PDA

View Full Version : Wimbledon 2005: Andrew's TV-reports (announcing extended report)


andrewbroad
Jun 20th, 2005, 01:16 AM
My analysis of the draw

The following is an excerpt from my analysis of the whole draw, including wishes for each round, which is available to members of the jeldani Yahoo! Group:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/message/2447

================
First-round draw (my selections, draw-order)
================
Maria's quarter (Tuesday)
---------------

97. NADIA PETROVA [8] v Virginia Ruano Pascual (vamos Virginia!)
99. Claudine Schaul v Séverine Beltrame [LL]
101. Zuzana Ondrášková v Cara Black [WC] (both nice)
103. Catalina Castańo v VIRGINIE RAZZANO [32]

105. FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [21] v Kristina Brandi
107. Conchita Martínez v Katerina Bondarenko [Q]
109. Kveta Peschke v Dally Randriantefy
111. Marlene Weingärtner v VERA ZVONARËVA [11] (davai Bepa!)

113. NATHALIE DECHY [16] v Maria Elena Camerin (forza Maria Elena!)
115. Jane O'Donoghue [WC] v Anna-Lena Grönefeld
117. Tatiana Panova v Lisa Raymond
119. Alyona Bondarenko v TATIANA GOLOVIN [18] (allez Tatiana!)

121. ANABEL MEDINA GARRIGUES [31] v Katarina Srebotnik (go Katarina!)
123. Yoon Jeong Cho v Arantxa Parra Santonja (vamos Arantxa!)
125. Amanda Janes [WC] v Sesil Karatantcheva
127. Nuria Llagostera Vives v MARIA SHARAPOVA [2] (davai Maria!)

A nice gentle opener for Maria when she steps onto Centre Court at 1pm on Tuesday as the defending champion! Llagostera Vives is a claycourt-specialist, and Maria beat her 6-2 6-3 in the fourth round of the French Open, despite cold, windy, damp, heavy conditions on clay which are the worst possible conditions in the world for Maria, who should really be going for a double bagel against Llagostera Vives on grass (I predict 6-2 6-0 once Maria has overcome her initial nerves about defending her first and latest Grand Slam title).

Second round: Karatantcheva is an intriguing opponent for Maria, because Maria beat her 3-6 6-3 6-2 at Indian Wells 2004 after Karatantcheva had threatened to "kick her ass off" for welching out of a practice-match at Nick Bollettieri's academy. But Maria crushed Karatantcheva 6-3 6-1 in the first round of the Australian Open, and it should be a similar story here, even though Karatantcheva beat a woeful Venus Williams en route to the French Open quarter-finals. It will be the feisty 15-year-old's first Wimbledon, although she did win ITF Volos 2003 on grass.

Third round: Medina Garrigues is the seed, and recent champion at Strasbourg, but she has never won a match in two previous visits to Wimbledon. My guess is that Maria will be facing Wimbledon 1998 Girls' Singles champion Katarina Srebotnik, although Srebotnik has won only two matches in six Women's Singles campaigns at Wimbledon. Srebotnik is a beautifully fluid player, but Maria thrashed her 6-3 6-1 as a 16-year-old at Los Angeles 2003, and it could be even easier for the 18-year-old Maria on grass.

Fourth round: Dechy is the highest seed, but I really, really hope and believe that we're going to have another mouthwatering Maria v Tatiana Golovin match! (Dechy's form hasn't been so crash-hot since reaching the Australian Open semi-finals, and she has only one fourth-round appearance to show for nine previous Wimbledon campaigns, while Tati reached the fourth round on her début last year).

I saw Maria and Tatiana's Birmingham 2004 final and Birmingham 2005 semi-final in person, and they played some mouthwatering tennis against each other (the tennis wasn't the only thing that was mouthwatering!). I would so love to catch a repeat performance on video - such a match might help me decide whether Tatiana is worthy of induction into my eternal fanship, although if Maria is healthy unlike at Birmingham 2005, it should be much easier (I also hope that Tatiana will have recovered from an ankle-sprain and an infected cut on her right foot).

