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andrewbroad
Aug 29th, 2006, 06:10 PM
Maria's official website is now open!
http://www.mariasharapova.com/ (http://www.mariasharapova.com/)


=========
U.S. OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New_York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
========= http://www.usopen.org/ (http://www.usopen.org/)

This is an updated version of the Maria-related part of my full analysis of the draw:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/message/3684 (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/message/3684)

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Photos
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Maria practising:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=456 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=456)

Off-court:
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=457 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=457)
Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

Video - 4-minute dócumentary on Maria:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsKgEHIxBWI (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsKgEHIxBWI)

--------------------------
First-round draw: Top half (to be played on Tuesday)
--------------------------
Top quarter
-----------

* AMÉLIE MAURESMO [1] v Kristina Barrois [Q] (jeder außer Mauresmo!)
* Roberta Vinci v Meghann Shaughnessy (forza Roberta!)
* Mara Santangelo v Lisa Raymond
* Sybille Bammer v NATHALIE DECHY [31]

* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [17] v Bethanie Mattek [WC] (PODME DANIELA!!)
* Lourdes Domínguez Lino v Serena Williams
* Nakamura,Aiko v Czink,Melinda (ganbatte Aiko!)
* ANA IVANOVIC [16] v Vera Dushevina (ajde Ana!)

* DINARA SAFINA [12] v Yulia Beygelzimer [Q]
* Yuliana Fedak v Tatiana Poutchek [Q] (davai Yuliana!)
* Alexa Glatch [WC] v Jarmila Gajdošová
* Viktoriya Kutuzova v María José Martínez Sánchez [LL] (davai Viktoriya!)

* ANABEL MEDINA GARRIGUES [25] v Youlia Fedossova [Q]
* Kaia Kanepi v Stéphanie Foretz
* Maret Ani v Virginie Razzano (go Maret!)
* Peng,Shuai v MARTINA HINGIS [8] (jia you Shuai!)


Second quarter
--------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/) [3] v Michaëlla Krajícek (both nice; my loyalty is to MARIA)
* Emilie Loit v Camille Pin
* Nicole Pratt [LL] v Milagros Sequera [Q]
* ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA [32] v Sun,Tiantian (davai Elena!)

* María Sánchez Lorenzo v LI,NA [24] (Ąvamos María!)
* Shenay Perry v Eleni Daniilidou
* Eva Birnerová [Q] v Galina Voskoboeva
* Elena Vesnina v MARY PIERCE [13] (both nice; my loyalty is to Mary)

* ANASTASIA MYSKINA [11] v Victoria Azarenka (davai Anastasia!)
* Tsvetana Pironkova v Jamea Jackson (aide Tsvetana!)
* Alyona Bondarenko v Ahsha Rolle [WC] (davai Alyona!)
* Martina Suchá v ANNA CHAKVETADZE [23] (both nice; my loyalty is to Anna)

* TATIANA GOLOVIN [23] v Ashley Harkleroad (both nice; my loyalty is to Tatiana)
* Yan,Zi v Agnieszka Radwanska (jia you Zi!)
* Virginia Ruano Pascual v Amy Frazier (Ąvamos Virginia!)
* Clarisa Fernández v NADIA PETROVA [5]

------------------------------
Second-round draw: Bottom half (to be played on Wednesday)
------------------------------

* SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [6] v Lauren Albanese [WC]
* Anastassia Rodionova v ZHENG,JIE [29]
* Kirsten Flipkens [Q] v JELENA JANKOVIC [19] (go Kirsten!)
* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [9] v Alina Jidkova (both nice; my loyalty is to NICOLE)

* Aravane Rezai v Lucie Šafárová (both nice; may the better win!)
* MARIA KIRILENKO [20] v Séverine Brémond (both nice; my loyalty is to Maria)
* VERA ZVONARËVA [33] v Jill Craybas (DAVAI VERA!!)
* Emma Laine v ELENA DEMENTIEVA [4]

* PATTY SCHNYDER [7] v Sofia Arvidsson
* MARION BARTOLI [26] v Varvara Lepchenko [Q] (both nice; my loyalty is to Marion)
* KATARINA SREBOTNIK [22] v Ekaterina Bychkova (dajmo Katarina!)
* Jelena Kostanic v LINDSAY DAVENPORT [10]

* Sania Mirza v FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [14] (go Sania!)
* Martina Müller v SHAHAR PEER [21]
* SUGIYAMA,AI [28] v Tathiana Garbin
* Vania King v JUSTINE HÉNIN-HARDENNE [2]

-----------------------
Maria Sharapova preview
-----------------------

Maria says the US Open is her second-favourite Grand Slam. "Every tournament I play, I want to win. It's just that Wímbledon means a lot to me."

Maria has an unbelievably easy-looking road to the semi-finals, followed by a steep increase in difficulty as she has Amélie Mauresmo, Ana Ivanovic, Martina Hingis, Dinara Safina, Daniela Hantuchová and Serena Williams all in her half of the draw.

At least Justine Hénin-Hardenne, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Nicole Vaidišová, Lindsay Davenport and Vera Zvonarëva are all safely tucked away in the bottom half.


1r: Maria has never lost to a younger player, so why would she start by losing to 17-year-old Michaëlla Krajícek?

Michaëlla hits the ball sharp, flat, and low over the net. She hits some nice groundstroke-winners, and will try to outmanoeuvre Maria with spreading baseline-rallies.

But I got all this from watching Michaëlla's first-round match against Patty Schnyder at the French Open, and Michaëlla lost 6-1 6-2. I just don't see how her game is going to be enough to hurt Maria, although Maria's not going to mess up Michaëlla's rhythm with heavy spins the way Schnyder did.

Michaëlla is having a good year, winning two WTA singles-titles (Hobart and s'Hertogenbosch), but she's never beaten anyone in the top 12 apart from Elena Dementieva on grass. She's not used to competing at Maria's level (and they've never played each other before).

Oh, and Michaëlla is beautiful and cute! ;)


2r: I hope Maria does get to play Emilie Loit again, so that she can rectify the second-round defeat she suffered as a 16-year-old at the US Open 2003.

Loit is an old-school type of player, whose spin and subtle angles destroyed Maria's rhythm that day. But Maria has come so far since then, and Loit has a weak backhand.

Loit hasn't played since Wimbledon due to a wrist-injury - apart from a heavy first-round loss at Forest Hills last week - and hasn't won since the first round of the French Open. So perhaps the more likely opponent is Camille Pin, who has reached the finals of three ITF tournaments since Wimbledon (winning one of them).

Pin is one of the softest hitters on the WTA Tour, so I can't see her causing any problems for Maria.


3r: Elena Likhovtseva has been one of my many favourite players since she almost beat Lindsay Davenport at Wimbledon 2000 (she had points for 4-0 in the third set), but she's not half as exciting to watch now. She will turn 31 on the second Friday of the US Open, and I believe she's planning to retire at the end of the year.

Elena comes into this tournament with a win/loss record of 13-16 for 2006, and hasn't won a match since reaching the third round of Wimbledon - first-round losses at San Diego and New Haven.

Elena beat Maria 7-6 6-1 at Toronto 2003, but Maria beat her 6-3 6-3 at the Tokyo Pan Pacific 2005.

The other three possible third-round opponents are barely worth analysing, although it should be noted that Sun,Tiantian stunned Patty Schnyder 6-1 6-3 at New Haven last week, despite having lost seven of her eight previous matches, and Nicole Pratt won five matches in a row at Wimbledon to qualify and reach the third round with an upset of Tatiana Golovin.


4r: Last year's finalist Mary Pierce is seeded to meet Maria in the fourth round, and she beat Maria 4-6 6-2 6-3 in the third round of the US Open 2004.

But Maria has won their three subsequent meetings all in straight sets, including a 6-2 6-3 victory at San Diego - Mary's first tournament back after being sidelined since February with a right-foot injury. Since then, she has withdrawn from Montréal with a right-adductor strain, and could even be vulnerable to the sexy Elena Vesnina in the first round.

Mary is an old favourite of mine, who hits her groundstrokes as hard as anyone in the history of women's tennis, and was one of the most beautiful ladies in tennis before it was swarming with East-European girls! ;) But Mary totally lacks instinct, having to work out every rally in her head before she plays it, while Maria is full of instinct and flair.

Another potential fourth-round opponent is Wimbledon quarter-finalist Li,Na. Maria leads their head-to-head 3-0, never dropping more than six games in a match against Li. Li crushed Maria Kirilenko 6-1 6-2 at New Haven last week, before withdrawing from the tournament with a right-ankle sprain.

Other dangerous floaters who could become Maria's fourth-round opponent are up-and-coming Shenay Perry, who actually beat Maria at an ITF tournament in early 2003, and who boasts an impressive 32-15 win/loss record for 2006 (including a lot of qualifying-matches), and Eleni Daniilidou, who gave Maria such a torrid time in qf Birmingham 2005, but who has won only two of her last eight matches.

