The 2011 Hong Kong Tennis Classic’s second day of action on the hard courts at the Victoria Park Tennis Stadium in Causeway Bay. The No.2 seeds and defending champions Team Russia took on No.3 seeds the Americas in the 2nd semi final, which kicked off at 4:30pm.
In the first match Maria Kirilenko took on Melanie Oudin in the battle of the No.2 singles players for each team. Oudin came out firing and took the 1st set 6-3. The 2nd set went down to the wire with the American getting the service break at 3-3, to go up 4-3 and extend her lead to 5-3 by holding her own service game.
Kirilenko held serve in the next game to bring the set score to 5-4 and gave have herself one more opportunity to break back when Oudin served for the match. The younger and less experienced Oudin brought up 2 match points by moving ahead 40-15. Kirilenko managed to break back to save the match, then went on to win the tie break by 7 points to 2.
The third set was over in a flash after the first 2 sets took just over 2 hours to complete. Oudin could not get over he missed chances to win in straight sets so Kirilenko closed the final set 6-0 to put Team Russia ahead 1-0.
The “Feature Match” was between both Team Captain’s and No.1 players: World No.2 Vera Zvonareva (pictured above) and America’s Venus Williams. The 26-year-old Zvonareva won 6-4 6-2 in her first match in preparation for her bid to win the 2011 Australian Open singles title after being a runner-up in the last 2 Grand Slam tournaments – Wimbledon and the US Open.
In the third match John McEnroe looked to keep Team Americas chances alive by taking the World Team Challenge to 1-2. The former World No.1 drew the biggest crowd of the evening and thoroughly entertained the crowd. After losing the 1st set 6-4 to fellow former World No.1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, McEnroe’s ferocious desire to win set forth his best quality tennis for the evening in the next 8 games.
McEnroe had break point chances in each of Kafelnikov’s first 4 service games and really looked like taking the second set, before the 1996 Roland Garros and 1999 Australian Open champion hit a high quality series of games of his own. Kafelnikov went from 4-4 to clinch the tie for Team Russia by winning the second set 7-5.
The final rubber of each tie is a mixed doubles and the Team Russia combination of Zvonareva and Kafelnikov who had already sealed their position in the Gold Group Final on Saturday, defeated Team Americas, Venus Williams and McEnroe 6-3 6-2 with the match finishing at 12:30am Friday morning.
Today the play-off for 3rd place, called the Silver Group Final being played today between Team Americas and Team Asia Pacific from 4:30pm. Melanie Oudin plays Zhang Ling, followed by the feature match between World No.11 Li Na and No.5 Venus Williams. The men’s legend singles follows that with Mark Philippoussis taking on John McEnroe before they join Li and Venus respectively, in the mixed doubles match.
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photo credit: angelicalbite