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View Full Version : Birmingham 2006: Andrew's eye-witness report (uploaded extended reports & photos)


andrewbroad
Jul 14th, 2006, 01:55 AM
(Keywords: Birmingham, eye-witness, Sharapova, Eternal Fanship, brilliant, flairsome, Rolle, Li, Santangelo, Jackson, massive upset)


I realise that this is four weeks late, but I didn't have time to finish it before Wimbledon - and certainly not during!


===========
DFS CLASSIC (Edgbaston, Birmingham, England; grass; WTA Tier III)
=========== http://birmingham.lta.org.uk/ (http://birmingham.lta.org.uk/)
Photos
------

http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/photogallery/ (http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/photogallery/) (select "Birmingham")

http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova (http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova)

Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

Maria video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zpttyb_n8SM (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zpttyb_n8SM)

I made emergency arrangements to travel to Birmingham on Thursday when Vera ZvonarŽva and Anna Chakvetadze set up a mouthwatering third-round match against each other! And so it was that I got to watch Maria's third round, quarter-final and semi-final matches.

-----------------------------
Maria's pre-tournament quotes
-----------------------------

[Re. her ankle-injury]
"Some days the injury's better than others. It's getting better day by day, but it's hard to say - maybe when I get a week off after Wimbledon it'll be better. As long as you can withstand the pain and control it, and get treatment before and after every single game, then you will be fine.

"I realise I am not at the peak of my career at this point, and it doesn't happen overnight, but it is something I am looking forward to building every day. I know it is not going to be easy.

"I think the expectations are the same [as before]. With Birmingham and Wimbledon, I have such great memories that my tennis always seems to come around. My tennis always comes together on grass, so I am sure I will be just fine.

"It is very exciting to be back in England, because it is my favourite time of the year when I am playing on grass, and usually all my injuries go away when I am playing on this court. I love competing here, and I have great memories. When I get out on the grass, everything seems to get better; my tennis comes together.

"I feel I have incorporated a lot of new things into my game, and physically I am a lot stronger than I was a year ago. I feel like I am improving with every match.

"I love this tournament. I've done well here, and it's great preparation. Everyone is so welcoming, the facilities are up and ready nice and early, which you don't get in other tournaments. They are very kind to me, and I always feel really welcome.

[Re. the Williams sisters]
"If I was in that position of having won so many Grand Slams, I don't think there would be anything wrong with trying new things in life. It is great they have got so many opportunities that tennis has brought them, and I see no reason why they cannot exploit them. Maybe I will after I have won eight Grand Slams, but for now I think I need to achieve a little bit more."

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Second round (Wednesday 14th June)
------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] d. Ahsha Rolle [Q], 6-4 6-2

I wasn't there on Wednesday, but according to UK Teletext it was a "far from convincing performance" as Maria "struggled to find her rhythm" against the world #143. She served five double faults.

Rolle was struggling with an injury to her right knee (which was heavily strapped), which makes the scoreline even less convincing.

There was a rain delay with Maria leading 3-2 in the first set.


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

"It feels good to be back. It was a good first match to have, and physically I feel good now. Her serve is pretty big, so I had to take my chances when I could. It's great to be back in Birmingham. Every time I come back, everyone is so welcoming and I love that.

"It's just a matter of getting the matches under my belt. It was at least good to be back on grass again. As the match went on, I started to feel better about my game. It takes a few days to get used to things, but as you do, you gain in confidence. So I know there's far more to come. I'm looking forward to raising my game, which is what you try to do at every tournament.

"Tennis is such a mental game where you have to really take your chances, and I think that's one of my strengths. I'm probably mentally tougher than a lot of the girls on the tour - I don't give up even when I'm down by whatever score, and still feel I have to give it my all out there, and take the chances.

"I think that mental strength comes a lot from my past, it's not something that can be taught. A lot of things in my life have not dropped in my lap. My parents and I have really had to work for what I have now, and when I moved to America and I was training alone at the [Nick Bollettieri] Academy in Florida, I had to grow up really quickly - I really didn't have a lot of choice. My parents made me realise you have to work hard to earn things.