Quarter-final: I believe that Vera Zvonarëva should come through the first three rounds, and should Bepa run into 8th seed Nadia Petrova in the fourth round, I think it's 50/50 which one of them would go through to the quarter-finals.

Petrova has reached two fourth rounds at Wimbledon, the same as Bepa, but I always feel that while Petrova has awesome power, she is very inconsistent, so Bepa ought to make life difficult for her. Although the statistics favour Petrova, I've just got a feeling that the deeply talented Bepa would prevail this time. The sweetest news is that Petrova lost to Gisela Dulko at s'Hertogenbosch this week, and we know from Wimbledon 2004 that Bepa is 6-4 6-2 better than Gisela on grass.

Maria v Bepa in the quarter-finals - what a mouthwatering match that would be! Their head-to-head is 2-2 (all matches in 2004), and it's always a high-quality match when they play each other, with Bepa's lateral retrieval-skills and resourcefulness providing the perfect foil for Maria's spectacular power-game of many winners, although grass would clearly favour Maria. I have yet to see a Maria v Bepa match myself, so I really hope to see one at Wimbledon 2005, and I believe Bepa has as good a chance as anyone in her section to reach that quarter-final.

Semi-final: realistically, we're looking at the winner of a Justine Henin-Hardenne [7] v Serena Williams [4] quarter-final, which should be the first really serious threat to Maria's title. I would rather have Maria face Williams than Henin-Hardenne who beat her comfortably the last two times they played, albeit on clay, because I believe Henin-Hardenne has much more of a psychological edge over Maria than does Williams. Henin-Hardenne was ripped up by Williams sisters in her previous two Wimbledons (2002 and 2003), so I'm hoping that this time would be no different. It's much easier for a big-hitter to overpower Henin-Hardenne on grass than on clay.

Final: Lindsay Davenport [1] is clearly the favourite in a weak top half - if Kim Clijsters [15] couldn't beat her in the fourth round of the French Open, on Davenport's worst surface, it's hardly likely that she would do so in the fourth round at Wimbledon, where Davenport thrashed her 6-1 6-2 in the 2001 quarter-finals. Svetlana Kuznetsova [5] doesn't seem to have the self-belief to beat other top players at the moment, while Amélie Mauresmo [3] seems to have a mental block over Grand Slams - she was one of the top favourites for the French Open title but lost to Ana Ivanovic in the third round, and lost to qualifier Vera Douchevina at Eastbourne this week.

--
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/

andrewbroad
Jun 21st, 2005, 02:32 AM
Centre Court (start 13:00 BST = 12:00 GMT)
WS 1r: Nuria Llagostera Vives v MARIA SHARAPOVA [2]
MS 1r: TIM HENMAN [6] v Jarkko Nieminen
MS 1r: Vincent Spadea v RAFAEL NADAL [4]

It's a bl**dy disgrace that there will be only 40 minutes of women's tennis on Centre Court, followed by 7 hours of men's! :fiery: Tuesday is traditionally Ladies' Day, after all. Forget equal prize-money - we demand equal coverage!

But if the Centre Court programme finishes by 17:30 BST, they might put Tatiana Golovin v Alyona Bondarenko, or Ana Ivanovic v Vera Douchevina, on Centre.


Full order of play:
http://www.wimbledon.org/en_GB/scores/schedule/


Only 24% believe Maria will successfully defend her Wimbledon title!
To help rectify this, please vote here:
http://www.wtatour.com/

--
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/

andrewbroad
Jun 23rd, 2005, 03:42 AM
===============
Women's Singles
===============
First round
-----------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [2] d. Nuria Llagostera Vives, 6-2 6-2

It's always special to walk out on Centre Court as the defending champion at 1pm on Tuesday, but I could only follow this match with 33% concentration as Daniela Hantuchová and Vera Zvonarëva were playing at the same time, and were both a set down.

