Andrew's full fourth-round TV-report for Sharapova v Petković
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
After an extremely busy 2011, I have finally got round to writing up my full TV-reports of Australian Open 2011 matches involving members of my Eternal Fanship that were televised by the BBC.
Sadly, after daily coverage of the evening-sessions of the Australian Open 2006–2011, the BBC plans to televise only the finals and one men's semi-final of the Australian Open 2012.
Fourth-round TV-report: Sharapova v Petković (Sunday 23rd January 2011)
- MARIA SHARAPOVA [14,EF] lt. ANDREA PETKOVIĆ , 2-6 3-6
Maria struggled with her serve, taking so much time between points to concentrate on it. She also struggled with her backhand, which is normally so reliable.
Petković was very strong with her big serves, powerful groundstrokes in general and returns in particular, and great depth, but we didn't see the real Maria except for a brief fightback from 0:1 1-5* to 3-5*, when she played two brilliant games, but then threw in some unforced errors just when it looked like she was turning the match around against one of the game's renowned chokers.
With Maria at 0:0 *2-3, Petković hit a return-winner – the very thing that Maria double-faults so much to avoid – and broke for *4-2. Maria played intensely to get 30/15*, but Petković was too strong: 5-2*. A couple of deep returns put Maria 15/30 down, but she recovered with a fine one-two punch winner: 30/30. Two more deep, error-forcing returns later, Maria was a set down.
Things went from bad to worse at the start of the second set, as Petković neutered the best shots that Maria could come up with, and Maria was giving away plenty of cheap points as she lost the first three games. Maria won an amazing rally, running down a dropshot to push a forehand winner down the line, to recover from *0-3 (15/30); she followed up with an ace, and Petković mishit a forehand wide and very long: *3-1.
Two brilliant forehand winners from Maria couldn't stop Petković holding for 1:0 4-1*. Maria was broken to 15 with four errors, then launched the aforementioned fightback, saving one match-point at 1-5* (30/40*) with a deep off-forehand virtual return-winner, followed immediately by a scorching down-the-line forehand return-winner: *2-5. Maria held to 15 with the help of three more winners. She saved another match-point at 3-5* 30/40* with a down-the-line forehand return-winner, but two cheap errors sealed a very disappointing loss.
SHARAPOV _*_*____ 2
PETKOVIĆ *_*_*@*@ 6
The match was fourth on the Rod Laver Arena, and started at 19:12 AEDT.
Petković serving 0-0: Petković went for an ace down the middle, but it was just wide. Second serve... Maria hit a backhand just inside the baseline, forcing Petković to net an early backhand. 0/15. Second-serve let... Petković pounced on a weak ball from Maria to hit a crosscourt forehand winner. 15/15. Short second serve: Maria hit a down-the-line forehand return into the tramlines. 30/15. Petković's deep off-forehand induced Maria to bunt a backhand very long. Louise Pleming said that Petković was setting "a very high tempo". 40/15 (GP #1). Maria went to the net, inducing Petković to hit a crosscourt forehand pass wide. 40/30 (GP #2). Ace #1: first serve out wide. Held.
The BBC commentators (Louise Pleming and Alastair Eykyn) described Petković as a strong player, but criticised her movement; they said that she was "mechanical" rather than "loose and nimble".
Sharapova serving 0-1: Second serve... Petković hit an impressive crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. 0/15. Double fault #1 (second serve into the net). 0/30. Maria played a good spreading rally, pulling Petković wide with a pinpoint forehand down the line, then hitting a short-angled crosscourt forehand winner. 15/30. Deep, body-jamming first serve induced Petković to hit a forehand return long. 30/30. Second serve clipped the netcord and landed just inside the service-line for a let. Two second-serve lets in a row. Maria on the third stroke dumped a backhand into the net. 30/40 (BP #1). Deep, body-jamming second serve induced Petković to hit a forehand return long. Deuce #1. Petković went to the net, but her volleys were weak; Maria's crosscourt forehand forced her to retreat, handing Maria the initiative; Maria hit a crosscourt backhand just inside the sideline, forcing Petković to hoist a defensive lob, which Maria dispatched with a high crosscourt forehand drive-volley winner just inside the sideline. Ad Sharapova (GP #1). Deep first serve down the middle induced Petković to hit a forehand return long. Maria said "c'mon". Held.
Alastair Eykyn observed that Maria was taking "an age" between points in her service-game, which he took as lack of confidence in her serve.
