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andrewbroad
Mar 18th, 2006, 07:08 PM
=================
PACIFIC LIFE OPEN
(Indian Wells, California, USA; outdoor hard; WTA Tier I)
================= http://www.pacificlifeopen.com/ (http://www.pacificlifeopen.com/)
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=120 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=120) (and p.121)
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=223924&page=6 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=223924&page=6) (and onwards)
http://forums.lawntennisnews.com/gallery/index.php (http://forums.lawntennisnews.com/gallery/index.php)

Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

---------------------
My tournament-preview (as I posted at the time)
---------------------

It is vitally important that MARIA wins this tournament. She's not won one since Birmingham 2005, and if you look at the tournaments between now and Birmingham 2006, it's a relatively weak draw here, but then it's Miami which is compulsory for all the top players, and then only clay-court tournaments... so it's a distinct possibility that Maria will go into Birmingham without another title to her name if she doesn't get her act together here.

2r: Jamea Jackson looked powerful and athletic against Maria at Birmingham 2004, and looked even more impressive in beating Maria Kirilenko 6-2 6-3 at Birmingham 2005 (I attended both matches). But she's no match for a player of Big Maria's calibre (6-2 6-2 at Birmingham 2004).

3r: Emilie Loit beat Maria 6-3 6-4 at the US Open 2003, but Maria has come so far since then that it should be a non-issue now.

4r: Maria beat Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-4 6-2 at Rome 2005 - on clay - but Medina has already won a title (Tier IV Canberra) in 2006. I hope Maria will play cute Shahar Peer instead.

qf: I'm a bit worried about Anna-Lena Grönefeld, who was thrashing Maria 6-1 4-2 at Moscow 2005 when she suddenly retired with a serious ankle-injury. Grönefeld seems to have recovered from that now, as she won her first WTA singles-title at Tier III Acapulco last week, while Maria has to go back to Birmingham 2005 to match that achievement.

A quarter-final against Selesian player Marion Bartoli would be a much nicer draw!

sf: The seedings decree a repeat of Maria's Indian Wells 2005 semi-final against Lindsay Davenport, and we all know what happened there. But Maria has won all four of her other matches against Davenport.

The other dangerous opponent in that quarter is Martina Hingis, who humiliated Maria 6-3 6-1 in the Tokyo semis last month, but Maria avenged that defeat 6-3 6-4 at Dubai. Davenport and Hingis would meet in the fourth round, with the winner almost certain to go through to the semi-finals in my objective opinion, although I'd love to see the sexy Marta Domachowska come through instead!

final: I'm glad to see that Justine Henin-Hardenne is in the other half of the draw, because she's by far the greatest threat to Maria, and quite possibly the only player who could beat Maria in the final - although I'm a bit worried that Elena Dementieva beat Hingis 6-2 6-0 in the Tokyo final right after Hingis beat Maria 6-3 6-1.

But there are so many nice players in the other half, including Tatiana Golovin, Maria Kirilenko, Sania Mirza, Anna Chakvetadze, Ana Ivanovic, Gisela Dulko and Karolina Šprem - how wonderful it would be if one of those girls broke through and reached the final!

------------
Second round (Friday 10th March)
------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. Jamea Jackson, 6-4 6-3

Maria's match had a rain-delayed start on Friday. She had to be patient against Jamea Jackson in cold, windy conditions, winning 6-4 6-3 in 1h28m.

Maria: "I don't think, first match, you're going to play your best tennis. I hung in there and I served smart. She's a great mover out there, and she makes you play another ball, but I was ready for that.

"I'm working on my net game, you know, working on coming in, watching the ball better, you know, seeing the short balls, you know, coming in and trying to finish the points sooner, you know, not letting my opponent get another chance to get back in the point."

[Re. her shoulder-injury]
"It's getting better. It's definitely better than it was last year. I mean there's some days where, you know, it hurts a little bit. There are some days where it's perfect. You know, but I'm maintaining the pain."

