Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon dossier: day two
The world's most famous tennis coach looks ahead to a battle between two of the game's new talents
24 June 2003
MATCH OF THE DAY: MARIA SHARAPOVA v ASHLEY HARKLEROAD
Women's singles, first round
HOW THEY MATCH UP
Russian Nationality American
16 Age 18
Siberia Place of birth Roseville
Florida Residence Florida
2002 Turned pro 2000
Right-handed Plays Right-handed
5ft 9in Height 5ft 5in
50kg Weight 54kg
91 World ranking 39
Unseeded Wimbledon seeding Unseeded
0 Career titles 0
£15,000 Career prize-money £64,000
Debut Wimbledon record Debut
N/A Wimbledon best N/A
One previous meeting, last year, hard court in Pittsburgh. Sharapova won in three sets.
Why watch it:
This is two young stars making their mark. It's the Russian beauty versus the American beauty. It's two good-looking chicks in fancy outfits vying for attention, contesting a sponsor's dream. It's high vision, it's hot and heavy, it's spice. Watch the crowd - 90 per cent guys. And we could be looking at two big players for the future.
How they play:
Harkleroad is a good athlete, extremely fit, and that's her greatest asset. She moves well and covers ground but she's got no single weapon that can knock out an opponent. Maria likes to dominate the court from the back with her groundstrokes. They're flat and penetrating and have very little spin. Maria is a hard-nosed server but her second serve is less intimidating.
Where the match will be won:
It'll come down to nerves. It's a big occasion and whoever gets things under control the quickest will have an advantage. Maria is pretty darn good at controlling her nerves but can she do it here? Whoever gets the better start, maybe capitalising on some early errors, is going to have the advantage. One thing is certain, Maria will fight 100 per cent to the very last point.
What's the deal with Sharapova's grunting:
It's what she's always done. I coached her for years and it's not an issue. Monica Seles did it, lots of players do it. Gustavo Kuerten does it 30 seconds after hitting the ball! Some people think it's an affectation. I think it's a reflex relaxation in the body. Sure, it can be loud but the players don't notice it when they're out there.
It can genuinely go either way. But if it's down to nerve, which is probable, Maria shades it.
Sharapova 8-11, Harkleroad 6-5
Good luck, Maria!