What I'd really like is a fourth round between Maria and María Sánchez Lorenzo - the sexy Spanish Selesian - but with María being on a losing-streak of four matches, retiring from Palermo with a lower-back injury, it's a pipe-dream.


qf: The eighth of the draw that will decide Maria's quarter-final opponent is most intriguing, as Anna Chakvetadze and Tatiana Golovin - my two favourite players outside my Eternal Fanship - have good chances to set up a fourth-round showdown against each other, with the winner to play Maria in the quarter-finals.

Tatiana's draw is especially golden, as she is seeded to meet Nadia Petrova in the third round, and Petrova is on absolutely terrible form since returning from a right-hip injury that sidelined her for two months after her first-round loss at the French Open. Since then, Petrova has suffered three more opening-round losses (two at the hands of Anna), and her seeding of 5 is little more than a joke.

Tatiana's form has been sporadic since returning from that horrific left-ankle injury with which she retired from Maria's Miami semi-final. She thrashed Lucie Šafárová 6-2 6-1 in Fed Cup, and pushed Nicole Vaidišová to 9-9 in the third, and upset Sugiyama,Ai and Anna-Lena Grönefeld back-to-back at Stanford. But she has lost four of her last five matches, struggling with a right-thigh strain due to overcompensating for her injured left ankle.

Anna's draw is almost as good as Tatiana's, as she is seeded to meet the off-form Anastasia Myskina in the third round - whom Anna beat in 2r US Open 2004. Myskina reached the final of Tier IV Stockholm, only to be crushed 6-4 6-1 by world #35 Zheng,Jie, and suffered opening-round upsets at Cincinnati and Montréal. Myskina has vowed to retire if she fails to qualify for the WTA Tour Championships (she is currently #12 on the race).

Anna's form in the US Open Series has been very impressive. As well as the aforementioned wins over Petrova, she beat Ana Ivanovic (who won the US Open Series) at San Diego, where she took a set off Nicole Vaidišová.

It's just a shame that Anna chose to play New Haven after retiring from the Montréal semi-finals with a right-forearm strain that she should have rested for a week. She retired from New Haven with the same injury - albeit at match-point down after an ill-tempered encounter with Galina Voskoboeva.

If Anna and Tatiana do meet in the fourth round, I have no clear preference. Anna overtook Tatiana for top place in my demi-fanship after I watched her flairsome, mouthwatering matches against Vera Zvonarëva at Birmingham and Eastbourne - Anna has improved her game so much since I watched her lose to Tatiana at Birmingham 2005.

But a Maria v Tatiana match is always highly entertaining and competitive - I've seen all three of them now. I think Maria v Tatiana would be the better match in tennis-terms, while for sheer eye-candy I would prefer to watch Maria v Anna - not that I get to watch any US Open matches since Sky got the rights! :fiery:

The only other likely quarter-finalist from that section is Jamea Jackson, who is powerful, athletic and extremely dangerous - she beat Maria at Birmingham! But two recent defeats by Daniela Hantuchová, another by Flavia Pennetta, and to cap it all a first-round defeat in New Haven *qualifying*, are a reality-check for the young American.


sf: The top seed is Amélie Mauresmo, who hadn't played since Wimbledon due to a right-shoulder strain - until New Haven, where she had an unconvincing 4-6 6-1 6-2 win over Galina Voskoboeva, and a 6-4 7-5 loss to Lindsay Davenport - but then she always has a bad tournament just before winning a Grand Slam. She leads Maria 3-0 in their head-to-heads, but Maria's post-Wimbledon form is much more impressive.

Ana Ivanovic could be a huge threat to Mauresmo in the fourth round, having beaten her twice before, and having won the Montréal title with some spectacular results. Maria has never played Ana, and has never lost to a player who is younger than herself.

Two-time US Open champion Serena Williams lurks unseeded in Ana's third-round draw, but I can only hope Daniela Hantuchová will live up to her seeding by beating Williams - as she did at the Australian Open - in the second round. But Williams looks much fitter than she did in Australia, although she's been beaten by Vera Zvonarëva and Jelena Jankovic since her return from a six-month layoff with a left-knee injury.

Martina Hingis is another potential semi-final opponent for Maria, having just broken back into the top ten after coming out of retirement in January. Hingis inflicted a humiliating 6-3 6-1 defeat on Maria in their first meeting, but Maria has since beaten Hingis twice in straight sets.

Dinara Safina may be a dark horse to reach the semi-finals, but she'd need something to happen to Hingis before they met in the fourth round. Safina had a spectacular run to the Rome final - only to be beaten in straight sets by Hingis, just as she was at Indian Wells. Safina has beaten Maria twice in the last 11 months, but Maria got revenge at San Diego.


final: I'm not going to analyse this in so much depth at this stage, but let's just say I'm happy that Maria is in Mauresmo's half of the draw rather than Justine Hénin-Hardenne's. Maria has lost her last four matches against Hénin, and although Hénin hadn't played since Wimbledon due to a right-knee injury, she has just stormed to the New Haven title for the loss of 17 games, beating Svetlana Kuznetsova and an injured Lindsay Davenport back to back. And she beat Maria Elena Camerin 6-2 6-1 in the first round yesterday.

What I'd really like is a Maria v Vera Zvonarëva final, as they always have such mouthwatering matches, and are the perfect foil for each other's games. And if it won't be Bepa, then Nicole Vaidišová, who is the latest player I have inducted into my Eternal Fanship.


Matt Cronin's preview from www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/):
>>>
Maria Sharapova just launched her web site and with it, she brings the necessary attitude and swagger she needs to win the US Open.

The Russian-born resident of South Florida and Los Angeles is about as American as any player in the field; she just happens to fluently speak the tongue of her mother country with her parents, all the while throwing in a little Americana slang, lacing her speech with “you guys” and “C'mon!”

While she didn't win the US Open Series (another talented teen, Serbia's Ana Ivanovic did), Sharapova has been the most accomplished player on American hard courts this year, winning Indian Wells and San Diego and reaching the final of Miami and the semifinals of Los Angeles.

No longer just a banger, her all-court game has improved, as has her fitness and defense, two elements that were lacking in 2005 when she fell in a brutal three-setter to eventual champion Kim Clijsters in the US Open semifinals.

This year, Sharapova will enter a major completely healthy for the first time and believes she's now a proven hard court player. No other top-five player can claim the success she's had on cement this year and with the tireless Clijsters out with an injury, Sharapova is the only elite player who has put really good numbers in US Open Series events coming into the tournament.

The 19-year-old has a very negotiable draw to the semis. She could have been dealt an easier first round foe than Dutchwoman Michaëlla Krajícek, but beyond Richard's half-sister, Sharapova should cruise to the fourth round, where she will likely face Mary Pierce, who reached the US Open final last year, but has been injured and was crushed by Sharapova in San Diego. The fourth round could also bring China's highest ranked player, Na Li, or U.S. hopeful Shenay Perry, but Sharapova is too strong overall for both of them.

All her potential quarterfinal opponents are question marks too: Anastasia Myskina and Anna Chakvetadze have been hurt recently; Tatiana Golovin has been slow to come back from an ankle injury; and fifth seed Nadia Petrova hasn't won a match on hard courts this summer. It's conceivable that Sharapova's quarterfinal foe could be U.S. up-and-comer Jamea Jackson.

It's the semifinals where Sharapova should really be pushed to the limit, as anyone who comes out of the opposite quarter will be battle-tested.

Two-time champ Serena Williams could be that player, but she's only played six matches this summer and will be hard pressed to survive a quarter that contains top-seed Amélie Mauresmo, 1997 US Open champ Martina Hingis, Daniela Hantuchová, Dinara Safina and Ivanovic.

Serena just defeated Hantuchová in Los Angeles, but even if she gets by the slender and talented Slovak, who upset her in Australia, she will likely have to face Ivanovic, an agile, athletic player who can crush the ball off both wings and just won Montréal.

Because she's a proven big match player, Serena is capable of reaching the second week. But beating Mauresmo, who has won two Slams this year, will be another matter, as she'll have to raise her game to a level fans haven't seen since she won the 2005 Australian Open.