Full interview:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=124801&page=8 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=124801&page=8)

-----------
Third round (Sunday 12th March)
-----------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. Lisa Raymond, 6-4 6-0

The match was played in cold, rainy conditions. Maria was wearing a sweatshirt and trousers (with a skirt, much to the criticism of the fashion-police), and her hands were cold.

Maria broke for *4-3 in the first set, then games went with serve until Maria served it out 6-4. Then she breezed through the second to win the match in 1h10m.

Maria: "I think I moved well, and I think towards the middle of the first set, I started moving a little bit better, and started running around my backhand and hitting a few extra forehands, just to get going."

She also said she's working on serve-and-volley. The complete interview is here:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=7561210 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=7561210)


This set up an intriguing fourth-round encounter against the strangely-attractive Shahar Peer. Shahar gets a lot of balls back, which is Maria's toughest type of opponent, and she took a set off Maria at Beijing 2005.

------------
Fourth round (Tuesday 14th March)
------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. SHAHAR PEER [21], 7-6 (7/2) 6-1

Maria led 5-3* in the first set, but had to save a set-point at *5-6 before taking it on the tiebreak. Shahar broke in the first game of the second, but Maria reeled off six games in a row.

Maria: "I started off okay. I just tried to get used to her timing on our serve. It was a little bit difficult. She wasn't making a lot of first serves. The second serve kicked up pretty high. It took me a while to get used to that, try to attack it.

"As the match went on, I felt more confident about it. You know, should have taken my opportunity at 5-3, at 5-4, especially serving for the set. I don't think I should have let it go to a tiebreak.

"But a lot of players can play well when they're behind. That's just the way it is. They have nothing to lose. 3-1, then 5-3. They just start playing a lot better simply because they have nothing to lose. They're down a break.

"I guess that's when you need to be extra careful, because out of nowhere your opponent can start playing really well. It's important to close it out if you can."

Maria's full interview:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=7576062 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=7576062)

---------------------
Quarter-final preview (as I posted on jeldani at the time)
---------------------

Maria's next opponent is armed and extremely dangerous. Anna-Lena Grönefeld is on a winning-streak of 8 matches after winning her first-ever WTA singles-title at Acapulco, and was thrashing Maria 6-1 4-1* (with two break-points for *5-1) at Moscow 2005 when she [Grönefeld] sprained her ankle and had to retire at 4-2 (0/30).

Maria: "Yeah, I played Grönefeld last time in Moscow, very weird match. Unfortunately, she sprained her ankle. It will be a totally different match tomorrow. I was worried a lot about my injury in Moscow. I'm feeling a lot better about it this year. So hopefully, you know...

"She's a great player. She serves really big. That's one of her biggest strengths. I want to make sure I serve well and try to put pressure on her serve.

"She's had really good results last year. I think she played really solid tennis. Like I said, she's a tall girl and uses her height really well with big groundstrokes, a big serve. I think the big serve, if you can hold your serve, against many players, that works."

-------------
Quarter-final (Wednesday 15th March)
-------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. ANNA-LENA GRÖNEFELD [7], 6-1 6-3

Maria's match was much easier than I expected. Grönefeld held serve in the first game, but Maria reeled off six games in a row to take the first set 6-1.

They exchanged breaks at the start of the second set (with Maria serving first), then games went with serve until Maria broke for 5-3 and served out the match in 1h20m.

Maria: "I thought I started off really well, and that was really, really important. From the beginning of the match, I didn't underestimate her serve or her big game. So I think I came out ready, ready for the challenge; it turned out well.

"I definitely stepped it up a little bit, especially when I needed to. I was a little patient in the end, which was important. You know, forced her to hit some errors in the end. But, yeah, I think that's also the little experience. I knew that she would come out having nothing to lose, so I had to be a little bit more patient, you know, just try to force the errors from her.

"[Defence is] one of the things that I'm working on. You know, I think a lot of that has to do with movement, physically feeling good out on the court. Especially in the beginning of the match, I felt like I was moving really well. I made her hit an extra shot, causing the error."

