A staff member of the site www.inside-tennis.net
Frank Riley is in San Diego at the moment and every day you can see a review of the matches he watched. Here are some of the reports he sent
Sharapova Falls Apart Myskina The Winner Acura
Special Report From The Match
What a night it was at the Acura Classic. The biggest match of the tournament and a classic match up. The French Open Champion against the Wimbledon Champion, Anastasia Myskina against Maria Sharapova. The stadium was packed. ESPN and other TV production cameras were all over the stadium, at least 30 photographers including myself were there snapping pictures of both Champions and of course Maria was getting plenty of that.
The match started Maria wearing her now famous white outfit but Anastasia in black. The white queen against the dark queen. Just a thought both players are in fact very sweet and nice people but the colors were so far apart and Maria is a blond, Anastasia with dark hair, it set the stage for what was to be the best Russians in the world in combat.
Maria was like the past matches this week she came out slamming hard fast serves and banging very hard ground strokes. It looked like Anastasia was in trouble as Maria was just over powering Anastasia. I was getting worried that Anastasia would not be able to handle the speed and pace of Maria.
But something was different, Anastasia normally rather easy to get hot headed was calm she did not get upset like I thought would happen. Instead Anastasia was calm.
The games went on and before everyone in the stadium could catch their breath watching Maria bang winner after winner Maria had the lead in the first set 5-2. Let me say that again Maria was winning 5-2, she only needed one game to win that set.
Anastasia came out and just played her game and she started to do better, Maria started to make a few mistakes as she tried to finish the set. Everyone in the stadium could not believe what we were seeing. Anastasia started hitting better, cleaner and error free. Then Anastasia won game after game and the stadium was going crazy as Anastasia came back from being down 5-2, Anastasia came back returning every ball from Maria and Maria making mistakes, hitting long and out. I looked at the score board, it said 5-5. Anastasia had come back and tied the match. Everyone tried to cheer Maria back to form but she had just lost 3 games and it was getting worse the more Maria tried to stop the steady and smart playing of Anastasia.
Then it was 6-5 for Anastasia in the lead, Anastasia was winning and Maria was in shock hitting the ball out all over the place. Anastasia was calm playing her normal steady game. Maria was mentally not okay. Then it happened Anastasia won the first set 7-5. Let me say that again Maria lost the first set, Anstasia came back and won it.
But that is not the worst part of it! Maria in fact lost 9 games after having a 5-2 lead in the first set, in the second set Anastasia was winning 4-0, the rocked and mentally destroyed Maria could only come up with 2 games in the second set as Anastasia was showing Maria how to play tennis. Anastasia did everything right, only a few times getting upset at all, most of the time she was calm and ready. The match had gotten so bad for Maria everyone was cheering trying to get Maria to play better and maybe trying to help her feel better. Everyone there could tell it was horrible for Maria. This was not the way everyone thought it would go, we expected a hard match for Anastasia but it turned out to be a nightmare for Maria Sharapova.
At the end of the match everyone was shocked. I kept saying to myself did that really happen, did Maria just fall apart and let this win go into the crapper like that. I was going to say Anastasia toasted Maria but it was worse than that. Maria was roasted.
After the match Maria grabbed her gear and bag and walked past me only inches away, I have never watch a player leave a stadium so fast, her face was down she looked at no one, but I looked directly into her face only 6 inches away as she went by. Maria was just about to break out crying as she went by, I am sure holding it in until she got to a safe room to let it happen. I really felt so bad for her, but also I felt so good for Anastasia.
I really like both Maria and Anastasia a great deal, but have talked to Anastasia many times and so hoped that she would win but not like that. I wanted to see a good match. What happened was horrible and totally ugly. Even Anastasia did not get to happy at the end and she waited with respect for Maria to leave the court before celebrating with the fans.
It was an ugly night but what we watched Anastasia do was perfect tennis, Anastasia showed everyone her best tennis and why she is the best Russian tennis player in the world and maybe even the best player in the world.
