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andrewbroad
Oct 18th, 2004, 10:59 PM
Today, Daniela Hantuchová defeated Wimbledon 2002 girls' singles champion Vera Douchevina 6-1 6-4 to set up a mouthwatering second-round showdown with the girl whom Douchevina beat in that final, Maria Sharapova.

I must say it sucks that Douchevina was given a wild card while Tatiana Golovin had to qualify despite her ranking of #29. It's possible that the winner of Maria v Daniela would face Golovin in the quarter-finals if Tatiana can get past first Ana Ivanovic then the winner of Venus Williams v Karolina Šprem (here's hoping Šprem can truly achieve the victory she was prematurely awarded by He Who Must Not Be Named at Wimbledon).


I am a big fan of both Maria and Daniela, and I'm going to support Daniela this time. Daniela's confidence seems very low at the moment - she has only got past the second round six times in 22 previous tournaments this year - so a win over Maria would do her a power of good.

Nothing can tarnish the amazing year Maria has had, and coming off back-to-back titles at Seoul and Tokyo, her confidence must be pretty high at the moment. Realistically I don't think she'll give Daniela much chance at all, so the more games Daniela can get off Maria, the better it will be for women's tennis IMO.

When they met in the third round of Wimbledon, Daniela was just coming off a final at Eastbourne where she had served for the title at 6-2 6-5 against Svetlana Kuznetsova... and Maria thrashed her 6-3 6-1. Maria was in a total zone that day, seeing the ball like a cantaloupe in slow motion.

But that was grass - Maria's favourite surface because when she hits the ball, it stays hit. Maria still has much to learn before she'll be as effective on hard courts - the surface on which Daniela won her first (and latest) WTA singles title at Indian Wells 2002. And Daniela did beat Maria 7-6 6-1 at Tokyo in February.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/hantu/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/danielahantuchova/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/

Greenout
Oct 19th, 2004, 09:15 AM
Good report as always. I really enjoy your pre-post match up reports too.
Keep up the great work! :yeah:

andrewbroad
Oct 20th, 2004, 01:01 AM
Schlüfweg Stadium (start 10:00 CEST = 08:00 GMT = 09:00 BST)
[1r D] Ruano Pascual/Suárez vs Krizan/Vento-Kabchi
[1r] Elena Bovina v Francesca Schiavone (12:00)
[1r] Ana Ivanovic v Tatiana Golovin (13:50)
[2r] Vera Zvonareva v Alicia Molik (15:30)
[2r] Daniela Hantuchová v Maria Sharapova (17:50 = 15:50 GMT = 16:50 BST)
[2r] Ai Sugiyama v Flavia Pennetta
[2r D] Petrova/Shaughnessy vs Husárová/Molik

The times in parentheses are the earliest times (in CEST) that the matches would start, subject to the previous matches being completed.
CEST = GMT + 2 hours
= BST + 1 hour

I'd love to be in Schlüfweg Stadium for three matches in a row.
Go Maria and Daniela (against each other), Vera and Tatiana! :D

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/hantu/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/danielahantuchova/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/

Andy Mac
Oct 20th, 2004, 11:56 AM
hey wer'd my and mandys n all posts go?

mandy7
Oct 20th, 2004, 12:13 PM
i don't know, i guess someone *coughs* andrew *coughs* wanker *coughs*
reported them, so they got deleted

he must have been pissed that i revealed his *coughs* copy *coughs* paste *coughs* secret

Andy Mac
Oct 20th, 2004, 11:56 PM
hahaah cept i never talked smack to him! so why in the green hell of satins bathroom did mine get deleted too?

andrewbroad
Oct 21st, 2004, 01:26 AM
What rocked:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [4] d. Daniela Hantuchová, 6-4 7-5

What sucked:
- Daniela Hantuchová lt. MARIA SHARAPOVA [4], 4-6 5-7
- VERA ZVONAREVA [6] lt. Alicia Molik, 3-6 7-5 2-6
- (1r) Tatiana Golovin [Q] lt. Ana Ivanovic [Q], 5-7 7-6(2) 6-7(3)
- (1r Tuesday) Karolina Šprem lt. VENUS WILLIAMS [7], 2-6 2-6


Daniela put up terrific resistance against Maria, but once again, she was let down by an inability to convert big opportunities.

