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andrewbroad
Feb 26th, 2005, 02:56 AM
SECOND ROUND

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [2] d. Gisela Dulko, 6-1 6-1

Maria confirmed that Gisela is her pigeon after beating her 6-0 6-1 at San Diego last July. Gisela may be a nice girl and a former doubles partner of Maria's, but there's no room for mercy in women's tennis these days.

Maria obviously has Gisela's number, as it were, because Gisela has been on the receiving end of Maria's most one-sided scoreline of 2004, and now of 2005 so far.

Maria: "It was a good match for me to get through, considering that I was playing after a break. I wouldn't call it an easy match because I was tiring at the end. It's never easy to make a comeback after an illness, but I took my opportunities. I still feel I need to work on my fitness levels."

Apparently it was bronchitis that Maria had in Paris.

Maria: "It's never easy in the first round, but this was a good match to get through. It's also never easy to come back from feeling 0% to 100%.

"The people are so generous and nice here. I definitely consider this one of the best places to have a tournament."

Gisela did beat Maria in one department, though. In my opinion, Gisela looked prettier on the court when I searched for "sharapova" at Getty Images.


QUARTER-FINALS


Maria's quarter-final opponent was Marion Bartoli - an intriguing match against a Selesian player, although two hands both sides might actually be a disadvantage against Maria, who has her opponents constantly off-balance or at full stretch.

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [2] d. Marion Bartoli, 6-3 6-2

Maria won nine games in a row from 2-3 to 6-3 5-0, then Marion broke serve before bowing out.

Maria: "I was able to get a lot of balls in today. My shotmaking was pretty OK, and I was fairly consistent with my returns. I was a bit slow at the start, but I recovered well by serving strongly (after the third game). I came up with the goods when I had to.

"I made some errors that I shouldn't have made . But I got my game together and managed to pull ahead. I was ready for her to get a lot of balls back. I thought I was pretty consistent and I managed to find a way to win."


This set up a mouthwatering match with Daniela Hantuchová - Maria's third semi-final of the year (in as many tournaments) but Daniela's first since Eastbourne 2004.

Maria: "I'll definitely be prepared for a tough battle, but I feel up to the challenge."

Daniela: "I feel like I'm playing really well right now. I've had some good matches and I'm feeling confident. I'm really happy about how I closed it out and hope I can bring this confidence into the semis against Sharapova.

"It's been a good start for me this season. I worked very hard in the off-season. My confidence is back. I am looking forward to playing Maria. I know it'll be a tough match, but I am ready for it."

My prediction was that Maria would win 7-5 7-6 (7/3).

Who did I want to win this time? Either way, one of my players would be in the final! :D Maria was always going to be more likely to win the title for me, but it would be more special for Daniela to reach the final with the scalp of the Wimbledon champion. I just wanted both girls to take the motto of my old headmaster on board: "Look your best, do your best, and BE your best."


SEMI-FINAL

"`Please,' she said, `you're so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I'd sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else.'"
[Hwin to Aslan in C.S. Lewis's [i]The Horse and his Boy]


* MARIA SHARAPOVA [2] d. Daniela Hantuchová, 6-2 6-4

The pattern of this mouthwatering match was to have long deuce-games on Daniela's serve, while Maria held serve easily. But it wasn't really a case of missed opportunities for Daniela - instead, she had to save a lot of break-points against her. Daniela put up a good fight in the second set, but Maria is just too good and too ruthless!

I didn't see the match myself (not having access to Eurosport), so I followed it on the Internet at the following sources:
http://www.ebolibet.com/tennislive.htm (point-by-point scores)
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=153519&page=18 (scores thread)

After rain delayed play for hours and hours, the match finally started at 23:07 Qatar time (20:07 GMT).


First Set


Hantu 0-0: 0/15, 15/15, 40/15, held
Shara 0-1: 15/0, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad H (BP), Deuce #2, ad S, held


Terrific resistance from Daniela early on.

