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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 10:55 PM Thread Starter
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Shouldering Problem: article on Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova's 2007 woes boil down to a simple question: Has she merely been hindered by a yearlong right shoulder injury or have her limitations been conclusively revealed?
At the four Grand Slams this year, it's been most unsettling not so much to see Sharapova lose as much as be obliterated -- and do so in increasingly earlier rounds. In the Australian Open final she went down to Serena Williams, 6-1, 6-2. At Roland Garros, Ana Ivanovic pummeled her 6-2, 6-1 in the semis. At Wimbledon, Venus Wiliams whipped the Russian 6-1, 6-3 in the fourth round. At least those were losses to elite players. Then, launching her title defense at the U.S. Open, Sharapova played exceptionally poor tennis, losing 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 in the third round to 32nd-ranked Agnieszka Radwanksa.

In one sense, it's easy to attribute Sharapova's lackluster Slam results to the right shoulder injury that's severely handicapped her serve. Once one of the best deliveries on tour, Sharapova's serve is the catalyst for her entire game. Power and placement put her immediately in control of the vast majority of her service points -- a particularly critical step for a player whose sporadic court coverage skills make it vital for her to dictate play with exceptional haste. Moreover, when Sharapova holds serve briskly, she's mentally liberated when returning, swings more freely and threatens her opponents.

But this year, backed on her heels by repeated returns, Sharapova's been forced to scramble. Unequipped to mix up paces and spins, scarcely nimble transitioning from defense to offense, Sharapova in her Slam losses has looked exceptionally unmasked.

"Right now she doesn't have the confidence," said Robert Lansdorp, Sharapova's former coach. "I used to always know that Maria would find a way to turn things around. It's completely different now. That girl grew up with me. The game I taught her isn't there."

Through her handlers, Sharapova declined to speak for this article.



Hoping to heal her right shoulder, Sharapova pulled out of this week's event in Stuttgart, Germany. Though on her Web site she says she hopes to play more this year in the lead-up to the season-ending championships, it wouldn't be surprising to see Sharapova cease all competition and work to get herself healthy for 2008.
"Give her a break for this year," said former WTA Tour pro and Tennis Channel analyst Elise Burgin. "This is the first time she's been confronted with significant injuries. She's a smart competitor."

And yet, to witness Sharapova's father and coach, Yuri, watch one of her matches, you'd hardly imagine a long-term vision. Yuri Sharapov is a driven man who treats the ups and downs of each of his daughter's matches as if they were life and death struggles.

But given the long journey this man took from Chernoybl and Siberia to help his daughter (and family), his bunkerlike focus makes a certain kind of sense. After all, it has been only six years since the girl launched her pro career a long spell for a young athlete, but not too much time for an adult.



Over the course of an athlete's life, particularly those that reach a high level of success, perhaps there'll be a slide. But you're going to see Maria coming back with a thunder.

--Nick Bollettieri



So the schism between Sharapova's long-term ambitions and Yuri's short-term ferocity can create painful tensions. Certainly it hasn't helped in the coaching department, where Yuri's anger was the trigger point for Lansdorp's exit following her loss in the semis of the 2005 U.S. Open. Yet the prominent coach, who had worked with Sharapova from ages 11 to 18, said last week that, "Yuri calls me all the time. I told him to shorten her service motion. I know I can straighten her out in a month -- her head, her serve, her mentality. But now I'd go first, 'Hey listen lady, send me a check.' But I like Maria. I like Yuri, too."
But of late it wasn't Lansdorp who got the call. Instead it was the first notable tennis coach Yuri met when he came to America, Nick Bollettieri. It was at Bollettieri's where the pint-sized Maria lived as a 10-year-old, building her game through endless hours of ball smacking. Reached last week at his academy in Bradenton, Fla., Bollettieri noted that Sharapova was working out on the grounds with Yuri's co-coach, former Lansdorp student Michael Joyce.

Though Bollettieri has no official role in the Sharapova camp, he also knows there's no need for him to be hands-on in the manner of Lansdorp.

"I'm not the coach, no way," Bollettieri said. "But let me tell you this: Over the course of an athlete's life, particularly those that reach a high level of success, perhaps there'll be a slide. But you're going to see Maria coming back with a thunder."

As Sharapova said last month following her U.S. Open loss, "I have a whole future ahead of me. I'm not going to throw myself a pity party here. … You never know when God's going to bring down those gifts. So I'm waiting for those Christmas gifts."

Perhaps one might be a bit less drama from Yuri. His daughter has put in the time to be great. As the world knows, her grunt is grand. Now if he could only let her breathe a little bit more too.

Last edited by Martian Stacey; Oct 4th, 2007 at 01:16 AM. Reason: Removed Getty image
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 11:06 PM
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Re: Shouldering Problem: article on Maria Sharapova

Not only Sesil will be thundering.

Over the course of an athlete's life, particularly those that reach a high level of success, perhaps there'll be a slide. But you're going to see Maria coming back with a thunder.

--Nick Bollettieri

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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 11:30 PM
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Re: Shouldering Problem: article on Maria Sharapova

goldenlox, that's exactly what I was thinking. Two thunderous returns next year, can't wait
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:05 AM
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Re: Shouldering Problem: article on Maria Sharapova



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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:11 AM
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Re: Shouldering Problem: article on Maria Sharapova

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"Give her a break for this year," said former WTA Tour pro and Tennis Channel analyst Elise Burgin. "This is the first time she's been confronted with significant injuries. She's a smart competitor."
Not really. Instead of taking time off during the clay season, her worst part of the year, she now has to forfeit multiple titles defenses. Had it not been for her RG SF points, when she easily could have lost in the 4th round, she'd already be behind both Serena AND Venus, with Hantuchova very close behind.