Daniela led 5-2 in the second set, served for it at 5-3, and had two set-points on Maria's serve at 4-5 15/40. But Maria "relied on her serve to bail her out of trouble." [1]

How did they play?
* Maria "proved more consistent with a string of powerful baseline strokes." [2]
* Daniela "showed some of her old form" [3], but needs to work on her mobility as well as her psychological side. [4]

I followed point-by-point scores at the tournament website:
http://www.swisscom-challenge.com/index.php?pn=scoreboard

They came onto court at 17:56 CEST (immediately following the Zvonareva v Molik match), and play actually started at 18:09.


First Set

(BP = break-point, SP = set-point)

Daniela 0-0: 40/0,, 40/30, held
Mashara 0-1: 40/0, 40/15, held
Daniela 1-1: 0/30,, 30/30, 40/30, held
Mashara 1-2: 40/0, 40/15, held
Daniela 2-2: 0/30,, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad M (BP #2), Deuce #2, ad D, Deuce #3, ad D, Deuce #4, ad M (BP #3), broken
Mashara 3-2: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad D (BP #2), Deuce #2, ad M, held
Daniela 2-4: held to love
Mashara 4-3: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad M, held
Daniela 3-5: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held
Mashara 5-4: 15/0, 15/15,, 40/15 (2 SPs), Maria won first set 6-4 at 18:51.

A very serve-dominated set, with break-points occurring in two games only - Maria converted hers, but Daniela failed to convert in the next game, which would have given her the break back.

I feel that Daniela's good start was crucial to her winning nine games from Maria, because her confidence is much more fragile than Maria's. Things could have been much worse for Daniela if, for example, she had lost all three of her game-points in the first game of the match.


Second Set

Daniela 0-0: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, 40/30, held
Mashara 0-1: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs),, 40/40, ad M, held
Daniela 1-1: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held
Mashara 1-2: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15,, 40/40, ad M, Deuce #2, ad M, Deuce #3, ad M, held
Daniela 2-2: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad M (BP #2), Deuce #2, ad D, held
Mashara 2-3: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15,, 40/40, ad D (BP), broken
Daniela 4-2: 30/0, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held
Mashara 2-5: held to love
Daniela 5-3: 0/15, 15/15,, 15/40 (2 BPs), 30/40, broken
Mashara 4-5: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 15/40 (2 SPs),, 40/40, ad M, held
Daniela 5-5: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad M (BP #2), Deuce #2, ad M (BP #3), Deuce #3, ad D, Deuce #4, ad D, Deuce #5, ad D, Deuce #6, ad M (BP #4), Deuce #7, ad M (BP #5), Deuce #8, ad M (BP #6), broken
Mashara 6-5: Maria served it out to love, winning 6-4 7-5 at 19:56.

Wonderful resistance from Daniela in the second set, but it's the sign of a champion that Maria twice recovered from 15/40 to hold serve.

Statistics:
http://www.swisscom-challenge.com/index.php?tableau=single&slot=22&pn=results_details

Maria served 11 aces, and won 66% of her service-points while Daniela won 57% of hers. Maria broke three times from 13 break-points, Daniela once from 7 BPs.

I draw two conclusions from these statistics:
1. Because Maria served better than Daniela, she generated more opportunities for herself - on Daniela's serve as well as her own.
2. Maria converted a higher percentage of her opportunities than Daniela did of hers, because Maria is a better match-player.


Photos from the official tournament website:
http://www.swisscom-challenge.com/index.php?pn=pictures

Photos of Daniela:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=137491

Photos of Maria:
http://search.news.yahoo.com/search/news?c=news_photos&p=sharapova

Off-court photos of Maria, Vera and others:
http://www.wtatour.com/photogallery/


"Maria Sharapova" is officially the most popular search-term on the Internet now! [5]


References:
[1] http://www.wtatour.com/newsroom/stories/NewsArticle_5593_rx.asp
[2] CEEFAX p.487, "Sharapova battles past Hantuchová"
[3] Teletext p.495->498, "Sharapova defeats Hantuchová"
[4] http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=137780
[5] http://www.wtatour.com/newsroom/stories/NewsArticle_5589_rx.asp

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/hantu/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/danielahantuchova/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/

Lemonskin.
Oct 21st, 2004, 07:47 AM
Cheers Andrew! Good report.