I was disappointed that Maria dropped games to this claycourt specialist, whom she defeated 6-2 6-3 in the fourth round of the French Open, but Llagostera Vives seemed to offer more resistance than I expected.

Maria said she was unhappy with her serve and with her physical strength - it's so wonderful to have a player who generates so much power through timing rather than muscle! - but said that she fears no one in the defence of her title.

==========================
Order of Play for Thursday
==========================

Court One (start 13:00 BST = 12:00 GMT)
WS 2r: Sesil Karatantcheva v MARIA SHARAPOVA [2]
MS 2r: Gilles Muller v RAFAEL NADAL [4]
MS 2r: RADEK ŠTEPÁNEK [14] v Andrew Murray [WC]

Full order of play:
http://www.wimbledon.org/en_GB/scores/schedule/

--
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/

Shoulderpova
Jun 23rd, 2005, 06:06 AM
Anabel and Golovin both out in the first round. Masha's fourth round opponent is likely Dechy, with whom she should not have too much problem.
Hope Masha will play either Bepa or Nadia in quarter-finals :)

andrewbroad
Jun 25th, 2005, 03:00 AM
Second round:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [2] d. Sesil Karatantcheva, 6-0 6-1

I saw this match on BBC television.

It's not prudent to annoy a top player by claiming you can "kick her butt off", as the then-14-year-old Karatantcheva did prior to their match at Indian Wells 2004. That said, I don't think it's fair of the media to keep talking about that - it's so last year, but some of the media even omitted to mention that, creating the impression that Karatantcheva had made that comment at Wimbledon 2005!

Maria had to save two break-points at 15/40 in the first game of the match - in fact both opening games were long, hard-fought deuce-games, and Maria was lucky to be 2-0 up.

After that, Karatantcheva played like the 15-year-old she is - panicking, hitting hard, but not playing smart enough to offer any resistance to the defending champion, who was in terrifying form.

Karatantcheva lost the first 12 points of the second set to go 0-3 down, but Maria was too kind to hang a double bagel on her, prompting a huge cheer from the crowd and a smile from the 15-year-old who looked close to tears.

--------------------------
Order of Play for Saturday
--------------------------

Court One (start 12:00 BST = 11:00 GMT)
WS 3r: Katarina Srebotnik v MARIA SHARAPOVA [2]
WS 3r: VENUS WILLIAMS [14] v DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [20]
MS 3r: Igor Andreev v ANDY RODDICK [2]

--
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/

Andy Mac
Jun 25th, 2005, 03:05 AM
:yeah: thanks mate

andrewbroad
Jun 26th, 2005, 11:38 PM
-----------
Third round
-----------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [2] d. Katarina Srebotnik, 6-2 6-4

Maria put in a strangely subdued performance, wearing down her opponent with heavy rather than sharp hitting, and making 21 unforced errors to the same number of winners. Her talented opponent, who won the Girls' Singles at Wimbledon 1998, also forced some errors from Maria with some heavy hitting of her own into the places where Maria is most vulnerable, i.e. short and wide, and that dreaded forehand-sideline.

Maria took advantage of a poor start from Katarina to take a 3-0 lead with two breaks of serve, but Katarina reduced her lead to 3-2, and Maria was in danger of being broken back again for 3-3. But Maria used her will - more than her game - to stay ahead against Katarina who lacks self-belief.

Maria ground out a tough second set without losing her serve, although she had to save four break-points. Maria has a man's attitude to holding serve, and is very good at winning the long, tough games in a match.

In one way, it's good that Maria had a test of her ability to come through under pressure when she's not playing her best. But she'll definitely need to raise her game if she's going to defend her title against Venus Williams in the semis and Lindsay Davenport in the final.

