when you lie & cheat it will come back to bite you
Coaching contributes to Sharapova, Kuznetsova wins
Slipping Nadal loses to Berdych
By Chris Bowers and Ron Cioffi, ********************
Maria Sharapova called on hitting partner Michael Joyce to get her out of a "desperate" situation.
FROM THE ZURICH OPEN – Maria Sharapova is through to the semifinals of the Zurich Open, the last Tier 1 event of the year on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, but found herself having to deny that she had fallen victim to a bout of desperation.
The accusation was largely of her own making. The Zurich Open is witnessing the latest in an experiment begun in Montreal in August whereby players can consult their coach – or a person they have designated as their coach – at the end of each set. Sharapova has been a vehement opponent of the scheme, and said on Tuesday that she’d “have to be desperate” to call for her coach mid-match as that would signal to her opponent that she was in trouble.
It therefore raised a few eyebrows when, after a tough first set against the rising Israeli Shahar Peer on Thursday night, Sharapova summoned her hitting partner Michael Joyce onto her bench for a consultation. When asked about this later, she said she just wanted to refresh herself about aspects of her game plan agreed with Joyce in advance.
“But you did call for him?” the questioner repeated.
“Yeah, I did,” replied Sharapova neutrally.
“But you said you‚d only call for your coach in the middle of a match if you were desperate,” asked another questioner. “So were you desperate?”
“Ah, that’s a good point, you’ve caught me on that one,” admitted Sharapova, and giggled nervously. After a further consultation with Joyce in her 6-4, 6-3 quarterfinal win Friday against the 17-year-old Swiss Timea Bascinszky, she explained, “If the rule gives me a choice, I may as well use it, but if they ask me if I like it, I’d say 'Bag it.' I don't support it. I haven’t from the beginning. It’s like electronic line calling – if it’s there, you may as well use it even if you don’t like it, it would be stupid not to. But personally I don’t like it.”
One of the points Sharapova was keen to make was that a coach is hardly going to tell her anything earth-shattering, but in the closest of Zurich’s quarterfinals, Svetlana Kuznetsova admitted that something her coach Stefan Ortega had told her after the second set of her match against Martina Hingis had in fact made her play somewhat differently than she would have done without his input.
Kuznetsova had overpowered Hingis in the first set, at which point Hingis summoned her old friend Radim Valigura. ”I was feeling a little lonely out there,” Hingis admitted, and the impression the two gave was that they were having a good social chat rather than a consultation about tactics. But something worked, Hingis came out much more strongly in the second set, and promptly won it 6-1.
At the end of the second, Kuznetsova summoned her coach Stefan Ortega. “He told me to go back to what I was doing in the first set,” she said. “I’d stopped doing it in the second, but he told me to just vary my game. I think if I hadn‚t talked to him I would have hit the ball harder and gone for winners more quickly.” The outcome was a reversal of Kuznetsova’s dwindling fortunes, and she ran out a 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 winner to end Swiss interest in the Zurich Open.
The win sets up Kuznetsova for a semifinal against Daniela Hantuchova. “She’s coached by a former coach of mine,” said Kuznetsova with a cheeky grin, indicating that Hantuchova may have inside information about her opponent. But Kuznetsova's information may be slightly out of date, as Hantuchova is no longer with Kuznetsova’s former mentor Angel Gimenez; her mother is listed as her coach this week.
Sharapova's opponent in Saturday’s all-eastern European semifinals is Katarina Srebotnik, the Slovene who is coached by a Serb, Biljana Veselinovic.
The invincible Rafael Nadal has shown some cracks in his armor lately.
Slipping Nadal falls to Berdych
Some say that Rafael Nadal has Roger Federer in his hip pocket. But, Czech Tomas Berdych seems to have the Spaniard all tied up.
Mutua Madrilena Masters Madrid defending champion Nadal lost to Berdych for the third time in four meetings. The score in Madrid quarterfinal was 6-3, 7-6(6).
Nadal won five titles including Roland Garros this year, but has reached only one semifinal (losing to Federer at Wimbledon) since the clay court season. The seemingly invincible Rafa’s hard court record this year is a respectable but far from extraordinary 23-7. He has also lost to Joachim Johansson, Mikhail Youzhny and Juan Carlos Ferrero in his last three tournaments.
Berdych is going in the opposite but more desirous direction, taking 12 of his last 15 matches.
"When he's playing his best tennis he is running and everywhere and can hit some incredible shots - but I can't remember him playing any other style of game,'' Berdych said. "This is the kind of game I like, that he's running behind the baseline and hitting balls just over the net so I could go in and volley or stay back and play from the baseline.''
The Czech will face Fernando Gonzalez who eliminated No. 15 seed Novak Djokovic 7-5, 5-7, 7-5.
The Swiss will face David Nalbandian is having his best tournament since Roland Garros, taking down the hot Marat Safin in three tight sets. Safin committed a whopping 74 unforced errors. He made four of those in the decisive third-set tiebreak.
Nalbandian will face Federer who needed another tiebreak win to take down Robby Ginepri 6-3, 7-6(4). The Swiss barely edged Robin Soderling 7-6(5), 7-6( in the round of 16.
Federer and Nalbandian are 6-6 in their matches, but the Argentine has only beaten Federer once since 2003.