Petković serving 1-1: Petković kept excellent depth on her groundstrokes, a crosscourt forehand just inside the baseline forcing Maria to bunt an off-forehand lob wide. 15/0. Kicking first serve out wide induced Maria to dump a backhand return into the net. 30/0. Second serve... a netcord from Petković induced Maria to hit an off-forehand just wide. 40/0 (GP #1). Maria's depth induced Petković to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. 40/15 (GP #2). Maria hit a deep backhand return down the middle to force a floater, which she dispatched with an easy off-backhand winner. 40/30 (GP #3). Second serve out wide: Maria wasted a fine crosscourt backhand return onto the sideline by dumping an easy crosscourt forehand into the net. Held.
Louise Pleming praised the depth of Maria's returns of serve, saying that they often land just inside the baseline at the feet of her opponent.
Sharapova serving 1-2: Second serve: Petković dumped a cheap backhand return into the net. 15/0. Second serve... Petković hit a forehand long off a hard but not particularly deep backhand from Maria. 30/0. Deep first serve out wide forced Petković to hit a crosscourt forehand return wide. 40/0 (GP #1). Maria's deep backhand exposed Petković's lack of footwork, forcing her to net a backhand. Held.
Petković serving 2-2: Petković hit an awkward short lob over Maria's left shoulder, inducing her to dump a horrendous backhand drive-volley into the net. Louise Pleming said that Maria and many other players would do well to develop a one-handed backhand punch-volley for use in just such a situation. 15/0. Maria hit a backhand just long. 30/0. Maria netted a forehand off a low-bouncing ball from Petković. 40/0 (GP #1). Deep first serve out wide - right in the corner - forced Maria to bunt a backhand return long. Held.
Sharapova serving 2-3: Petković hit a crosscourt forehand just wide. 15/0. Maria, on the third stroke, dumped a cheap backhand into the net. 15/15. Double fault #2 (second serve into the net). 15/30. First serve out wide, right into Petković's hitting-zone: Petković hit a searing short-angled crosscourt backhand winner. 15/40 (BP #1). First serve out wide + down-the-line forehand forced Petković to bunt a defensive one-handed backhand long. 30/40 (BP #2). Petković's forehand clipped the back edge of the baseline; Maria hit a crosscourt forehand onto the sideline; Petković's down-the-line forehand clipped the back edge of the baseline, forcing Maria to hit an off-backhand wide. Maria wasted a challenge on Petković's last shot: Hawk-Eye showed that it caught about 65% of the breadth of the baseline. Broken.
Petković serving 4-2: Deep first serve down the middle forced Maria to lunge wide and bunt a crosscourt backhand return wide. 15/0. Maria's deep backhand return induced Petković to hit a backhand long. 15/15. Petković hit a crosscourt forehand wide. 15/30. Deep second serve: forehand return long. 30/30. Petković hit a crosscourt backhand just inside the sideline, forcing Maria to net a backhand. 40/30 (GP #1). Deep first serve down the middle forced a defensive return; Petković nailed a forehand winner down the line. Held.
Alastair Eykyn: "How do you try to coach out a grunt?"
Louise Pleming: "I can't say on air."
Alastair Eykyn: "C'mon, nobody's listening - it's just you and me!"
Sharapova serving 2-5 (new balls): Petković's deep return induced Maria to spray a wild crosscourt backhand wide. 0/15. Maria spread Petković with a deep crosscourt forehand onto the baseline + down-the-line forehand onto the baseline, forcing Petković to bunt an off-backhand half-volley lob wide. Petković wasted a challenge on Maria's last shot: Hawk-Eye showed that it was plumb on the line. 15/15. Petković hit a deep forehand return down the line, inducing Maria to miss a backhand wide. Maria just wasn't setting up properly for her backhands in this match. 15/30. Deep first serve out wide forced a short return, which Maria dispatched with an easy off-forehand winner. 30/30. First serve out wide: Petković hit a deep crosscourt forehand return onto the baseline, forcing Maria to bunt a forehand into the net. 30/40 (SP #1 for Petković). Deep first serve down the middle: Petković's deep forehand return induced Maria to hit a backhand long. Petković won the first set 6-2 at 19:47 AEDT (35m).
SHARAPOV ___*__@*_ 3
PETKOVIĆ *@*_*@__* 6
Petković serving 0-0: Deep first serve on the service-line forced Maria to net a backhand return. 15/0. Second serve... a meaty rally ended with Maria hitting yet another backhand long - it's usually such a routine shot for her, but her take-back looked so awkward in this match. 30/0. Ace #2: pinpoint first serve down the middle, on the centre-line. 40/0 (GP #1). First serve: Maria hit a hard, deep, body-jamming forehand return, forcing Petković to net a forehand. 40/15 (GP #2). Deep first serve - on the service-line - forced Maria to hit a crosscourt backhand return into the tramlines. Held.