-----------------
Fourth-round draw
-----------------

LINDSAY DAVENPORT [1] v KIM CLIJSTERS [15]
Magdalena Maleeva v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [5]
AMÉLIE MAURESMO [3] v ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA [13]
ANASTASIA MYSKINA [9] v ELENA DEMENTIEVA [6]

FLAVIA PENNETTA [26] v MARY PIERCE [12]
VENUS WILLIAMS [14] v Jill Craybas
NADIA PETROVA [8] v Kveta Peschke
NATHALIE DECHY [16] v MARIA SHARAPOVA [2]

The two biggests threats to Maria in the bottom half of the draw - Justine Henin-Hardenne and Serena Williams - are both gone! The biggest remaining threat to Maria in that half is Venus Williams, and the days when Venus looked like a genuine contender for Grand Slam titles seem a long time ago now.

Maria has never lost to Venus Williams, beating her 6-3 6-4 at Zurich 2004, 6-4 6-3 in an exhibition in Thailand on 2nd January 2005, and 6-4 6-3 at Miami 2005. But with Venus being twice champion and twice runner-up at Wimbledon, it would certainly be dangerous to underestimate her.

------------------------
Order of Play for Monday
------------------------

Court One (start 13:00 BST = 12:00 GMT)
WS 4r: AMÉLIE MAURESMO [3] v ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA [13]
WS 4r: NATHALIE DECHY [16] v MARIA SHARAPOVA [2]
MS 4r: GUILLERMO CORIA [15] v ANDY RODDICK [2]

The best that Dechy has to show for nine previous visits to Wimbledon is one fourth-round appearance, and since reaching the Australian Open 2005 semi-finals, she hasn't been in great form. Maria has played her once before, on grass at Birmingham 2003, winning 6-3 6-2. So I think it's safe to say that Maria has absolutely no chance of beating Dechy tomorrow! ;)

Full order of play:
http://www.wimbledon.org/en_GB/scores/schedule/

--
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/

andrewbroad
Jun 28th, 2005, 11:46 AM
------------
Fourth round
------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [2] d. NATHALIE DECHY [16], 6-4 6-2

Compared with Maria's brilliant best (like when she fought back from a set and a break down against Lindsay Davenport in SF Wimbledon 2004), this was a poor performance IMO - especially in the first set. Maria made a number of errors of the sort that could cost her dear against Venus Williams or Lindsay Davenport, her forehand looking particularly erratic.

Dechy kept going one game ahead by virtue of serving first, until Maria broke for 4-3. I'm surprised by the statistic that says Maria didn't face a single break-point against her in the match, for I remember several 0/30 and 15/30 situations. At least, then, Maria was solid and reliable when she had to be - but she was not spectacular like she can be when she's in the zone.

I feel that there was an element of luck in Maria's easy scoreline, as all the close line-calls seemed to go her way - particularly the one which gave her a 4-1 lead with two breaks in the second.

I know I'm judging Maria by very harsh standards, but I badly want her to defend her title here. The thought of her being stripped of it is frankly unbearable.

But Maria did raise her game spectacularly when she was 4-1 up in the second (Dechy played her best game to hold for 2-5), so at least she left the court with a nice taste in her mouth.

And who would have thought that Maria was ready to win the title after her fourth-round win over Amy Frazier last year?

Davenport is playing extremely well so far this Wimbledon, and Maria is going to have to raise her game considerably before possibly playing her in the final. I also thank Maria's lucky stars that she didn't draw Kim Clijsters in the fourth round, although Maria should have a clear edge over Clijsters on grass.

------------------
Quarter-final draw
------------------

LINDSAY DAVENPORT [1] v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [5]
AMÉLIE MAURESMO [3] v ANASTASIA MYSKINA [9]
MARY PIERCE [12] v VENUS WILLIAMS [14]
NADIA PETROVA [8] v MARIA SHARAPOVA [2]

-------------------------
Order of Play for Tuesday
-------------------------

Court One (start 13:00 BST = 12:00 GMT)
WS qf: NADIA PETROVA [8] v MARIA SHARAPOVA [2]
WS qf: LINDSAY DAVENPORT [1] v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [5]

Petrova is dangerous because can hit the ball extremely hard, but her best results - French Open semi-finals in 2003 and 2005 - have come on clay, and she played claycourt-tennis to beat Kveta Peschke 6-7 7-6 6-3 after saving match-point in the second set (if only Vera Zvonarëva had won the point at 1-6 4-4 0/30 on Peschke's serve in the second round), so I'm not losing too much sleep ahead of this match.