It was a great day in Zurich for me! Masha won, Alicia won twice :D

the cat
Oct 21st, 2004, 03:01 PM
Thanks for the reports and statistics Andrew.

The reason Douchevina got a wildcard and not Golovin is because the Swisscom Challenge is an Octagon event and Douchevina is an Octagon client while Golovin is an IMG client. I believe politics was involved with the decision to give Douchevina the wildcard instead of the more deserving Golovin. But politics is commonplace at tennis tournaments.

Josh B.
Oct 21st, 2004, 03:53 PM
Good report Andrew.Thanks

Andy Mac
Oct 21st, 2004, 08:17 PM
yea nice one broad! keep it up!

andrewbroad
Oct 22nd, 2004, 01:12 AM
I found the following quote from Maria on CEEFAX after posting my second-round match-report:

"When you play her, you know it's going to be a good match. It's never going to be easy, and I just managed to get through. I thought I served well until those two double faults, and when the time came, I broke her."

People fortunate enough to actually watch the match have written glowing reports, particularly about Daniela's performance:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/danielahantuchova/message/7047
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/danielahantuchova/message/7048
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/danielahantuchova/message/7049


Maria now plays Venus Williams, once the most formidable player on the WTA Tour, now a very much diminished force who has not won a WTA Tour title this year, nor a Grand Slam title since the US Open 2001.

This will be their first meeting on the Tour, although Venus did beat Maria 7-5 6-3 in the final of an exhibition at Hong Kong in January. That Venus struggled past rookie Ana Ivanovic 7-6 7-6 today suggests that Maria will be as firm a favourite as her higher seeding implies.


Here's the order of play for Friday:

Schlüfweg Stadium (start 13:50 CEST = 11:50 GMT = 12:50 BST)
(qf) AI SUGIYAMA [9] v ELENA DEMENTIEVA [3]
(qf) VENUS WILLIAMS [7] v MARIA SHARAPOVA [4] (15:30 = 13:30 GMT = 14:30 BST)
(qf) Paola Suárez v PATTY SCHNYDER [10] (17:50)
(qf) Alicia Molik v NADIA PETROVA [8]
(2r doubles) RUANO PASCUAL/SUÁREZ [1] vs Jugic-Salkic/Weingärtner

The times in parentheses are the earliest times (in CEST) that the
matches would start, subject to the previous matches being completed.
CEST = GMT + 2 hours
= BST + 1 hour

Live scores will be available at:
http://www.swisscom-challenge.com/index.php?pn=scoreboard
(I won't be following them myself, as I'm busy with work tomorrow)

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/hantu/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/danielahantuchova/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/

andrewbroad
Oct 25th, 2004, 12:51 AM
I have already reported on Maria's second-round match with Daniela Hantuchová, so this report concerns Maria's quarter-final, semi-final and final.


First a couple of Maria quotes from after the Daniela match:

"I'm never really 100 percent satisfied with my game but I felt pretty much in control, particularly on my serve.

"I don't know if there's any particular reason for this winning streak. I see my game as a work in progress, and so I never expected that I'd be able to just win every match after Wimbledon."

---------------------------------------------------------------------
QUARTER-FINAL: Venus Williams

I was delighted to learn of Maria's 6-3 6-4 victory over Venus Williams in Friday's quarter-finals. It's the most joy she's given me since winning Wimbledon, for although Venus is but a shadow of the force she was in the early '00s, her reputation precedes her so it still feels like a great scalp to beat one of the all-time greats so emphatically. :D

I believed in Maria's victory before the match, and I haven't felt such a link from expectation to success for one of my players since Monica Seles was at her peak.

According to ITV Teletext it was a battle of enormous power, with "plenty of huge serving" from both players. Venus broke Maria to love at the start of the match, but Maria broke straight back with a blistering return and a double fault from Williams.

