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andrewbroad
Aug 11th, 2005, 02:21 PM
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JPMORGAN CHASE OPEN (Los Angeles, California, hard, WTA Tier II)
===================
Photos
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Maria Sharapova (and one of Maria Kirilenko):
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=81

Super Maria Sisters:
Search Getty Images for "sharapova" or "maria kirilenko"

Big Maria won the fashion-contest in a bright yellow midriff-revealing top, beautifully contrasted with a dark blue skirt - the "bee-outfit" as people are calling it.

Little Maria, being on the opposite side of the net for once, wore her own outfit - an orange and white number that looked very Father Christmas - but beat Big Maria in the department of facial cuteness.

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Second round
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+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] d. Maria Kirilenko, 7-6 (9/7) 6-2

The Super Maria Sisters had never met professionally in singles, but they did play each other in the semi-finals of Wimbledon 2002 Girls' Singles: Big Maria beat Little Maria 6-0 3-6 6-3. Big Maria went on to lose the final to Vera Douchevina, while Little Maria won the US Open 2002. How times change...

This was Big Maria's first match on the tour since Wimbledon, having pulled out of San Diego last week with a back-injury. But I must congratulate Little Maria for her good performance - much closer than I expected after watching them both in singles at Birmingham (although grass is Big Maria's best surface and Little Maria's worst).
CEEFAX called it an "error-strewn victory" for Big Maria. Teletext gave more credit to Little Maria with "fought gamely" and "stubborn challenge".

I extracted the following information from these sources:

Articles:
http://www.wtatour.com/newsroom/stories/NewsArticle_7752_rx.asp
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/

Scores-thread:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=183463&page=19


First Set
---------
SHARAPOVA * ? ?__?? *_ 7(9)
KIRILENKO _? * ??__? * 6(7)

The match started at 19:15 PDT. Due to the lack of an online scoreboard, the exact sequence of games is unknown. I know for sure that Big Maria was serving first, that there were three breaks apiece in the first set (Little Maria led 4-3 with a break), and that Big Maria missed four set-points on Little Maria's serve at 5-6 0/40.

The tiebreak went to 3/3 and 5/5; Big Maria missed set-points at *6/5 and 7/6*, but converted her 7th set-point at *8/7 when Big Maria "blasted a crosscourt forehand too deep for Kirilenko to return" and Little Maria "slammed a forehand into the net". Big Maria won the first set 7-6 (9/7) at 20:22 (67 minutes).

>>>
Playing her first tour match since losing to Venus Williams in the semi-finals at Wimbledon, an erratic Sharapova mixed pinpoint accuracy on her booming groundstroke with a string of errors forced by her speedy and creative compatriot.

By adeptly mixing her backhand and playing short angles, the 52nd-ranked Kirilenko frustrated her off-court friend, but Sharapova continued her assault on the corners and the strategy eventually paid off after a few nervy moments.
<<<
<http://makeashorterlink.com/?W2F33179B>

"Kirilenko was fuming over several close line-calls that went against her, especially three in the tiebreaker."


Second Set
----------
SHARAPOVA _*@*@* * 6
KIRILENKO *_____*_ 2

Little Maria took a medical time-out for a strained right elbow after Big Maria broke to lead 2-1. Big Maria only lost FOUR POINTS between 0-1 and 5-1!

Big Maria served out a 7-6 (9/7) 6-2 victory when Little Maria netted a forehand return at 21:06 - the match had lasted an hour and 50 minutes.

It's an unfortunate pattern for Little Maria that when she loses a first set on a tiebreak, she gets blown away in the second (we saw this last week against Daniela Hantuchová, who beat her 7-6 6-1). It's very draining mentally to lose a first set on a tiebreak, especially if you were up in the set - and Big Maria often gets a confidence-boost from winning a tight first set.

We saw this same pattern with Big Maria in the first half of 2004 (she too was once beaten 7-6 6-1 by Daniela).


As friendly as the Super Maria Sisters are off court, on the practice-court and on the doubles-court, and as smiling and polite as I perceive Little Maria to be, it wasn't all sweetness and light. Little Maria was so angry with umpire Chris Wilson that she refused to shake his hand, and was still fuming after the match:

"I think I played a really good match, one of the best matches of my life, but the umpire made mistakes. It's the worst umpiring I've had in my life. One shot was okay, but three in important moments is not fair. The line-judges made three mistakes and the umpire did nothing, he just sat in the chair and had nothing to say. I don't know why he didn't change the call. He was confused. Of course I was mad about it, I've never seen so many mistakes in my life."