As I drove back to the Hotel I remember how I asked Maria Sharapova how she was able to hit so hard now and how her game got so good at the last press conference at La Costa. Maria looked directly at me and told me in firm words she knew what it took to be the best and she knew how to win. I think to myself at this time, Maria are you sure you know what it takes to be number 1? Are you sure you know how to win Maria, I think Myskina had something better in that department tonight. It looked like Myskina knows how to win Maria. With this horrible night we need to remember that Maria is still a Champion and she has had a good tournament at the 2004 Acura Classic, she was playing against Anastasia Myskina one of the best in the world, Maria do not cry to much you will have your time again I am sure of that.
Special Report from the Acura Classic, Blow Outs!
Direct From The Acura Classic
A day of blow outs at the Acura Classic, once again I was both reporting and taking photos at the event from the media areas.
So what can I say, the winners were all very dominating, the losers looked like they were in shock.
Elena Dementieva had a hard tough match (but won 6-2, 7-6(2)) with the hard fighting Elena Likhovtseva and it might have been the best match of the morning season.
Anastasia Myskina destroyed Chanda Rubin 6-1, 6-2 and it was not even that close, Myskina almost played with no errors, but still got mad at herself, even smashing a racquet and yelling at her coach. A fan asked for her broken racquet at the end of her match and she gave it to him and signed it, I attempted to purchase it but the guy was a big fan and would not let it go. Anastasia is going to play Maria Sharapova tomorrow at 7:00 California time, in the match to see who is the best Grand Slam Winner right now. Anastasia is struggling but not with her game, she is struggling with her own emotions. She just wants perfection, she broke her racquet with a 4-1 lead in the first set, how could she have been upset she was winning.
Lindsay Davenport killed Conchita Martinez 6-1, 6-2 in another blow out. Davenport played perfect and Conchita never got it together but kept a smile most of the time, it just was not her day and her lob game did not distract Davenport at all.
Maria Sharapova as I predicted walked all over smaller Gisela Dulko 6-0, 6-1 and it was so bad I think Gisela almost broke into crying after the end of the first set. Gisela could not handle the speed or power Maria was banging at her. The match was over in 43 minutes and I took over 100 pictures in that short time, there was a packed stadium to see Maria, she is now like Kournikova always sold out. I went to the press conference for Maria after the match and Maria was all smiles but the other press wanted to ask her stupid questions about being American or Russian and if the other Russians no longer felt she was Russian, she was slighted pissed with such a stupid set of questions. I felt that the reporters asking those types of questions have no business in a tennis event at all. Maria told them her blood is Russian and that is what she is. I asked her how she was able to hit so hard and what she had done this year to make it so good, she told me she always could hit hard but now she knows how to do everything else and that just hitting hard is not the only thing. She also told me she knows how to win, I smiled and said thank you to her, Maria is very sharp, I also talked to Doug Flutie the football player he was there to interview with Maria, he talked to me alone about football for several minutes, I started it by joking he was shorter than Maria, but Maria is now 6 foot 2 inches. Doug was actually a very nice person and we had a great conversation about last year and this year in football, this is his last year as a player. Yes at one point I thought to my self I am talking to Doug Fluties a quarterback it was a little shocking but he was such a nice guy it was so natural to talk to him about the Chargers and football. Very cool press conference over all, I almost asked Doug for an autograph then I stopped myself and remembered I was press and that was not the thing to do. I hope he has a great last year.
Serena Williams beat Elena Bovina 6-4, 6-2 in a hard match but I was not able to watch much of this match as the week in the sun was making me tired I took the afternoon off and had some fun. You can read the rest of the results from other articles and the results section.
Special Report from the Acura Classic
On Location Coverage
First I promised a special report as I cover all the events at the Acura Classic at the La Costa Resort and Spa in California. I will start with the current matches completed today. But first I have to say this, the La Costa Resort and Spa is something out of this world, the size of a small city it is richly comfortable and amazing to see. The resort is truly wonderful and the nicest I have been to for a tennis event. Second the staff at the Acura Classic is top rate, the best. This event is the way tennis tournaments should be run. Very professional and confident in a manner that shows the leadership and organization is good. The event is very comfortable and relaxing to attend. It is a welcoming event that should be modeled in other events in California and around the world. The staff handled spectators in a respectful and kind manner. The security and staff was everywhere but did not become abusive at all like other events I have been to. The staff at the Acura Classic treated people, media and the players very kindly. I will be coming back to the Acura Classic and La Costa for many years if I am welcome back as press in the future. It has been an amazing time, with the best female tennis players in the world at the event. The media center and all the staff that run that section of the event are the best.