Maria's full interview:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=7583231 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=7583231)

------------------
Semi-final preview (as I posted on jeldani at the time)
------------------ [Maria v Martina Hingis]

Maria: "You're playing a great champion, someone that's obviously achieved a lot in her career. And she's still young. Any opponent that I see across the net, I cannot think about whether they're terrible or they're great. I can't put that in my mind.

"In Dubai, I basically took my opportunities, the ones that I had. In Tokyo, even when I felt like I could get back in the match, I didn't take my opportunities, made a few errors. I think I was more focused on the match in Dubai. I really tried not to worry about what my opponent was doing."

After what happened at Tokyo and what happened at Dubai, I think this is a 50-50 match.

One thing in Maria's favour is that it starts at 11:00 PST (19:00 GMT). Hingis admitted in her last press-conference <http://www.pacificlifeopen.com/ (http://www.pacificlifeopen.com/)> that she doesn't like playing in the morning.

----------
Semi-final (Friday 17th March)
----------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. MARTINA HINGIS [19][WC], 6-3 6-3

Ken Peters, AP Sports: "Sharapova dominated the match with powerful hard groundstrokes, hitting 29 winners to nine by the Swiss star".


Matthew Cronin, Reuters: "Sharapova gave a sterling performance against Hingis, wearing her opponent down in long rallies, attacking the Swiss player's second serves, and bullying her from the forehand side.

"Hingis tried to move the 18-year-old around the court but Sharapova, who was suffering with blisters, stayed in the points and put away any mid-court balls with aplomb.

"While she is known for her fist pumps and self-motivating yells, Sharapova was particularly fired up against Hingis, especially after a fan called out in the second set, saying that she was tired."


Agence France Presse: "However, the Swiss star's strategy of prolonging the rallies and wearing down her opponent sapped her own strength as well".


CEEFAX: "Hingis could not contain a pumped-up Sharapova, particularly on her own serve".


Dan23: "Maria had the wood on Martina in a lot of the long points, such intelligent play by Masha. She was patient and continued to place the ball perfectly. That point finished with the drop volley was a beauty".


Maria had two break-points in the opening game, but Hingis held. Maria then won five games in a row to lead 5-1*. She was unsuccessful serving for the set at 5-2 (when Hingis converted her first break-point of the match), but broke Hingis to take the first set 6-3 when Hingis hit a backhand wide.

In the second set, Maria jumped out to a *2-0 lead, was broken for 2-1*, but broke again for 4-1*. Hingis saved a break-point which would have given Maria *5-1, then broke back again, and Maria at 4-3* had a medical time-out for a blister on her sole.

Then Maria broke to love for *5-3 and served out a 6-3 6-3 victory when Hingis made two backhand errors - Maria won on her first match-point. The match took 1h38m - a long time for that score.

Maria really attacked Hingis's second serve - Hingis won only 37% of those points.

Maria now leads Hingis 2-1 head-to-head after losing their first-ever meeting (Tokyo Pan Pacific Open 2006).


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

"I don't think the scores showed anything, it was physically and mentally so challenging to play against her today. The score doesn't show how physically and mentally tough every point was. We were fighting for everything.

"The quality of the match was just great. It's good to see we can play these high-quality matches. She tried to mix it up a little at the end of the first set, and I knew it would be physically harder. Mentally, I told myself: 'It doesn't matter how many balls she gets, do everything possible to get one more ball back.'

"I was really ready today - I really was. I knew it was going to be tough; I didn't underestimate her level of play. I knew it was going to be a very tough match, and I need[ed] to be ready for it.

"I think [it's important] to see the opportunities when they come, especially on short balls, taking those opportunities, not letting her get back in the point. That's what she does great, you know, is getting a lot of balls back, seeing the ball and making you hit an extra shot.

"I think the level of tennis was definitely higher than I've played in the last few months. Thank God it just went my way. I think I played a great match in Australia in the semis, and it didn't go my way. So, you know, it was a good end to the day."


[Re. the spectator who yelled out "Martina, she's getting tired!"]
"That kind of pumped me up, and I hit two winners in a row. I looked back at [him] and I'm like, 'I'm tired, my butt.' So don't mess with a truck. You're going to become a pancake.