Big Maria Quotes
----------------

"I've known her for such a long time, we're such good buddies. It's hard to play a good friend, especially in the first round, but I'm sure we'll have a lot of opportunities to play each other more.

"I knew she would give it all she had, because a lot of players ranked where she is have nothing to lose when they play me. That's something I have to accept.

"It was tough to close out the first set. I was up 0/40 on her serve at 6-5 and she came up with some good shots. The first set really could have gone anywhere, so I was really happy to win it.

"Once I toughen the first set out, I thought I was pretty much in control. After those long points, I know the opponent starts thinking `this is what you have to do for two more sets in order to win.' Mentally you get stronger, you do that all in the first few games in the set and feel my opponent might break down.

"There was a lot of rustiness, that's for sure. The first match after a lay-off is tough. First matches are always tough. You practise hard and work on a lot of things, but the actual competition is totally different. You never know, you have to go out there and shake it all off. I was just trying to get in a groove, get my feet wet. Overall there's lots of room for improvement.

"Winning the tournament is all I'm thinking about. I'm more focused on winning the tournament than becoming No. 1 for now. If I keep winning I'll become No. 1. Being No. 1 is just a number on a paper but being No. 2 is not that bad either."

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Third-round draw
----------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] v ANNA CHAKVETADZE [16]
(both nice, but my loyalty is with Maria)

Anna: "I'll have to focus on every point. She's very good and it will be a big match for me."

-----------------------
Maria's chance to be #1
-----------------------

The time for Maria to become world number one is at hand. As of 8th August, Lindsay Davenport has 4475 ranking-points while Maria has 4452.

Davenport is missing this tournament with a lower-back injury (Maria missed San Diego with a similar but less serious complaint), and if Davenport doesn't play next week either, Maria will overtake her on 22nd August when Davenport's 175 points for winning Cincinnati 2004 come off.

If Maria goes ahead and plays this tournament, she could well become number one on 15th August. Because the rankings only count a player's best 17 results, Maria needs a result worth more than 92 ranking-points to displace the US Open 2004, and hence needs a result worth more than 115 ranking-points to close the 23-point gap between herself and Davenport.

The full status of this tournament is Tier II (64) $585,000, so Maria gets the following ranking-points for losing in the following rounds:
* 2r (after a bye): 1 point
* 3r: 25 points
* qf: 49 points
* sf: 88 points
* f: 137 points
* champion: 195 points

And quality-points are available for beating players of the following rankings outside of the Grand Slams:
#1: +100 points
#2: +75 points
#3: +66 points
#4: +55 points
#5: +50 points
#6-10: +43 points
#11-16: +35 points
#17-25: +23 points
#26-35: +15 points
#36-50: +10 points
#51-75: +8 points
#76-120: +4 points
#121-250: +2 points
#251-500: +1 points

Best-case scenario (highest-ranked *and* nicest opponents!):
2r: Maria Kirilenko (#52): +8, total 25+8 = 33
3r: Anna Chakvetadze (#31): +15, total 49+8+15 = 72
qf: Daniela Hantuchová (#22): +23, total 88+8+15+23 = 134
sf: Maria becomes #1 no matter what happens
Worst-case scenario:
2r: Maria Kirilenko (#52): +8, total 25+8 = 33
3r: Anna Chakvetadze (#31): +15, total 49+8+15 = 72
qf: Kataryna Bondarenko (#186): +2, total 88+8+15+2 = 113
sf: Tathiana Garbin (#75): +8, total 137+8+15+2+8 = 170
f: Maria becomes #1 no matter what happens

So I have a double incentive for Daniela (of whom I'm also a fan) to beat Bondarenko tonight! :)

Useful websites for ranking-points:
http://www.wtatour.com/rankings/singles_numeric.asp (http://www.wtatour.com/rankings/singles_numeric.asp)
http://www.tenniscorner.net/index.php?corner=W&action=rankings


=============================
Andrew's Wimbledon TV-reports
=============================

Maria's quarter-final report added:
http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/wimbledon2005.html

--
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/

azi
Aug 12th, 2005, 01:28 AM
thanks for the report....

andrewbroad
Aug 14th, 2005, 07:46 PM
===================
JPMORGAN CHASE OPEN (Los Angeles, California, hard, WTA Tier II)
===================

This message concerns Maria's third-round match against Anna Chakvetadze, her withdrawal from the quarter-final against Daniela Hantuchová, and her imminent rise to world number one.

------
Photos
------

Maria Sharapova and Anna Chakvetadze:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova

These photos say it all: the pain and determination on Maria's face, the tears on Anna's as she shook hands, and if you go through at least the first 4 pages of search-results, you'll find a superb photo of Anna pumping her fist - beauty of the day, if not the week!