Hantu 1-1: 15/15, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad S (BP), ad Deuce #2, ad S (BP #2), Deuce #3, ad S (BP #3), Deuce #4, ad S (BP #4), Deuce #5, ad S (BP #5), broken

What a game! At least it wasn't Daniela wasting opportunities yet again. ;)

Shara 2-1: 40/0, 40/15, held

I hope for Daniela's sake that Maria isn't going to run away with this after that long game. On the other hand, a long match might not favour Maria in the final with her fitness-levels being suspect after her illness and she would only have until 17:30 on Saturday to recover...

Hantu 1-3: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad S (BP #2), Deuce #2, ad S (BP #3), Deuce #3, ad S (BP #3), broken
Shara 4-1: held to love

Maria holds serve easily, then puts so much pressure on Daniela's.

Hantu 1-5: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held
Shara 5-2: 30/0, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad H (BP #2), Deuce #2, ad S (SP), Maria won first set 6-2 at 23:51.


Second Set

Hantu 0-0: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15 -> 40/40, ad H, Deuce #2, ad H, held
Shara 0-1: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 40/30, held
Hantu 1-1: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 40/15, held for 2-1

A commendable effort for Daniela early in this set. At least she's got as many games as she did at Wimbledon! :o

Shara 2-1: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 40/15, 40/30, held
Hantu 2-2: 15/0, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad H, held

What a fightback by Daniela! She saved the two break-points with service-winners, then another good serve to set up a forehand winner down the line, and a drop-volley to finish <http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=153519&page=24>.

Shara 2-3: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held
Hantu 3-3: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad S (BP), Deuce #2, ad H, held

Maria definitely has a fight on her hands in this second set! :)

Shara 3-4: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held
Hantu 4-4: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad H, Deuce #2, ad H, Deuce #3, ad H, Deuce #4, ad S (BP #2), broken for 4-5

And therein lies the difference between the two. Daniela missed three game-points, then Maria got a break-point and she took it. It's funny how, when you're serving, the points in the deuce-court are often so much easier to win than the points in the ad-court.

Now Maria will serve for the match, just as she did at 6-2 5-4 against Serena Williams at the Australian Open...

Shara 5-4: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 40/15 (2 MPs), 40/30, Maria won 6-2 6-4 at 24:40.


Quotes

Maria: "I am excited to be in the final. I am happy with my game and form and I am looking forward to playing Alicia in the final. I am confident that I will play well."

Daniela: "It was pretty tough going on the court so late. My reaction time was a little slow but I'm not going to make excuses. I didn't take my chances. I didn't play the way I've been playing. If I had, the scoreline would have been a bit different."


Preview of Final

Maria faces fourth seed Alicia Molik in a sexy final, after Molik upset top seed Amélie Mauresmo in the other semi (a nice result for me, to be sure). Had Mauresmo won that match, she would have been world number one next week. Because Maria won her semi, she [Maria] will be #3 next week.

Maria lost to Molik 4-6 6-2 6-3 in the Zurich 2004 final - her only loss ever in a WTA or Grand Slam singles final - but she was hampered by a shoulder-injury that reduced her amazing serve to a powder-puff.

I hope it will be more like their Birmingham 2004 quarter-final, where Maria destroyed Molik 6-3 6-1 with one of the most brilliant performances I've ever seen on a tennis-court (I was there). Maria seemed to be in a zone where she was seeing the ball in slow motion and could do whatever she wanted with it - total control and awesome power.


Order of play for Saturday

Centre Court (start 17:30 = 14:30 GMT)
1. Singles final: ALICIA MOLIK [4] v MARIA SHARAPOVA [2]
(suitable rest for Molik)
2. Doubles final: Molik/Francesca Schiavone v Cara Black/Liezel Huber

Udachi Maria!

--
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
Feb 26th, 2005, 03:55 PM
SHE WON MATE:D:woohoo:

Andy.
Feb 26th, 2005, 10:30 PM
Thanks for the Analysis and Wooo Hooo title number 9

andrewbroad
Feb 26th, 2005, 11:44 PM
THE FINAL

Maria overcame big-serving Alicia Molik 4-6 6-1 6-4 to win her first Tier II WTA singles title and the ninth WTA-or-Grand-Slam singles title of her career.

