Vera Zvonareva Wins 2009 BNP Paribas Open Title in Indian Wells

INDIAN WELLS, California—The conditions were brutal and the competition intense, but Vera Zvonareva managed to overcome both to win the 2009 BNP Paribas Open title in Indian Wells, California.

Zvonareva, the 2008 Beijing Olympic bronze medalist, defeated defending champion Ana Ivanovic in straight sets 7-6(5), 6-2 on Sunday for the biggest title of her career.

A stiff wind blew into the desert at Indian Wells overnight, hampering the performance of both players during today’s final. While no official measurements were available to record the wind speed at the bottom of the stadium, local weather services predicted damaging gusts of 40 mph in the Palm Desert valley.

“It was the toughest conditions I ever played in,” Ivanovic said after the match.

Both players responded to the wind in contrasting styles. Zvonareva’s response was to play cautiously, accounting for the gusts by keeping the ball in the middle of the court, and once surprised Ivanovic with a 62 mph serve.

By contrast, Ivanovic failed to adjust to the conditions and played higher percentage tennis in pursuit of outright winners. When asked about why she did not modify her game plan, Ivanovic admitted that she tried but could not succeed.

“I tried to get through the middle, but it was very hard to control the ball,” Ivanovic said. “I tried to go for some shots, but it was very hard to adjust to all the wind. So many times I just didn’t make enough steps to move forward; then the other times I was too much forward and had to move back. It was just very hard for me to adjust.”

Making the adjustment was difficult for Zvonareva, but in the end, the more cautious player took home the trophy and $700,000 dollars.

“After a couple of games I knew that the conditions are very difficult and its not going to probably change today and I have to fight for every point, I have to adjust my game,” Zvonareva said. “It’s amazing. It’s a great feeling to win such a big event.”

Zvonareva not only won the singles title this week in Indian Wells, but also the doubles title with Victoria Azarenka. Although she has to leave almost immediately for the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, she plans to celebrate her first big title.

“I will probably go to LA, and then I’ll catch a flight from there,” Zvonareva added. “So hopefully I can maybe get a nice dinner somewhere over there.”

Zvonareva is projected to pass Venus Williams for the No. 5 spot on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings on Monday. This will equal her career high first achieved in February of this year.

www.onthebaseline.com, March, 2009

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