The Maria photos at higher quality:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=82

The Anna photos at higher quality:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=77769&page=27

More photos:
Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

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Third round (Thursday)
-----------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [16], 4-6 6-4 7-5

Maria overcame a recurrence of the pectoral muscle strain (which she first suffered at Zurich last October), a bad cold and a sore throat, to survive a gruelling 2h 18m marathon against Anna Chakvetadze, who "played smart and efficiently with her steady ground-game and created a rash of unforced errors by Sharapova."

Maria's inflamed right pectoral muscle meant that she couldn't serve or hit her forehand properly, and it's a testimony to her tremendous fighting spirit and indomitable will to win that she emerged with a 4-6 6-4 7-5 victory.

I extracted the information in this report from the following sources:

Articles:
http://www.wtatour.com/newsroom/stories/NewsArticle_7768_rx.asp
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/

Scores-thread:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=184280&page=8


First Set
---------
The match started at 15:02 PDT, with Maria serving first. Anna led 3-2 with a break, and won the first set 6-4 at 15:39.


Second Set
----------
SHARAPOVA 2 4 *@ 6
CHAKVETAD 1 3*__ 4

The second set appears to have gone with serve until Maria broke Anna's serve at 4-5 after Anna had led 40/30, to take the second set 6-4 when Anna hit a backhand wide at 16:21.


Third Set
---------
SHARAPOVA __*@ @* * *@ 7
CHAKVETAD @*__@__* *__ 5

The third set was a battle of the walking wounded, with Anna taking a medical time-out for a left-groin strain (while changing ends after breaking for 3-2); three games later, she slipped and fell "while chasing one of Maria's stinging replies", and started crying.

Anna broke for 1-0, then held for 2-0 after saving two break-points at 15/40. But Maria fought off that break, and the one at 2-3, and won 4-6 6-4 7-5 at 17:20 with a swinging crosscourt forehand volley-winner on her second match-point. Anna was in tears as she shook hands, and left the court sobbing.


Maria quotes
------------

"It wasn't me out there today. I'm not playing 100% physically. I'm serving 92 miles per hour and I'm not hitting my forehand. With that, it's tough to come out against a player that has nothing to lose, to play a girl who is swinging out there and seems to be playing unbelievable.

"It's been an on-and-off problem for me [since Zurich 2004]. I don't think the pain is going to go away with me trying to play and hit as hard as I can.

"There's nothing torn, thank God, but it keeps coming back. It's the whole muscle and hurts on the moment of impact. The more you play and the bigger you hit, the more painful it is.

"The good thing is that I know that at the end of the day without playing great, without having a forehand or a serve, you tough it out and you win. The bad thing is I can't really hit a big serve, and you feel like crap.

"There's no pressure at all. It's not important for me to play. I always feel terrible pulling out. It's not me. But if it comes to a point where I can't serve without pain and it could hurt me for the Open, there's no reason to think about No. 1 or anything else.

"As much as I want to play, it's more important to take care of your body and be ready for the US Open. I'm just going to wait and see if I can take care of it tonight. Playing with pain like today's match for a top athlete isn't right and it's more important to be ready for the big ones.

"If I go out on the practice-court and I can't serve without pain, there's no reason for me to play because it's more important for me to be ready for the US Open."


Anna quotes
-----------

"Maria was a fighter and she fought all the way. That's why she won.

"I pulled my muscle in my leg, so I didn't feel so well. I was really upset because I felt I could win the match. I had a little bit bad luck."


--------------
Quarter-finals (Friday)
--------------

- MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] lt. DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9], walkover

Daniela kept up her end of the bargain by bringing Maria the quality-points she needed to become world number one by reaching the semi-finals, but Maria, as feared, pulled out! :sad:

Maria received treatment on Thursday night and Friday morning, and tried to practise on Friday morning, but the pain was too bad for a Tier II tournament - we wouldn't want her to jeopardise her US Open chances, would we?

Maria: "I'm not a big fan of pulling out. If you saw me play yesterday, you would say that I shouldn't have been playing. Like I said yesterday, if I woke up with pain and couldn't play 100%, I wouldn't play. That's what has happened. I can't serve or hit a forehand.

"I didn't find a miracle-cure that worked. I can do a lot of things except hit or serve or a forehand and those are two crucial things you need for tennis. Even if I would have won, I would have been number one and would have more pain, and it's more important to be healthy than to be number one with pain. If it was the semi-finals of the US Open, I'd probably try to play through the pain. Thank God this wasn't the US Open."

