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View Full Version : Dubai 2006: Andrew's tournament-review (LONG)


andrewbroad
Feb 27th, 2006, 12:53 AM
============================
DUBAI DUTY FREE WOMEN'S OPEN
(Dubai, United Arab Emirates; outdoor hard; WTA Tier II)
============================ http://www.dubaitennischampionships.com/ (http://www.dubaitennischampionships.com/)

Maria had one of her best days in recent memory on Friday, when she had to play both her quarter-final and her semi-final after rain on Thursday - and beat two former world number ones who have won five and three Grand Slam singles-titles.

First she took a sweet 6-3 6-4 revenge over Martina Hingis who had embarrassed her in the Tokyo semi-finals, then improved her head-to-head record over Lindsay Davenport to 4-1 in winning a semi-final for the first time since Tier III Birmingham 2005.

But Birmingham is now Maria's only current title, as tiredness caught up with her in the final, and she lost to Justine Henin-Hardenne 7-5 6-2 after leading *5-3 in the first set.

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Photos
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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=118 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=118) (and 119)
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/photogallery/ (http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/photogallery/) (select "Dubai", "Dubai2", "Ski Dubai")

Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

Maria's celebrations after beating Hingis were so cute! :)


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Second round (Wednesday)
------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. Vera Dushevina, 6-1 6-0

Maria had never played Dushevina (fka Douchevina) professionally before, but this was sweet revenge for the Wimbledon 2002 Girls' Singles final - what a world of difference there is between junior-tennis and the WTA Tour!

The match lasted just an hour.

msharafan: "compared to japans performance maria played 10 times better today, her serve was better even compared to a quick service, she served a few aces and her groundies were on fire, but martina is a much differnt opponent to dushevina, she will try to put maria off her shots which she does well."


Maria on playing Hingis next: "It's very exciting. I lost to her the first time and never like to lose two in a row, and I'm sure it's going to be a great match. Obviously she's on a very good comeback and playing great tennis, and she played amazing tennis when I played her in Tokyo. I'll definitely have to step it up, and it will be a good match for both of us.

"I do not have revenge on my mind, but I don't like losing to the same player twice in a row. Martina played some amazing tennis in Tokyo, but it is a different match tomorrow."


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Quarter-finals (Friday afternoon)
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+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. Martina Hingis [WC], 6-3 6-4

I was very nervous going to look up this result (only to find Maria leading 6-3 *1-1), because Hingis had humbled her 6-3 6-1 at Tokyo three weeks previously, and I believed that the result of this match would determine to a large extent how Maria's year will be.

wtatour.com: "Sharapova used her power game to hit through Hingis, breaking serve a total of seven times in the one-hour, 34-minute match to even their head-to-head at one apiece."

First set: Maria broke to go *4-3 up, held for 5-3* and broke to take it 6-3.

Second set: Maria held for 4-3*, broke for *5-3, failed to serve out the match as Hingis broke back to make it 5-4*, but broke to take the match 6-3 6-4 in the next game, on her third match-point at 14:54 Dubai time.


AP/Yahoo! Sports: "Hingis, a five-time Grand Slam singles winner, kept pace with Sharapova until 3-3 in the quarterfinal. The Russian then unleashed forehand winners to break Hingis in the seventh and ninth games to win the first set."

Richard Eaton/espnstar.com:
>>>
This match was far closer than the score suggests, with Hingis getting great support from a full house of 5,000, holding a point to break back to 4-4 in the first set, and another to reach 5-5 in the second.

It was full of fascinating rallies between the great baseline attacker and the great baseline counter-puncher, with both women more willing to come to the net than they used to be.
<<<

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

"I was fighting to get my revenge. It's important to be aggressive, especially against someone who takes the ball on the rise and wants to attack your balls. It's important for me to make sure I was playing my own game. I was trying to go for my shots and do my best. Even if they missed by a few centimetres, I was still trying to stay positive.

