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View Full Version : US Open 2005: Andrew's reports


andrewbroad
Aug 27th, 2005, 04:38 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, Decoturf, Grand Slam)
=======

This is an excerpt from my analysis of the whole draw (which includes round-by-round wishes):
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/message/2717

Maria will fall back to #2 in the rankings next week because Lindsay Davenport has reached the New Haven final! :( But Maria will still be top seed for the Open.

Lots of new, sexy Maria photos this week! :hearts:
(search Getty Images for "sharapova")

----------------
First-round draw
----------------
Maria Sharapova's quarter
-------------------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] v Eleni Daniilidou (davai Maria!)
* Dally Randriantefy v Mary Gambale [WC]
* Anne Kremer [Q] v Lisa Raymond
* Julia Schruff v FLAVIA PENNETTA [28] (forza Flavia!)

* DINARA SAFINA [21] v Maria Elena Camerin (forza Maria Elena!)
* Mashona Washington v Sania Mirza (go Sania!)
* Barbora Strýcová v Marion Bartoli (allez Marion!)
* Shenay Perry [WC] v ALICIA MOLIK [14]

* NADIA PETROVA [9] v Eva Birnerová
* Marissa Irvin v Aiko Nakamura
* Nicole Pratt v Akiko Morigami
* Laura Granville v SILVIA FARINA ELIA [22] (forza Silvia!)

* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [26] v Kveta Peschke (pod'me Nicole!)
* Zheng,Jie v Iveta Benešová (pod'me Iveta!)
* Ivana Lisjak [Q] v Emilie Loit
* Ekaterina Bychkova v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [5]


FIRST ROUND: Daniilidou is an extremely dangerous first opponent for Maria to be facing, especially with her right pectoral-muscle strain, and having played only two full matches since Wimbledon. Daniilidou is a muscular serve-and-volleyer whom Maria beat only 7-5 2-6 6-1 at Birmingham 2005 - on Maria's favourite surface - when Maria was struggling with a sore throat and a thigh-injury.

Daniilidou also knocked French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne out of Wimbledon in the first round, and although she's won only two matches since Wimbledon, and retired from Los Angeles two weeks ago with a right-ankle sprain, we must be under no illusions that Maria in her present condition could not lose this match.


SECOND ROUND: If Maria gets past Daniilidou, she should have no problems against Randriantefy (ranked #48 but has won only one match in her last seven tournaments) or Gambale (#245). Unless of course her pectoral muscle flairs up again, as it did at Los Angeles despite beating Anna Chakvetadze.


THIRD ROUND: I hope and expect a mouthwatering match against the cute and sexy Flavia Pennetta, whom Maria struggled to beat at Indian Wells 2004 (6-3 4-6 6-4). But Maria of 2005, if fully fit, would be much too strong for Flavia, no matter how many Tier III claycourt-tournaments Flavia may have won.

Or it could be the dangerous Lisa Raymond, who upset Venus Williams at the Australian Open 2004, and has a respectable 4-3 win/loss record on the American hard courts this summer.


FOURTH ROUND: The seedings say Alicia Molik, but I can't see her getting through after her 6-4 6-2 thrashing by Gisela Dulko at New Haven - only her second tournament since April because of an inner-ear infection.

The other seed is Dinara Safina, whom Maria struggled quite a bit to beat at Berlin 2004 (6-1 1-6 6-3), but 6-2 6-3 at Indian Wells 2005. Safina was a surprise champion at Paris in February, where she defeated Amélie Mauresmo 6-4 2-6 6-3 in the final, but there's not much else in her four years on the WTA Tour to indicate that she could be a threat to the top players.

But I hope it will be Sania Mirza, who could certainly beat anyone in her sixteenth of the draw with her flashy groundstrokes of amazing flairsome power.


QUARTER-FINAL: The seedings decree a meeting with defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who has given Maria all sorts of trouble in the past (most notably Beijing 2004, where Kuznetsova, riding high on confidence after winning the US Open, thrashed Maria 6-2 6-2). But Maria has won their last two meetings, and Kuznetsova hasn't won a title all year, and her 2-3 win/loss record in the American hardcourt summer does not bode at all well for the defence of her title.

I'm hoping that the wonderful Nicole Vaidišová can succeed where she narrowly failed at Wimbledon, and take care of Kuznetsova in the third round - Nicole is much better on a hard court than on grass. A Maria v Nicole quarter-final would be most intriguing: Nicole bears a striking resemblance to Maria, with even sexier legs; Nicole has a big serve and a huge forehand, and actually beat Maria in their only previous meeting - a World Team Tennis rubber just after Maria won Wimbledon 2004, when Nicole was only 15!

The other realistic possibility is a quarter-final against Nadia Petrova, as at Wimbledon 2005. Maria owns a 2-0 record against Petrova, but both matches were very tough (6-2 2-6 7-5 and 7-6 6-3). Petrova has a 4-3 record in the American hardcourt summer, but retired from Toronto and withdrew from New Haven with a right pectoral-muscle strain - the same injury as Maria.


SEMI-FINAL: As much as I hate to admit it, Kim Clijsters is the form-favourite going into the US Open, having won the titles at Indian Wells, Miami (beating Maria 6-3 7-5 in the final), Stanford and Toronto - all on American hard courts this year, and regularly beating her opponents by dispapsinating scorelines.

The only question over whether Clijsters is capable of winning the US Open is whether she believes she can win a Grand Slam, having reached four finals and lost them all (especially now that she knows there are only nine Grand Slams left before she plans to retire). That's why we really needed to see her in the opposite half of the draw to Maria, who has a superb 10-2 record in WTA Tour finals plus Wimbledon 2004.

A fully fit Maria would annihilate Clijsters on grass, but hard courts allow Clijsters to run down the shots that would be low, skidding winners for Maria on grass, and Clijsters has unbelievable lateral retrieval-skills - always the toughest kind of opponent for Maria. And Maria goes into the US Open lacking fitness and match-play.

The Williams sisters are also in Clijsters' quarter of the draw, and would meet in the fourth round, with the winner to play Clijsters in the quarter-finals. But Serena Williams has played only one match since Wimbledon due to a fractured ankle, and pulled out of Toronto with a knee-injury, while Venus Williams has been suffering with flu. The days when the Williams sisters used to dominate the US Open (1999 to 2002) seem a long time ago now.

If Ana Ivanovic is the great future champion she's cracked up to be, maybe she would have a chance against Clijsters in the fourth round. But sadly she - like Maria - pulled out of Toronto with a right pectoral-muscle strain.

What I'd really like, of course, would be a Maria v Daniela Hantuchová semi-final, but Daniela might have to beat Venus Williams, Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters back-to-back, and her head-to-heads against them are 0-7, 0-3 and 0-7 respectively! :o

--
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 28th, 2005, 09:12 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, Decoturf, Grand Slam)
=======-----------------
Order of Play for Monday
------------------------

Arthur Ashe (start 11:30 EDT = 15:30 GMT = 16:30 BST)
WS 1r: Chan,Yung-Jan [Q] v SERENA WILLIAMS [8]
MS 1r: Bobby Reynolds [WC] v RAFAEL NADAL [2]
WS 1r: VENUS WILLIAMS [10] v Rika Fujiwara
|
(start 19:00 EDT = 23:00 GMT = 24:00 BST)
WS 1r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] v Eleni Daniilidou
MS 1r: ANDRE AGASSI [7] v Răzvan Sabău

Udachi Maria!


Full order of play:
http://www.usopen.org/en_US/scores/schedule/ (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/scores/schedule/)

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

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

andrewbroad
Aug 30th, 2005, 05:28 PM
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US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, Decoturf, Grand Slam)
=======

Photos:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova (http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova)
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=84 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=84)

I am pleased to see no sign of Maria's pectoral injury (at Los Angeles she wore a huge bandage for her match against Anna Chakvetadze).