Maria broke in the third game of the second set, Williams broke right back, but Maria "struck a fierce forehand that forced a backhand error and gave her a further break for 4-3" [2]. According to Teletext, she "upped the pace and roared through 6-4."

According to CEEFAX, Maria was "always in command." She was in "almost constant control, combining fierce groundstrokes and ferocious returns of serve to win in just 75 minutes." [1]


However, AFP's report [2] was not so glowing:

"The match-up between the reigning and former Wimbledon champions largely failed to live up to expectations. There was plenty of big hitting from both players, but little rhythm and a great many errors.

"Williams seemed flat at times, and fourth seeded Sharapova was noisy and often overhit. It was only in the final stages that she reduced her errors and mirrored the way that Williams used to dominate her opponents, with a big serve followed by a flat forehand winner."


Maria: "I'm playing with a lot of confidence at the moment. I played a strong match today, I returned and served well. She's a great champion, so it was a good win for me.
"We had a lot of great points, I thought. I was able to pick up my game when I needed to and force her to make some unforced errors [in which case they are no longer forced - ed]. I thought I was dictating the match throughout and I'm definitely playing with a lot of confidence. I was definitely pleased with the way I played.

"I was dictating the whole match. I thought I returned quite well. I thought I put a lot of pressure on her serve, and at crucial points of the match I don't think she put a lot of first serves in when she needed to."


Venus: "She's definitely a great player. A lot of my balls went long at the start of the match, and I was on the back foot from then on. Her balls have a lot of pace on them.

"I just had a slow start today. I definitely feel I'm not at my best yet, but it's just the little things that I still have to work on. I definitely feel my game is at a better place than what it was at the US Open and in Moscow. I hope that in Philadelphia it's another level higher.

"It was definitely not my best match. I think I've still got a way to go with my serve. I wouldn't say I'm too far off. It's just the little things. I'm not always swinging freely because a lot of times I hit it out.

"It's still two good points, three or four bad points, and I've got to rein it in. With this sort of play it gives your opponent the opportunity to stay in there and think they have a chance."


Statistics:
http://www.swisscom-challenge.com/index.php?tableau=single&slot=27&pn=results_details

It seems that Maria didn't serve as big as Venus, but had a better percentage of first serves in, and better winning-percentages on both serve and return. Maria broke serve 4 times from 9 break-points, Williams twice from 5. It's also interesting that Maria had 12 forehand winners to 4 from Williams.

Maria is only the fifth player to beat both Williams sisters in the same season.

---------------------------------------------------------------------
SEMI-FINAL: Elena Dementieva

On Saturday, Maria beat Elena Dementieva in the semi-finals with "a performance of amazing intensity" [CEEFAX], winning 4-6 6-2 6-3.

This was a sweet victory as Dementieva is ranked #5, two places higher than Maria even though it's Maria who has won a Grand Slam. Maria has now won both her matches against the Dementor this year, and leads their head-to-heads 3-1.
John Barrett, commentating on one of Maria's matches at Wimbledon 2004, said "If only Dementieva had this woman's serve!"

According to CEEFAX, Maria's dominance caused Dementieva to lose her temper - Dementieva who accused Maria of not being a true Russian a couple of months ago. I think Dementieva is jealous of the 17-year-old who has already won a Grand Slam title while she, at 23, has had to settle for losing two Grand Slam finals.


There was only one break in the first set - scored by Dementieva in the fifth game. Maria led 3-1 in the second, and although Dementieva broke back for 3-2, Maria won six games in a row to lead 3-0 in the third.

"Dementieva used her greater mobility to take the first set 6-4, but Sharapova upped the power to win seven games in a row with some tremendous hitting." [CEEFAX]

"Using a medley of mixed shots and serves, Dementieva didn't give Sharapova the pace from the baseline, which the Wimbledon champion thrives on. But Sharapova stormed back into the match with an arsenal of punishing groundstrokes, the same weapons she used to knock off Venus Williams in the quarterfinals."

From 3-0 Maria in the third:
"Dementieva tried to block Sharapova's charge, holding for 3-1, but in a tense fifth game, Sharapova fended off three break points with exceptional service precision to surge to a 4-1 lead. At 5-2, Dementieva saved two match points and held a break point, but the younger Russian refused to be denied her third consecutive final and fifth of 2004 with a 46 62 63 win that took one hour, 59 minutes."


