It was clear after the four straight breaks to start the match that this one wasn't going to be all that predictable. By the middle of the first set Kimiko was in the zone, hitting flat and hard with her "ping pong" shots (Elena's words, not mine) and getting to the net when she could. It was inspired stuff. By the second set Lena had made the necessary adjustments. This was the first time the two had met and it Elena some time to implement a game plan that involved getting the ball deep. Kimiko was getting quite a bit of pop on any ball that she could lean into. Kimiko raced out to a 2-0 lead before Elena reeled off four straight games and eventually took the set.
The third set would see two players go on streaks of good and bad, with Elena building a 3-0 lead and Kimiko clawing back to 2-3. From there it was a battle of grit and will, as each had chances to break. But they would trade holds until Elena served it out.
The match ended on a bit of a sour note. Elena hit a ball that looked out, no call was made, Kimiko hit it, looked at the line judge, and Elena hit a winner. Kimiko looked up and pleaded to the umpire for a challenge, but to no avail. GSM, ED. In her post-match presser with Japanese media she looked gutted. She had clearly had a good cry in the locker room. She fought like a champ until the end. Her technique let her down but her intensity and competitive fire was there. The new generation of WTAers could learn a lot of her.
As for Elena, it wasn't a bad match considering it was her first match since Roland Garros. She was strong off the baseline, the serve looked ok (not great, but ok) and her movement was good. She'll probably play Shazza in the quarterfinals if Shaz beats Govortsova tomorrow. That match will be a good test for both, though I tap Maria to come on top. She's going to feast on on Lena's serve.