"I needed to keep on attacking as it is difficult to keep rallying with her."


Hingis quotes
-------------

"I didn't play as well as last time. Today I probably wasn't as concentrated as last time, but she played well. Today I think was just lack of patience pretty much, and that's why I came up short at the end.

"I was not patient enough, and my concentration was not good. My aim right now is to get seedings in tournaments. That should give me a few easy first-round matches. If I can achieve that, I will start thinking of other goals.

"I came up short with just about everything at the beginning and at the end. Because I had beaten her [at Tokyo], I had the mental edge. You could tell she wasn't confident about playing me again. I made too many mistakes.

"There were so many opportunities, and you can't allow someone like her to come back into the game. I had so many game-points, break-points, and couldn't finish them.

"I started off well and finished well, but made too many errors in the middle. I had some success at the net, maybe I should have tried this more often. It's definitely tough playing a lot of matches in the space of a few days. I have to work hard on my ranking so that I can get seeded again, and start getting the byes like I used to. She definitely played well – hardcourt suits her, but I'm already looking forward to the next time we play."

Your arrogance blinds you, Miss Hingis. Next time you will experience the full power of the Dark Side!

[Re. Maria's grunting]
"It was quite funny at the end. It seemed like the shorter the ball, the louder she became."


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Semi-finals (Friday evening)
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+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. LINDSAY DAVENPORT [2], 3-6 6-1 6-3

There was a seven-hour gap before Maria took on the defending champion. I was much more confident about Maria winning this one, because she had a 3-1 (now 4-1) head-to-head against Davenport, who had been taken to three sets earlier in the day by Maria Kirilenko. :)

Big Maria made a bad start, going 0-4 down in the first set before dropping it 3-6 (losing four of her five service-games), but it was Maria who led 4-0 in the second (dropping only three points in those four games), winning it 6-1 (earning three breaks with strong forehand and backhand winners).

In the third set, Davenport broke for *2-1 but Maria broke back. Maria broke for *5-3 (courtesy of a double fault and a Maria backhand winner), and successfully served it out 6-3. The match lasted 1h45m (21:54 to 23:39 Dubai time).

Richard Eaton/espnstar.com:
>>>
The third was more closely-contested although the rallies were usually short, both players employing clubbing ground strokes behind heavy serves, committing themselves to making the first big blow whenever possible.

Davenport broke for 2-1, but Sharapova broke back at once, and as the 104-minute match neared its climax, the 18-year-old was the one who was moving her feet better and preparing more comfortably for most of her shots.

Davenport's downfall came after she served a double fault at 3-4 to go 30-40 down, and a good Sharapova return combined with two strong drives completed the match-winning break.
<<<

wtatour.com: "The match turned on a dime after [the first set], however, as Sharapova began hitting her mark with big serves and powerful groundstrokes, dictating play en route to the three set win, her fourth in five career encounters with the 29-year-old American veteran."

http://inside-tennis.net/index2.php?action=news&id=1317 (http://inside-tennis.net/index2.php?action=news&id=1317)
>>>
Sharapova ousts Davenport in battle-royal
By Andre Jones (in Dubai)

Defending champion Lindsay Davenport bowed out of the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open tonight to an inspired Maria Sharapova who came from behind to post a 3-6 6-1 6-3 win.

The Russian who led their head to head 3-1 made a slow start as she struggled to match the pace of the Davenport groundstrokes and fell behind 0-4 before mounting any kind of challenge.

Davenport took the opening set 6-3, but then in a total reversal in the next set found herself 0-4 down and could only win a single game as Sharapova found her rhythm and her range and took control of the baseline exchanges.

The final set saw both women playing at a high level, but it was the American who got the first break in the third game as she forced an error from Sharapova on the third break point. Back came the top ranked Russian in the next game, full of resolve, breaking the Davenport serve to 15 with a rasping forehand crosscourt winner on the the run.