Sharapova serving 0-1: Maria went for an ace out wide, but it was just wide. Double fault #3 (second serve into the net). 0/15. Petković went to the net, getting away with a crosscourt forehand approach that was rather too short as Maria netted a forehand. 0/30. Double fault #4 (second serve just long). 0/40 (BP #1). Maria hit a hard, deep crosscourt backhand onto the baseline, forcing Petković to net a backhand. Alastair Eykyn: "You almost got the impression there that she was trying to make up for the lack of juice on the serve. She took all the pace off the serve just to make sure it went in, but then the backhand was hit with /some/ venom." 15/40 (BP #2). Petković hit a deep, defensive backhand onto the baseline, forcing Maria to hit a forehand long. Broken.
Louise Pleming: "[Petković] has been very good when she's been forced to defend, and she's been able to neutralise the good shots of Sharapova. It's just frustrating when that keeps happening over and over for Maria. She hits a shot through a line, and it just comes back floating."
Petković serving 2-0: Petković dominated the rally with power and depth, and hit a crosscourt forehand winner. 15/0. Maria hit a deep backhand return down the middle, forcing Petković to bunt back a floater that clipped the baseline, inducing Maria to back off and mishit a forehand just long - officially her 20th unforced error to Petković's five. 30/0. First serve: Maria hit an off-backhand return wide. 40/0 (GP #1). First serve down the middle forced a short return, which Petković dispatched with a meaty crosscourt forehand winner down Maria's forehand sideline. Held.
Petković was forcing Maria to work hard to win points, while Maria was giving Petković too many cheap points.
Sharapova serving 0-3: A longish baseline-rally ended with Petković hitting a down-the-line forehand winner back behind Maria - her tenth winner to Maria's four. 0/15. Deep, body-jamming first serve forced Petković to net a forehand return. 15/15. Maria forced a very short ball, ran around her backhand, but hit a horrendous off-forehand wide. 15/30. The rally of the match: deep first serve down the middle forced a very short return; Maria hit a deep, hard backhand approach just inside the baseline, then picked off Petković's down-the-line backhand with a crosscourt forehand drop-volley that clipped the netcord; Petković ran it down and scooped back a crosscourt forehand dropshot; Maria pushed a forehand winner down the line as Petković ran back to the baseline in vain. Alastair Eykyn: "What a point! Amazing court-coverage from Andrea Petković, and great control and composure from the ice-queen." 30/30. Ace #1: 103mph first serve out wide, deep in the corner. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria's deep crosscourt forehand induced Petković to mishit a forehand long. Held.
Petković serving 3-1: Petković's deep crosscourt forehand forced Maria to net a forehand. 0/15. Maria returned a huge first serve with a skyscraper lob-return; Petković let it bounce and hit a forehand smash straight back to Maria, whose deep forehand forced Petković to retreat behind the baseline and hit a mid-court ball, allowing Maria to take the initiative... five strokes later, Maria cleaned the sideline with a stunning off-forehand winner. 15/15. A long, loud baseline rally ended with Maria at the net, netting a forehand volley off an awkward dipping pass from Petković. Alastair Eykyn described it as "absolutely brilliant" as the crowd erupted. 30/15. Deep first serve down the middle induced Maria to net a forehand return. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria punished a mid-court ball with a pinpoint forehand winner down the line. 40/30 (GP #2). Petković pounced on a floating return with a stunning crosscourt forehand winner into the corner. Held.
Maria serving 1-4: Petković's deep crosscourt forehand forced Maria to spray a crosscourt forehand wide. 0/15. Maria forced a floater, and hit a well-controlled crosscourt forehand drive-volley winner into the corner. 15/15. Maria on the third stroke hit a wild crosscourt backhand wide. 15/30. Petković's deep crosscourt forehand return forced Maria to bunt a forehand long. 15/40 (BP #1). Petković's deep off-backhand forced Maria to net a forehand. Maria slapped her thigh in frustration. Broken.
Petković serving 5-1: Second serve... a longish baseline-rally ended with Petković hitting a backhand just long. 0/15. Second serve... Maria, on the fourth stroke, blasted a wild down-the-line backhand into the tramlines. 15/15. Petković punished a short ball with a deep crosscourt forehand winner just inside the baseline. 30/15. Second serve: Maria hit a roaring crosscourt backhand return deep into the corner, forcing Petković to hit a backhand long. 30/30. Petković, driven wide, hit an acute crosscourt forehand deep into the corner to force a short ball, which she dispatched with an off-backhand dropshot-winner back behind Maria. 40/30 (MP #1 for Petković). Slow first serve onto the service-line: Maria blasted an off-forehand virtual return-winner deep into the corner. Deuce #1. Second serve: Maria blasted a scorching down-the-line forehand return-winner. Ad Maria (BP #1). A good rally with excellent depth from Petković ended with her hitting a backhand just long. Broken.
