Last week the WTA contested its final women’s tennis tour event, the “Kremlin Cup” (“Kubok Kremlya”) in Moscow. It was more truly spectacular humilation for Russia.
Russia’s highest-ranked female player, Dinara Safina, did not attend.
Russia’s most famous, and fifth-highest-ranked, female tennis player, Maria Sharapova, did not attend.
Russia’s second-highest ranked female player, Svetlana Kuznetsova, did not attend.
Russia’s third-highest ranked female tennis player, Elena Dementieva, did not attend.
Not even Russians, it seems, want any longer to go to Russia.
The most significant Russian player who deigned to play in her own country’s tournament was Russia’s fourth-highest ranked female tennis player, Vera Zvonareva. At world rank #7, Zvonareva was allotted the top seed in the Kremlin Cup because, right along with the three higher-ranked Russians, all three of the higher-ranked non-Russian players spurned the Russian tournament as well. Not a single one of the world’s top six female players, including three Russians, had the slightest interest in setting foot in Moscow. Ouch. Russia lost painfully and shamefully before the tournament even began.
Zvonareva likely wished she had done the same as all the other top-ten Russians. She was brutally crushed in her second match of the tournament by an unseeded Bulgarian qualifier, winning only two of 14 games played, none in the opening set. Not only was she humliated in front of her home crowed, but Zvonareva actually needed the points to be gained from going deep into the draw in order to preserve her rank and win a spot in the year-end tournament of champions. Her loss allowed Jelena Jancovic, who won her Moscow second-round match, to seize Zvonareva’s spot in the prestigious Doha finale.
Russia’s next-highest seed in Moscow, Nadia Petrova, also went down to humiliating defeat, losing in straight sets to a Ukrainian before the quarter finals, which were reached by not a single top-20 Russian player. Ouch.
Ultimately, three unseeded Russian players made it as far as the quarter finals. Two of the three were destroyed there in easy, humiliating straight sets by unseeded foreign rivals, leaving world #27 Alisa Kleybanova as the sole Russian player to get as far as the semis. Kleybanova met a Bulgarian player not ranked in the top 60 in the world in her semi-finals contest, a player who had never won a WTA tour title in seven years on the circuit. Care to guess the result? Yes, you’re right: 14 games were played between the two and the Russian managed to take just 3 of them, winning less than half her first-serve points and getting broken a shocking six times by her unknown opponent.
This was carnage of a truly epic scale, the type only Russia it seems can generate. It’s the kind of carnage that will ruin women’s tennis as a spectator sport.