The odds favor a Sharapova-Mauresmo semifinal, which would be a rematch of their Wimbledon encounter, won in three sets by Mauresmo in a terrific performance by the Frenchwoman, but one in which Sharapova said she forgot to put her thinking cap on. Sharapova promises a different approach this time around.
<<<

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

Arthur Ashe Court (start 11:00 EDT = 15:00 GMT = 16:00 BST)
1. WS 1r: AMÉLIE MAURESMO [1] v Kristina Barrois [Q]
2. MS 1r: Mark Philippoussis [WC] v RAFAEL NADAL [2]
3. WS 1r: Lourdes Domínguez Lino v Serena Williams [WC]
Not before 19:00 EDT:
4. WS 1r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] v Michaëlla Krajícek
5. MS 1r: Juan Mónaco v JAMES BLAKE [5]

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

--
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/) (+11 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/)

andrewbroad
Aug 30th, 2006, 03:01 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://www.usopen.org/ (http://www.usopen.org/)

And it rained all night and washed the filth away
Down New York air-conditioned drains

[Thom Yorke, "And It Rained All Night"]

----------------------
Maria Sharapova quotes
----------------------

"I'm really excited because I'm going into a Grand Slam with a lot of good matches under my belt, a good title [San Diego] and, most importantly, I feel healthy.

"I definitely feel physically stronger this year, a lot fitter than last year. But those are just words. Hopefully, I will take that into action.

"I can't worry about what top players are here or not here, or who I'm going to face later in the tournament. I've got to worry about my first round and go on from there.

"I've been pretty good in the past balancing my time with my sponsors with my tennis, because I know my priority. At the end of the day, what I love doing is competing, and that's where my heart is at: on centre court.

"It's weird, because there are a couple of sides of me. There's the Maria that's a tennis player. There's the Maria that is a normal girl. And there's the Maria who's a businesswoman. And that's where the 'Maria Sharapova brand' comes into play. I've been lucky to be associated with amazing companies that have given me experience about all that.

"It's not easy to win your first one [Grand Slam title]. I was very surprised that I did at the age that I was. I did not feel that I was physically or mentally ready for it. But it takes a lot of hard work, and I think everything has to come together: your game, how you feel physically, and maybe a little bit of luck once in a while.

"I've come very close the last few times, but I've got many more years to win my second one."


Maria Sharapova v Michaëlla Krajícek preview:
http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/prematch/ (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/prematch/)

---------------------------
Order of play for Wednesday
---------------------------

Arthur Ashe Court (start 11:00 EDT = 15:00 GMT = 16:00 BST)
1. MS 1r: Mark Philippoussis [WC] v RAFAEL NADAL [2]
2. WS 1r: AMÉLIE MAURESMO [1] v Kristina Barrois [Q], 6-1 *2-5 to finish
3. MS 1r: ROGER FEDERER [1] v Wang,Yeu-Tzuoo
4. WS 1r: Lourdes Domínguez Lino v Serena Williams [WC]
Evening session (start 19:00 EDT = 23:00 GMT = 24:00 BST)
5. WS 1r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] v Michaëlla Krajícek
6. MS 1r: Kristian Pless v ANDY RODDICK [9]

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

--
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
Aug 31st, 2006, 03:14 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://www.usopen.org/ (http://www.usopen.org/)
First round (Wednesday 30th August)
-----------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. Michaëlla Krajícek, 6-3 6-0

I followed live scores at www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/). The match started at 19:31 EDT. Here are my comments as I wrote them at the time (not that there are many, as I was also following Hantuchová v Mattek for the entire duration of this match):


First Set:
SHARAPOV @* * * *@ 6
KRAJÍCEK __* * *__ 3

Michaëlla serving 0-0: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, broken.
Maria serving 1-0: 0/15, 30/15, 40/30, held.
Michaëlla serving 0-2: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, 40/30, held.
Maria serving 2-1: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held.
Michaëlla serving 1-3: 0/15, 30/15, held.
Maria serving 3-2: held to love.
Michaëlla serving 2-4: 15/0, 30/15, 40/15, held.
Maria serving 4-3: held to love.
Michaëlla serving to stay in the first set at 3-5: 0/30, 15/40 (SP), 30/40 (SP #2), Maria won the first set 6-3 at 20:03 (32m).

The expectation of a serve-dominated match seemed to hold true for most of this set, but it was neatly book-ended by breaks for Maria.


Second Set:
SHARAPOV *@*@*@ 6
KRAJÍCEK ______ 0

Maria serving 0-0: 40/0, 40/15, held.
Michaëlla serving 0-1: 0/30, 30/40 (BP), broken.
Maria serving 2-0: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held.
Michaëlla serving 0-3: 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad Maria (BP #3), Deuce #2, ad Michaëlla, Deuce #3, ad Maria (BP #4), broken.
Maria serving 4-0: 40/0, 40/15, held.
Michaëlla serving to stay in the match at 0-5: 15/30, 30/30, 40/40, ad Maria (MP), Maria won 6-3 6-0 at 20:30 (59m).

And a tennis-lesson for young Michaëlla, who just isn't ready to compete against opponents of this calibre yet. The more often she plays them, the better she'll get.


Statistics
----------

Maria got 82% of first serves in, winning 86% of the points when she did so, and 67% on second serve - magnificent percentages, which Michaëlla could hardly match with 43%, 54% and 44%.

Maria served 10 aces and 2 double faults, Michaëlla 3 aces and 5 DFs.

Maria had a bigger first serve than Michaëlla (fastest 114-108 mph, average 104-102 mph), while Michaëlla had the faster second serve (93-87 mph).

Maria had a very satisfactory W:UE ratio of 33:13, while even Michaëlla was positive with 10:9. It must have been a fantastic match to watch.

Maria broke 5 times from 14 break-points (a rather disappointing conversion-rate in the context of her credentials for winning this tournament), without having to face a single BP on her own serve.

In a baseline-dominated match, Maria won 4 of 4 points at the net, Michaëlla 2 of 4. Perhaps Maria should come in a bit more, but her volleys are relatively poor, and one-two punches are much more effective than serve & volley in modern tennis.

In points, Maria won 57-33 (first set 28-19, second 29-14).

-----------------
Second-round draw (to be played on Thursday)
-----------------
Top half
--------

* AMÉLIE MAURESMO [1] v Meghann Shaughnessy (anyone but Mauresmo!)
* Mara Santangelo v Sybille Bammer
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [17] v Serena Williams [WC] (PODME DANIELA!!)
* Nakamura,Aiko v ANA IVANOVIC [16] (both nice; my loyalty is to Ana)

* Yuliana Fedak v DINARA SAFINA [12] (davai Yuliana!)
* Viktoriya Kutuzova v Jarmila Gajdošová (davai Viktoriya!)
* Youlia Fedossova [Q] v Kaia Kanepi
* Virginie Razzano v MARTINA HINGIS [8]

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] v Emilie Loit (DAVAI MARIA!!)
* ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA [32] v Nicole Pratt [LL] (davai Elena!)
* LI,NA [24] v Eleni Daniilidou
* MARY PIERCE [13] v Eva Birnerová [Q] (allez Mary!)

* Victoria Azarenka v Jamea Jackson
* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [23] v Alyona Bondarenko (both nice, but my loyalty is firmly to Anna)
* TATIANA GOLOVIN [27] v Agnieszka Radwanska (allez Tatiana!)
* Virginia Ruano Pascual v NADIA PETROVA [5] (Ąvamos Virginia!)


Bottom half
-----------

* SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [6] v Lauren Albanese [WC]
* Anastassia Rodionova v ZHENG,JIE [29]
* Kirsten Flipkens [Q] v JELENA JANKOVIC [19] (go Kirsten!)
* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [9] v Alina Jidkova (both nice; my loyalty is to NICOLE)

* Aravane Rezai v Lucie Šafárová (both nice; may the better win!)
* MARIA KIRILENKO [20] v Séverine Brémond (both nice; my loyalty is to Maria)
* VERA ZVONARËVA [33] v Jill Craybas (DAVAI VERA!!)
* Emma Laine v ELENA DEMENTIEVA [4]

* PATTY SCHNYDER [7] v Sofia Arvidsson
* MARION BARTOLI [26] v Varvara Lepchenko [Q] (both nice; my loyalty is to Marion)
* KATARINA SREBOTNIK [22] v Ekaterina Bychkova (dajmo Katarina!)
* Jelena Kostanic v LINDSAY DAVENPORT [10]

* Sania Mirza v FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [14] (go Sania!)
* Martina Müller v SHAHAR PEER [21] (kadima Shahar!)
* SUGIYAMA,AI [28] v Tathiana Garbin
* Vania King v JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE [2]


Sharapova v Loit
----------------

I'm glad that Maria gets to play Emilie Loit again, so that she can rectify the second-round defeat she suffered as a 16-year-old at the US Open 2003.

Loit is an old-school type of player, whose spin and subtle angles destroyed Maria's rhythm that day. But Maria has come so far since then, and Loit has a weak backhand.

Loit hasn't played since Wimbledon due to a wrist-injury - apart from a heavy first-round loss at Forest Hills last week - and hadn't won since the first round of the French Open until she beat Camille Pin 5-7 6-4 7-6 in the first round here.