"Even so, a tennis match remains just a relative thing in my life. There are many things in life that are worse than losing a tennis match, and while obviously I am sad when it happens, I realise I am blessed to be able to do what I can do. I know that anything can happen tomorrow, and I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to play tennis and do as well as I am.

"I try not to focus on all the things that revolve around me. The first few months after I won Wimbledon were crazy, it was a new experience and I didn't play that great as everything settled down.

"After a while, I got used to the fact that more people knew who I was, and wanted to know more about me - that's just part of the deal, the business. I do try to block it out as much as possible and do my own thing, but I still get excited when people know who I am, and little kids get excited to see me, even if they can't even spell my name and just say 'hey, that's the tennis player!'"

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Third round (Thursday 15th June)
-----------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] d. LI,NA [13], 6-2 6-4

The British media claimed that Maria played much better in this match than in her second round, but I saw this match myself, and I have to say I was far from impressed.

Maria served very well, but her groundstrokes were way off form. I don't have statistics to hand, but it certainly seemed that she hit very few winners and plenty of errors. Li probably hit more winners than Maria did - but Li basically gift-wrapped the match for Maria with a slew of unforced errors.


First Set:
SH @*@ @* * 6
LI ___@__*_ 2

Maria led *3-0 in the first set, but dropped serve to 15 with a double fault. It was a really error-strewn set with just a few gems.


Second Set:
SH @* * *__@* 6
LI __* * *@__ 4

Maria broke at the start of the second set, but Li found her range, and Maria found herself facing break-points at *2-1 (15/40). But the Sharapova overdrive tends to kick in when Maria feels threatened, and this was the case here as Maria saved them with a forehand winner and an ace.

Serving at *4-3, Maria may have been bothered by a helicopter that had the audacity to fly over Centre Court draping a "Come on England" banner, as she was broken for 4-4 (in her on-court interview, she thanked us for coming to watch her instead of England's simultaneous football match).

But she broke for *5-4 with a fantastic forehand pass-winner after digging out a hard, deep forehand approach from Li. She then served out to love with 100% intensity, including a forehand winner after running down a dropshot; Li netted a forehand return on the final point.

It was the 200th win of Maria's career (in singles) - a milestone she reached five days earlier than Vera ZvonarŽva did by beating Anna Chakvetadze (again) at Eastbourne.

After this match, Maria had the best winning-percentage on grass in WTA Tour history: 91.7% with only three losses on grass in her career. She extended it to 91.9% by winning her quarter-final, but unfortunately her semi-final loss set her back to 89.5% (below Steffi Graf's 91.5%).


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

"Li is a tough, solid player, so I had to be ready from the beginning. She made me work hard, but I stayed tough.

"My movement was a lot better today. I rose to the challenge of a tougher opponent today, and played a lot better than in the first [sic] round. I want to keep improving to help me win at Wimbledon.

"I have to thank all of the fans for staying to watch. I know there is a pretty important [football] match on just now for you all, so that's why I think it is about 80% women in the crowd. I think all the men must be at the pub watching the [football] match!

"I didn't realise it was my 200th win. Players don't really bother about stats. Playing match after match, you don't focus on your record, but when you do hear statistics like this, it is very nice. I hope that in years to come, the figures will continue to be much higher. It seems like I have played so long, but hopefully in a few years, that record will be even better. I look forward to achieving more."

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Quarter-finals (Friday 16th June)
--------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] d. MARA SANTANGELO [12], 6-2 6-2

In sharp contrast to all the other matches Maria played at Birmingham 2006, this was a brilliant performance by Maria as she dismissed Santangelo in just 67 minutes, and the only evidence so far that Maria is ready to regain the Wimbledon title that she won in 2004.

If Maria plays like she did against Santangelo in the second week of Wimbledon, then she has a fighting chance to win her second Grand Slam title. But this kind of form has been so elusive since she came back from her ankle-injury - she's not match-tough yet.