Molik's game has come a long way since Maria thrashed her 6-3 6-1 in the quarter-finals of Birmingham last June (one of the most brilliant performances I've ever seen on a tennis-court), and Maria needed all her resilience, self-belief and the extra gear in her back pocket that great champions have, to recover after an early break cost her the first set.

Molik fought valiantly, and although she didn't break Maria again after the third game of the match, Maria had to survive several tight service-games with break-points against her - not least the first game of the second set, and when she served for the title at 5-4 in the third.

Molik: "Maria and I have traded battles. It will be a tough match regardless of who I'll play. Mentally I feel prepared to be out there a long time. Tonight [Friday] I could have played another two sets if I had to. I'm prepared to hang in there until the end and hopefully play my best tennis."

I did not get to see the match myself, but I followed live scores/picked up some details of play at:

http://www.ebolibet.com/tennislive.htm (point-by-point updates)
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=153671 (live scores thread)
http://www.eurosport.com/home/pages/v4/l0/s57/e7389/live_lng0_spo57_evt7389_mtc106416_allLive1.shtml (game-by-game commentary)


First Set

The match started at 17:39 Qatar time (14:39 GMT).

Shara 0-0: held to love
Molik 0-1: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad MS (BP #2), Deuce #2, ad MS (BP #3), Deuce #3, ad AM, held

It's started like the Maria v Daniela semi-final, with Maria holding serve easily and Molik having to fend off several deuces on hers.

Shara 1-1: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15 -> 40/40, ad MS, Deuce #2, ad MS, Deuce #3, ad MS, Deuce #4, ad MS, Deuce #5, ad AM (BP), broken

To a lesser player than Maria, this would be a huge blow indeed. Six game-points wasted, one break-point needed by Molik. But Maria is thick-skinned, and often a slow starter; I still feel Molik won't be able to handle her once Maria gets into her zone. We'll see.

Molik 2-1: 15/0, 30/15, held
Shara 1-3: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, 40/30, held
Molik 3-2: held to love

The question now is whether Molik, with her big serve, can hold onto the material advantage of being a break up for long enough to win the first set. She's hitting a lot of winners and aces according to http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=153671&page=6

Shara 2-4: held to love
Molik 4-3: held to love

This is getting like men's tennis of the mid-1990s!

Shara 3-5: 40/15, held

Now comes the big test of Molik's mental strength, as she serves for the set against Maria, who is tough enough to melt nails...

Molik 5-4: 0/15, 30/15, 40/15 (2 SPs), Molik won first set 6-4 at 18:17 when Maria netted a forehand.


Second Set

Shara 0-0: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, held

A very important hold for Maria indeed. The momentum certainly isn't in her favour at the moment, and with the way Molik has been holding serve, Maria's prospects would look very bleak at a set and a break down.

Molik 0-1: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken

YAISSS!!! From 30/30, Maria hit a forehand volley-winner, then broke with a lucky netcord. Could this be the turning of the tide?

Shara 2-0: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held
Molik 3-0: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken

Yes, it's a very different match now than in the first set! :)

Shara 4-0: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held for 5-0

Maria hit two aces in a row from 30/30.

Molik will really want to hold here, otherwise she not only gets bagelled, but would have to start the third set with Maria having the advantage of serving first as well as all the momentum!

Molik 0-5: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (SP), 40/40, ad AM, Deuce #2, ad MS (SP #2), Deuce #3, ad MS (SP #3), Deuce #4, ad AM, held
Shara 5-1: 30/0, 40/15, held. Maria won second set 6-1 at 18:51.

Molik took a bathroom-break.


Third Set

Maria doesn't have the advantage of serving first, so she has to really go for an early break, and remember that she hasn't been broken herself since the third game of the match.