Maria: "It proved to me that I am now a top player. It's tough at the top because there are so many good players there, and you have to keep working hard if you want to beat them.
"I felt I didn't attack her serve enough in the first set, but in the second and third I did a better job of that.

"It's a great feeling to be in my third final in a row and beating the players I've played this week."


Statistics:
http://www.swisscom-challenge.com/index.php?pn=results_details&slot=30&tableau=single

Maria beat Dementieva in all the serve-statistics, of course, and broke serve 4 times from 12 break-points - Dementieva twice from 11. They both hit 9 forehand winners, but Maria hit 8 backhand winners to just one from Elena. Maria made 37 unforced errors to 22, but Dementieva made more forced errors under Maria's unleashed power.


Maria's semi-final victory extended her winning-streak to 12 matches (starting with her titles in Seoul and Tokyo). It really shows the value of Maria stepping down to Tier III/IV level to get some confidence-boosting wins, and I think that Daniela Hantuchová should do likewise.

---------------------------------------------------------------------
FINAL: Alicia Molik

This seemed like a golden opportunity for Maria to win her first Tier I title. She was full of confidence after beating Williams and Dementieva, and was now facing an unseeded player in the final - the player whom she had thrashed 6-3 6-1 in the quarter-finals of Birmingham in one of the most brilliant performances on a tennis-court I've ever seen.

Alicia Molik is a dangerous floater, against whom I would not like to see Maria drawn in the first round of a Grand Slam, but to face the world #20 in the final of a Tier I seemed too good to be true.

Maria was looking to extend her unblemished record in WTA Tour and Grand Slam finals to 7-0, and her winning streak to 13 matches - but it proved to be an unlucky 13th as the voluptuous Molik had other ideas:

Molik: "I definitely think I have a shot at winning. I've shown good form here, and I'm just going to make sure I play my game. I won't be looking to change too much. I'll just worry about what I'm doing. I've beaten a lot of top 20 players this week, so I'm on a roll and I hope I can continue that."

Molik actually has a much better post-Wimbledon record against top 20 players than Maria:
- Molik has beaten #3 Mauresmo at San Diego; #6 Dementieva, #13 Sugiyama and #3 Myskina to win Olympic Bronze; and #11 Zvonareva, #13 Petrova, #15 Schnyder and #7 Sharapova at Zurich this week.
- The only top 20 players Maria has beaten since Wimbledon have been #12 Williams and #6 Dementieva at Zurich this week. :o
(Rankings as of the week prior to each tournament)


I followed live scores for the final at:
http://www.swisscom-challenge.com/index.php?pn=scoreboard

The match itself started at 13:33 CEST.


First Set

(BP = break-point, SP = set-point, CP = championship-point)

Molik 0-0: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held
Shara 0-1: 15/0, 15/15,, 40/15, held
Molik 1-1: 0/40 (3 BPs), 15/40, broken
Shara 2-1: held to love
Molik 1-3: held to love
Shara 3-2: held to love
Molik 2-4: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held
Shara 4-3: 0/40 (3 BPs), 15/40, broken
Molik 4-4: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs), 30/40, broken
Shara 5-4: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 40/15 (2 SPs),, 40/40, ad Maria (SP #3), Deuce #2, ad Maria (SP #4), Maria won first set 6-4 at 14:08.

I felt very confident in Maria throughout the first set, except for some nerves when she got broken back to 4-4. Molik was obviously putting up good resistance, but Maria would surely prove too powerful in the end.

"It was apparant from the start that the Russian teen was ready to add another title to her collect as she came out with all guns blazing, breaking Molik's serve in the third game followed by a hold on serve to take a 3-1 lead. Molik held out to get the break back and even the proceedings at 4-4, but Sharapova's blistering groundstrokes enabled the young Russian to break again and serve out the first set." [4]


Second Set

Molik 0-0: 0/30,, 30/30, 40/30, held
Shara 0-1: 15/0, 15/15,, 40/15, 40/30, held
Molik 1-1: 15/0, 15/15,, 40/15,, 40/40, ad Maria (BP), Deuce #2, ad Molik, held
Shara 1-2: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken
Molik 3-1: held to love
Shara 1-4: 30/0,, 30/30, 40/30, held
Molik 4-2: 40/0, 40/15, held
Shara 2-5: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 15/40 (2 SPs), Molik won second set 6-2 at 14:41.