-----------
First round
-----------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] d. Eleni Daniilidou, 6-1 6-1

A double breadstick, but the two breadsticks could not be more different. The first four games were extremely tough, and Daniilidou had game-points to win them all - but it was Maria who took a 4-0 lead. She won the first set by two breaks and 36-25 points; she won the second set by three breaks and 26-7 points.


Maria and Eleni had the honour of kicking off the evening-session on the Arthur Ashe stadium: the match started at 19:48 EDT (after the opening-ceremony), and I followed live scores at www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/). Here are my comments as I wrote them at the time:

First Set
---------
SHARAPOVA *@*@* * 6
DANIILIDO _____*_ 1

Maria serving 0-0: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad D (BP #3), Deuce #2, ad M, Deuce #3, ad M, Deuce #4, ad M, Deuce #5, ad M, held.

Daniilidou serving 0-1: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad D, Deuce #2, ad D, Deuce #3, ad M (BP #2), Deuce #4, ad M (BP #3), Deuce #5, ad M (BP #4), broken.

Well, it's certainly started like the tough, brutal, dangerous match that everyone's been predicting, but then so were the first couple of games in 2r Wimbledon before Maria took a 2-0 lead against Sesil Karatantcheva! ;) She's just so determined to fight for every game (except when she's 6-0 3-0 up ;)).

Maria serving 2-0: 0/40 (3 BPs) -> 40/40, ad M, held.

Well recovered! :)

24 minutes, just three games completed, and Maria's a quarter of the way to the second round. What's the longest it's ever taken to win 6-0 6-0? ;)

Daniilidou serving 0-3: 0/30 -> 40/30, 40/40, ad M (BP), broken.

And again, Maria just won't let go. What a demoralising experience for Daniilidou, who's had game-points in all four games. Having worried about Maria losing the match, I can now smell a couple of fresh bagels cooking in the Sharapova bakery! :)

Maria serving 4-0: 40/0, 40/15, held.
Daniilidou serving to stay in the first set at 0-5: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held.
Maria serving for the first set at 5-1: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30 (SP), Maria won the first set 6-1 at 20:30.

Daniilidou had 6 break-points in the first set, but muffed them all; Maria had 5 break-points, and broke twice. It was a tough set, but it was Maria's will to win all the key points that made it a breadstick.


Second Set
----------
SHARAPOVA @* *@*@ 6
DANIILIDO __*____ 1

Daniilidou serving 0-0: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.
Maria serving 1-0: 0/15, 15/15, 40/15, held.
Daniilidou serving 0-2: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 40/30, held.
Maria serving 2-1: held to love.
Daniilidou serving 1-3: broken to love.
Maria serving 4-1: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held.

Maria won 9 points in a row from 2-1 to 4-1 (15/0). :)

Daniilidou serving to stay in the match at 1-5: 0/40 (3 MPs), Maria won 6-1 6-1 at 20:54.


Statistics
----------

Maria had a W:UE ratio of 22:23 (second set 12:6), while Daniilidou had a woeful 3:25 (second set 0:9). Maria should have no trouble getting to the semi-finals after this performance, but she will need a better W:UE ratio to beat Kim Clijsters or a Williams sister in the last four.

Maria got 71% of first serves in, winning 72% of the points when she did so, and 69% on second serve. Daniilidou's corresponding statistics were much worse (57%, 43% and 50%), and the gaps in these statistics were much wider in the second set than in the first.

Maria served 4 aces and no double faults; Daniilidou served 7 double faults and no aces. Daniilidou hit the fastest serve of the match (108mph), but Maria served faster on average (first serve 96 - 90mph, second serve 83 - 78mph).

Maria broke 5 times from 8 break-points (3 from 3 in the second set), Daniilidou 0 from 6 (all of which occurred in the first set).

Maria attacked from the net, winning 14 of 15 points there, while Daniilidou won only 2 of 6 points at the net, which is surprising because at Birmingham I got the impression that Daniilidou was a good volleyer (not so much in her match against Maria, but in doubles).

Maria beat Daniilidou 62-32 in points (Daniilidou won 25 points in the first set, and just 7 in the second).


Quotes
------

Pre-tournament:
"I have never played great at the US Open. But it was a different situation last year. Now it's totally different. I've had a whole year of learning, especially against top players."

Post-match:
"The first few games were a little bit tough. I didn't let that bother me. I felt like I was in control.

"Haven't played a lot of matches, so I'm just trying to get used to the conditions, the stadium, the wind, playing under the lights for the first time in a while. It feels good to be back on court competing. That's where I belong.

"So it felt good. It felt really good. When you're out for a little while, you go out there, and you really felt like you missed it. It was a good feeling to be back on the court. The first match you're a little tentative. The injury, you don't know how it's going to be. So far it's OK.

"I feel a lot stronger in my arm and I moved quite well today. I don't think I moved that well in quite a while. I'm running in Central Park like every single day, getting my movement, still trying to get my arm stronger.

"I felt really good. It feels good to get back into action. There's always room for improvement, and hopefully I'll keep improving."

On whether she feels pressure about being the top seed: "Not at all. I'm just excited. It's amazing to be the No. 1 seed at the US Open. It's just great.

"I obviously know that I was No. 1. But it's not like I think about it every second.

"I don't think I've showed New York how I can play tennis. Hopefully, you know, I can put some good matches in here for my New York fans."

New York's in love
With her big green eyes
And her long blonde hair
New York's in flames
New York's in love
With the way she talks
And the way she walks
New York's in love
Goo goo goo goo goo goo
[David Bowie (http://www.geocities.com/andrewbroad/music/bowie/), "New York's In Love"]

-----------------
Second-round draw
-----------------

Maria's 2r opponent:
+ Dally Randriantefy d. Mary Gambale [WC], 6-3 6-1


Maria's US Open profile:
http://www.usopen.org/en_US/bios/ws/wtas961.html (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/bios/ws/wtas961.html)

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

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

andrewbroad
Aug 30th, 2005, 11:11 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, Decoturf, Grand Slam)
=======--------------------
Order of Play for Wednesday
---------------------------

Arthur Ashe (start 11:00 EDT = 15:00 GMT = 16:00 BST)
MS 1r: LLEYTON HEWITT [3] v Albert Costa
WS 2r: KIM CLIJSTERS [4] v Fabiola Zuluaga
WS 2r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] v Dally Randriantefy
|
(start 19:00 EDT = 23:00 GMT = 24:00 BST)
WS 2r: Catalina Castańo v SERENA WILLIAMS [8]
MS 2r: Scoville Jenkins v RAFAEL NADAL [2]

The US Open's OoP-committee is more respectful to Maria (and to women's tennis generally) than Wimbledon!

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

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

Portobello
Aug 31st, 2005, 07:03 AM
Thx for the reports :):):)

andrewbroad
Sep 1st, 2005, 03:28 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, Decoturf, Grand Slam)
=======

Photos:
1. http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
2. Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

------------
Second round
------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] d. Dally Randriantefy, 6-1 6-0

The scoreline is even more impressive, considering that the match was played in 36mph wind (the remnants of Hurricane Katrina), which badly affected Maria's serve. Maria is usually at her worst in windy conditions, but she handled them well yesterday. Wind is often an equaliser, so it's surprising that the top seeds won so easily in the extreme wind.

The secret of Maria's success?
"I'm really glad I had a piece of chocolate cake last night, otherwise I would have been blown away. It made me heavier."

From www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/):
>>>
At 6-feet, 1-inch, Sharapova towered over her 5-foot, 5-inch opponent, but Randriantefy was quick on her feet and smacked the ball hard. She didn't seem intimidated by Sharapova's touted reputation and delivered a variety of shots that kept the young Russian scrambling around the court.