--
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/

andrewbroad
Jun 30th, 2005, 02:10 AM
--------------
Quarter-finals
--------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [2] d. NADIA PETROVA [8], 7-6 (8/6) 6-3

This was a much more impressive performance by Maria than in her 3r and 4r matches, against a tall, muscular opponent who served out of a tree, and put a lot of pressure on Maria by coming to the net. It was a good test for Maria, perhaps forcing her to raise her game, so I'm grateful that she had this test before the two very tough challenges that stand between her and the successful defence of her Wimbledon title.

The first set was a tense, serve-dominated affair with no breaks of serve, with Petrova putting Maria under intense scoreboard-pressure by serving first. Maria was very reliable at holding her own serve - which has only been broken once at Wimbledon 2005 so far! - but Petrova seemed a very real threat to her title in the first set. Prior to the tiebreak, Maria had one break-point and failed to convert it.

Serving at 3/3 in the tiebreak, Maria hit a brilliant two-handed crosscourt backhand drive-volley winner. A couple of errors from Petrova gave Maria two set-points at 6/4. Petrova saved the first by forcing an error, and the second with an ace. Maria hit a precise off-backhand to open up the court for a forehand winner down the line, giving her set-point #3 at 7/6. Maria played a one-two punch with a stinging off-forehand winner to take the set, and shouted "vamos!".

One big difference between these two Russians is that when Maria plays a bad point, she's able to put it behind her and get on with the next point, whereas when Petrova plays a bad point, she lets it affect her and can get very down on herself (the other difference is that Maria is pencil-slim and generates sharp power through immaculate timing, rather than blunt power through huge muscles).

Maria broke for 2-0 in the second set with an off-forehand drive-volley winner off a lob from Petrova that was actually sailing wide. It was the only break in the match, so Maria served for it at 5-3. She had to save a break-point before winning the match when Petrova hit a forehand long. Maria raised her arms in triumph and emitted a high-pitched squeal.

---------------
Semi-final draw
---------------

LINDSAY DAVENPORT [1] v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [3]
VENUS WILLIAMS [14] v MARIA SHARAPOVA [2]


Final wish:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [2] d. LINDSAY DAVENPORT [1], 6-0 6-0

--------------------------
Order of Play for Thursday
--------------------------

Centre Court (start 13:00 BST)
WS sf: LINDSAY DAVENPORT [1] v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [3]
WS sf: VENUS WILLIAMS [14] v MARIA SHARAPOVA [2]

Venus Williams will be a very difficult opponent for Maria, despite her mediocre results in the last couple of years, and the fact that she has only taken seven games a match from Maria in their official head-to-head which Maria leads 2-0.

Williams is playing much more like the Wimbledon 2000 and 2001 champion now, and her newfound net-rushing tactics could unsettle Maria as we saw whenever Dechy and Petrova came in against Maria. But it's difficult to come in against Maria's powerful groundstrokes.

Venus's vulnerability this Wimbledon has been her second serve - she has a great first serve, but has been winning less than 50% of the points when she has to use her second serve. I expect a serve-dominated contest, and Maria has to attack the second serve at every opportunity, while the key statistic for Williams will probably be her percentage of first serves in.

Most experts are predicting a Sharapova v Davenport final, which is quite amazing because just two years ago, Venus seemed unbeatable by anyone but Serena Williams or Vera Zvonarëva. In my view, Maria will have to come up with her biggest win of 2005 so far if she's going to reach the final. She'll really need to rise to the occasion as she did last year.