Molik 0-0: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad MS (BP), Deuce #2, ad AM, Deuce #3, ad AM, held
Shara 0-1: 40/0, 40/30, held
Molik 1-1: 0/15, 15/15, 40/15, held
Shara 2-1: held to love
Molik 2-2: 0/40 (3 BPs), 15/40, broken

First blood to Maria - she broke with a virtual forehand winner down the line! :) No break-backs in this match so far...

Shara 3-2: 0/30 -> 30/30, 40/30, held

"...her forehand is simply breath-taking now, hitting winners from all parts of the court" [http://www.eurosport.com/home/pages/v4/l0/s57/e7389/live_lng0_spo57_evt7389_mtc106416_allLive1.shtml]

Molik 2-4: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 40/15, held
Shara 4-3: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15 -> 40/40, ad MS, Deuce #2, ad MS, held

Phew! Maria's had a few games like that today. Molik must be a great fighter!

Molik 3-5: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held
Shara 5-4: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad AM (BP #2), Deuce #2, ad MS (Championship-Point), SHE WON SHE WON SHE WON!!! Maria won 4-6 6-1 6-4 with an ace out wide at 19:39!


Quotes

Maria: "I was always positive, even after losing the first set. The match could have gone anybody's way, but when I broke her twice in the second set, I knew it would be difficult for her to beat me.

"After losing the first set, I just tried to hang in there and wait for my turn to make something happen. I am glad that I managed to play my best tennis today after the first set.

"Alicia was dictating terms to me in the first set, but in my mind I was always positive. In the first set I was not playing my own game, but in the second I decided to put some pace on the ball and put pressure on her serve and that worked.

"I need some rest now, and I am eager to see my mum and catch up with friends after all the travelling I've been doing."

Maria will now travel to Los Angeles to be with her mother before preparing for her next events (Indian Wells and Miami?).


Molik: "I am disappointed not to win, but overall I have been playing well of late. I played well, but I spent a lot of time on the court [playing singles and doubles] and I suffered a lapse of concentration in the second set. I can safely say that the best player in the tournament won the title here."


List of Titles

Maria's titles:
1. Japan Open (Tokyo), WTA Tier III, 5th October 2003
2. Bell Challenge (Québec City), WTA Tier III, 2nd November 2003
3. DFS Classic (Birmingham), WTA Tier III, 13th June 2004
4. WIMBLEDON, 3rd July 2004
5. Hansol Korea Open (Seoul), WTA Tier IV, 3rd October 2004
6. AIG Japan Open (Tokyo), WTA Tier III, 9th October 2004
7. WTA Tour Championships (Los Angeles), 15th November 2004
8. Toray Pan Pacific Open (Tokyo), WTA Tier I, 6th February 2005
9. Qatar Total Open (Doha), WTA Tier II, 26th February 2005


My players have now won 83 singles titles between them in the category "WTA + Grand Slams":

1. Monica Seles (53, including 9 Grand Slams and 3 WTA Tour Champs)
2. Maria Sharapova (9, including Wimbledon and WTA Tour Champs 2004)
3. Iva Majoli (8, including French Open 1997 - all Tier II or higher)
4. Jelena Dokic (5, including two Tier I and one Tier II)
5. Vera Zvonareva (3: all Tier III)
6. Iroda Tulyaganova (3: one Tier III and two Tier IV)
7. Daniela Hantuchová (1: Indian Wells 2002 - Tier I)
8. Karina Habšudová (1: Pörtschach 1999 - Tier IV)

Maria moves up to second position today, while I promoted Bepa to fifth when she won her third title last week at Memphis. What a double for my two Russians! :D


Photos

1. http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=55
2. http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
3. http://www.wtatour.com/photogallery/ (off-court)
4. Search Getty Images for "sharapova"


Trans World Sport

Those in the UK may wish to catch Trans World Sport next Saturday (5th March) at 07:00 - 08:00 (time subject to change) on Channel 4. They usually show a few points from Tier I/II finals in their tennis round-up.

Trans World Sport may also be televised in other countries.

--
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/