Okay now let me get into the tennis at the event. I will start with to days matches that have been completed. (I will only cover the matches I watched with comments.)
Conchita Martinez frustrated and angered Iveta Benesova in a rather ugly match with Iveta slamming her racquet down several times. Conchita won the match 6-3, 6-4 but it was never really that close, Iveta had good moments were she caused Conchita to become frustrated but most of the time Iveta simple made errors after errors time and time again.
Ai Sugiyama beat Shinobu Asagoe 6-2, 6-2. Elena Likhovtseva beat Barbora Strycova 6-4, 6-3. Chanda Rubin beat Jelena Kostanic 6-4, 6-3. Elena Bovina beat Eleni Daniilidou 6-1, 6-4.Bovina is a real hard banger and very powerful. Marion Bartoli beat Paola Suarez 6-3, 6-0.
Svetlana Kuznetsova destroyed Daniela Hantuchova who never seemed to get her act together hitting wild and out often. Daniela played what could be considered at her worst. Svetlana won 6-1, 6-2. At a point in the second set Daniela pulled what I noticed to be the most common thing players do when they are getting their butts kicked in the WTA, she called for a medical time out and had a trainer looking at her back, but I noticed nothing wrong with her body but her game really just plainly was terrible. After the second set was looking bad Daniela just went through the motions and stopped trying. Svetlana played very good and Daniela just could not handle it. Daniela looks healthy and was very attractive in her new trade mark white outfit and is clearly around 20 pounds heavier than last year (she looks great) and she is hitting harder as well, the day before she destroyed Marissa Irvin7-6(3), 6-3 in a very good match, but today Daniela played simple bad, she has the game on a good day but on a bad day it is just bad.
Alicia Molik who I did not know much about has a very hard and powerful game, WOW is all I can say about her, she beat Amelie Mauresmo 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 in a real shocker as she just simple over powered Amelie. This was by far the best tennis of the day. By the way I found Amelie to be very nice and very attractive over all, she looked trim and in great shape.
Now I will talk about the Tuesday matches and the Press Conferences I attended for Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams.
Martinez totally frustrated Emilie Loit beating her 6-1, 6-2. Anastasia Myskina beat Barbara Schett 6-3, 6-4. Anastasia played very well but did not think so herself, it seems Anastasia is not happy unless she is perfect, several times she had the lead but got upset even slamming the racquet a few times because she made a mistake. However several times Anastasia gave everyone that sweet smile as she showed the human side of her sweet self when things were funny on the court. Anastasia is one to look for in this event and she wants perfection. Her next match is with Sharapova so we will see just who is the best Russian in the world? Serena Williams beat Jelena Jankovic in what is clearly the best match of the event as Jelena nearly beat Serena in a real shocker. To be honest Serena was not moving well and they were exchanging long volleys and very strong shots. It was an amazing match. Serna won 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-2, but at the end of the second set Serena was limping on her left foot and it looked like she was in trouble, then Jelena called for a medical time out and her neck and back were hurt. So in the first two sets both players had played so hard they hurt each other. It was amazing and if Jelena would have stayed together she was ready to beat Serena in what looked like a huge upset. Both players got a standing cheering from all the spectators as they played there hearts out. After the match I went to the Serena Press Conference and was shocked at how hard the other press was attacking Serena asking if she was having problems over all and trying to get her to say something was wrong. I asked three simple and safe questions and Serena turned to me each time as she felt safer with my questions than the normal press, it turned out that she developed a bad blister under her foot and could not step on it. I asked if her foot would be repaired in two days and she smiled and said yes. I also asked her if her problems were private or just tennis after the other press kept forcing the subject and she would not comment on it. She told me with a smile the problem was tennis. The best question of the conference was when she was asked if she still liked playing tennis, she said yes of course but she did leave it a little open as she paused before she answered. Serena turned out to be a very nice person and I think a person I could talk to, she is very sweet if you just talk to her, it is the hard hitting press that gets her defensive and then she will not be as nice. By the way if you are trying to get her autograph do not try to give her a marker to use, she caries a gold marker for that as I found out. She gave me a look when I asked and put a blue marker in front of her, then I felt a little stupid but she smiled when I said, thanks that is really cool. Serena is a little to sure of her game but then so what, she is actually a nice person.