She signified the significance of that break with a trademark fist-pump, and from there stepped up her game breaking Davenport again in the eighth game with a backhand winner down the line. She served out the match succesfully, marching into the final on her first match point as Davenport's backhand went long.
<<<

Maria quotes
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"The chemistry was mentally difficult and the match physically difficult. [She did her chemistry-homework in the seven-hour gap between matches.]

"It was a very tough match, but I feel good that I could go out under these conditions, and not play my best and still come out with a win.

"It was definitely a big battle. I played two players of completely different styles today, and that also made it very tough. It took me a while to get used to Lindsay's pace at the beginning. She was hitting winners left and right; it took me a while to adjust. But once I started feeling a little bit better, I gained more confidence.


[Re. the final]
"I am looking forward to playing against Justine. We had a great match when we last played at the Australian Open semi-finals, and I lost because a couple of points went against me.

"I think tomorrow will be a very competitive match, and I'm looking forward to it. We've both had very tough matches from the beginning here because it was such an incredible draw, probably as good as it gets at a Tier II. We've both had to wait to play today, and both played two matches to get to the final.

"I don't have any problems playing her. We're both going to be physically tired. She is very fit, but we will both be ready."


Davenport quotes
----------------

"It was a pretty up and down match. I think I got off to a great start, but really fell back in the second set. It was a tough day for everyone with the rain-delays and having to play two matches. She was the stronger player today.

"I am very satisfied with the way I played the first and third sets, but I really have no idea what happened in the second set."

"Played really well in the first; big lapse in the second, and played well again in the third. She came up with some great shots in the third set. I don't want to make excuses, but it's been a very long tough day for everyone."


Henin quotes
------------

"Sharapova played well in Australia, and it will be another battle tomorrow.

"Sharapova is a real competitor, a great fighter, and we had a very tough match in Melbourne. It was one of the best matches I've played in the last few months, and it's going to be interesting for sure - a tough mission for me."


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Final (Saturday)
-----

- MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] lt. JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE [4], 7-5 6-2

Maria led *5-3 in the first set, but won only two more games after that as tiredness from playing two matches on Friday caught up with her.

Henin now has a perfect 12-0 career win/loss record at Dubai (winning the title in 2003, 2004 and 2006), and a 4-1 head-to-head over Maria.

wgrefkes: "The America based Russian led at 5-3 playing a tactically smarter, and different match than her usual bang from the baseline mode."

Barry Wood/Reuters/Yahoo! Sports:
>>>
... a high quality match in which both players mixed up their game well and produced some very competitive rallies.

Third seed Sharapova, denied her 11th career title in her first final since she won on grass in Birmingham in June, was particularly adventurous in trying her luck at the net with varying degrees of success.

However, the 18-year-old Russian's limitations were exposed in the latter stages when she lacked patience in the rallies and failed to build a winning position.

Both players held easily in the first six games, each giving up just two points on serve. But things changed dramatically after that with almost every game being tightly contested.

Sharapova had to fight off two break points at 3-3, but then broke to lead 5-3 when she hit a drop shot so perfect that it caused her astonished opponent to drop her racquet, and then mis-hit a backhand wide.

Henin-Hardenne, though, responded by denying Sharapova as she served for the set and from 5-5 conceded just one more point.

Sharapova hit the ball long on break point, before the Belgian served out the set to love in exactly an hour.

Henin-Hardenne broke to lead 3-2 in the second set when Sharapova netted a forehand from the Belgian's fierce return.

Having moved exceptionally well throughout the match, Henin-Hardenne made it count the most at 4-2 when she ran down a ball from Sharapova and made a glorious backhand winner to earn a second break.

A dispirited Sharapova made one final effort to rescue the match, but Henin-Hardenne held off two break points before claiming victory.
<<<

I followed live scores on the tournament-website, and used the following live-scores thread:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=222110&page=6 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=222110&page=6)

It's nice to see Maria getting more support than hate for once at WTAworld, even if only because Henin retired in the Australian Open final.