"The funny thing was, he started clapping for me after that. I think he got scared. Then when I was waving to that side [after winning], he's like <Maria mimics his sheepish wave>."


[Re. the final]
"I want to play Justine, because I lost to her the last two times."


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

"She didn't really give me many chances. I tried to play defense, more offense. But I just didn't get many opportunities to really do too much with balls. I think I didn't do that badly. She was just better.

"She has good offense game. She pressure me in the beginning. She play really well. Compared to the other two matches, she definitely started off a lot better than the previous ones.

"For sure since 4-1 I started to play better. All these chances I had, and games I could have won, she won anyway. You've got to have the stamina.

"I won't have any regrets any more. No matter what happens now, I know I've come a far way. That was probably one of my biggest fears, to come back and disappoint. I haven't won a tournament yet, but I think I've already showed that I've still got some game.

"If someone told me, 'You're going to make the semifinals, beating Lindsay and Safina,' probably I would have signed the contract in the beginning of the week. But now that you've come that far, I wouldn't be a competitor if I be satisfied with getting there. You always just want to get more out of it.

"All I have to say is: she was just too good today, and I'm happy there is more tournaments coming up. I have to work on certain things, and try to get better till Miami."

---------
The Final
---------

* ELENA DEMENTIEVA [4] v MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] (DAVAI MARIA!!)

Maria and Elena are the first two Russians ever to reach an Indian Wells women's singles final (the first all-Russian WTA singles final since Moscow 2004). They have each won one Tier I title in their careers - both at the Tokyo Pan Pacific Open (Maria in 2005, Dementieva in 2006), so one of them will win her second Tier I today.

I was delighted when I saw that Dementieva had beaten Justine Henin-Hardenne 2-6 7-5 7-5 in the other semi-final (which was played after Maria's), not only because Dementieva is much prettier, sexier, and uses more hands on the racket than Henin, but because it removed the one player in the draw whom I didn't believe Maria would have beaten.

Maria should also be much fresher than Dementieva, who has won four of her five matches here in three sets while Maria has dropped no sets, and no more than seven games in any match. Dementieva has much less time to recover from a much tougher semi-final than Maria's (Dementieva's SF took 2h52m).

Maria leads Dementieva 3-1 head-to-head:
2003 Birmingham qf: Maria 2-6 7-6 6-2
2003 Shanghai qf: Dementieva 6-4 7-6
2004 Rome 2r: Maria 6-1 6-4
2004 Zurich sf: Maria 4-6 6-2 6-3

On paper, Maria is the clear favourite against the world #8, who is renowned for her weak serve which has produced 59(?) double faults this tournament. BBC senior commentator John Barrett once said of Maria, "If only Dementieva had this woman's serve!"

But I'm not taking anything for granted. A lot of finals in early 2006 have been won by the underdog, and Dementieva beat Hingis 6-2 6-0 in the Tokyo final right after Hingis had beaten Maria 6-3 6-1.

If Maria can hold serve reliably then she could win quite comfortably, but I get the feeling there could be a lot of breaks against both players in this match.

It's particularly important for Maria to go for a straight-sets win, especially if her blister is going to be a problem. Dementieva has an excellent record in third sets.

Dementieva: "I'm very proud to see another Russian final in a big event like this. And to play against Maria, it's going to be very interesting. I played her long ago, and she looks very powerful. She looks like one of the best players for the moment. It will be interesting for me."