By keeping the 18-year-old running from corner to corner, Randriantefy could score a few much-needed winners. But the moment Sharapova was back in control, she was impossible to beat.
<<<

The match started at 14:19 EDT, I followed live scores at www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/); here are my comments as I wrote them at the time (not that I have many comments, with the match being so simple):

First Set
---------
SHARAPOVA @* *@*@ 6
RANDRIANT __*____ 1

Randriantefy serving 0-0: 0/40 (3 BPs), 15/40, broken.
Maria serving 1-0: 0/30 -> 40/30, held.

A much faster start for Maria than all those deucy games against Daniilidou! (She served two double faults to go down 0/30.)

Randriantefy serving 0-2: 30/0 -> 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad R, held.
Maria serving 2-1: 0/15, 40/15, 40/30, held.
Randriantefy serving 1-3: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.
Maria serving 4-1: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held.
Randriantefy serving to stay in the first set at 1-5: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 SPs), Maria won the first set 6-1 at 14:44.


Second Set
----------
SHARAPOVA *@*@*@ 6
RANDRIANT ______ 0

Maria serving 0-0: 0/15, 40/15, 40/30, held.
Randriantefy serving 0-1: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.
Maria serving 2-0: 0/15, 40/15, held.
Randriantefy serving 0-3: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad M (BP #3), Deuce #2, ad M (BP #4), broken.
Maria serving 4-0: 0/15, 40/15, held.

So many times in this match has Maria recovered from 0/15.

Randriantefy serving to stay in the match at 0-5: 30/0 -> 30/40 (MP), 40/40, ad M (MP #2), Maria won 6-1 6-0 at 15:08 (49 minutes).


Statistics
----------

The wind really affected Maria's serve, with an average first serve of 87mph (Randriantefy 90mph), second serve 80mph (Randriantefy 77mph). I really hope the wind settles down for the rest of this tournament, because it's taking away one of Maria's biggest weapons that gives her the edge over all but the very best opponents.

But despite Maria's lack of power on the serve, she didn't have to face a single break-point in the match, whilst breaking Randriantefy 6 times from 11 break-points (3 breaks in each set, from 4 BPs in the first set and 7 in the second).

Maria got 64% of first serves in, winning 81% of the points when she did so, and 58% on second serve (Randriantefy 65%, 43% and 19% (second set 0%)). Maria served no aces and 4 double faults, while Randriantefy served two aces and 5 double faults (including the last two points of the match).

Maria had a W:UE of 12:6, Randriantefy 10:18. Maria must have forced a lot of errors too, for she beat Randriantefy 54-25 in points.


Quotes
------

"It was so windy today. Like I said in the interview after the match, I said it's better I had a piece of cake yesterday or I would have been in that globe somewhere. I'm glad I gained a few pounds.

"The first few games you saw, I was serving 69 miles per hour. It's pretty funny. I think it's even funnier from TV because they can't even see the wind. These people probably think we look like beginners. That's the sad part.

"When it's windy like this you never know what to expect. There's no point in trying to think about that because you can't control the conditions. I don't think you will ever be able to control them. But something like that, you know one day you're in windy conditions, the next day the conditions are normal. You just have to find your groove.

"I think I'm hitting pretty well. I didn't have a lot of matches coming into this tournament. In the first round I felt really solid actually. Played better than I thought I would. But I know the matches are going to get tougher and tougher from here. That's where you have to pick up your game.

Re. her hectic schedule:
"There are going to be times where, especially before a Grand Slam, you need to set back some time and do these things for the sponsors. I think in the morning I was doing the Today Show, being all glamourous. Then I'm back on the court after three hours and I'm working hard. This is where I feel I really belong.

Re. the extra attention because of her looks:
"It's very flattering. I don't necessarily think about it when I step on the court because the only thing I'm thinking about is my tennis. I hope that people come out and watch me for my tennis. But I can't control the reason why they come out. Not too much I can do about that. I'm a tennis-player. With being a popular tennis-player comes a lot of other things. That's part of it."

--------------------
Third-round opponent
--------------------

Julia Schruff:
1r + FLAVIA PENNETTA [28], 6-4 3-6 7-5
2r + Lisa Raymond, 6-2 6-3

Schruff is a player I have ignored up until now. She's 23 years old, but this is only her second main-draw US Open (last year she won four matches to qualify and reach the second round). This year she's been interleaving WTA tournaments with the ITF Women's Circuit, with a win/loss record of 21-22 going into the US Open. She was runner-up at ITF Orange in March, but has never won a singles title (unlike Anna Kournikova, who has won two singles titles on the ITF circuit).

If Maria could beat the dangerous Eleni Daniilidou 6-1 6-1 in her first match back from her pectoral-muscle strain, and Randriantefy 6-1 6-0 in extreme wind, there's not too much to worry about here I would think.

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

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

andrewbroad
Sep 2nd, 2005, 03:18 AM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, Decoturf, Grand Slam)
=======-----------------
Order of play for Friday
------------------------

Arthur Ashe (start 11:00 EDT = 15:00 GMT = 16:00 BST)
MS 2r: Nicolás Almagro v TAYLOR DENT [25]
WS 3r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] v Julia Schruff
WS 3r: FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [25] v SERENA WILLIAMS [8]
|
(start 19:00 EDT = 23:00 GMT = 00:00 BST)
WS 3r: VENUS WILLIAMS [10] v DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [20]
MS 2r: ROGER FEDERER [1] v Fabrice Santoro

Udachi 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/

andrewbroad
Sep 4th, 2005, 12:11 AM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, Decoturf, Grand Slam)
=======----
Third round
-----------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] d. Julia Schruff, 6-2 6-4

Maria played a magnificent first set (according to the statistics), but had a lapse in the second, suffering her first (and only) service-break of the tournament so far.

Schruff had her left thigh bandaged according to the photos:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova (http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova)


The match started at 14:15 EDT, and I followed live scores at www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/); here are my comments as I wrote them at the time:

First Set
---------
SHARAPO *@* * *@ 6
SCHRUFF ___* *__ 2

Maria serving 0-0: 0/15, 40/15, held.
Schruff serving 0-1: 0/40 (3 BPs), broken.
Maria serving 2-0: held to love.

12 points in a row to Maria!

Schruff serving 0-3: 15/0, 15/30, 40/30, held.
Maria serving 3-1: 40/0, 40/15, held.
Schruff serving 1-4: held to love.
Maria serving 4-2: 40/0, 40/30, held.

The match could suddenly have got a lot tighter if Maria had been taken from 40/0 to 40/40. It's only one break.

Schruff serving to stay in the first set at 2-5: 0/40 (3 SPs), Maria won the first set 6-2 at 14:36.

Maria knuckles down so well when the winning-post is in sight.


Second Set
----------
SHARAPO * * *@__*@ 6
SCHRUFF _* *__@*__ 4

Maria serving 0-0: 0/15, 40/15, held.

A lot of players have a lapse in concentration after winning a first set so easily, but Maria's so good at pulling herself together after losing one point.

Schruff serving 0-1: 40/0 -> 40/40, ad Schruff, held.

A very important hold for Schruff - not just to avoid going a set and a break down, but because an attack of Alexandra Stevenson's syndrome (losing serve from 40/0 up) could have psychologically destroyed her.

Maria serving 1-1: 0/15, 40/15 -> 40/40, ad M, held.

An important hold for Maria too, as one of her little weaknesses is to drop serve from 40/15 up - a weakness that cost her dear against Kim Clijsters in the Miami 2005 final.

Schruff serving 1-2: 40/0, 40/30, held.

Maria is facing quite a bit of resistance from Schruff since that easy 3-0 lead in the first set. If Schruff can keep holding serve, the scoreboard-pressure on Maria will increase as this set unfolds.