Davai Maria!

--
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/

Maria Croft
Jun 30th, 2005, 08:49 AM
thanx for posting :yeah:

andrewbroad
Jul 2nd, 2005, 02:53 AM
===========
Semi-finals
===========

- MARIA SHARAPOVA [2] lt. VENUS WILLIAMS [14], 7-6 (7/2) 6-1

"She was dear to you, I see. Or else her errand was one that you did not wish to fail? It has. And now she shall endure the slow torment of years, as long and slow as our arts in the Great Tower can contrive, and never be released, unless maybe when she is changed and broken, so that she may come to you, and you shall see what you have done."
[J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King]

I badly wanted Maria to emulate Boris Becker in retaining the Wimbledon crown she won as a 17-year-old, even if this would mean losing in the second round in 2006. Instead, she becomes the first defending champion to lose before the final since Jana Novotná in 1999.

It's easy to find excuses for this loss - they expected to be second on Centre Court, but after a four-and-a-half-hour rain-delay, the other semi-final was moved to Court One with only 25 minutes' notice to the players, and Maria is known to play worse with short notice. It was cold, damp, windy, and actually raining a little towards the end - Maria's worst weather conditions (as opposed to hot and dry conditions where the ball flies faster through the air, making it easier for Maria to hit winners).

But the bottom line is that Venus Williams played the kind of tennis with which she dominated the women's tour - and Wimbledon in particular - in 2000 and 2001. She served huge, hit her groundstrokes harder and deeper than any of Maria's previous Wimbledon opponents, outmanoeuvred Maria even on Maria's backhand-side, and her athleticism enabled her to retrieve a lot of balls that would usually have been winners for Maria - a good retriever is always the most difficult kind of opponent for Maria.

I'm very sad that Maria is no longer a reigning Grand Slam champion, but at least she lost to a great performance by a highly accomplished opponent, instead of surrendering in a hail of unforced errors to some journeywoman. And any 18-year-old who played like Maria this Wimbledon would have the potential to win multiple Grand Slams in the future. Even Serena Williams, who won the US Open when she was 17, didn't win her second Grand Slam title until she was 20.

The first set deserved to belong to a classic three-set thriller, as it was the best tennis between two players - men or women - at Wimbledon 2005, both hitting so hard and deep. Maria fought bravely - worthy of recognition in the archives of the Jedi order - but Williams's much bigger muscles won out in the end.

The second set was the best performance by one player at Wimbledon 2005, as a fiery-eyed Williams literally bared her teeth and tore Maria apart with the power and domination of a Sith lord.

YODA: Always two there are. No more, no less. A master and an apprentice.
MACE WINDU: But which was destroyed - the master or the apprentice?

Maria, who is naturally ambidextrous, even resorted to playing left-handed forehands on several points! There was a Russian girl called Evgenia Kulikovskaya who always played forehands off both sides!

The grunting was so loud that the BBC's Today at Wimbledon presenters were wearing earplugs when it cut back to the studio! Since I was attracted to tennis in the first place by Monica Seles's grunting, I totally support that...

---------
First set
---------

SHARAPOV _* *___*@* * 6(2)
WILLIAMS * * *@*___*_ 7(7)

I knew Maria was in for a tough day when she was serving at 0-1 0/40 after three groundstroke-winners from Williams. Then Williams missed a would-be return-winner by millimetres, Maria hit an error-forcing DTL backhand which clipped the outside edge of the sideline for 30/40, and hit three service-winners as she held for 1-1.

Maria faced break-point at 2-3 30/40 after two backhand winners from Williams, and saved it with an error-forcing crosscourt backhand. But Williams hit a crosscourt forehand pass-winner to get another break-point, and after a fierce baseline-rally, Maria netted a backhand to get broken for 2-4.