Also of note: The reactions to Sharapova's uninsprired season and the reactions to the lackluster years of, say, the WS, is very stark. Go figure.
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2007, 01:06 AM
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Re: Shouldering Problem: article on Maria Sharapova

Thanks for the article. All athletes go through these hard times. Its the sign of a real champ if you can keep on working hard and get yourself through these hard times to come out stronger in the end.
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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2007, 01:18 AM
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Re: Shouldering Problem: article on Maria Sharapova

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Not really. Instead of taking time off during the clay season, her worst part of the year, she now has to forfeit multiple titles defenses. Had it not been for her RG SF points, when she easily could have lost in the 4th round, she'd already be behind both Serena AND Venus, with Hantuchova very close behind.

Also of note: The reactions to Sharapova's uninsprired season and the reactions to the lackluster years of, say, the WS, is very stark. Go figure.
Who's to say that just because she played two tournaments on clay that now her problems are worse? It might have been the worse idea for her to play Wimbledon or the US Open hardcourt events. It's impossible to say.

And to her almost going out in the fourth round of the French. Did you not watch Venus's first 3 matches at Wimbledon and practically ALL of Serena's matches at the Australian Open?

I know it's just KILLING you that Maria was still ahead of both Williams sisters this year until yesterday, but you could really keep your biased bullshit to yourself.
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2007, 01:20 AM
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Re: Shouldering Problem: article on Maria Sharapova

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I'm sure you'd rather read about Venus playing satellites, and there are plenty of threads for that.
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2007, 01:30 AM
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Re: Shouldering Problem: article on Maria Sharapova

Okay, so Yuri has f*cked up Maria's career, and Maria is a deer stuck in headlights when she's out of her comfort zone. That's all I got out of that article. The rest is just bullshit about God sending her gifts to make her play better tennis. You're going to have to do more than pray, Maria!
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2007, 01:36 AM
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Re: Shouldering Problem: article on Maria Sharapova

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Who's to say that just because she played two tournaments on clay that now her problems are worse? It might have been the worse idea for her to play Wimbledon or the US Open hardcourt events. It's impossible to say.
She's had the injury for close to a year now. She said she needed time to rest her shoulder, then it would be fine. She took six weeks off, then returned. The injury did not get better. This leads me to the conclusion that she didn't rest long enough. The fact that she's taking time off NOW reinforces that conclusion.

Quote:
And to her almost going out in the fourth round of the French. Did you not watch Venus's first 3 matches at Wimbledon and practically ALL of Serena's matches at the Australian Open?
Both Serena and Venus were extremely close to leaving the slams which they eventually won. A large part of it was their skill; a large part of their success was luck; a large part of their success was due to the opponent's shortcomings. I can be a fan of a player and still admit that.

And secondly: Didn't Sharapova face match point at the French? On clay, her worst surface? Versus a clay court specialist. That is, by definition, closer to defeat than either Serena or Venus came at their respective slams. So why exactly did you bring it up?

Quote:
I know it's just KILLING you that Maria was still ahead of both Williams sisters this year until yesterday, but you could really keep your biased bullshit to yourself.
I'm not a Venus fan. I've said this numerous times before, yet it seems to fall on deaf ears. I'm indifferent, just like I am for the vast majority of players. If I had to make a ranking of players who I enjoy watching play, Venus and Sharapova would both be even to me.

As for Serena? I'm glad she's nearly a lock for the YEC now, but I don't let players whom I've never met negatively affect my emotions... like you seem to do with Sharapova.
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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2007, 01:48 AM
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Re: Shouldering Problem: article on Maria Sharapova

Where was all this sympathy when Serena had knee surgery? or when Venus had an abdominal strain?? All I remember hearing then was how the sisters didn't care about tennis and lacked focus. Now it's, "give the girl a break, it's the first time she's encountered lingering injuries."

Serena: Queen of the odd in OZ.

Venus: Please follow suit and win Wimbledon again.
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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2007, 01:49 AM
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Re: Shouldering Problem: article on Maria Sharapova

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Okay, so Yuri has f*cked up Maria's career, and Maria is a deer stuck in headlights when she's out of her comfort zone. That's all I got out of that article. The rest is just bullshit about God sending her gifts to make her play better tennis. You're going to have to do more than pray, Maria!
I don't think her dad screwed up her career. She has to make her own decisions. About how to schedule and hiring a coach.

Lansdorp criticized her scheduling back in 2005, when she lost 0&0 to Lindsay.
This year, absolutely crazy to play Tokyo if she was injured coming out of Melbourne.
Crazy to play IW if she wasn't 100%
To me, those were more about pleasing sponsors than tennis.

If she's going to tear up that shoulder when it's not healthy, she won't do well.

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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2007, 01:54 AM
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Re: Shouldering Problem: article on Maria Sharapova

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Originally Posted by faboozadoo15 View Post
I'm sure you'd rather read about Venus playing satellites, and there are plenty of threads for that.
good one
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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2007, 02:00 AM
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Re: Shouldering Problem: article on Maria Sharapova

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I'm sure you'd rather read about Venus playing satellites, and there are plenty of threads for that.
Perhaps you'd rather see Serena play Maria again?

Serena: Queen of the odd in OZ.

Venus: Please follow suit and win Wimbledon again.
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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2007, 02:01 AM
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Re: Shouldering Problem: article on Maria Sharapova

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Originally Posted by Hots4Safin View Post
Perhaps you'd rather see Serena play Maria again?
You can always toss in a tape of the Wimbledon final. Or YEC final.

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