--------------------------
Order of play for Thursday
--------------------------

Louis Armstrong Court (start 11:00 EDT = 15:00 GMT = 16:00 BST)
1. WS 2r: SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [6] v Lauren Albanese [WC]
2. WS 2r: Vania King v JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE [2]
(14:00 EDT) 3. MS 2r: LLEYTON HEWITT [15] v Ján Hernych
(16:00 EDT) 4. WS 2r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] v Emilie Loit
(17:00 EDT) 5. WS 2r: AMÉLIE MAURESMO [1] v Meghann Shaugnessy

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

--
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
Sep 2nd, 2006, 01:55 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://www.usopen.org/ (http://www.usopen.org/)
Second round (Thursday 31st August)
------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. Emilie Loit, 6-0 6-1

With Loit fighting desperately to avoid the dreaded double bagel at 6-0 4-0, Maria dropped serve from 40/0 up!

The last time Maria won 6-0 6-0 was against Catalina Castańo at ITF Peachtree in September 2002. She has won 6-0 6-1 six times in her professional career - she seems to drop a game on purpose because, unlike Lindsay Davenport, she's too nice a person to humiliate her opponent completely! ;)

I followed live scores at www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/). The match started on Arthur Ashe Court at 16:16 EDT.


First Set:
SHAR *@*@*@ 6
LOIT ______ 0

Maria serving 0-0: 0/15, 30/15, held.
Loit serving 0-1: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.
Maria serving 2-0: 30/0, held.
Loit serving 0-3: 0/40 (3 BPs), broken.
Maria serving 4-0: held to love.
Loit serving to stay in the first set at 0-5: 0/40 (3 SPs), Maria won the first set 6-0 at 16:34 (18m).


Second Set:
SHAR *@*@ @* 6
LOIT ____@__ 1

Maria serving 0-0: 30/0, held.
Loit serving 0-1: 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.
Maria serving 2-0: 15/0, 40/15, held.
Loit serving 0-3: 15/15, broken.
Maria serving 4-0: 40/0 -> 40/40, ad Loit (BP), Deuce #2, ad Maria, Deuce #3, ad Loit (BP #2), broken.
Loit serving 1-4: 15/0, 30/15, broken.
Maria serving for the match at 5-1: 0/15, 15/30, 40/40, ad Maria (MP), Maria won 6-0 6-1 at 17:08 (second set 34m, match 52m).


Statistics
----------

Maria had an impressive W:UE ratio of 30:16, while Loit was overwhelmed and could only manage 1:14.

Maria got 64% of first serves in, winning 77% of the points when she did so, and 53% on second serve - disappointing statistics, given the scoreline. Her winning-percentages deteriorated from the first set to the second, especially on second serve (80% to 42%).

But Loit was abysmal - although she got 59% of first serves in, she won only 12% of the points when she did so, and 25% on second serve!

Maria served 7 aces, but also 7 double faults (6 in the second set), which is way too many for a match of this length. Loit served no aces and one double fault.

Maria served much faster than Loit: fastest 113-100 mph, average first serve 101-94 mph, average second serve 90-79 mph.

Maria converted all six of her break-points - the best possible statistic for a best-of-three match - but she had to face four BPs on her own serve, and Loit converted one of them.

Maria won 10 of 11 points at the net, while Loit won 1 of 4.

In points, Maria won 56-20 (first set 24-3, second 32-17). The ideal is 48-0, but Maria did come pretty close to a Golden Set in the first!

----------------
Third-round draw
----------------
Top half (to be played on Saturday)
--------

* AMÉLIE MAURESMO [1] v Mara Santangelo (chiunque esclude Mauresmo!)
* ANA IVANOVIC [16] v Serena Williams [WC] (ajde Ana!)
* DINARA SAFINA [12] v Jarmila Gajdošová
* Kaia Kanepi v Virginie Razzano

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] v ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA [32] (both nice; my loyalty is to MARIA)
* MARY PIERCE [13] v LI,NA [24] (allez Mary!)
* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [23] v Victoria Azarenka (davai Anna!)
* TATIANA GOLOVIN [27] v NADIA PETROVA [5] (allez Tatiana!)


Bottom half (Friday's losers removed)
-----------

* SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [6] won
* JELENA JANKOVIC [19] won
* Aravane Rezai won
* ELENA DEMENTIEVA [4] won

* MARION BARTOLI [26] v PATTY SCHNYDER [7], 6-0 1-3* (rain-delay)
* KATARINA SREBOTNIK [22] v LINDSAY DAVENPORT [10] (dajmo Katarina!)
* SHAHAR PEER [21] won
* JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE [2] won


Sharapova v Likhovtseva
-----------------------

Elena Likhovtseva has been one of my many favourite players since she almost beat Lindsay Davenport at Wimbledon 2000 (she had points for 4-0 in the third set), but she's not half as exciting to watch now. She will turn 31 on the second Friday of the US Open, and I believe she's planning to retire at the end of the year.

Elena goes into the third round with a win/loss record of 15-16 for 2006, and before the US Open, she hadn't won a match since reaching the third round of Wimbledon - first-round losses at San Diego and New Haven.

Elena struggled through her first-round match against Sun,Tiantian 4-6 6-0 6-4, then cruised past lucky loser Nicole Pratt 6-3 6-2.

Elena beat Maria 7-6 6-1 at Toronto 2003, but Maria beat her 6-3 6-3 at the Tokyo Pan Pacific 2005.

Elena at age 30 is still a solid professional who never gives up in a match, but with Maria on such terrifying form, barring injury there can only be one winner.

---------------
Andrew's wishes
---------------

3r + MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA [32]
4r + MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. MARY PIERCE [13]
qf + MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. (4r: ANNA CHAKVETADZE [23] v TATIANA GOLOVIN [27])
sf + MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. ANA IVANOVIC [16]
f + MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. MARION BARTOLI [26]

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

Arthur Ashe Court (start 11:00 EDT = 15:00 GMT = 16:00 BST)
1. WS 3r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] v ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA [32]
<snip>

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

--
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
Sep 3rd, 2006, 07:28 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://www.usopen.org/ (http://www.usopen.org/)

Day 6 was completely washed out by high winds and persistent rain from Tropical Storm Ernesto, so I spent my time on a much-needed Internet catch-up after the hectic schedule of Days 3-5! So this message contains photos and quotes from Maria's first two matches.

On Saturday, Maria practised on Arthur Ashe Court with Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish for 20 minutes at around 14:00 EDT, and was just about to start her match against Elena Likhovtseva when more rain forced the players back into the locker-room. :(

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

http://www.usopen.org/en_US/players/wtas961.html (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/players/wtas961.html)
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=460 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=460) (to 463)
Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

Chris Gerby's US Open photos (many players):
http://www.tennis-ontheline.com/06usogal.htm (http://www.tennis-ontheline.com/06usogal.htm)

---------------------------------
First round: Sharapova v Krajícek (Wednesday 30th August)
---------------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. Michaëlla Krajícek, 6-3 6-0

Maria: "That was probably one of the best service-displays of my career. I actually didn't think I was hitting my serve big, but I was placing it really well. That's a big key for me, coming up to the line and knowing I can place it.

"At the beginning, I just couldn't quite figure out her [service] motion. She had missed the first serve, and I would try to put some pressure on her second. But she came out with some second serves that were probably 95 miles per hour, which were pretty tough to attack. But I figured out I need to stand back a little bit more, maybe make her hit a ball, whereas before I was just making the error on the return.

"The second set, I definitely felt like there were longer points, and I found my rhythm a little bit better.

"I'm healthy, and that's the most important thing. I haven't felt healthy coming into a Grand Slam in a while. And I've gotten some good matches under my belt; I got a title a couple weeks ago. That's definitely a confidence-booster.

"This was a good start, but it's only gonna get tougher from here. I've got to rest up and be ready for tomorrow.

"The inspiration for the night-dress was Audrey Hepburn. I'm inspired by her. I'm in a phase where I'm watching all her movies. I just thought she was amazing. She wasn't just an actress, she was part of UNICEF, all the things she did for children in her life. It's classy, it's elegant. I love the neck of it - that was kind of my input towards the design. I'm very excited. It's one of my favourites of the dresses I've ever worn."

[Re. Andy Roddick]
"Is it his birthday? I had no idea. I really don't talk about my personal life. And when two tennis-players know each other and are friends, and are known around the world, people are going to talk. That's exactly what's happening."

Roddick: "We're not dating. I've said it a million times already, but you guys refuse to write it. Um, you know, we're friendly. We're in the same places. I think she's a great girl. You know, we'll talk. You know, that's about it. It's a little bit of a stretch when we both travel. She's actually busier than I am. That's a little bit of a stretch. But, you know, I think she's great. I can't say enough nice things about her."