First Set
---------
SHARAPOVA * * * *@____ 5
HENIN-HAR _* * *__@*@* 7

The match started at 19:36 Dubai time.

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

Very serve-dominated so far. Henin has an amazing serve for being only 5'5" tall. So does the 6'2" Maria, of course, although her shoulder-injury has prevented her from serving at 100% power in recent months.

So far, Henin has won 86% of the points when she gets her first serve in, Maria 90%. But Henin is only getting 50% of first serves in, Maria 71%, so Maria needs to make Henin pay for that.

Maria serving 3-3: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad M, held.

The first time either woman threatened on serve, but Maria was up to the challenge, despite two "killer backhands" from Henin to get the break-points, and Maria missing first serves at 30/40 and 40/40.

A single break could easily decide this set, the way they've both been holding in the first six games. And if Maria could break in the next game, she'd be serving for the set!

Henin serving 3-4: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad H, Deuce #2, ad M (BP #3), Deuce #3, ad H, Deuce #4, ad M (BP #4), broken.

YES!!! I sense a tremendous battle of wills between the two mentally strongest players currently on the WTA Tour.

Maria serving for the first set at 5-3: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad H (BP #3), broken.

15/40 to 40/40 in the last three games, but it's always harder serving for a set if you have the slightest doubt that you can beat your opponent. This is where the memory of three losses in a row to Henin comes into play. :(

Henin serving to stay in the first set at 4-5: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15 -> 40/40, ad H, Deuce #2, ad H, Deuce #3, ad H, Deuce #4, ad H, held.

Good resistance from Maria, but now she has to forget that she blew a 5-3 lead and just "stay in the moment" - something she's usually very disciplined on.

Maria serving 5-5: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.
Henin serving for the first set at 6-5: 40/0 (3 SPs), Henin won the first set 7-5 at 20:37 (61m).

Oh no. Maria's resistance went away at the wrong time - four games in a row to Henin. :(

Having served so well in the first six games, their percentages of points won on first serve have now dropped to an alaming 54% for Maria, 62% for Henin. They're even winning more points on second serve (Maria 73%, Henin 71%).

Maria has converted only one of four break-points, Henin two of six. Maria was only the second mentally-strongest player on the WTA Tour in that set. :(

According to WTAworld, Maria now looks tired and close to tears. :sad:


Second Set
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SHARAPOVA * *_____ 2
HENIN-HAR _* *@*@* 6

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

Very important that Maria stopped the rot in that game, or this set could have been very one-sided.

Henin serving 0-1: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held.
Maria serving 1-1: Ace. 40/0, 40/15, held.

Maria's first convincing service-game since 2-2 in the first.

Henin serving 1-2: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held.
Maria serving 2-2: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad H (BP), broken.

A set and a break down. :( I hope Maria's shoulder isn't bothering her again, because the sequence of scores so far reminds me of her loss to Amélie Mauresmo at the WTA Tour Championships 2005.

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

Almost a mirror-image of the previous game, but with Maria unable to take her chance - and that has been the difference between them today.

Maria serving 2-4: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), 30/40, broken.
Henin serving for the match at 5-2: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40 (unforced errors), ad H (CP #1), Henin won 7-5 6-2 at 21:21 (1h44m).

Story of the day - wishful beginnings for Maria, but no coup de grâce, and then when Henin has her own chance, she takes it.

We had such wishful beginnings
But we live unbearable lives
[David Bowie (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/music/bowie/), "Wishful Beginnings"]


Statistics
----------

In the end, Maria got 66% of first serves in, winning 59% of the points when she did so, and 52% on second serve (Henin 59%, 64% and 68%).

In the second set, Maria's percentage of points won on second serve was particularly poor - 30% - having been 73% for the first set.

Maria served 3 aces and 3 double faults, Henin 1 ace and 2 double faults.