Maria serving 2-2: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad M, held.

Phew! I don't relish the prospect of Maria going a break down in this set.

Schruff serving 2-3: 0/40 (3 BPs), 15/40, broken.
Maria serving 4-2: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), 30/40, double fault - broken.

That's the first break against Maria at the US Open 2005!

Schruff serving 3-4: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad Schruff, held.

This is getting mildly worrying now, with Maria unable to impose her will on Schruff, and not invincible on her own serve either.

Maria serving 4-4: held to love.
Schruff serving to stay in the match at 4-5: 0/40 (7 points in a row give Maria 3 match-points), 15/40, Maria won 6-2 6-4 at 15:18 (63 minutes).


Quotes
------

"I feel pretty good. I haven't had that many matches coming to the Open, so it's good to get three matches in before the tough ones come. So far so good. When the tougher matches come, I'm going to put more power into my shots.

"I haven't really been in that situation where I haven't had too many matches going into a Grand Slam, so it's something new for me. But I felt really good since the first match. I've been moving a lot better. I feel stronger. It's just a matter of when the tough matches come, just see how I adjust.

"I was moving quite well in the first set, and then second set I felt a little sloppy. I played a sloppy game at 4-2 serving with the wind, made a few easy errors. But other than that, I came back strong. She hits pretty flat, so it was a little different compared to the other opponents I played in previous matches.


Statistics
----------

Maria got 63% of first serves in, winning 81% of the points when she did so, but only 53% on second serve (Schruff 60%, 57% and 35%). All three aces were served by Maria, and they served four double faults each. Maria's serve deteriorated quite alarmingly in the second set (58%, 83% and 38%).

Maria served considerably faster than Schruff: fastest serve 109 - 100mph, average first serve 99 - 92mph, second serve 86 - 71mph. But none of these are particularly fast serves, even for women. Perhaps it was still windy.

Maria's W:UE ratio was in the black at 21:18 (first set a very impressive 11:4), while Schruff could only manage 9:26. But in the second set, Maria had a W:UE of 10:14, while Schruff had 6:17.

Maria broke 4 times from 7 break-points, while Schruff broke once from 2 BPs. Maria beat Schruff 62-39 in points (Schruff won 12 points in the first set, 27 in the second).

In summary, Maria played a magnificent first set, but her second-set slump is serious cause for concern with the increasingly tough challenges ahead.

---------------------
Fourth-round opponent
---------------------

Sania Mirza:
1r + Mashona Washington, 7-6 (8/6) 6-7 (6/8) 6-4
2r + Maria Elena Camerin, 6-4 1-6 6-4
3r + Marion Bartoli, 7-6 (7/4) 6-4

As I said in my tournament-preview, I'm really glad that it's Sania who came through instead of one of the seeds in that sector.

I saw Sania play at Wimbledon 2005 (where she took a set off Svetlana Kuznetsova), and was most impressed by her talent. Sania hits plenty of flashy groundstroke-winners, with seemingly effortless power - the kind that comes from natural flair and perfect timing, like Maria, rather than from huge muscles like Kuznetsova.

That's why I consider Sania a candidate for possible induction into my eternal fanship in the future. I really enjoy watching her play, but on the other hand I don't yet feel a huge passion for her at other times, e.g. when I'm surfing the Internet or following live scores.

Sania is also quite cute and sexy (much better in video than in most photos), and is already a huge superstar in India, which gives her more fans in the world than any other player - although she has created a storm of controversy by playing tennis in bare legs!

Maria is in the fourth round of the US Open for the first time in her career, but for Sania it's her first fourth round at any Grand Slam.

Maria v Sania will be an intriguing showdown between the two best 18-year-olds in tennis, and I'm looking forward to a very tough match.

------------------------
Order of play for Sunday
------------------------

Arthur Ashe (start 11:30 EDT = 15:30 GMT = 16:30 BST):
MS 3r: LLEYTON HEWITT [3] v TAYLOR DENT [25]
(not before 14:00 EDT):
WS 4r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] v Sania Mirza
(not before 15:45 EDT):
WS 4r: VENUS WILLIAMS [10] v SERENA WILLIAMS [8]
|
(start 19:00 EDT):
WS 4r: KIM CLIJSTERS [4] v Maria Vento-Kabchi
MS 3r: ROGER FEDERER [1] v OLIVIER ROCHUS [27]

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

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

andrewbroad
Sep 6th, 2005, 02:30 AM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, Decoturf, Grand Slam)
=======

Photos:
1. http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=84 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=84)
2. Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

------------
Fourth round
------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] d. Sania Mirza, 6-2 6-1

Sania put up a much better performance than the scoreline implies, but Maria was just ruthless in fighting for every game, winning a lot of games in which Sania had break-points or game-points.

According to CEEFAX, Sania matched Maria for power off the ground, but her serve let her down. As Teletext put it, "The pair traded groundstrokes, with Mirza asking Sharapova questions, but weak serves were ruthlessly exposed by the world No 2".

The match-report at www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org) describes Sania as follows:
>>>
Already a pop idol of sorts in her native India, where she travels with bodyguards, she has spunk, personality and self-confidence. A devout Muslim who wears miniskirts and ballcaps, Sania -- known for the sassy t-shirts she wears to press conferences and her sharp tongue -- is a slugger on the court.
<snip>
The No. 1 seed appeared momentarily startled by Mirza's potent, slap-happy forehands, but she quickly regained her composure and confidently played the equally young Indian off the court.
<<<

The match started at 15:17 EDT. I followed live scores at www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org); here are my comments as I wrote them at the time:

First Set
---------
SHARA * *@ @*@ 6
MIRZA _*__@___ 2

Maria serving 0-0: held to love.
Sania serving 0-1: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held.
Maria serving 1-1: 15/0, 15/30, 40/30, held.
Sania serving 1-2: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad SM, Deuce #2, ad MS (BP), broken.
Maria serving 3-1: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), 30/40, broken.

Battle is truly joined now! That's only the second break of Maria's serve at the US Open 2005! Sania sending out a message that she can fight back from an early deficit in a game (as she has in the last three games, and the next one...).

Sania serving 2-3: 15/0, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad M (BP #3), broken.
Maria serving 4-2: 0/40 (3 BPs) -> 40/40 (2 BPs), ad M, held.

And this is why Maria gets broken so infrequently: not just a terrific serve, but a champion's response to facing break-points.

Sania serving to stay in the first set 2-5: 15/0, 15/40 (2 SPs), 30/40, Maria won the first set 6-2 at 15:48.


Second Set
----------
SHARA * *@*@* 6
MIRZA _*_____ 1

Maria serving 0-0: held to love.
Sania serving 0-1: 40/0, 40/15, held.
Maria serving 1-1: held to love.
Sania serving 1-2: 0/15, 40/15 -> 40/40, ad SM, Deuce #2, ad MS (BP), Deuce #3, ad MS (BP #2), Deuce #4, ad MS (BP #3), Deuce #5, ad MS (BP #4), broken.

A prime example of how Maria's mental strength makes her so difficult to play against: she just fights for every single game (except when she wants to give Sesil Karatantcheva a feet-up when leading 6-0 3-0 ;)).

Sania has put up much more resistance (and, I guess, deserved more games) than 6-2 4-1 implies.

Maria serving 3-1: 0/15, 15/15, 40/15, held.
Sania serving 1-4: 30/0 -> 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad MS (BP), broken.

Again, Sania had two good leads in that game - but Maria is just ruthless today. It's getting late early.

Maria serving for the match at 5-1: 0/15, 40/15 (2 MPs), Maria won 6-2 6-1 at 16:16.


