By Tumaini Carayol
(June 14, 2013) BIRMINGHAM – As they marched to the courts, neither walked with a creaking limp due to grinding hip pain accentuated by the cold that set on the afternoon. Nor were there any wisps of grey that flitted through their hair, giving up the ghost.
But there’s no denying it – they were old.
Well, old in a tennis sense. And a comparative one too. Surrounding Daniela Hantuchova and Francesca Schiavone’s improbably-paired names in the quarterfinal lineup was a variety of. The next-oldest remaining player, born in 1988. The youngest, a 1996 baby in Donna Vekic, was 4 years old as they contested their first meeting in the lowly qualifying draw on the now-demolished soil of the 2001 Berlin.
But 3 hours 22 minutes later, they completed a 6-7(8), 6-4, 7-6(3) stormer of a three-setter, won by Hantuchova. At times it was patchy. but the quality steadily rose until a dramatic climax as both women demonstrated such entertaining variety and fight. t was Donna Vekic who later said it about her own success, but what rang true is that age really is nothing but a number.
Meanwhile, Madison Keys was mercilessly bounced out by former champion Magdalena Rybarikova but was impressively upbeat afterwards.
“I wish I could have done better today but you know I’m just going to take what I learned from today, move on and I’m going to Eastbourne tonight and I have a match tomorrow,” she said.
“I did pretty well (this week). But just the bigger first serves, and my forehand, I can control the point a lot better. Rallies are shorter. And, you know, I’m actually coming forward more than I normally would. So, you know, I really like grass and hopefully I can keep it up next week.
“Honestly – I’m very happy with what’s happened so far this year, but then at the same time, I wish it was more, too. So, um, I mean as happy as I am with my results, you know, still working really hard and trying to get better and better and want more and more. So as happy as I am with how I’ve been doing, I’d love if the second half of the season was even better..”
Finally, Donna Vekic continued her storming of Birmingham, reaching her second tour semi-final with the loss of only three games. The Croat is quite difficult to figure out off the courts, but on them, the results speak for themselves.
June 10-16, 2013
Results - Friday, June 14, 2013
Singles – Quarterfinals
Donna Vekic (CRO) d. (3) Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 62 61
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) d. (15) Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 67(8) 64 76(3)
(16) Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) d. Madison Keys (USA) 63 60
Suspended due to darkness
(5) Sabine Lisicki (GER) is tied with (Q) Alison Riske (USA) 67(2) 62 22
Doubles – Quarterfinals
Barthel/Mladenovic (GER/FRA) d. (1) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) 26 75 106 (Match TB)
(3) Barty/Dellacqua (AUS/AUS) d. Kudryavtseva/Rodionova (RUS/AUS) 76(0) 46 105 (Match TB)
Order Of Play – Saturday, June 15, 2013
Ann Jones Centre Court (from 12.00hrs)
1. Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Donna Vekic
2. [Sabine Lisicki or Alison Riske] vs. Daniela Hantuchova
3. Barthel/Mladenovic vs. Barty/Dellacqua
4. [Date-Krumm/Parra Santonja or Hantuchova/Hsieh] vs. Black/Erakovic
Court 1 (from 11.30hrs)
1. Sabine Lisicki vs. Alison Riske (tbc)
2. Date-Krumm/Parra Santonja vs. Hantuchova/Hsieh