Petković showed no nerves as she went 30/15 up, but Maria hit brilliant shots to break back.
Maria serving 2-5: Maria hit a searing crosscourt forehand winner into the corner. 15/0. Maria caught her second-serve toss, and said "sorry". Maria hit a pinpoint crosscourt backhand just inside the sideline to force a low floater, which she dispatched with a crosscourt forehand drive-volley winner. 30/0. Double fault #5 (second serve into the net). Maria groaned. 30/15. Short first serve: Petković dumped a forehand return into the net. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria's backhand on the third stroke was called long, but she challenged successfully: Hawk-Eye showed that it caught about 35% of the breadth of the baseline, so they replayed the point. Maria's deep forehand forced a short ball, which she dispatched with a brilliant off-backhand winner just inside the sideline. Held.
Petković serving 5-3 (new balls): Petković's searing crosscourt forehand forced a short defensive forehand from Maria, but Petković tightened up and buried a forehand in the net. 0/15. First serve out wide: backhand return long. 15/15. Maria, on the fourth stroke, hit a loose forehand long. 30/15. Maria punished a short, tentative first serve down the middle with a blazing crosscourt forehand return-winner. 30/30. Maria went to the net, but didn't get in position for a wide backhand volley, and earthed it so badly that the crowd gasped in astonishment. 40/30 (MP #2 for Petković). Second serve out wide: Maria hit a forehand return-winner down Petković's forehand sideline. Deuce #1. Maria sprayed a loose forehand long off a mildly awkward deep shot from Petković. Ad Petković (MP #3). Petković hit a three-quarter pace first serve onto the service-line: Maria didn't have to move her feet, but dumped a makeable forehand return into the net. Petković won 6-2 6-3 at 20:30 AEDT (second set 42m, match 1h18m).
Petković celebrated with a fist-pump before shaking hands with Maria, then did a little jig. She refrained from making the infamous gun-gesture with which she had offended her previous opponents.
Maria nearly ran off the court: back to the locker-room, where there would be weeping and grinding of teeth.
Petković's on-court interview
Sam Smith: "Well, Andrea, it's your first Grand Slam quarter-final. You beat one of the great Grand Slam champions of the last decade. I have a feeling that you're going to be very popular here in Australia."
Petković: "Well, I don't know; I hope so!"
The crowd cheered.
Petković: "Well, you know, it was such a tough match. I was focused all the time. Even though, in the beginning, it seemed to be quite clear: Maria's such a great champion. It's just two or three points and she comes back. She started playing so well in the last couple of games, so I was a little nervous <smirking>, but I'm happy I closed it out in the end."
Smith: "You're 23 years of age. You've been on the Tour a few years, but you really have improved the last four or five months. What's made the difference?"
Petković: "Well, I definitely think: I have a new coach; I have a new fitness-coach. I just try to be more professional. In the beginning, I was all over the place."
Smith: "In what sense?"
Petković: "Well, in any sense!"
Petković laughed, and the crowd laughed with her.
Petković: "So now I'm really focused on my tennis-career. It's my primary goal to compete with the great champions, and maybe become one myself one day."
Smith: "Your father, who's here tonight, apparently said a while ago that he didn't think you should become a professional tennis-player; that you're very intelligent, and you should take an academic career. Do you normally ignore his advice?"
Petković: "Yeah, definitely."
Petković laughed, and the crowd laughed with her. The view switched to a man in the stands, who was wagging his finger in mock admonishment.
Petković: "No! Can see how he's... now, I'm gonna get... later, I'm gonna get..."
Smith: "I'm gonna get you in trouble, aren't I?"
Petković: "Well, you know, I was quite good in school, and my dad was also a professional tennis-player in the early years. He knows what kind of pressure there is going on, and he didn't want his little daughter to go through the same things. But, as I said: never follow the advice of your parents..."
The crowd laughed.
Petković: "...and you end up on the Rod Laver Arena!"
The crowd cheered.
Smith: "Okay, last question: you're becoming very famous for your little dance, which I believe is called ‘the Petko-dance’. Can you just tell us a little bit about this? Because it's becoming world-famous."
Petković: "It started off as a bet with my coach, because at the US [Open], I was playing /terrible/, and I got [in] the first round Petrova. So he said, ‘Okay, if you win, you have to do something special.’ So the dance: I won 7-6 in the third and I wanted to flee the court, but my coach was like, ‘Eh, the dance!’ So I did the little... this, and it became so famous, and I'm also superstitious. I play much better since I do the dance. So everybody: if something's not going his way or her way, they should start dancing - it helps."
Smith: "Okay guys, you heard it here. Put your hands together for Andrea Petković!"
She's quite a character!
Dr. Andrew Broad