Order of play for Saturday
--------------------------

Stadium 1 (start 11:30 PST = 19:30 GMT)
1. MS sf: ROGER FEDERER [1] v Paradorn Srichaphan
|
(not before 14:30 PST = 22:30 GMT)
2. WS f: ELENA DEMENTIEVA [4] v MARIA SHARAPOVA [3]
|
(not before 16:30 PST = 00:30 GMT)
3. MS sf: James Blake v RAFAEL NADAL [2]
4. MD f: BOB BRYAN/MIKE BRYAN [1] v MARK KNOWLES/DANIEL NESTOR [3]

--
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/)

andrewbroad
Mar 20th, 2006, 12:07 AM
=================
PACIFIC LIFE OPEN
(Indian Wells, California, USA; outdoor hard; WTA Tier I)
================= http://www.pacificlifeopen.com/ (http://www.pacificlifeopen.com/)
Photos
------

On court (and some off):
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=122 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=122)
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.pacificlifeopen.com/en/players/photogallery (http://www.pacificlifeopen.com/en/players/photogallery) (March 18)

Nothing like a genuine Sharapova smile! :D

Off-court:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/photogallery/ (http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/photogallery/)
http://mashafan.free.fr/galeriephoto/thumbnails.php?album=177 (http://mashafan.free.fr/galeriephoto/thumbnails.php?album=177)

---------
The Final
---------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. ELENA DEMENTIEVA [4], 6-1 6-2

This is Maria's first title since Birmingham last June, and her first Tier I (or II) since February 2005. It's a big relief that she can now go into Miami and the claycourt-season without me worrying whether she could get another title to go with Birmingham before she has to defend it. That's why I wanted her to win this tournament so badly - and she did! :D

And she won it so efficiently, dropping just 31 games and no sets in six matches. Her physical condition, movement and defensive play are much better than in previous years, as is her adaptability to windy conditions (the final was particularly windy and cold at 11°C).

She may have avoided having to play Justine Henin-Hardenne, Kim Clijsters, Amélie Mauresmo and Lindsay Davenport at Indian Wells, but on this sort of form she'll be a threat for the Miami title too - and surely for the Wimbledon title in just over three months!

It looks like the damage of the last nine months has finally been reversed! :D

Maria has just matched the greatest achievement of Daniela Hantuchová's career: winning Indian Wells at the age of 18. Daniela beat Martina Hingis 6-3 6-4 in the 2002 final, having also beaten Henin 6-3 6-3 in the third round.


Agence France Presse: "Blustery winds on stadium court contributed to a stream of errors from both players.

"She dominated the match with powerful, well-placed groundstrokes that kept the 24-year-old Dementieva off-balance."


Matthew Cronin/Reuters: "After playing for nearly three hours to upset top seed Justine Henin-Hardenne in the semi-finals on Friday, fourth seed Dementieva couldn't find the energy to run with Sharapova, committing 37 unforced errors to 25.

"Despite the windy conditions, former Wimbledon champion Sharapova did take big rips at the ball when given the right opportunities, cracking 17 winners to only eight from Dementieva.

"But this year, she's [Maria] been travelling full time with a physiotherapist and has worked diligently on improving her upper body strength."


wtatour.com: "Sharapova, seeded No.3 at the $2.1 million, Tier I event, handled the windy conditions at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden much better than the No.4-seeded Dementieva".


Dan23: "Got to watch a reply this arvo and Maria played such an intelligent match. She adjusted to the different wind conditions at each end of the court so well and really thought about her shots. Its clear Maria has been working hard on that aspect of her tennis and her movement and defence is becoming a feature of her game these days. The lob to take a 5-2 lead in the second was just a bit of class to top off an otherwise toughly fought win."


I didn't get to see the final myself (not having access to an appropriate TV-channel), but I followed live scores on the tournament-website. Here are my comments as I wrote them at the time:


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

The match started at 14:36 PST.

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

Excellent start by Maria! Looked like Dementieva might have an easy hold from 30/0, but Maria gets the early break instead. Now she must consolidate by holding her own serve reliably.

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

Five game-points wasted. :( Sometimes it's much easier to win points when serving into the deuce-court than the ad-court. At least Maria's had a chance to get her serve going. But she's also let Dementieva feel involved in this final.

Dementieva serving 1-1: 40/0 -> 40/40, ad M (BP), broken.

Alexandra Stevenson's syndrome (dropping serve from 40/0 up) is a very damaging blow psychologically. Dementieva can't expect to have any easy service-games against Maria, who is so determined to fight for every point.

Maria serving 2-1: 40/0 -> 40/40, ad M, held.