First Set:
SHARAPOVA _*@* *@* 6
SANTANGEL *___*___ 2[/font]

Maria lost the first six points of the match to go down 0-1 (0/30). But a forehand volley-winner, two service-winners and an ace made it 1-1.

Maria broke for 2-1 after three deuces, hitting a forehand return-winner, a crosscourt forehand pass-winner, a backhand lob-winner that landed on the baseline, and a fabulous running forehand pass-winner down the line.

Serving at 2-1, Maria recovered from 15/30 with a low forehand volley-winner crosscourt, saved break-point with an ace, and hit a backhand winner down the line behind Santangelo after the second deuce.

Maria held brilliantly for 4-2 with a forehand winner down the line, a forehand volley-winner, and an ace. She broke for 5-2 with a low-bouncing off-forehand return-winner.

Despite two double faults, Maria served out the first set with an ace to recover from 15/30 and a service-winner to finish, although she was let off the hook when Santangelo hit a backhand return long off Maria's second serve at 30/40.


Second Set:
SHARAPOVA _*@*@* * 6
SANTANGEL *_____*_ 2

Maria held for 1-1 with a crosscourt forehand winner and a couple of service-winners. A backhand winner down the line helped her to break for 2-1, admittedly with considerable help from Santangelo.

Maria held for 3-1 with two aces (both on the sideline) and a backhand pass-winner down the line.

She broke for 4-1 with a forehand return-winner down the line, a pinpoint backhand winner down the line, a forehand winner down the line, and another backhand winner down the line. She hit two aces as she held for 5-1.

Maria served out the match to 15 with an ace out wide, a double fault, a forehand winner down the line, a backhand pass-winner down the line, and a good serve to set up a crosscourt backhand winner at match-point.


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

[before the match]
"I haven't seen her play much, but she's a tall girl, a solid player who hits a lot of flat groundstrokes. I'll have to be patient and look for my opportunities. She had a great win today [Santangelo upset Sugiyama in the third round], so she must be playing well.

[after the match]
"I knew she had a really good grass-court game, so I had to be ready from the beginning. I felt very comfortable out there today, and I seem to be improving as each round goes by."

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Semi-finals (Saturday 17th June)
-----------

- MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] lt. Jamea Jackson, 4-6 4-6

This was a huge shock, as Jackson was ranked #81, and Maria hadn't lost to a player outside the top 50 since #81 Mashona Washington at New Haven 2004 (apart from #117 Martina Hingis at Tokyo this February). And on grass of all surfaces!

And yet in a way it wasn't all that surprising, as Jackson has always looked like a world-beater when I've seen her at Birmingham: in 2004 Maria was a class above her (6-2 6-2), but the beatdown that Jackson gave Maria Kirilenko in 2005 made her look like a potential top-ten player.

Jackson is very powerful and athletic, like a miniature Serena Williams. She kept making Maria play one extra ball, and Maria netted forehand after forehand after forehand. It really was alarming, the extent to which Maria's forehand broke down that day.

Maria's astonishing record of never having lost a WTA Tour, Grand Slam or ITF Women's Circuit match to a player younger than herself remains intact, as Jackson is an older 19-year-old than Maria.

www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com): "While both players used big serves and groundstrokes, particularly on the backhand side, to gain the upper hand in the points, it was the American who was better on the more crucial points, converting on four of six break chances as opposed to two of five for the Russian."


First Set:
SHARAPO _@*____@*_ 4
JACKSON @__*@*@__* 6

Maria was in trouble from the start, as she was broken straight away with a double fault and three forehands long (after one deuce).

Three Jackson forehand-errors and a double fault gave Maria an immediate break back, and she held for 2-1 with an ace out wide and a forehand drive-volley virtual winner.

Jackson came through two deuces to hold for 2-2, despite Maria hitting a backhand return-winner down the line onto the sideline, a backhand volley-winner and a forehand drop-volley winner.

Jackson broke to 15 for 3-2 with a couple of volley-winners. A crosscourt forehand winner from Maria couldn't stop Jackson holding for 4-2. A double fault and more errors enabled Jackson to break again for 5-2!

