles, previously there were two in mixed doubles), while Rutliff, 28, won a victory of this status for the first time in their life. Zvonareva and Siegemund could not repeat the success of three years ago and this time they were one step away from the title.

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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