Statistics
----------

Maria got 69% of first serves in, winning 79% of the points when she did so, and 62% on second serve. Sania didn't help her own cause by getting only 52% of first serves in; she won 70% of the points when she did so, and only 21% on second serve.

Maria served six aces and one double fault; Sania one ace and six doubles. I do love symmetry! ;)

Both girls had a fastest serve of 109mph, but Maria's serves were considerably faster on average (first serve 102 - 97mph, second serve 86 - 80mph).

Perhaps Sania's serve is a reason why she's only ranked #42 in the world instead of much higher (although her results have certainly been improving since Wimbledon). Her groundstrokes, as I saw them at Wimbledon, are breathtaking.

Maria's W:UE ratio was in the black at 16:14, though I'd expect even more winners from her, even in only a 15-game match. Sania's W:UE was 10:23 - not nearly as many winners as I saw against Kuznetsova at Wimbledon (35), but it's hard to hit winners when you're being dominated (Sania only managed two winners in the second set).

It was a very baseline-oriented match: Maria only went to the net once (and won the point), while Sania won 3 of 4 points at the net.

Maria broke 5 times from 13 break-points, Sania just once from 5 BPs (no one's broken Maria more than once so far this tournament).

Maria beat Sania 62-38 in points (Sania won 22 points in the first set, 16 in the second).

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

"I think I started off really well from the first match. I was really ready. It was a bit unexpected because I didn't play a lot of matches coming into the tournament, so I thought I would be a little rusty at the beginning. I surprised myself in the first round, that's for sure.

"I'm playing pretty well. I know it's going to get tougher and tougher from here.

"I think she's definitely great for the sport. Tennis is a very global sport. It's amazing how we have such great athletes. She's very young, has a great future ahead of her. Very big game. But of course, with time, I think she needs experience."

Was it strange to hear so many fans not rooting for you?
"No. I think New York is known for being huge sports fans and they love an underdog. I totally understand. That's what makes it more exciting out there."

Re. Nadia Petrova:
"She is very similar to Sania, with a big serve and a big game. I'll have to be ready."

------------
Sania quotes
------------

"There were a lot of games that I could have taken, but I had fun out there. I had a great US Open. In my first US Open, I couldn't have asked for any more. I'm very happy. This is my career highlight. Getting to the fourth round in the US Open in my first year in the US Open and first year on the tour.

"I think I'm very pleased by the way the year has gone for me until now. It just happened. I can't really pinpoint one thing that happened. Just Australia and then I won the tournament in Hyderabad just gave me more confidence every time I stepped on the court. Even today's match gives me more confidence, even though the score line suggests it was 2-1. I think it was much closer than that.

"I'm going to win matches by hitting winners. I enjoy hitting the ball as hard as I can, and I enjoy taking risks. I believe that you always have to take risks. I enjoyed every minute out there today. I don't think I was nervous, not even a little bit. I wasn't intimidated.

"I don't think anything can convince me to temper that. That's the sad part. But I mean, I guess people just have to accept it, you know. That's how I play. I'm going to have maybe 50 unforced errors one day, but I'm going to also have 50 winners that day. That's what I compensated for. People just have to accept me the way I play. Maybe I can add variation to my game, but I'm going to win matches only when I hit those winners. If I win matches by moonballing, then I'm not going to satisfy myself the way I played that day.

"I can match the best when it comes to the groundstrokes. This is going to give me confidence the next time I play."

----------------------
Quarter-final opponent
----------------------

NADIA PETROVA [9]:
1r + Eva Birnerová, 6-4 6-4
2r + Aiko Nakamura, 6-2 6-0
3r + Laura Granville, 6-2 7-5
4r + NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [26], 7-6 (7/4) 7-5

This is a repeat of their Wimbledon 2005 quarter-final, which Maria won 7-6 (8/6) 6-3. As I said in my tournament-preview, Maria owns a 2-0 record against Petrova, but both matches were very tough (Maria won 6-2 2-6 7-5 at Los Angeles 2003).

Petrova is a tall, muscular player who can hit the ball as hard as a man, and I expect a much tougher match than Maria's first four rounds. But Maria certainly has the edge in consistency and mental strength - if Maria plays a bad point, she's able to put it behind her immediately, but if Petrova plays a bad point, her mind can start to unravel.

Petrova has a 40/15 win/loss record for 2005 (including the first four rounds of the US Open), the highlights of which are a 6-2 6-3 thrashing of Amélie Mauresmo at Berlin, and - thanks to an easy draw - reaching the semi-finals of the French Open. To reach the semi-finals of the US Open by beating Maria Sharapova would undoubtedly be the highlight (so far) of a career in which the 23-year-old Petrova has never won a WTA singles title.

-------------------------
Order of play for Tuesday
-------------------------

Arthur Ashe (start 11:00 EDT = 15:00 GMT = 16:00 BST)
MD qf: JONAS BJÖRKMAN/MAX MIRNYI [1] v CYRIL SUK/PAVEL VÍZNER [12]
MS 4r: LLEYTON HEWITT [3] v DOMINIK HRBATÝ [15]
MS 4r: ROGER FEDERER [1] v Nicolas Kiefer (not before 15:00 EDT)
|
(start 19:30 EDT = 23:30 GMT = 24:30 BST)
WS qf: MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] v NADIA PETROVA [9]
WS qf: KIM CLIJSTERS [4] v VENUS WILLIAMS [10] (not before 21:00 EDT)

I'm impressed that they've scheduled all of Maria's matches on the US Open equivalent of Centre Court - unlike Wimbledon, where the OoP committee regularly schedules two men's matches and only one women's match on Centre Court! :fiery:

Udachi Maria!

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

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

Maria Croft
Sep 6th, 2005, 08:07 AM
thanks for all your reports !!

Sweep
Sep 6th, 2005, 04:18 PM
Keep up the good work Andrew.

andrewbroad
Sep 8th, 2005, 03:00 AM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, Decoturf, Grand Slam)
=======

Photos:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova (http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova)
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=84 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=84)

One of Maria's better-looking days! :hearts: When a match gets tight, Maria gets more expressive - and more attractive.

Maria will be #1 in the WTA Singles Rankings on 12th September after Elena Dementieva knocked out Lindsay Davenport in the quarter-finals! :aparty:

-------------
Quarter-final
-------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] d. NADIA PETROVA [9], 7-5 4-6 6-4

A bizarre match full of momentum-shifts, it was most intriguing to follow live scores (not having TV-access to the US Open). Maria was lucky to win after letting Petrova back into both the first set and the third set.

Apparently Petrova made a nervous start as Maria hit plenty of winners to go 4-0 up, but then Maria mentally switched off and turned in an error-strewn performance as she won that set narrowly and then lost the second.

Maria raced to a 5-2 lead in the third, with Petrova serving at 0/30 - two points from defeat. But Petrova won 11 of the next 13 points, breaking Maria as she served for the match at 5-3, and leading 40/15 on her own serve at 4-5.

But Petrova double-faulted to let Maria back into that game, and Maria booked her first-ever US Open semi-final with a bullet of a backhand return on match-point.


The match started at 19:40 EDT. I followed live scores at www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/); here are my comments as I wrote them at the time:

First Set
---------
SHARAPO *@*@____* *@ 7
PETROVA ____@*@* *__ 5

Maria serving 0-0: held to love.
Petrova serving 0-1: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.

What a start! Maria has only been broken twice so far this tournament, and was not broken in a very tight Wimbledon quarter-final against Petrova, so this break immediately gives Maria an advantage which will be very difficult for Petrova to recoup.

Maria serving 2-0: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held.
Petrova serving 0-3: 0/30 -> 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad M (BP #2), Deuce #2, ad M (BP #3), broken.

Petrova might as well forget about the game-score and try to get her game up for the start of the second set, given Maria's reliability of holding serve.