Phew! Dementieva nearly returned the favour!

Dementieva serving 1-3: broken to love.

The first easy game of this deucy match gives Maria a double break, but each game so far has been too complicated to say that Maria will surely run away with the match now - especially after Dementieva's tremendous fightback in the semis!

Maria serving 4-1: 0/30 -> 40/30, held.

Maria in trouble on every service-game, but how frustrating for Dementieva that she's only managed one game so far. Should she tank this set to conserve her energy for the second, or should she fight as hard as she can?

Dementieva serving to stay in the first set at 1-5: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 SPs) -> 40/40, ad M (SP), Maria won the first set 6-1 at 15:16 (40m) - Dementieva finished it with two backhands long.

Dementieva is winning only 35% of the points on her first serve, Maria 60% - that's the key difference between their first-set statistics. But it's Maria who's served four double faults in this wind - Dementieva just one.


Second Set
----------
SHARAPOVA __*@*@*@ 6
DEMENTIEV @*______ 2

Maria serving 0-0: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15 -> 40/40, ad D (BP), broken.

Broken from 40/15 up - not a good sign for Maria. And from Dementieva's perspective, now is the time to fight if she's going to have any impact on the scoreline of this match. She has yet to hold serve.

Dementieva serving 1-0: 30/0 -> 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad D, Deuce #2, ad D, held.

A major momentum-shift, or was Dementieva just lucky to pull out those two games? I guess we'll find out in the next game or two.

Maria serving 0-2: held to love.

Maria's first easy service-game of the match.

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

Dementieva was lucky. And (at the risk of jinxing Maria), I think she's going to be embarrassed by the final scoreline.

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

YES!! :D It's bad news for Dementieva - not that she needs any more in this match - that Maria has started to have easy service-games.

Dementieva serving 2-3: 0/40 (3 BPs) -> 40/40, ad D, Deuce #2, ad D, Deuce #3, ad M (BP #4), broken on a double fault.

I can't see Maria losing this match now (unless she sprains an ankle or something).

Maria serving 4-2: 40/0 -> 40/40, ad M, held. "Sharapova lifted a gorgeous topspin backhand lob winner on game point" [Paul Levine, SportsTicker Contributing Writer].

40/0 -> 40/40 is a dangerous situation, but I think that was Dementieva's last chance to get back in the match - although she did recover from 2-6 2-5* down against Henin!

Dementieva serving to stay in the match at 2-5: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 CPs), 30/40 (CP #2), Maria won 6-1 6-2 at 15:58 (1h22m) when Dementieva netted a backhand.


Statistics
----------

Maria had a winner:unforced-error ratio of 17:25, while Dementieva had a woeful W:UE ratio of 8:37.

Maria got 82% of first serves in, Dementieva 73%. But while Maria won 62% of the points when she did so, Dementieva won only 43% (improving from 35% in the first set to 52% in the second).

And Maria punished Dementieva's second serve even more, allowing her only 24% of those points whilst winning 40% of her own second-serve points (Maria improved from 20% in the first set to 60% in the second).

They served four double faults each (all of Maria's coming in the first set, three of Dementieva's in the second). There was only one ace in the match - no prizes for guessing who served it!

Dementieva had only two break-points (one in each set), but converted them both. Maria broke seven times from 16 break-points (4 breaks in the first set, 3 in the second), which is incredibly wasteful - but when you're generating that many more opportunities than your opponent, you can afford to be profligate.

In points, Maria won the match by 71-47 (the first set 36-24, the second set 35-23).


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

"I'm glad it's over. It was very difficult in the wind, but I feel great because it's been a long time since I've won.

"It was so tough today. You can be playing great tennis, and you come out today and you can be looking like garbage. You just never know, and I tried to hang in there. You just never know if the ball is going to go in or out, especially on serve.

"You can be playing great tennis the past week, you come out, and no matter how good you might have been playing, the level of tennis goes down the drain basically simply because of the wind. I don't think either of us could have played great tennis. It's very hard to do. I honestly don't think you're ever going to play great tennis in these kind of conditions.

