If it’s one thing that we have learned about this Philadelphia Freedoms team, it is that they fight until the very last point. The Freedoms proved that once again Tuesday night in their home opener against the San Diego Aviators defeating the west coast team, 19-18.
The two teams played earlier in the season, however, it was the Aviators who came out ahead 20-19.
This time however, Victoria Azarenka, the tenth ranked women’s player in the world, made her marquee appearance with the Freedoms against the Aviators. The Belarusian participated in women’s doubles, women’s singles, and lastly mixed doubles, with the most anticipated matchup being against the former number five in the world, Daniela Hantuchova.
Things did not start off well for the Freedoms as they lost in both men’s and women’s doubles to begin the match. Frank Dancevic and Marcelo Melo lost 5-3, and then Liezel Huber and Azarenka lost 5-1 to put the Freedoms in an early 10-4 hole.
However, in men’s singles, is where the momentum began to shift in the Freedoms’ favor. Dancevic would go up against Somdev Devvarman who the Canadian lost to 5-2 in their previous meeting in San Diego.
Dancevic got the early break of serve to go up 2-0 against Devvarman. The match-up then consisted of a rare five consecutive breaks of serve. Up 4-2, with the outcome of the set on his racquet, Dancevic hit a volley winner to win the set 5-2 and cut the Aviators lead to 12-9 going into the half.
Following the half, was the match’s main event, Victoria Azarenka against Daniela Hantachova. The two players had played 5 time prior to this meeting, with Azarenka holding the 3-2 advantage.
It took the Freedoms’ marquee player a couple of game to find her groove, but once she did with the match tied at 3-3, Azarenka pulled away, hitting an unreturnable serve to win the set 5-3.
The Freedoms found themselves trailing 14-15, but with momentum and the crowd on their side, Melo and Azarenka had the advantage headed into mixed doubles. Things would not come easy for the duo in the beginning, the team wouldnt want it any other way.
Raven Klaasen and Kveta Peschke took the early 3-1 lead, but Melo and Azarenka proved why they are two of the best players in the world as they stepped up their game.
Although Azarenka isn’t known for her doubles game, she did win Gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics in mixed doubles, and her partner Melo, has been to a major final in mixed doubles.
Azarenka and Melo started the comeback with Melo holding serve. The duo then broke the serve of Klaasen and then Azarenka stepped up to hold her own serve and put the Freedoms up 4-3.
With the Freedoms up 4-3, and the match tied at 18, Azarenka went up a quick 3-0 in the game to give them four match points. However, Klaasen and Peschke didnt quit as they won the next two to make the score 3-2.
On the matches final point, Peschke served to Melo, who hit a return at Klaasen, who couldn’t handle the powerful return. Melo dropped to his knees and the Freedoms bench stormed the court in excitement. They had completed one of the more exciting comebacks of the season.
Tomorrow night the Freedoms play the Springfield Lasers who they defeated 21-20 in the team’s first match of the season. The Freedoms will be looking to ride this momentum into tomorrow’s match and get their first back to back wins this season.
It will also be girl’s night out at the Pavilion which will feature girl’s night out party will be held prior to the start of the match and the special features will include a special menu from the official event caterer, Winnie’s LeBus, desserts from Sweet Street Desserts, and complimentary wine from Pinnacoli and Zaccagnini.