Henin broke 4 times from 9 break-points, Maria just once from 7 BPs - a statistic even Daniela Hantuchová (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/hantu/) (I am a Daniela-fan) would be ashamed of. :o

In points, Henin won 76-61.


Maria quotes
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"I played a good match, but I guess I was a little tired from yesterday. But I am happy with the way the season is shaping up and I am looking forward to playing her again.

"I'm disappointed with today, but Justine was simply better. I played very well until 5-3, didn't take my chances and I missed a few close calls. Overall I'm happy with my week though, I surpassed myself I think yesterday beating Hingis and Davenport on the same day and played well the whole time.

"I played great tennis this week. It was a tremendous effort for me to be able to play two really tough matches yesterday, and still play a high level of tennis today.

"In the first set it was just one or two balls didn't go my way I guess, and then after that I was physically tired from yesterday.

"That took a lot out of me. I couldn't move well."


Henin quotes
------------

"I'm very happy with the ending. It was a tough week for me, even though I won every match in two sets. It's been pretty hard with the rain and the waiting, trying to remain patient and still focus on the matches. This victory has given me a lot of confidence, for sure.

"There was a very high quality in the first set. Both of us were playing well. Maria put a lot of pressure on myself, especially from the beginning to 5-3. Maria was playing very aggressively, and I think she brought out the best in me. I had to raise my level if I wanted to stay with her. The key was patience in the long rallies, and being aggressive as soon as I got the right ball.

"I fought very hard, and I'm proud of the fact that I showed I'm a real competitor and stayed positive the whole time. This match was terrific for women's tennis, I think. The public was fantastic.

"It's an amazing feeling. It's great, because I didn't know really what to expect before coming here after my health problems in Australia.

"I was feeling very down after the Australian Open final, but overall my beginning of the year has been almost perfect when I think where I was a few months ago.

"I am very happy with the way I played this week. It was a tough week with all the rain and us having to play two matches yesterday, but my body held up.

"I felt tired at the end because I have had stomach-, knee- and shoulder-problems this week.

"Maria put a lot of pressure on my serve in the first half of the match. I was a little bit too far from my baseline, but I then decided to stand one step up, and hit more towards the centre of the court and into her body. That cut down her angles a bit, and the game turned for me."


====================
What next for Maria?
====================

Maria isn't defending her Doha title in the coming week because Doha was before Dubai in 2005, and Maria wants a week off before the Super Tier I at Indian Wells.

If she doesn't capture the title at either Indian Wells or Miami, she then has only the claycourt-season - her worst surface - between her and the defence of her lone remaining title at Birmingham.

Henin will displace Maria from her current ranking of #4 when the WTA rankings are updated on Monday. It will be much harder for Maria to get past the quarter-finals if she has to play tournaments with a seeding of #5.

The good news is that she now seems to have the beating of everyone except Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin-Hardenne and Amélie Mauresmo.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/ (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/)
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/ (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/)
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/ (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/) (added 2 external links)

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

jcshie
Feb 27th, 2006, 07:40 AM
:worship: :worship:

msharafan
Feb 28th, 2006, 08:15 PM
good report, i still think though if maria plays like she did in the first set against justine she could beat kim and mauresmo and even justine if it wasnt for that bad line call and fatigueness from maria, is indian wells a 2 week tournie? and who is lined up to play?

andrewbroad
Feb 28th, 2006, 09:31 PM
Indian Wells starts on Wednesday 8th March and finishes on Sunday 19th March. The entry-list is here (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=216143) (Kim Clijsters has since withdrawn).

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

msharafan
Mar 1st, 2006, 06:57 AM
thank you! so its a week and a half, is it the same for miami?
and at least maria will be seeded #4 now that kims pulled out

bellascarlett
Mar 1st, 2006, 07:39 AM
Amelie isnt playing Indian Wells too if I'm not mistaken. I still think Maria can beat Amelie :o...they've only played two YEC matches so far. Anyway, she'll get those girls next time. ;)

Great report Andrew! :D