Serving for the first set at 5-2, Jackson led 30/0 and 40/15: two set-points! Maria saved the first with a forehand that shot through on Jackson, and the second with an error-forcing crosscourt backhand after a long, intense rally. A crosscourt forehand return-winner gave Maria break-point, which she converted when Jackson hit a backhand wide.

Maria held for 5-4 with an ace out wide, and a serve to set up an off-forehand winner - despite being pegged back from 30/0 to 30/30.

Jackson, serving at 5-4, came through a marathon game of six deuces which probably decided the whole match. First Maria had break-points at 15/40, then Jackson had more set-points, with one more break-point for Maria (she sliced a backhand long after a long, intense rally). Maria saved Jackson's sixth set-point with a short crosscourt forehand winner, but it was seventh time lucky for Jackson as Maria netted a forehand, to thunderous applause from the crowd to the underdog.


Second Set:
SHARAPO * *___* *_ 4
JACKSON _* *@* * * 6

I expected Maria to raise her level in the second set, as the momentum seemed to have swung in her favour at the end of the first, but she just played worse. If the Sharapova-overdrive kicked in - as it so often does when she feels threatened - it only resulted in more forehand-errors.

A forehand winner down the line helped Maria to hold for 1-0, but a crosscourt forehand winner couldn't stem a very fine game from Jackson to hold for 1-1 - sealed with a spreading rally ending with a crosscourt forehand winner.

Serving at 1-1, Maria hit a serve to set up a forehand winner down the line, and two aces to go up 40/15. She was pegged back to 40/40 before holding for 2-1.

Maria hit a forehand smash-winner, and a netcord forehand volley-winner crosscourt, but couldn't stop Jackson levelling at 2-2.

Maria hit an off-forehand winner and a virtual ace down the middle to go up 30/15, but Jackson broke to 30 for 3-2 with a couple of crosscourt groundstroke-winners - to more thunderous applause.

The winners continued to flow from Jackson as she held for 4-2, after Maria received a code-violation for coaching.

Maria played a ferocious game to hold for 3-4, despite netting a backhand volley off a ball that was going wide! She hit a forehand winner down the line and two service-winners.

A crosscourt forehand winner with Jackson serving at 4-3 (40/0) was too little too late, as Jackson held to 30.

Serving to stay in the match at 3-5, Maria held to love with an ace out wide, a service-winner, and a serve to set up a forehand smash-winner.

Serving for the match at 5-4, Jackson earthed a forehand on the first point, but three netted groundstrokes by Maria gave her match-point at 40/15. Jackson hit a good serve to set up a crosscourt backhand winner to seal a momentous upset, and I had to put up with the stadium exploding with applause for its perpetrator.

Frankly, I don't understand why this result was so popular among the spectators. Yes, it's always exciting to witness a huge upset, but were there really that many Jackson-fans, or Maria-haters?


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

[before the match]
"Jamea has been playing great tennis this week. Her results speak for themselves, so I am expecting a tough match.

[after the match]
"This is by no means a complete disaster. I ran into a player who played the most unbelievable tennis of her life. I've played four matches in four days, and they're a good reality check.

"I grew up with Jamea. We played together at Bollettieri's. She has always been a really promising player.

"She was on top of her game, and got on a roll from the beginning. I was ready for a tough match as our previous matches had been tough. These things happen. Sometimes you come out and your opponent plays well, and you feel a bit flat.

"No doubt I'm disappointed to lose, but I'll be fine tomorrow, and in particular once I start practising on the Wimbledon courts. I'll head to London and start preparing for Wimbledon. I just need to practise a few things and keep working hard next week, and I'll look forward to playing my favourite Grand Slam.

"I have had more days to practise compared to last year. Hopefully that will help me.

"I'll be back here next year. I've been here for the last four years now, so I guess there's no reason to change my plans."


Jackson quotes
--------------

"I have no idea how I did it. I just played as aggressively as I could, and fought hard for each point. This is by far the biggest win of my career, as I've never beaten a top-ten player before.

"I'm stunned, shocked. She's a great player, always done well on grass. I don't know what to say. I am sure my mom is freaking out. She watches my games online, and will have been screaming with every point. I cannot wait to call her.