As soon as Maria was facing break-point at 1-2 30/40, I sensed that her victory was suddenly in danger. In such a serve-dominated match, it's tough to come back from 1-4 and 2-5 down, even though it's just one break.

I knew it was very important for Maria to force Molik to serve for the set at 5-3, so that she [Maria] would at least have the advantage of serving first in the third, as well as giving Molik the chance to tighten up when serving for it.


According to those actually watching the match [3], Molik was being very aggressive and successful with her forehand, while Maria's first serve had gone soft.

"After a tight first few games to open the second, Molik continued her ploy of mixing up her pace of shot and it worked, breaking in the fourth game and holding to lead 4-1 as Sharapova's error count gradually rose." [4]


Maria received a warning for illegal coaching at 2-5 in the second set. According to Teletext, her father Yuri had been shouting advice to her throughout the tournament, and referee Jorge Dias finally decided to take action against this. Teletext said that the warning "seemed to unsettle her" and she "seemed to lose concentration".

I think the rule against coaching during a match is a very thorny issue. Can any spectator get a player warned by shouting advice? If so, how could the referee know whether it's a faithful servant, or someone trying to get that player into trouble? :rolleyes:

Perhaps they should just drop the rule against coaching (like in Fed Cup or Davis Cup), although that doesn't seem very fair on players who can't get a coach.


There was seven-minute break at the end of the second set, as Maria took an injury time-out to get treatment on her right shoulder. :sad:

"Before the start of the third set, Sharapova called for the WTA Tour primary health care provider for treatment of a right shoulder strain. After the treatment, the shoulder still appeared to hamper the Russian on her serve and Molik took the early lead. But Sharapova broke back and leveled the match at 2-2 and then 3-3 before Molik got the break on Sharapova's next service game and followed by serving out the match on a pair of aces." [4]


Third Set

Molik 0-0: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held
Shara 0-1: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs), 30/40, broken
Molik 2-0: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad Molik, Deuce #2, ad Maria (BP #2), broken
Shara 1-2: 40/0, 40/15,, 40/40, ad Maria, held
Molik 2-2: 0/15, 15/15,, 40/15, 40/30, held
Shara 2-3: 40/0, 40/15, held
Molik 3-3: 30/0, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad Molik, held
Shara 3-4: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken
Molik 5-3: 40/0 (3 CPs), Molik won 4-6 6-2 6-3 at 15:24.

When Maria went down 0-2 with an injured shoulder, I feared a 0-6 set or a retirement. Maria fought bravely to make it 3-3, but serving at 3-4 down in a final set is a very dangerous position to be in.

Defeat in this final is a very bitter pill to swallow, but I'm very pleased with the week Maria had to get to the final. It's just such an anticlimax. I hope Maria's career isn't going to blighted by injuries like Iva Majoli's (after she won the French Open) or Iroda Tulyaganova's.


Maria: "The shoulder was a little sore during the match and I'm sad that I wasn't able to give 100 percent today, but I'm not here to make excuses. Full credit to Alicia for having a great week. She beat a lot of tough players here so she fully deserves this title.

"This isn't a serious injury - I'm going to take a few days to rest the shoulder and prepare for the rest of the season.

"It was like a pectoral thing. My pectoral muscle was bothering me a lot with my serve, especially in the second and third sets. It definitely affected the way I played, but you have to live with these things and credit should go to Alicia for coming back from a set down. I've nothing to regret."

Molik: "We had a good match. I'm looking forward to more of these battles in the future.

"Maria played great, but I hung in there because I knew I'd get some opportunities. My preparations weren't ideal, because I picked up an injury in Filderstadt. At the start of the week I really didn't think I'd be in this position.