Gisela Dulko beat Tamarine Tanasugarn (who replaced Venus Williams when she pulled out) 6-3, 6-4. Gisela is very pretty and a very sweet person but she will need to develop more power to stay with the big names in this event, she has a firm and tactical game that is good but she will be hard pressed to stay with the bigger players.
Maria Sharapova (WOW) beat Lilia Osterloh 6-3, 6-3 but it was never that close, this was a warm up for Maria. The first think I need to say is WOW, Maria is hitting harder and faster than Serena. Maria has grown up a little her body is fuller and she came out in the same outfit as she used at Wimbledon and she looked amazing (I can not wait until I get my pictures developed). Maria may not be Kournikova but she is the hottest thing in the WTA and maybe tennis in the world. Maria has changed, her game is stronger, smarter and she can really move the ball, as slow as Serena is moving at this point I would think Myskina is the player with the best chance against Maria but we will see tomorrow. Maria has one advantage over the now retired Kournikova, Maria can handle the press and is very good when she talks. I went to the press conference for her and I was amazed at how well Maria speaks. It seems that Maria has improved more than just her tennis game, she is surely coached on answering press with correct and detailed answers. The press just melted in her hands with her sweet answers. My question for Maria was simple but yet complicated, Maria was answering another question and said something about her competition. I simple ask Maria who her competition was and if she was referring to Serena, it took Maria a second to understand what I was asking, then she came alive and started answering that she was talking about all the top players as every match with them was very hard now, she made sure to mention many of the top players and took some time to answer my question. She looked at me all the time as she answered and she was waiting for me to be happy with her answer. I said thank you and nodded my head when she was done she smiled. I can say this Maria is both sweet and smart. I was very pleased with what I saw in the young lady.
Elena Dementieva beat Kristina Brandi 6-1, 6-1 but still Elena is struggling with her second serve, when she bangs in the first serve she is a winner but as soon as she struggles she has trouble. Elena is a good player but to beat the top players in this event she will need to get it together.
Two very sad matches that nearly brought a tear to my eye was Shinobu Asagoe beating Meghann Shaughnessy 6-2, Ret. Meghann clearly was having back and neck troubles from the start of the match, she never seemed to be able to serve and was never in this match. I wanted to watch Meghann but instead I watched her call several medical time outs and after double faulting in the second set she walked over to the chair and said she was done.
Amy Frazier destroyed Ashley Harkleroad 6-2, 6-0 a day after Ashley shocked Patty Schnyder in a great match 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. But against Amy, Ashley never played well hitting long over and over again. Ashley is perhaps the most attractive player in the WTA but something seems wrong, Ashley was very quite and withdrawn at times and seemed totally alone at the event. Ashley has a great game as we saw against Patty but she also falls apart very easy. With that said Amy has changed, she is hitting much harder and I could not believe what I was seeing, Amy is much better now and perhaps has a chance in this event with some luck.
You can get the scores from this event at Inside-Tennis.net or directly from:
I think the noted and surprising players I have discovered at this event are Mary Pierce a very sweet person who beat Claudine Schaul on Sunday. Mary is a true lady, very kind and very calm. Karolina Sprem looks very good. Elena Bovina is a big hard hitting player with such power and skill I think she would shock many players in the WTA, I was shocked with her game, amazing. Alicia Molik, tough, strong and what a huge tennis game she has, she will cause anyone frustration. Ashley Harkleroad when she is playing good she is very good and to her credit she is very trim and in shape at this time (with that said her attractiveness is striking, it was my first time seeing her).
Okay one last thought, I met Martina Navaratilova and she was working out, also she was bad mouthing the WTT Capitals as they kicked her butt this weekend, I did not mention to Martina I was associated with the Capitals this year. However, I can say that Martina is a little full of herself and not exactly as nice as she seems. Perhaps she was tired. Anyway, she did look great on the court working out and I told her she looked good she thanked me. I think I maybe should have been a little more respectful of her space, she is the greatest tennis player of all time and she just wanted some time to work out. Tonight I will get some pictures of her playing doubles. For now this is all the time I have but I will say more very soon.
It truly is amazing at this event.
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