Where is Patty Schnyder? This could have been her Family Circle Cup. She could have owned it.
The crowd-pleasing little Swiss left-hander is probably back home in Switzerland or some remote area of the world, cherishing her two runner-up trophies from the Family Circle Cup.
Meanwhile, clay-court tennis definitely has arrived in this Family Circle Cup. Handicapping a final pitting Andrea Petkovic and Jana Cepelova is quite a challenge. I would hesitate to pick a winner, other than Petkovic merely for her maturity - 26 years to 20 years for Cepelova.
Saturday's semifinals produced some of the most entertaining play seen during the Family Circle Cup's 14 years on Daniel Island. The matches were that competitive, especially the last two sets of the two three-setters - Petkovic's win over Eugenie Bouchard and Cepelova's 9-7 third-set tiebreaker survival against 17-year-old qualifier Belinda Bencic.
The crowd loved it. Bouchard and Bencic were the crowd favorites. Either could have been the face of the tournament for years to come. What a missed opportunity for both of them, and the tournament.
The fans took Bencic for their own. Late in the decisive tiebreaker, someone affectionately shouted out to Bencic: "Come on young'un."
If the final can capture that type of electricity among the fans, Sunday's match could be a good one. It should be highly competitive. But such a matchup might be more apt to occur in the early rounds in Paris.
Petkovic is the more likely hard-court player of the two, while Cepelova is clay-bound.
Both players are fighters. They have to be to have survived to the Sunday final, especially Cepelova, whose second opponent was Serena Williams.
Cepelova's best weapon is her consistency, although her go-for-broke shots against Bencic appeared to have been under radar control. Her topspin simply wouldn't let the bombs go long.
Once warmed up, such as in Saturday's third set, the Slovakian doesn't just take a big forehand swing, she puts every ounce of her being into her swing. And it still comes down on the other side. Simply amazing.
But against Petkovic, she might not warm up in time.
Then again, Petkovic wasn't exactly a ball of fire early in her three-set semifinal upset of Bouchard, winning the first game and then dropping the next six games. But once the fire was ignited, Petkovic powered serves and drove her backhands and forehands deep into the court.
The question is who will show up for the start of Sunday's 1 p.m. final. Hopefully, the fans.
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.
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