"I mean, I think it was difficult for both of us. You know, I tried to do everything possible, tried to get the balls in. I mean, a lot of balls, you didn't know which way they were going, especially on the serve. But on these kind of days, it's not about playing great tennis; it's about finding a way to win. I thought I did that well today.

"Honestly, I was having a really tough end of the year last year. Not a lot of people know about it, but it was very frustrating because tournament after tournament, I'd be working hard, I'd be trying to get back in shape, playing tennis, and all of a sudden my injury would kind of bring me down again. It was really tough.

"These kind of tournaments, they mean a lot to me, they give me more confidence because I've known I've put in the hard work.

"It feels really great. I've worked really hard the past few months to get past my injury and to really believe in myself. It's moments like these where the hard work comes into your mind.

"I guess just trying to stay positive always helps. You just never know when the hard work will pay off. It's definitely good to see that it did pay off today.

"I think I'll take this as a good confidence-boost, you know, being able to play at a high level throughout a whole week, playing six matches, getting the matches that I wanted. I think that's what I was lacking last year, I was always coming into a big event without having a lot of matches behind my belt. That was a bit difficult. That actually made it a lot harder for me because I didn't have that many matches.

"You know, I enjoy playing week after week. I feel like I get better as I play more matches. I think especially with the win here, it will definitely give me confidence. You never know what can happen.

[Re. improvements since winning Wimbledon 2004]
"I feel physically a lot fitter than I was at Wimbledon. I'm able to play match after match, you know, day after day rather than having a day off, and still feeling really fit, energy-wise having more energy than I did before. I'm working on a few things, variety and fitness. But I definitely feel like, you know, my defense is a lot better than it was definitely at Wimbledon. But grass, you know, is a very fast surface. I mean, a lot of it is offense there."

[Re. her shoulder/rib]
"It wasn't perfect. The last three matches I felt it a little bit. The main thing is I'm not scared of it any more. No matter even if it hurts more than, you know, maybe I can't serve 100%, I can't serve with the speed I want to. In my mind mentally, I know I can't do anything worse. I just play a lot freer when it's kind of not on your mind."

Full interview:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=7611647 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=7611647)


Maria's semi-final interview (at last):
http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=7606029 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=7606029)
>>>
I've never gotten so many compliments in a press conference before, I must say. My defense is good, I'm taking the balls on the rise. I mean, wow!

The physical part of my game is very important right now. It's what I'm working on. That's what's been improving. I mean, if you look at me a year ago, I don't think I was at this point physically. So I know - it didn't take five days, it didn't take a month. It took a whole year to progress and get better. I think that's how much time it's going to take. It's going to take years in order for me, you know, to be physically moving great, you know.
<<<


Dementieva quotes
-----------------

"I was very happy to be in the final, but was a little tired. It's difficult, you know, to be tired and to play against Maria, because you know how powerful she is, and you really have to play your best to beat her.

"I think Maria, she was able to handle the situation and play with the wind better today. Maria's power helped in the wind. I think it was very difficult to play today. But I still feel it was a great tournament for me - big win yesterday. Even though I lost today, I feel I have a game to beat her - but not today.

"I was mentally prepared, I wanted to play against her, I wanted to face her in Tokyo and I wanted to play her here. For me it's interesting. It's a great challenge for me to play against Maria. But it was very difficult to play today. Just like I said, I feel I wasn't at my best today, and she was playing great. You know, I'm going to wait for the next time and I'll try to do better.

"Usually I feel sad when a tournament is finished, but not this time. I'm glad it's over because I just feel it was too much on me. I was playing so many hours on the court and I feel just a little tired today.

"But this is the nice thing about tennis - you always get another chance. Maybe next week at Key Biscayne."

[from her semi-final press-conference]
"I think the most amazing thing about her, she looks very experienced player even at the age of 18. She looks like she really got all the experience. She's mentally tough. If you look at her technique, she's not that perfect, especially her forehand, but she's very confident and it works for her. Yeah, I think she's very tough mentally. That what makes her very strong and not easy to play."