------------------------------
Second round: Sharapova v Loit (Thursday 31st August)
------------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. Emilie Loit, 6-0 6-1

Larry Fine (Reuters): "Loit was credited with just one winner in the second-round match, coming on a forehand that crawled over the netcord to save a match point in the final game."


Maria: "I definitely feel I am moving well, and taking the opportunities when I get them. I was really solid. I served well again, until the one game. I tried to finish it off by hitting a big second serve, but instead ended up hitting a couple of double faults. But you live and learn. Other than that, you know, I felt pretty good out there.

"I hit three aces and go up 40/love in that game [at 6-0 4-0]. Then I try to hit a second-serve ace, and then I missed another first serve and I just started thinking, and then I made another double fault. But, you know, you live and learn.

"I haven't really come into a tournament feeling, until now, feeling great. I've either had an injury coming in, or I haven't had enough matches. This time I really feel like I'm coming in with confidence.

"I did play a lot of matches a couple of weeks ago. I feel healthy. I've realised, even though I haven't had a long career, that being healthy is probably the most important thing."

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

Arthur Ashe Court (start 11:00 EDT = 15:00 GMT = 16:00 BST)
1. MS 3r: Andre Agassi v Benjamin Becker [Q]
2. MS 3r: Fernando Verdasco v ANDY RODDICK [9]
3. WS 3r: Serena Williams [WC] v ANA IVANOVIC [16]
Evening session (start 19:00 EDT = 23:00 GMT = 24:00 BST)
4. WS 3r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] v ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA [32]
5. MS 3r: Carlos Moyá v JAMES BLAKE [5]

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

--
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
Sep 4th, 2006, 07:14 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://www.usopen.org/ (http://www.usopen.org/)
Photos
------

Maria Sharapova:
http://www.usopen.org/en_US/players/wtas961.html (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/players/wtas961.html)
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=464 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=464)
Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

It's so cool that Maria has a left-handed forehand as an occasional alternative to her two-handed backhand - and her detractors accuse her of being one-dimensional! :ras:

-----------
Third round (Sunday 3rd September)
-----------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA [32], 6-3 6-2

Maria faced more resistance here than in her first two matches combined (where she dropped a total of four games), and her statistics were considerably less impressive, but of course she was much too strong for the seasoned Elena.

I followed live scores at www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/), and also listened to their online radio-commentary: I might not be able to watch any of the US Open on TV, but it was cool to be able to hear Maria grunting! ;)

The match started on Arthur Ashe Court at 20:25 EDT after Williams v Ivanovic spilled over into the evening session (then they had to evacuate the stadium of day-session ticket-holders so that the evening-session ticket-holders could get in).

Here are my comments as I wrote them at the time:


First Set:
SHARAPOVA _* * *@*@ 6
LIKHOVTSE * * *____ 3

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

From what the commentators are saying (between their nattering about the men's event), it sounds like an error-strewn start to this match.

Maria serving 1-2: 0/15. Maria forehand winner down the line. 15/15, 30/15. Maria crosscourt backhand winner. 40/15. Elena backhand return long.

Elena serving 2-2: 0/30 -> 30/30. Maria forehand winner - "hitting the ball so hard and so sweetly". 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad Elena. Maria forehand long.

I would have expected Maria to have broken by now. I hope for her sake that she makes this a quick match, otherwise she'll have to play her fourth-round match (against Li,Na) tomorrow afternoon, and we all know how Maria likes to play too many matches in a short period of time!

I do worry that the backlog caused by the rain-delays could put Maria at a disadvantage compared to the other top players who have more stamina, if they have to play three days or even just two days in a row. I've already lost Nicole Vaidišová because she had to play again the day after a three-setter, and Vera Zvonarëva who had to play TWO matches (WS + XD) the day before she lost. :fiery:

Maria serving 2-3: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15. Maria backhand winner down the line. 40/15. Maria held after running down a dropshot.

Elena serving 3-3: 0/40 (3 BPs), 15/40, broken.
Maria serving 4-3: held to love.

Elena serving to stay in the first set at 3-5: Maria played a spreading rally with a forehand winner. 0/15, 0/30. Elena backhand long. 0/40 (3 SPs) -> 40/40, ad Maria (SP #4). Maria won the first set 6-3 at 20:58 (33m).


Second Set:
SHARAPOVA __*@*@*@ 6
LIKHOVTSE @*______ 2

Maria serving 0-0: 15/0, 15/15. Maria left-handed forehand long. 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs). Maria backhand long - broken!
Elena serving 1-0: held to love.

Well, I thought Maria had all the momentum after winning the last four games of the first set - not like her to have a walkabout! It's important to finish this in two sets if Maria has to play again tomorrow.

Maria serving 0-2: 0/15, 30/15. Maria forehand winner. 40/15, 40/30, held.
Elena serving 2-1: Elena volley-winner. 15/0, 15/15. Double fault. 15/30. Elena forehand long. 15/40 (2 BPs). Maria hit a forehand winner(?) to break back.

The commentators are now talking about which side of the church they will sit when Maria marries Andy Roddick, because she "would not deny" that they are an item! :rolleyes:

They also said that Ana Ivanovic got married recently - but they were referring to a Serbian model called Ana Ivanovic, rather than the tennis-player with model-looks.

Maria serving 2-2: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held.
Elena serving 2-3: 0/40 (3 BPs), 15/40. Maria "rips the backhand through the ad-court" to break.

Four games in a row for Maria - again.

Maria serving 4-2: Maria forehand winner. 15/0, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held.

Elena serving to stay in the match at 2-5: Maria hit a "sweet" backhand winner down the line - "turned her shoulders nicely". 0/15, 0/30. Maria backhand winner down the line. 0/40 (3 MPs). Maria hit a crosscourt forehand winner to seal a 6-3 6-2 victory at 21:30 (second set 32m, match 1h05m).


Statistics
----------

Maria got 71% of her first serves in, winning 77% of the points when she did so, and 50% on second serve (Elena 66%, 42% and 53%). Maria's percentages deteriorated markedly in the second set, especially her second serve which went from 100% to 33%!

Maria served 2 aces and one double fault, Elena one of each.

Maria had a fastest serve of 114mph (Elena 106mph), but her averages were little higher than Elena's: first serve 100mph (Elena 98mph), second serve 84mph for both.

Maria had a positive W:UE ratio of 22:11, but only 22 winners in 17 games is a bit low by her standards. Elena had a woeful W:UE of 4:15.

Maria broke 5 times from 11 break-points, while Elena converted the one break-point she had (15/40 in the first game of the second set).

They played 7 points each at the net, Maria winning all 7 of hers, Elena winning 5.

In points, Maria won 56-36 (first set 31-20, second 25-16).

These statistics pale in comparison to Maria's amazing statistics of the first two rounds!


Quotes
------

Maria: "She knows how to play against top players. I expected a really tough match. I was ready. That little break in the first game of the second set was a little bit of a wakeup call, and I knew I needed to step it up."

-----------------
Fourth-round draw
-----------------

* AMÉLIE MAURESMO [1] v Serena Williams [WC] (anyone but Mauresmo!)
* DINARA SAFINA [12] v Virginie Razzano
* MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] v LI,NA [24] (DAVAI MARIA!!)
* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [23] v TATIANA GOLOVIN [27] (may the better win!)

* JELENA JANKOVIC [19] d. SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [6]
* ELENA DEMENTIEVA [4] d. Aravane Rezaď
* PATTY SCHNYDER [7] v LINDSAY DAVENPORT [10]
* JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE [2] d. SHAHAR PEER [21]


Sharapova v Li
--------------

Maria has won all three of her previous encounters with Li,Na: 6-0 6-2, and two 6-2 6-4.

But Li can be extremely dangerous: she upset Svetlana Kuznetsova and Nicole Vaidišová back-to-back to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals, and crushed Maria Kirilenko 6-1 6-2 at New Haven two weeks ago, before withdrawing from that tournament with a right-ankle sprain.

Li has reached the fourth round with the following results:
1r + María Sánchez Lorenzo, 4-6 6-3 6-0
2r + Eleni Daniilidou, 6-0 1-6 6-4
3r + MARY PIERCE [13], 4-6 6-0 6-0

I saw Maria's latest match against Li at Birmingham 2006, and it was Li who dominated a strangely subdued Maria. When I say "dominated", I mean that Li seemed to be hitting many more winners than Maria, but also many more unforced errors - hence the 6-2 6-4 win for Maria.

If Li could make a positive W:UE ratio, then Maria could be in all sorts of trouble, though I don't expect her to actually lose.


Maria: "I had a couple of past meetings with her this year. She is improving {each time out/with every month}. She's a very tough, solid player. Great mover on the court. Gonna make me hit a lot of balls, obviously. But that's her game. I've beaten her the last couple times. I've just got to go out there and try to do the same thing and come out with a win. But, yeah, looking forward to it.