Maria serving 4-0: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs), 30/40, broken.

Or maybe not so reliable! :o
4-1* is still a very comfortable lead for one of Maria's mental strength, though.

Petrova serving 1-4: 30/0 -> 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad M (BP #2), Deuce #2, ad M (BP #3), Deuce #3, ad P, held.

A very big game psychologically for Petrova to win, but for how long can she withstand Maria's extraordinary determination to fight for every game?

Maria serving 4-2: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken.

I can't believe what I'm seeing here. I've never heard of Maria losing a two-break lead before! Has Petrova raised her game to a level that is causing Maria to panic, or - God forbid - has Maria's pectoral injury flared up again, causing her serve to go soft?

Petrova serving 3-4: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad M (BP), Deuce #2, ad M (BP #2), Deuce #3, ad P, Deuce #4, ad P, held.

A terrific battle of wills going on right now, and Maria's not winning it at the moment. The score may be level, but the momentum is firmly in Petrova's favour now.

Maria serving 4-4: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held.
Petrova serving to stay in the first set at 4-5: 15/0, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held.

I sense a radical change in Petrova's mental approach to competitive tennis for this match. I'm guessing that it's more "I relish causing problems for Maria - let's not worry about whether I win or lose" than "I've got to play my best tennis to beat Maria".

Maria serving 5-5: 40/0, 40/15, held.
Petrova serving to stay in the first set at 5-6: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs), 30/40 (SP), Maria won the first set 7-5 at 20:34.

A big relief, and an absolutely fascinating set to follow live scores of. I might not be able to watch any of the US Open on TV (bl**dy Sky), but the momentum of a tennis-match is most intriguing to me.

I can't wait to see how Petrova reacts to the loss of that set after that unbelievable fightback proved vain. At Wimbledon she had a lapse after losing a tight first set, allowing Maria to score a vital break in the second, but this set was wildly up and down, whereas the first set at Wimbledon went with serve all the way to the tiebreak, making Petrova feel that a single break would prove fatal (as indeed it did).


Second Set
----------
SHARAPO __* * * *_ 4
PETROVA @* * * * * 6

Maria serving 0-0: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad M, Deuce #2, ad P (BP), broken.
Petrova serving 1-0: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held.

It looks like Petrova has managed to carry the momentum she gained from winning four games in a row into the second set.

It's almost as though the first four games of the match were not LOST but SACRIFICED by Petrova - a strategic sacrifice, as one offers up a piece in chess: to draw the opponent into a fatal blunder.

For there's no worse feeling of anxiety in a tennis-match than when you've been winning too easily and then find yourself in real trouble.

Maria serving 0-2: held to love.
Petrova serving 2-1: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held.
Maria serving 1-3: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad M, Deuce #2, ad P (BP #3), Deuce #3, ad M, held.
Petrova serving 3-2: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad P, Deuce #2, ad P (BP #2), held.

Petrova is doing to Maria what Maria usually does to her own opponents: fighting off break-points and winning most of the long, tough games.

Either Petrova's playing absolutely out of her skin, or there's something wrong with Maria physically. I hope to God it's the former; the storm may blow itself out.

Maria serving 2-4: 0/15, 15/15, 40/15, held.
Petrova serving 4-3: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held.

Maria's had 15/30 on Petrova's last three service-games, yet still unable to break in this set...

Maria serving to stay in the second set at 3-5: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, 40/30, held.

...but it's much tougher to serve for the set, especially when you've been struggling quite a bit to hold your previous service-games. The next game will speak volumes about where Petrova currently stands in relation to genuine title-contenders.

Petrova serving for the second set at 5-4: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad P (SP), Deuce #2, ad M (BP #3), Deuce #3, ad P (SP #2), Petrova won the second set 6-4 at 21:27 (and then Maria took a bathroom-break).


And there's the answer: Petrova is a much bigger threat at this level than ever before (except possibly when she upset Jennifer Capriati at the French Open 2003 - I saw some of that match on BBC television, and Petrova looked fearsome).

And after coming through her first four rounds unchallenged, Maria faces her first serious test of the championships.

How does Maria respond to being taken to a third set? Usually, by raising her game magnificently to take it 6-1, as I saw twice at Wimbledon 2004 and three times at Birmingham 2005.

But it could be a different story on a hard court, where plenty of shots that would be winners for Maria on grass come back, and she is less able to get her opponent off-balance with low, skidding groundstrokes into the corners.


Third Set
---------
SHARAPO *@* * *__@ 6
PETROVA ___* * *@_ 4

Maria serving 0-0: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, 40/30, held.
Petrova serving 0-1: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad M (BP), broken.

At last Maria seizes an opportunity to break! But I can't relax yet, because of what happened to Maria's 4-0 lead in the first set - although she's gone unbroken for five service-games now, as both players settled into a pattern of holding serve reliably in the second set.

Maria serving 2-0: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held.
Petrova serving 0-3: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held.
Maria serving 3-1: held to love.

4-1 seems like a comfortable lead, but it's only one break, and remember that Maria got pegged back to 4-4 in the first set!

Petrova serving 1-4: held to love.

A very important game coming up now: if Maria can hold for 5-2, then victory should be out of reach for Petrova. Someone - I think it was Brad Gilbert - once said that if you can just "get to five" (with a break), it's a very commanding position to be in, because the opponent has no time to really dig in.

Maria serving 4-2: 40/0, 40/15, held.
Petrova serving to stay in the match at 2-5: 0/30 -> 30/30, 40/30, held.
Maria serving for the match at 5-3: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.

All the practice that Maria's had in this tournament of fighting off break-points didn't help her when it really mattered. :(

For the first time in the match, I am seriously nervous. Maria has more to lose than just a match here - her whole reputation for mental toughness is on the line now, as it would be the biggest choke of her career if she lost this after leading 5-2 (30/0)*.

Petrova serving to stay in the match at 4-5: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15 -> 40/40 (double fault + unforced error), ad M (MP). Maria ripped a backhand return that (if I'm piecing the various conflicting reports together correctly) forced Petrova to hit a backhand wide - "It went like a bullet," said Petrova. Maria won 7-5 4-6 6-4 at 22:10.


YES!!! I can't express how happy and relieved I am right now. The match-point seemed to come from nowhere - I just wasn't expecting it so soon after Maria blew her chance to serve out the match.

But this choky struggle, with four breaks of serve against Maria, isn't exactly encouraging when she has to play Kim Clijsters or Venus Williams in the next round. But at least she's battle-hardened now - as Pat Cash once said, "the longer in hot water, the stronger you get."

----------
Statistics
----------

Maria had a W:UE ratio of 28:48, while Petrova was considerably worse with 22:50. These are not very healthy W:UE ratios for the latter stages of a Grand Slam - it's okay to make 50 UEs in a three-set match, but only if you hit 50 winners to compensate. But Maria did improve from an abysmal 5:22 in the second set to 11:8 in the third.

Petrova attacked from the net more, winning 13 of 23 points, while Maria was more selective, with a higher success-rate: she won 9 of 11 points at the net.

Maria got 71% of first serves in, winning 61% of the points when she did so, and 70% on second serve (Petrova considerably worse with 58%, 56% and 56%). Maria served 3 aces and 2 double faults, while Petrova served four of each.

Petrova had a faster first serve than Maria: fastest 115 - 108mph, average first serve 106 - 100mph, second serve 85 - 86mph. But that's what you'd expect from such a tall, muscular player as Petrova; it says nothing about Maria's placement, as in those splendid short-angled serves that land halfway up the part of the sideline in the service-box.

Maria broke 5 times from 17 break-points, while Petrova broke 4 times from 8 BPs. It's disappointing that Maria missed so many BP-opportunities, and allowed Petrova to break her twice as many times as Maria's first four opponents put together. Maria played the big points much better in her first four matches, and that's why she won them by easy scorelines.