---------------------------------------
Maria's WTA + Grand Slam singles-titles
---------------------------------------

1. Japan Open (Tokyo), WTA Tier III, 5th October 2003
2. Bell Challenge (Québec City), WTA Tier III, 2nd November 2003
3. DFS Classic (Birmingham), WTA Tier III, 13th June 2004
4. WIMBLEDON, Grand Slam, 3rd July 2004
5. Hansol Korea Open (Seoul), WTA Tier IV, 3rd October 2004
6. AIG Japan Open (Tokyo), WTA Tier III, 9th October 2004
7. WTA Tour Championships (Los Angeles), 15th November 2004
8. Toray Pan Pacific Open (Tokyo), WTA Tier I, 6th February 2005
9. Qatar Total Open (Doha), WTA Tier II, 26th February 2005
10. DFS Classic (Birmingham), WTA Tier III, 12th June 2005
11. Pacific Life Open (Indian Wells), WTA Tier I, 18th March 2006

Maria has lost only two of the 13 finals she's reached. Contrast that with the 24-year-old Dementieva, who has reached 16 finals but won only 5 of them.

Maria's next tournament is the Nazgűl-100 Open at Miami (22nd March - 2nd April).

Maria's ranking will go up to #4 on Monday, but the bad news is that Amélie Mauresmo will become world number one, pushing Maria to the bottom of the "weeks at #1" list in two weeks' time (Maria spent 7 weeks as #1 last year, but Mauresmo starts her 6th week on Monday).

Still, it's better to be at the bottom of that list than not to be on it at all. And a title is worth more than any ranking - especially when it's a Super Tier I! :D

--
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/)

lakan kildap
Mar 20th, 2006, 01:20 AM
Great first win for Maria on US soil.

andrewbroad
Mar 24th, 2006, 12:00 PM
Great first win for Maria on US soil.

The WTA Tour Championships 2004 were on US soil too.

--
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/)

lakan kildap
Mar 27th, 2006, 01:14 AM
The WTA Tour Championships 2004 were on US soil too.

--
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/)

yeah, I remembered that after my post.

However, I still count this (IW) as her first win-all-the-way on US soil because unlike the 2004 WTA YEC, this is not a round robin format tournament.

Maria Croft
Mar 27th, 2006, 08:32 AM
The WTA Tour Championships 2004 were on US soil too.



But the YEC isn't a US tournament because it's not always played in the US right?

lakan kildap
Mar 29th, 2006, 05:31 AM
Hi Dr. Andrew,

you really must love Mr. "Reuel" (JRR) Tolkien. You even spell Nasdaq as Nazgul.

Arise now, arise, Riders of Théoden!
Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter!
spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!
Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!

andrewbroad
Mar 30th, 2006, 10:55 AM
Yes, I am a great admirer of Professor Tolkien's work, especially The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Come not between the Nazgűl and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye.

--
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/)

Porcupine
Mar 30th, 2006, 11:22 AM
Didn't know you're a LOTR fan :) I just love watching the movies :D 13 Oscars :eek:

mashafan25
Mar 30th, 2006, 12:14 PM
Yeah, The LOTR was the best movie what I've saw ever. :)

lakan kildap
Mar 30th, 2006, 11:51 PM
I actually thought "Fellowship of the Ring" was the best of the three. It was, shall we say, magical. It really impressed and delighted, and that's not easy to achieve considering it came on the heels of the first Harry Potter movie. (And no, I'm not trying to start a LOTR vs. Harry Potter debate. Please.) Even with all the criticism about the missing Tom Bombadil and the enhanced role of Arwen, "Fellowship", to me was a beautiful movie. I've sat through it more than a few times (movie house, DVD), and it still has its magic.

I don't know how it didn't get the nod for the Oscar. They gave it to the highly sanitized, politically correct"ed" biopic "A Beautiful Mind".

Well, it's just my opinion, as always. :)

Andrew must be asking how the heck the Indian Wells thread turned into an LOTR discussion. :)