"The second week of a Grand Slam is obviously going to be a lot tougher than the first. That's a no-brainer. But with every match, you've got to play better and better tennis to win it. That's what it's all about at the end of the day."


Li: "I've played her three times before, and have yet to win a set. But I've just got to concentrate on my own game, and we will see what happens. Just be myself. Play my game."


Matt Cronin for www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org:/): "MARIA SHARAPOVA is playing about as well as she ever has, but has a tough tussle coming against NA LI, who double-bageled Mary Pierce in their last two sets. Li can run and counterpunch with power, but Sharapova has beaten her twice this year and knows how to freeze her off the ground and then find the sharp angles. Sharapova in straight sets."


If Maria gets past Li, we'll have an absolutely mouthwatering quarter-final against either Anna Chakvetadze or Tatiana Golovin, who play each other in the fourth round. :drool: If Flushing Meadows were in Birmingham (and, God willing, some day it will be), I would be making emergency-arrangements to attend!

A Maria v Serena Williams semi-final looks like a distinct possibility, and at least Maria should have the form to stop her...

------------------------
Order of play for Monday
------------------------

Louis Armstrong Court (start 11:00 EDT = 15:00 GMT = 16:00 BST)
1. MS 3r: TOMMY HAAS [14] d. ROBBY GINEPRI [18]
2. WS 4r: PATTY SCHNYDER [7] v LINDSAY DAVENPORT [10] (in progress)
3. WS 4r: DINARA SAFINA [12] v Virginie Razzano
(18:00 EDT) 4. MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] v LI,NA [24]

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

--
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
Sep 6th, 2006, 04:56 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://www.usopen.org/ (http://www.usopen.org/)
Photos
------

http://www.usopen.org/en_US/players/wtas961.html (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/players/wtas961.html)
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=465 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=465) (and 466)
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/ (http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/)
Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

------------
Fourth round (Monday 4th September)
------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. LI,NA [24], 6-4 6-2

Maria was broken in the second game of the match, and had me more and more worried, even panicky, as she allowed Li to extend her lead to 4-1*! But Maria reeled off five games in a row to take the first set, and again from *1-2 to storm through the second.

Erin Gell for www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org): "Li's hard, flat balls were effective, but had a hard time matching up to Sharapova's relentless power.
"The week before the Open, Li withdrew from a second round in New Haven after spraining her right ankle in practice. That ankle was taped up on Monday, but it didn't appear to bother Li."


I did sense a change of plan once Maria found herself down. She engaged Na in rallies more rather than going for winners and added more security to her shots and defended well. There was no hint of a lefty forehand today, when she was stretched it was always a DH BH or a slice from that side.

One thing thats also obvious is that Maria seems to have ditched her efforts of coming into the net regularly. Maybe that was just something she was trying on the grasscourts.

The match started at 18:10 EDT on Louis Armstrong Court (it would have opened the evening session on Arthur Ashe Court if Mary Pierce had been her opponent). I followed live scores at www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org), and listened to their online radio-commentary.

Here are my comments as I wrote them at the time:


First Set:
SH ___* *@*@* 6
LI *@* *_____ 4

Li serving 0-0: 0/15, 40/15 -> 40/40, ad Li, held.

At least Maria has sent an early message to Li that easy service-games can get complicated. Maria is the best player I know for pegging her opponent back in a game.

Maria serving 0-1: 0/30 -> 40/30. Maria forehand "way long". 40/40, ad Maria. Double fault - "off to a sluggish start". Deuce #2, ad Li (BP), broken.

A worrying start!

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

Li has now won 15 games in a row, including her 4-6 6-0 6-0 win over Mary Pierce.

Maria serving 0-3: held to love.

Early W:UE ratios: Maria 0:6, Li 2:8.

Li serving 3-1: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15 -> 40/40, ad Maria (BP), Deuce #2, ad Li, held.

At least Maria's not giving Li any easy games, but her inability to break back - despite break-points in two different games - is increasingly worrying.

Maria serving 1-4: 0/15, 40/15, held.

Phew! At 0/15 I had horrible visions of a 1-5 deficit, but Maria still has a fighting chance in this set.

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

YES!!! Suddenly I can breathe easily again, although with Li's go-for-broke style, you never know what can happen next. But Maria is certainly one of the most reliable holders-of-serve in women's tennis, so it will be very difficult for Li to win this set now.

Maria serving 3-4: 30/0. Double fault. 30/15, 40/15, held.
Li serving 4-4: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.

And this set has a very different complexion now! It happens so often when a player ranked in the 20s has such a lead against a top-five player - you give them a little finger and they take a whole hand.

The commentator is talking about "Sharapova" and "Na" as if he thinks that "Na" is the surname! :rolleyes: It can get very confusing when the media don't stick to either the Chinese convention or the English convention consistently; that's why I always write "Li,Na".

The commentator said that Chinese names are written surname-last in English ("Na Li"), but pronounced surname-first ("Li Na"). I say my comma-convention would remove all this confusion if they always wrote "Li,Na" and said "Li Na".

Maria serving for the first set 5-4: 30/0. Maria loses a Hawkeye-challenge - might as well try it when the set's about to end! ;) 30/15. Ace. 40/15 (2 SPs). Maria won the first set 6-4 at 18:52 (42m).

From *1-4 down, Maria has won five games in a row.


Second Set:
SH * *@*@* 6
LI * *_____ 2

Li serving 0-0: 30/0. Li backhand dropshot-winner. 40/0, held.

I feel that if Maria can get the first break in this set, it should be a foregone conclusion.

Maria serving 0-1: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad Maria, Deuce #2, ad Maria, Deuce #3, ad Li (BP). The commentator said that Maria's service-winner was long. Deuce #4, ad Maria, held.

Too few first serves in from Maria.

Li serving 1-1: 0/15, 15/15. A good rally ended with Li hitting a running forehand winner. 30/15. Li forehand winner after another good rally. 40/15, held.

Maria serving 1-2: 30/0. Maria forehand winner in the corner. 40/0, held.

A much more convincing hold. Now break!

Li serving 2-2: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken!

Good girl! She really has her lightsabres to Li's neck now!

The radio-commentary has now moved to Arthur Ashe Court for Mauresmo v Williams.

Maria serving 3-2: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, 40/30, held.
Li serving 2-4: 0/40 (3 BPs), 15/40, broken.

Maria, like all great champions, going for the jugular. Monica Seles has often been described as having a mind like a steel trap, which would snap shut as soon as she got you anywhere near defeat, and Maria is the closest other player to having Monica's mentality.

Maria serving 5-2: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15 (2 MPs), Maria won 6-4 6-2 at 19:27 (second set 35m, match 1h17m).


Statistics
----------

It was evidently a low-quality match, with woeful W:UE ratios of 5:25 for Maria and 8:30 for Li. Apparently it was windy!

Maria got 57% of her first serves in, winning 85% of the points when she did so, and 48% on second serve (Li 68%, 51% and 56%).

Maria served 2 aces and 6 double faults, Li just 4 double faults.

Maria had a fastest serve of 115mph (Li 107mph), average first serve 100mph (and for Li), second serve 90mph (Li 88mph).

The most encouraging statistic is that Maria broke 4 times from 7 break-points (twice in each set), Li once from 2 BPs (en route to 4-1 in the first).

Maria won 4 of 7 points at the net, Li 3 of 4 - a very baseline-oriented encounter.

In points, Maria won 67-48 (first set 38-28, second 29-20).


I'm concerned by the way Maria's statistics have deteriorated from amazing in the first two rounds, to mediocre in the third round, to abysmal in the fourth.

She certainly will need to "step it up" if she's going to reach her second Grand Slam final - perhaps even to beat Tatiana Golovin in the next round.

Maria and Li seem to bring out the worst in each other (my eyes are still sore from what they saw at Birmingham), but Maria brings out the best in Tatiana - she's never lost to her, but all three of their previous encounters have contained very tough periods for Maria.


Quotes
------

Maria: "I started the match a little bit slow. I rushed into things. I rushed into my serve and my return. After 4-1, I kind of relaxed and made her hit an extra ball; when I broke her I gained a bit more confidence, started serving better, and took more time. I don't feel I can go into every match and play great. There will be a lot of days where I might start slow. But the good thing about [it] was that I won the match, and I knew that I figured out a way to beat her, playing not great.

"She was hitting some good balls. I mean, once she gets a good hit on it, she can rip the ball really hard. But I got a few unforced errors from her, when I got to break her, and then from then on I gained a bit more confidence, started serving better, and took more time.

"She's doing better and better with every year. I mean, every time I've played against her, we've had really tough matches. I always seem to be down a break once in a while in the first or second set. So I know that it's always going to be a tough match-up.

"Definitely wasn't my best performance so far, but as the tournament gets going, I know it's only going to be tougher. Mentally, I know that I need to step it up. But I'm happy I got through. I'll just get a good rest tomorrow, and then be ready for my quarters."