Maria's official statement: "I'm extremely disappointed to have to withdraw from the JPMorgan Chase Open because of the reinjury of a muscle strain that I sustained late last year, and which has been bothering me all week. Reaching the No. 1 ranking on the WTA Tour has been a life-long goal of mine, and achieving it here in Los Angeles would have been a dream come true. I'm eager to get back to feeling 100% healthy and playing as soon as possible to restart my quest to become No. 1 on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Rankings."


Maria's injury could also keep her out of next week's Rogers Cup at Toronto:
"The percentage of my playing next week is not very big right now. Of course I'm disappointed. In the back of my mind I know I need to be 100% healthy. I'm not the kind of person that goes out on court and wants to pull out in the middle [of a match]."

-------------------------------
Maria will be #1 on 22nd August
-------------------------------

We now know that Lindsay Davenport will not be playing Toronto next week, so all Maria has to do to become world number one now is to stay alive until 22nd August, when Davenport will lose 175 ranking-points (for winning Cincinnati 2004).

Projected rankings of 22nd August:
#1 Maria Sharapova (4452)
#2 Lindsay Davenport (4475 - 175 = 4300)

Maria: "At least that question won't pop any more! [laughing] Of course it's a dream come true to be able to win a Grand Slam and become number one in the world. That definitely puts a smile on my face. The computer doesn't lie. You have to achieve something to get there, and it's been an amazing two years. It's been hard work and dedication, and the achievement has been amazing."


The following quotes are from before the Los Angeles tournament started:
>>>
Maria: "I know I say this all the time, but I am 18 and it's more important that I'm fully ready to remain number one as long as I can. Being there for a week would give me pride, but not as much as staying there for the long term.

"It's just something else I have to hear. It's all about locking it out. I've been close before and I'm close now, but I'm not looking at it as a one-week thing.

"I don't dream about it at night, but it's always been my dream to be the best and be a champion, and to always do the best I can - No. 1 or whatever I can achieve. But I always want to be sure that I was headed towards No. 1. So even if I don't become No. 1, I'm still at the top where I can be.

"It's very important but I want to make sure whenever I become No. 1, I'm healthy and ready to stay at No. 1. For me to become No. 1 and keep it for one week doesn't mean anything. That's what I'm working towards. I'm not working towards becoming No. 1 and falling down the steps.

"Just to be No. 1 is an amazing accomplishment, but of course to become the first Russian to be able to do that for my country is also amazing.

"I really don't know. It's hard to say. Being No. 2 and then being No. l, I don't know, maybe more respect. But I don't think there's going to be a huge difference, except knowing the fact you are No. 1.

"My back wasn't that bad, it was just tight and I didn't want to start playing San Diego with a tight back. I was still practising and doing more strength-training. It was more important to have another week of preparation. If I wanted number one so bad, I would have played last week, but I wanted to make sure I'm healthy and that I'm ready for the US Open.

"There's no big rush. If it doesn't happen now and it doesn't happen later or it never happens, whatever. I won't say I was this far from being No. 1. I'm No. 2 in the world. It's amazing to be able to do what I do and still be 18 years old and have a whole career ahead of you and so much to look forward to. I'm thankful for everything that's happened."
<<<

I'm very pleased that Maria's "highest ranking" slot will always say #1, but I wish it could have happened under worthier circumstances.

Firstly, I've always maintained that to be the true world number one, you have to have won at least one Grand Slam title in the last 52 weeks (or two Grand Slams if someone else has won the other two). But the current ranking-system rewards players for consistency far more than for winning Grand Slams.

Current #1 Davenport hasn't won a Grand Slam title since the Australian Open 2000, and of the four reigning Grand Slam champions, Serena and Venus Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova have done little else in the last year, while Justine Henin-Hardenne's results this year have just been those of a great claycourt-specialist. There really is no one player who deserves to be #1 right now.

Secondly, it's a shame that Maria is only becoming #1 now because Davenport is injured and cannot defend her ranking-points. It would have been nice if Maria could at least have done it with a win this week, rather than having to wait passively for Davenport's points to come off.

I just wish Maria could have done it by beating Patty Schnyder in the semi-finals of Rome in May. Then she would have become #1 whilst holding a Grand Slam title, and would have displaced Steffi Graf as the fourth-youngest #1 in the history of the WTA Tour rankings. As it is, Maria will be the 15th different woman to be ranked #1 since their inception in 1975, the fifth-youngest, and the first Russian.

I only hope Maria can justify her #1 ranking by winning the US Open, then at last we'll have a worthy number one. While her injury is a worry, remember that she pulled out of Philadelphia 2004 with this same injury before her semi-final, then came back the next week and won the prestigious WTA Tour Championships!

--
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/