"I've been working on my mental toughness, and toughness in general - staying with people. I've not done well after first sets [in the past], and it's really paid off in my last two matches.

"It's been a dream week for me. I'm still in shock. I just love grass, so everything is going perfect [sic] for me. Just going to keep going for every point, and I hope I can keep it up for the final."

--
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
Feb 7th, 2007, 01:27 AM
=========== {2006}
DFS CLASSIC (Edgbaston, Birmingham, England; grass; WTA Tier III)
=========== http://birmingham.lta.org.uk/ (http://birmingham.lta.org.uk/)

I have just uploaded my extended report of Maria's third-round match against Li,Na - of which I was an eye-witness - to:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/reports.html (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/reports.html)

I have also uploaded all my photos for that day (Thursday 15th June 2006), in one big zip-file, to:
http://www.divshare.com/download/104606-bae (http://www.divshare.com/download/104606-bae)

If anyone is unable to download from DivShare, please let me know (I chose DivShare because it promises never to delete my files).

Thursday's players:

Vera ZvonarŽva (21 photos)
Anna Chakvetadze (17)
Maria Sharapova (15)
Ayumi Morita (15)
Marion Bartoli (6)
Viktoriya Kutuzova (4)
Li,Na (3)
Sania Mirza (2)
Tsvetana Pironkova (2)
Alyona Bondarenko (2)
Jamea Jackson (1)
Jelena Jankovic (1)

Permission to copy my Birmingham photos is granted provided that:
(a) no money is exchanged;
(b) they are labelled as "Copyright 2006 Andrew Broad".
Please let me know if you do use them on another website.

--
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
Feb 9th, 2007, 12:59 AM
=========== {2006}
DFS CLASSIC (Edgbaston, Birmingham, England; grass; WTA Tier III)
=========== http://birmingham.lta.org.uk/ (http://birmingham.lta.org.uk/)

I have just uploaded my extended report of Maria's quarter-final against Mara Santangelo - of which I was an eye-witness - to:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/reports.html (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/reports.html)

I have also uploaded all my photos for that day (Friday 16th June 2006), in one big zip-file, to:
http://www.divshare.com/download/110137-a10 (http://www.divshare.com/download/110137-a10)

If anyone is unable to download from DivShare, please let me know (I chose DivShare because it promises never to delete my files).

Friday's players:

Vera ZvonarŽva (27 photos)
Marion Bartoli (6)
Francesca Schiavone (5)
Maria Sharapova (4)
Mara Santangelo (4)
Elena Vesnina (2)
Elena Likhovtseva (2)
Meilen Tu (2)

I went a bit too mad with Vera for the good of my memory-card ration that day! ;) When I see her in the flesh, she's absolutely wonderful! :hearts:

Permission to copy my Birmingham photos is granted provided that:
(a) no money is exchanged;
(b) they are labelled as "Copyright 2006 Andrew Broad".
Please let me know if you do use them on another website.

--
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
Feb 11th, 2007, 01:15 AM
=========== {2006}
DFS CLASSIC (Edgbaston, Birmingham, England; grass; WTA Tier III)
=========== http://birmingham.lta.org.uk/ (http://birmingham.lta.org.uk/)

I have just uploaded my extended report of Maria's semi-final against Jamea Jackson - of which I was an eye-witness - to:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/reports.html (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/reports.html)

I have also uploaded all my photos for that day (Saturday 17th June 2006), in one big zip-file, to:
http://www.divshare.com/download/115057-bb2 (http://www.divshare.com/download/115057-bb2)

If anyone is unable to download from DivShare, please let me know (I chose DivShare because it promises never to delete my files).

Saturday's players:

Vera ZvonarŽva (11 photos)
Maria Sharapova (9)
Jamea Jackson (5)
Meilen Tu (4)

Permission to copy my Birmingham photos is granted provided that:
(a) no money is exchanged;
(b) they are labelled as "Copyright 2006 Andrew Broad".
Please let me know if you do use them on another website.

--
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/)