"It's a great feeling to win a Tier I title. I've won some smaller tournaments and I've been working really hard in the past year. So this, along with winning the bronze in Athens, is a reward.

"I'm proud of the fact that I stuck to my game plan. I think perseverance made the difference. I kept going for my shots and serves, I kept believing, and I was meeting Maria shot for shot from the baseline.

"I have to thank my coach David Taylor for giving me such great support. He encourages me and treats me the same whether I lose first round or win the title, and I think that's good for me not to play with any external pressure. It allows me to play freely and loose and I think that's been a big reason I've played so well this season."


Statistics:
http://www.swisscom-challenge.com/index.php?tableau=single&slot=31&pn=results_details

Molik served 11 aces to Maria's 7, and had better winning-percentages on serve. Maria broke 3 times from 8 break-points, Molik 5 from 9. Maria made more winners (including 15 forehand winners to 5), but more unforced errors and more forced errors.


Photos from the official tournament website:
http://www.swisscom-challenge.com/index.php?pn=pictures

Photos of Maria:
http://search.news.yahoo.com/search/news?c=news_photos&p=sharapova

Off-court photos of Maria and others:
http://www.wtatour.com/photogallery/

References:
[1] http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20041022/sp_nm/wta_zurich_dc_6
[2] http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/20041022/sp_wl_afp/tennis_wta_swi_041022203952
[3] http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=138256
[4] http://www.wtatour.com/newsroom/stories/NewsArticle_5612_rx.asp

By reaching the final, I'm almost sure that Maria has secured one of the eight berths at the season-ending WTA Tour Championships (Los Angeles, week of 8th November). I expect official confirmation of this at www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com/) on Monday.


For those in the UK, there are likely to be a few points from the final in TransWorld Sport next Saturday, 07:55 - 08:55 on Channel 4. I think TransWorld Sport is televised in other countries too.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/

lakan kildap
Oct 25th, 2004, 02:50 AM
It's still a good result from Maria, in my view. She answered two questions these past few weeks. Questions about her ability to progress through Tier 2 and 1 tournaments (semis in Beijing, final in Zurich), and questions about her ability to beat top 30 players post-Wimbledon (Williams and Dementieva). The statistics aren't that pretty, as you mentioned, Molik had a better post-Wimbledon record, but they must count for something. She's improving.

Maria can take heart in having beaten both the Williams sisters in the same year, and reasserting her mastery of Dementieva (which must really hurt Lena D.).

It's not the first time she got upset by a lower ranked player. Her 1R loss to Mashona Washington at the Pilot Pen was worse, IMO. Molik is certainly in better form than Mashona. And Maria has done some "upsetting" of higher ranked players herself, beginning Birmingham '03 (most famously, the then top-seeded Lena D.), so some of that would have to come back to haunt her. It's painful, but she will live through it.

It's just that the loss had to occur in a final, which of course spoiled her erstwhile perfect WTA finals record. But as they say when two unbeaten boxers meet in the ring, "one of those 0's will have to go."

The last two matches also showed she really needs to grow more comfortable in moving forward and then back. As a natural baseliner, she has no trouble moving side to side, but moving to the net and going back still gives her trouble. She needs more strength and quickness on those legs.

And she probably needs a real break before her next tournament. That means rest from tennis, and TV interviews.

Greenout
Oct 26th, 2004, 05:39 AM
I think it was a brilliant run at Zurich. The level of play at Swisscom
is really high every year. The finals tend to go rather flat because of
the outstanding early round performances. As Tier 1's go, and not
having any real indoor practice tournaments to lead up to Zurich,
I was really impressed.

Still alot to learn for Sharpy; but I think it was a good solid performance.

Lemonskin.
Oct 26th, 2004, 06:28 AM
She had a brilliant tournament IMO.

Man, I just wish I'd put some money on Molik to win at nearly $4!!! :p ;)

I was absolutely elated with the result. Maria's back in form, and Alicia now has a big tournament win. Great stuff from my 2 fave girls!!!

Maria Croft
Oct 26th, 2004, 10:54 AM
I don't think it's fair to say that Maria lost to Molik, don't get me wrong, Molik played great, but if her shoulder wasn't hurting she would have beaten her in two sets !!