------------------
Quarter-final draw
------------------

* AMÉLIE MAURESMO [1] v DINARA SAFINA [12] (ljuboe iskljuchaet Mauresmo!)
* MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] v TATIANA GOLOVIN [27] (mouthwatering match; my loyalty is to MARIA)
* JELENA JANKOVIC [19] d. ELENA DEMENTIEVA [4]
* LINDSAY DAVENPORT [10] v JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE [2]

I don't like Davenport, but I hope she beats Henin-Hardenne because it would give Maria a much better chance in the final (Maria is 4-1 up against Davenport but 1-4 down against Henin in their head-to-heads).


Sharapova v Golovin
-------------------

This promises to be the match of the tournament as far as I'm concerned, as their previous encounters have been highly entertaining in tennis-terms, not to mention sex-appeal! ;) It's always something special when Maria and Tatiana meet.

Tatiana is a counterpuncher, consistent rather than spectacular, with intelligent shot-placement and rally-construction, good command of depth, excellent footwork and a pretty big forehand. She tends to play to the level of her opponent, going for her shots more against top players such as Maria.

I think if I was going to induct Tatiana into my Eternal Fanship, I would have done so by now - I have already come close to doing so on three separate occasions, only to find her tennis not up to Eternal Fanship standards when I watch her on video.

Tatiana is still very attractive, but no longer drop-dead gorgeous like she was two years ago (the last time she reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam - two of them in fact). Her body is bulkier (although she does seem to have got rid of much of the unappealing bulk - particularly her upper legs), her hair suited her better when it was blonde, and she dresses much less sexily now, wearing her famous microshorts only in practice. But what the loss of these attributes does draw attention to, is that she has beautiful brown eyes and a very nice mouth. And her grunt is the sexiest sound in tennis.

Why don't I write a similar description of Maria? I think I've said it all here:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/biography.html (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/biography.html)

I attended their Birmingham 2004 final, and it was one of the best days of my life (with the Super Maria Sisters winning the doubles also). Tatiana played an excellent first set as Maria made errors, but then it was Tatiana making errors, and Maria won 4-6 6-2 6-1.

I also attended their Birmingham 2005 semi-final. Maria had set-point with Tatiana serving at 2-5 (30/40), but Tatiana fought back to 5-5 with a series of brilliant winners. Maria went on to win 7-5 6-1, as Tatiana was affected in the second set by problems with her right foot.

They met again in the Miami 2006 semi-finals. Maria led 6-3 5-1, with four match-points at 5-3, but Tatiana staged a dramatic recovery to take the second set on a tiebreak. Maria was leading *4-3 in the third set when Tatiana sprained her left ankle and had to retire - an injury which kept her out for three months (apart from a first-round loss at the French Open), and which I don't think is 100% healed even now.

Their routes to the quarter-finals:

MARIA SHARAPOVA [3]:
1r + Michaëlla Krajícek, 6-3 6-0
2r + Emilie Loit, 6-0 6-1
3r + ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA [32], 6-3 6-2
4r + LI,NA [24], 6-4 6-2

TATIANA GOLOVIN [27]:
1r + Ashley Harkleroad, 6-3 7-5
2r + Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4 6-3
3r + NADIA PETROVA [5], 7-5 6-7 (4/7) 6-3
4r + ANNA CHAKVETADZE [23], 6-3 6-2

Although Maria was in terrifying form for the first two rounds, her statistics have deteriorated dramatically since then, even though her final scorelines look easy.

Tatiana scored an unexpected and comprehensive victory over Anna Chakvetadze just a day after upsetting Petrova in a marathon of almost three hours. Now that she's had a day off, she seems poised to give Maria another good match - especially if Tatiana is injury-free, which wasn't the case in any of their previous encounters.

My loyalty is to Maria because she is a member of my Eternal Fanship, and this is her best chance to win a Grand Slam since Wimbledon 2004. I don't want another Mauresmo v Henin-Hardenne final, which is what would inevitably happen if Maria lost to Tatiana.


Matt Cronin for www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org):
>>>
The last time that MARIA SHARAPOVA and TATIANA GOLOVIN played, the Frenchwoman had her on the ropes in the Miami semifinals and then had to retire with a bad ankle injury. It's revenge time for the teen they call Tati, a steady, hard-hitting sort who loves the spotlight as much as Sharapova does. Golovin is very chatty and plays like it, unleashing a barrage of shots that don't end until the conversation about who should have won the point has dried up.

Yes, she can hang with Sharapova in most rallies and is a far better mover, but Maria has a bigger forehand and is serving way better than she did in March. Sharapova just took down another powerful retriever, Na Li, by serving her off the court and controlling points with lethal first shots during her return games. She'll do the same to Golovin, who will make a match of it for a set based on desire and inspiration alone, but who on a fast hard court will not be able to contend with Sharapova's blinding consistency. Sharapova in straight sets.
<<<

Tatiana: "I'm going to strap up everything this time. I'm going to strap up the ankles, the wrists, my head — everything."

---------------
Andrew's wishes
---------------

qf + MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. TATIANA GOLOVIN [27]
sf + MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. DINARA SAFINA [12]
f + MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. JELENA JANKOVIC [19]

---------------------------
Order of play for Wednesday
---------------------------

Arthur Ashe Court (start 11:00 EDT = 15:00 GMT = 16:00 BST)
1. MS 4r: Marat Safin v TOMMY HAAS [14] (2-1 to finish)
2. WS qf: LINDSAY DAVENPORT [10] v JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE [2]
3. MS 4r: TOMÁŠ BERDYCH [12] v JAMES BLAKE [5]
Evening session (start 19:00 EDT = 23:00 GMT = 24:00 BST)
4. WS qf: MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] v TATIANA GOLOVIN [27]
5. MS qf: ANDY RODDICK [9] v LLEYTON HEWITT [15]

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

All Maria-fans should pray for no rain tonight, because it would be very difficult for her to have to play her quarter-final on Thursday, semi-final on Friday and final on Saturday.

Maria is assured of moving up to #3 in the WTA Singles Rankings next week, as Kim Clijsters couldn't defend her title, and no one else can overtake Maria now.

--
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
Sep 8th, 2006, 04:54 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://www.usopen.org/ (http://www.usopen.org/)
Photos & videos
---------------

Maria Sharapova:
http://www.usopen.org/en_US/players/wtas961.html (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/players/wtas961.html)
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=467 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=467) (and 466)
http://www.tennis.info/US6.html (http://www.tennis.info/US6.html) (Quarterfinals)
Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

Maria v Tatiana was as close as a beauty-contest as it was as a tennis-match! ;)


Videos of Maria v Tatiana (no, I have not watched them yet):
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=221386&page=84 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=221386&page=84)

Amusing article - "Sharapova and the Banana Incident":
http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/articles/2006-09-07/200609071157658683281.html (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/articles/2006-09-07/200609071157658683281.html)

--------------
Quarter-finals (Wednesday 6th September)
--------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. TATIANA GOLOVIN [27], 7-6 (7/4) 7-6 (7/0)

As always, it was a highly competitive match between these two childhood friends, belying their gulf in rankings and lasting 2h12m.

Tatiana led *3-1 amidst four consecutive breaks of serve. But it was Maria who served for the first set at 5-4. She failed, and had to save two set-points at *5-6 (15/40)!

Maria led 3/0* in the first-set tiebreak when all of a sudden Tati needed medical attention for a blister on her right sole - the blister looked nasty, but the timing seems tactical to me. Tati fought back to 4/4*, but Maria won the next three points to take the first set.

The second set also featured four breaks in a row, with Maria serving for the match at 5-3. But once again, it went to a tiebreak: in contrast to their Miami semi-final, Maria won the second-set tiebreak 7/0.


www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com/): "For over two hours under the bright lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday night, Maria Sharapova and Tatiana Golovin shone as they played the last of four US Open quarterfinals. While Sharapova belted monstrous serves and big groundstrokes, Golovin fired ferocious forehands and showed gritty retrieving; and in the end, it couldn't have been more even. But like she has done so many times, Sharapova stepped up at the most critical of junctures, clinching two tie-breaks to advance to the 2006 US Open semifinals."

Aimee Berg for www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/): "Wednesday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium, two teenagers in pretty cocktail dresses frequently lost their serves and nerves, and played one-dimensional power games, knowing one of them was guaranteed a berth in the semifinal round."