Williams served for the first set at 5-3, and her fearsome hitting brought her two set-points at 40/15. Maria saved the first by hitting like a mad dog, hard and deep, then coming to net to hit an error-forcing volley. Williams looked in charge of the second set-point when she came in behind an aggressive crosscourt forehand, but Maria came up with an AMAZING running crosscourt forehand pass-winner! At 40/40, Maria hit a low, skidding crosscourt backhand to give her break-point, which she converted when Williams hit a forehand long.

In the tiebreak, Williams hit a forehand volley-winner, then Maria hit two backhands wide for 0/3. Williams netted a backhand. 1/3. Maria netted a forehand return. 1/4. Maria crosscourt backhand winner. "Every inch of this court being used, every blade of grass being trodden upon - extreme tennis from both women" [Chris Bailey]. 2/4. Maria backhand just long. 2/5. Maria backhand wide. 2/6 (four set-points). Maria was forced to hit a defensive forehand just long. Williams won the first set 7-6 (7/2).

----------
Second set
----------

SHARAPOV __*____ 1
WILLIAMS @* *@*@ 6

Maria was broken to love in the first game of the second, as she hit three errors and a short sliced backhand that gave Williams an easy forehand winner. And although Maria hit a brilliant backhand drive-volley winner - "shades of Monica Seles" [Chris Bailey] and a cracking forehand return-winner down the line, she made too many errors to stop Williams holding for 2-0 after a long game with a break-point.

Although Maria held for 1-2, it was the beginning of the end. The second set was full of long games and lasted about forty minutes, but Williams was ruthless. As Maria walked to her chair after being broken again for 1-4, she looked like she might just do a Vera Zvonarëva at the changeover, and in her BBC interview after the match, her voice sounded pretty choked up.

Maria serving to stay in the match at 1-5: Maria crosscourt forehand winner. It was starting to rain. 15/0. Maria leaned into a backhand winner down the line. 30/0. Maria netted a backhand. 30/15. Double fault. 30/30. Williams off-forehand winner down the line. 30/40 (match-point). Williams hit a down-the-line backhand to force an easy short ball from Maria, with the court wide open for Williams to hit a backhand winner... but it was long! 40/40. Maria's depth forced Williams to hit a forehand long. Advantage Maria. Double fault. Deuce #2. Maria hit a crosscourt forehand winner behind Williams. Advantage Maria. She hit a backhand wide. Deuce #3. Maria forehand just wide. Advantage Williams (match-point #2). Maria went for a crosscourt backhand into the corner, but it was just wide so Williams won 7-6 6-1.

--------
Epilogue
--------

Maria didn't play with the precision she showed in the second half of her 2004 semi-final against Lindsay Davenport. For example, I remember one point (at 2-3 15/0) where Maria of 2004 would have hit a searing, sideline-clipping crosscourt backhand winner, but Maria hit it without much angle at all, right into Williams's hitting zone, allowing Williams to hit a backhand winner down the line.

I think the pressure of defending her first - and latest - Grand Slam title, and proving that she is better at 18 than at 17, really inhibited Maria from going for the lines this Wimbledon.

Maria is a much more solid and consistent player than last year - no longer ever losing to the likes of Paola Suárez or Mashona Washington - but she said she needs to improve her serve and her physique, and I would add more tactical variety and better ability to deal with awkwardly-placed shots (she looks vulnerable when forced to run to the sidelines or the net), and perhaps more practice against net-rushers, since her Wimbledon 2005 opponents tended to win the points whenever they came to the net against her.

--
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/

andrewbroad
Aug 22nd, 2005, 01:53 AM
I have just completed my extended Wimbledon TV-report for Maria on my website (I added her semi-final today, 22nd August 2005):
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/wimbledon2005.html

Today's the day Maria becomes world number one for the first time! She may not have earned it with a Grand Slam title in the last 52 weeks, but I'm sure there are many more Grand Slam titles and many more weeks at #1 to come, and the longer Maria holds onto #1, the longer Monica Seles's record of having beaten every player ever to be ranked #1 (except Tracy Austin whom she never played) will hold!

--
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/