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

"Oh God, I don't know what I'm doing here right now. I'm so excited to be in the semis, it's an amazing feeling. Wow! It's absolutely amazing. I can't believe I pulled this match out today. So many ups and downs... I just found a way to fight.

"A lot of credit to Nadia, she played an amazing match. I was serving out for the match and she came out with amazing shots. There was not too much I could do.

"I think this was a good challenge for me. It gives me a lot of confidence that I can pull out a win like that when there are points of a match where you don't feel great. There were a lot of ups and downs. There were times when I felt like couldn't make anything.

"I thought it was too easy in the beginning. I was on fire. She wasn`t playing that badly, I was just making winner after winner. And then all of a sudden, I just went out of the stadium and my mojo wasn't there... The last game I guess it just decided to come back.

"The second set I didn't feel like my game was there. I felt like I was making too many errors. Mentally I wasn't there. I just didn't have any motivation. I wasn't fighting out there basically in the second set. It's like I was giving it up."
[That is something I wouldn't have expected to hear from Maria ever.]

"Things can turn around really quickly. Momentum can change."

--------------
Petrova quotes
--------------

"It's disappointing. The last game I had everything in my hands. I had 40/15 up. Suddenly - I don't know from where - a double fault came. Then I missed an easy backhand and just gave it to her in the rally. I felt like if I would get this game, she would be fragile, that I could have won the match."

-------------------
Semi-final opponent
-------------------

KIM CLIJSTERS [4]:
1r + Martina Müller, 6-1 6-2
2r + Fabiola Zuluaga, 7-5 6-0
3r + AI SUGIYAMA [30], 6-1 6-4
4r + María Vento-Kabchi, 6-1 6-0
qf + VENUS WILLIAMS [10], 4-6 7-5 6-1

I want Maria to beat Clijsters so badly - but equally badly I don't believe she will do it. At the very least, Maria will have to be on top of her own game, unlike in her quarter-final.

Because, after missing the Australian Open (and most of 2004) with a career-threatening wrist-injury, Clijsters has won five of the six hardcourt-tournaments she's played in 2005, including a 6-3 7-5 victory over Maria in the Miami final.

Clijsters has a 3-0 head-to-head over Maria, although their first two meetings took place in 2003, when Maria was little - not big! Clijsters is the most difficult type of opponent for Maria as she has incredible retrieval-skills to prevent Maria's winners, as well as plenty of power of her own (ugly muscular power rather than cute flairsome power).

Every player has her nemesis, and Clijsters, unfortunately, is Maria's. I just wish Venus Williams hadn't choked on a 6-4 3-1 lead against Clijsters in the quarter-finals (at least Maria has a 2-1 head-to-head against Venus, with her two wins both coming on hard courts).

Maria: "I just have to be mentally ready for a very tough battle. Every single point is going to be long, and it's just a matter of who wants it more, and who is willing to be out there longer."

Clijsters: "She is a tough player and a very talented girl. She has a really good fighting spirit. I'm just going to go for it, run after every shot and see where it takes me."

At least Clijsters is a nice person. But that doesn't make her attractive for me to watch, or any less sickening when she beats Maria.

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

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

andrewbroad
Sep 9th, 2005, 04:33 AM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, Decoturf, Grand Slam)
=======-----------------
Order of play for Friday
------------------------

Arthur Ashe (start 11:00 EDT = 15:00 GMT = 16:00 BST)
MD final: JONAS BJÖRKMAN/MAX MIRNYI [1] v BOB BRYAN/MIKE BRYAN [2]
WS sf: MARY PIERCE [12] v ELENA DEMENTIEVA [6] (not before 13:30 EDT)
WS sf: MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] v KIM CLIJSTERS [4] (not before 15:45 EDT)

Maria: "I just have to be mentally ready for a very tough battle. Every single point is going to be long and it's just a matter of who wants it more and who is willing to be out there longer."

Clijsters: "The conditions [in the windy Miami final] were very difficult and it was tough for both of us to play our best tennis. If the conditions are normal, it's going to be a completely different match. I'll have to be running well, I'll have to be moving well, make sure I play aggressive tennis."

Udachi Maria!

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

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

andrewbroad
Sep 10th, 2005, 11:43 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, Decoturf, Grand Slam)
=======

Photos - in her sorrow she's even more attractive:
1. http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova (http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova)
2. Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

----------
Semi-final
----------

- MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] lt. KIM CLIJSTERS [4], 6-2 6-7 (4/7) 6-3

Maria made a dreadful start to the match, losing her first four service-games to drop the first set 6-2 in 28 minutes, and it was all slipping away from Maria so quickly by the end of the first set that I feared the match would be over before I could say "Mingin' Clijsters"! ;)

Maria got her act together in the second set as both girls held serve reliably, with Maria saving break-points at 2-3 and 3-4, but Maria found herself hanging by a thread as she faced three match-points on her serve at 5-6 0/40.

But Maria responded magnificently to save them with a forehand dropshot, a crosscourt backhand winner, and three big serves to save a total of five match-points in that game, then recovered from 0/2 in the tiebreak to take the second set!

Unfortunately, Clijsters raced to a 4-0 lead in the third: "Clijsters showed tremendous nerve to stay calm and regain her form" [CEEFAX], "hitting soft and intelligent shots to force Sharapova to make all the pace in the rallies" [The Daily Telegraph], as sweet Maria tired and her serve went south again (what angle is that on the Arthur Ashe court? ;)).

Maria fought back to 2-4 and thwarted Clijsters' attempt to serve out the match at 5-2, but sadly her serve had deserted her, and Clijsters broke to win on her sixth match-point.


The match started at 16:04 EDT. I followed live scores at www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/); here are my comments as I wrote them at the time:

First Set
---------
SHARAPOVA @ @_____ 2
CLIJSTERS _@ @*@*@ 6

Clijsters serving 0-0: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.

What a flying start! I just hope to God that Maria will have one of her "hold serve reliably" days today.

Maria serving 1-0: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), 30/40, broken.

Oh no! :(

Clijsters serving 1-1: 15/0, 15/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad M (BP), held.

An early indication of Maria's ability to fight her way back into a game and win it. I just hope that break against Maria in the second game was the exception rather than the norm for this match.

Maria serving 2-1: broken to love.

Dare I suggest that whoever holds serve first will win this set? :o

Clijsters serving 2-2: 40/0 -> 40/40, ad C, held.

Now Maria must respond to this change of pattern, or I'm not going to be very busy on Saturday night! :o

Maria serving 2-3: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), 30/40, broken.
Clijsters serving 4-2: held to love.
Maria serving 2-5: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 SPs), Clijsters won the first set 6-2 at 16:32.

How embarrassing for Maria that she couldn't hold her serve even once! :o Is it windy, has her pectoral muscle flared up again, or is Clijsters just too strong?

Barely any resistance from Maria in the last three games. I'm not even hoping for a victory now - just to avoid a dispapsinating scoreline like 6-2 6-0. :o


Second Set
----------
SHARAPOVA _* * * * * * 7(7)
CLIJSTERS * * * * * *_ 6(4)

Clijsters serving 0-0: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad C, Deuce #2, ad M (BP), Deuce #3, ad C, held.
Maria serving 1-0: held to love.

I just have to be happy about the little things right now. Maria has held serve for the first time in the match, and has at least equalled the 6-2 6-1 defeat that numbers were predicting prior to the match! :o

Clijsters serving 1-1: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, 40/30, held.
Maria serving 1-2: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held.

At least Maria is now holding serve, and in a better position than this far into her Wimbledon 2004 semi-final against Lindsay Davenport (2-6 1-3). A new set is often a different story in tennis, and Maria believes in herself more than I (a pessimistic fan) believe in her.

Clijsters serving 2-2: 40/0, 40/15, held.
Maria serving 2-3: 40/0 -> 40/40, ad C (BP), Deuce #2, ad C (BP #2), Deuce #3, ad C (BP #3), Deuce #4, ad M, held.

Phew! An attack of Alexandra Stevenson's syndrome (dropping serve from 40/0 up) would surely have seen Maria slump to a 6-2 6-2 defeat; those break-points were surely three virtual match-points for Clijsters.

It should boost Maria's confidence to come through a game like that, and from Clijsters' perspective, it's always more difficult to serve when you've just missed break-points.

Clijsters serving 3-3: 0/15, 30/15, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad C, held.
Maria serving 3-4: 15/0, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad M, Deuce #2, ad M, held.

Phew! All I could think about during that game was those sickening "CLIJSTERS CRUSHES TOP SEED SHARAPOVA" headlines that I don't want to see on CEEFAX and Teletext tonight! :o

Clijsters serving 4-4: 40/0, 40/15, held.
Maria serving to stay in the match at 4-5: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held.

Every game that Maria wins makes me feel less embarrassed about the worst possible scoreline. At least 6-2 7-5 has a modicum of respectability about it - although no straight-sets defeat can sugarcoat that awful first set.

Clijsters serving 5-5: 0/15, 40/15, 40/30, held.

Maria serving to stay in the match at 5-6: 0/40 (3 MPs), long delay, 15/40, 30/40, double fault, 40/40, ad C (MP #4), Deuce #2, ad C (MP #5), Deuce #3, ad M, held.

"The Russian teenager brought out her best tennis when faced with defeat, ending a long rally with a deft forehand drop shot to bring it to 15-40, blasting a crosscourt backhand winner for 30-40 and firing a big service winner to bring it to deuce. She saved two more match points in that game with big serves, and evened things up at 6-all when Clijsters misfired on a backhand down-the-line." [www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com/)]

Wow! I can only hope that Clijsters' palms are as sweaty as mine are right now. Five missed match-points must sow serious seeds of doubt in her mind, as she bids for her first Grand Slam title having failed in four finals... as she bids to reach her first Grand Slam final since the Australian Open 2004.

6-6 tiebreak: Maria *0/2, 2/2*, *2/3, *3/3, 5/3*, *5/4, *6/4 (2 SPs), Maria won the second set 7-6 (7/4) at 17:39 (then she took a bathroom-break).

"Sharapova continued to hang tough in the tie-break, firing consecutive forehand winners in the last two points to take the match to a deciding third set." [www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com/)]

This could be as dramatic a turnaround as Maria's Wimbledon 2004 semi-final victory over Lindsay Davenport, possibly even by the same scoreline if Clijsters can't put those five match-points behind her in time for the third set. Maria showed Clijsters that she has the stronger nerve; now the onus is on Clijsters to dig deep. My money's on Maria now (not literally of course - I am against gambling).


Third Set
---------
SHARAPOVA ____*@ @_ 3
CLIJSTERS @*@*__@ @ 6

Maria serving 0-0: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.
Clijsters serving 1-0: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held.

I feel strangely relaxed and complacent now. I hope Maria doesn't feel the same. She needs to keep the score close if she is to induce Clijsters to choke this set too. One choke begets another (we even saw this in Maria's third set against Nadia Petrova), but we don't want to give Clijsters too big a cushion.

Maria serving 0-2: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken.

<Terribly, terribly tempted to insert a swearword here, but of course that would never do.> I hope Maria isn't about to suffer the embarrassing score that she fought so hard to avoid from the start of the second! She needs to break back immediately, or the odds will be heavily against her.

Clijsters serving 3-0: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, 40/30, held.
Maria serving 0-4: 30/0 -> 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad M, Deuce #2, ad M, held.

Phew! At least Maria's done better than the first set, where she lost all four of her service-games! :o

Clijsters serving 4-1: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.

Good girl! Just hold here, and Clijsters will be under a lot of pressure at *4-3.

Maria serving 4-2: broken to love.

Oh no! Maria's serve - which was broken only twice in the first four rounds - is seriously letting her down in this match. But if she could just break Clijsters here, Clijsters' nerve could start to crumble seriously after what happened at the end of the second set.

Clijsters serving for the match at 5-2: 0/40 (3 BPs), 15/40, broken.

Yes! And if Maria could just hold here, there's nothing more difficult than serving for the match at 5-4 when you've already failed at 5-2.

Maria serving to stay in the match at 3-5: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 MPs), Maria netted a forehand. Clijsters won 6-2 6-7 (4/7) 6-3 at 18:18.


Statistics
----------

Maria's serve - usually her greatest technical strength - let her down badly as she was broken 8 times from 19 break-points (whilst breaking Clijsters 4 times from 8 BPs). Only in the second set (where there were no breaks) did Maria do herself justice.

Maria got 61% of first serves in, winning 62% of the points when she did so, and only 30% on second serve (Clijsters 55%, 63% and 52%). The first set was particularly abysmal, Maria winning only 38% of points when she got her first serve in, 0% on second serve (second set 76% and 55%; third set 50% and 8%). Maria only won 50% of the points on her serve overall (Clijsters 58%).

Maria served 4 aces and 7 double faults, Clijsters 2 aces and 5 double faults. Clijsters even served faster: fastest serve 116 - 108mph, average first serve 100 - 98mph, second serve 87 - 84mph.

Maria had a W:UE ratio of 35:54, Clijsters 24:29. Maria was more aggressive at the net, winning 20 of 33 points (Clijsters 8 of 11). So Maria was more aggressive, but with a lower success-rate than Clijsters.


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

"I gave it all I had in the tiebreaker, then the third I just ran out of gas. At that point it's pretty tough because physically I still have to get a lot better and I have to play these three-setters. The points are going to go on and on and on.

"When the time comes, the time's right, then it will happen. It takes a lot of work and I'm willing to go back on the practice-court and in the gym, whatever I need to do, and work hard to win the Grand Slams.

"This is not something that's going to happen overnight. I'm only 18 and this is going to take time. My body is still growing, and I'm still adjusting to my own body.

"When the points started getting longer and longer, I felt that she had the advantage. She was able to execute them well. I did have opportunities, going into the net, and she came up with great shots.

"Of course it's always disappointing. But there are so many things I can still improve to become better and to be able to pull these matches out. It was just one of those days where you did everything you could, but it didn't really go your way. So, bad day at the office. What can you say?

Maria's description of Clijsters: "Great athleticism. She moves amazingly, amazingly. That's a big plus in tennis."


Clijsters quotes
----------------

"It was tough. I think I gave everything I had on those match-points, but she just came up with better shots. I still find it very hard to believe. It's amazing. From the third set on, I just said 'go for it, go for your shots,' and it worked.

"She probably hit better shots in those [match-]points than she hit in the whole match. I was saying to myself, 'She came up with those shots in the last minute. Just try to refocus from the start. If she plays like this for the whole match, too good. But just let her do that again if she wants to beat me.'

"I know that I'm not going to get tired if I have to play a third set, and that's a great feeling to have. I'm not going to break down physically. I didn't do it against Venus, I didn't do it today.

"I'm not really playing for the money. I just want to go out there and have fun. That's what I'm doing. Since my injury, playing tennis means so much more. I'm really looking forward to it. It's my first Grand Slam final since my injury, so let's go for it.

"I've realised a lot more now how much I missed tennis. It's a whole new attitude I have now. No matter what I do, I know that if I get another wrist-injury, my career could be over very soon. So I am going to just enjoy every shot that I hit."

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

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

xan
Sep 12th, 2005, 12:02 AM
Rivetting reports.

Thanks.