The match started at 19:29 EDT on Arthur Ashe Court. I followed live scores at www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/), and listened to their online radio-commentary. They said that Maria and Tatiana's semi-final at Miami was for many people the highlight of the year so far! :worship:

Here are my comments as I wrote them at the time:


First Set:
SHARAPO __@ @* *@__* 7(7)
GOLOVIN *@ @__*__@*_ 6(4)

Tatiana serving 0-0: Service-winner. 15/0. Tati's depth forced Maria into error. 30/0. Maria volley-winner. 30/15. Maria crosscourt winner. 30/30. Tati winner. 40/30. Maria winner. 40/40. Double fault. Ad Maria (BP). Maria netted a backhand. Deuce #2. Tati winner behind Maria. Ad Tatiana. Wide serve, short return, Tati forehand winner.

I can hear Maria grunting, but I want to hear Tati's sexy grunt too! :drool:

The commentator said Tati's microshorts caused some controversy at the US Open 2004, as if that was the reason she dresses more conservatively now.

Maria serving 0-1: Maria "too strong forehand". 0/15, 15/15. Maria backhand wide. 15/30. Maria forehand long. 15/40 (2 BPs). Maria forehand long - broken!

I think it's important for this match that Tatiana gets off to a good start. Against most opponents I'd be very anxious for Maria at this stage, but my tender feelings for Tati soften the blow completely, even though she's not a member of my Eternal Fanship.

My Reason knows the importance of Maria winning this match, but my Passion wants Tati to do as well as possible without actually winning the match! ;)

Tatiana serving 2-0: Tati forehand long & wide. 0/15, 0/30. Maria forehand wide. 15/30. Maria netted a backhand. 30/30. Tati netted. 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad Tati - but Maria correctly challenged a call, so back to 40/40. Tati netted. Ad Maria (BP #2). Maria forehand wide. Deuce #2. Maria's forehand hit the netcord and fell back on her side. Ad Tati. Double fault. Deuce #3. Tati forehand "too strong". Ad Tati. Maria crosscourt backhand winner off a dropshot from Tati. Deuce #4. Tati forehand "too strong". Ad Tati. Maria winner behind Tati. Deuce #5. Maria winner down the line. Ad Maria (BP #3). Tati forehand hits the netcord and falls back on her side - Maria breaks back.

I sense a real battle of wills here. And Tati has started to grunt - I love that sound! :D

Maria serving 1-2: Tati backhand "dies in the net". 15/0. Maria long. 15/15. Maria crosscourt forehand winner (W:UE 8:10). 30/15. Maria netted a backhand. 30/30. Tati forehand long. 40/30. Double fault. 40/40. Maria scooped a lob over the baseline. Ad Tati (BP). Tati netted. Deuce #2. Maria netted a forehand off her back foot. Ad Tati (BP #2). Maria wide - broken again!

Every game is so tough - four games in 30 minutes - and uncharacteristically for two big servers, it's unpredictable who's going to hold serve. Just a real battle of wills out there.

Tatiana is a very feisty competitor, and a very strong character off the court too. When her left foot was in a cast for ten days (after the Miami semi-final), she simply switched to driving a car with an automatic gear-box!

Tati serving 3-1: Tati out. 0/15, 0/30, 15/30. Maria hit an error-forcing backhand down the line and pumped her fist. 15/40 (2 BPs). Tati, "swinging out from her stomach", hits it wide - Maria breaks back.

Maria serving 2-3: 15/0. Maria swing-volley + overhead winner. 30/0, 40/0, 40/30, held.

Maria is now level for the first time since 0-0.

Tati serving 3-3: 15/0. Maria long. 30/0. Maria's forehand hit the netcord and fell back on her side. 40/0. Tati "buries it". 40/15. Tati netted a backhand. 40/30. Tati "too strong".

Maria serving 3-4: Ace. 15/0. Service-winner. 30/0. Maria hit her fourth ace (109mph). 40/0. "Snapped up by Tati, and smacked down for a winner by Sharapova".

Tati serving 4-4: Maria netted a forehand - making a lot of errors on that side. 15/0. Double fault. 15/15. Tati netted a forehand. 15/30. Ace(?). 30/30. Loss of radio-coverage. 30/40 (BP), broken.

Maria serving for the first set at 5-4: 15/0, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs). Would have been 30/40, but Tati made a challenge that was correct by millimetres. Tati backhand wide. 30/40. Maria challenged a call but was incorrect (one challenge left, Tati two) - Tati breaks back!

Tati serving 5-5: Tati forehand winner on the line. 15/0. Double fault. 15/15. Maria forehand out. 30/15. Tati "drove it right into the twine". 30/30. Maria backhand winner with a pretty loud grunt! 30/40 (BP). Maria netted a backhand. 40/40. Maria backhand long. Ad Tati, held.

Maria serving to stay in the first set at 5-6: Maria forced Tati to hit a backhand that landed on her own side of the net. 15/0. Maria forehand swing-volley wide. 15/15. Double fault. 15/30, 15/40 (2 SPs). Service-winner. 30/40 (SP #2). Tati backhand floats long. 40/40. Tati long. Ad Maria. Maria forehand winner.

What a set this is turning out to be! Sloppy play according to the radio-commentary, but so competitive!

6-6 tiebreak (all scores from Maria's perspective):
{0/0*} Tati long.
{*1/0} Tati netted a sliced backhand.
{*2/0} Loss of radio-coverage. :mad:
{3/0*} Tatiana called the trainer to deal with a blister on her right sole. She has now taken medical time-outs in all four of her matches against Maria. Maria hit some practice-serves during the time-out, which Tatiana apologised to her for taking. When play resumed, Maria missed wide.
{3/1*} Maria backhand wide.
{*3/2} Tati backhand "wide and well long", but her movement does not appear to be restricted.
{*4/2} Loss of radio-coverage.
{4/3*}
{4/4*} Long rally, Maria netcord winner, Tati warned for hitting a ball into the photographers' pit. If it's true that it "whizzed past a woman's head", then Tatiana was lucky not to be disqualified (or even charged with manslaughter).
{*5/4}
{*6/4} Maria hit a forehand winner to win the first set 7-6 (7/4) at 20:47 (1h18m). Their Miami semi-final lasted 2h43m before Tati retired!


Second Set:
SHARAPO * * *@ @__*_ 7(7)
GOLOVIN _* *__@ @* * 6(0)

Maria serving 0-0: Tati backhand return long. 15/0. Tati netted. 30/0. Maria forehand winner. 40/0, held.

Tati serving 0-1: Tati two-handed dropshot-winner. 15/0. Long rally went Tati's way. 30/0, 40/0. Maria forehand winner. 40/15. And another! 40/30. Tati crosscourt forehand winner.

Sounds like the standard of play is improving! :) "Maria's had issues with her forehand and first serve tonight."

Maria serving 1-1: Tati dropshot netcord-winner. 15/0. Ace (Tati challenged it, but it was in). 15/15. Tati flicked a forehand long. 30/15. Tati went for a winner but missed. 40/15. Good rally ended with Maria missing wide. 40/30. Ace (107mph with spin).

I'm thoroughly enjoying following this match, even though I have only sound (which keeps cutting out) and no pictures! When Maria plays Tatiana, it's always so competitive, so sexy, and the right girl always wins! ;)

Tati serving 1-2: Tati forehand winner (only her 10th winner, Maria has hit 26). 15/0. Maria forehand long & wide. 30/0, held to love.

Maria serving 2-2: 0/15. Tati long - too much power from Maria. 15/15. Loss of radio-coverage. 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held.

Maria was behind for the whole first set apart from *5-4 and the tiebreak. Now, by virtue of serving first, she keeps nosing ahead in this set, and that's a bad sign for Tati.

Tati serving 2-3: 15/0, 15/15. Tati netted a backhand. 15/30. Tati long. 15/40 (2 BPs). Maria crosscourt backhand winner - she breaks!

Maria serving 4-2: Tati crosscourt winner - "much crisper tennis than in the first set". 0/15, 0/30. Double fault. 0/40 (3 BPs). Tati breaks back!

Well, Tati fought back from a set and 1-5 down in their Miami semi-final, and this is a much shallower hole than that!

Tati serving 3-4: Maria inside-out winner (Tatiana didn't waste her one remaining challenge on that). 0/15. Double fault. 0/30. Tati hit deep forehands and a winner. 15/30. Tati netted a dropshot. 15/40 (2 BPs). Tati netted a forehand - broken.

Poor Tati - a bad time for a sloppy game! And the match, which has been so close up till now, could be about to end (but Maria missed four match-points at 5-3 in the second set at Miami).

Maria serving 5-3: Tati long. 15/0. Maria netted a forehand. 15/15. Tati went to the net, forcing Maria into error. 15/30. Maria crosscourt backhand winner. 30/30. Double fault (Maria's fifth). 30/40 (BP). Maria backhand "too strong". 40/40. Another double fault! Ad Tati (BP #2). Tati went for a winner off a second serve, but just missed. Deuce #2. Maria backhand long. Ad Tati (BP #3). Maria long - broken back!

I had butterflies in my stomach in that game, and it speaks volumes about my feelings for Tatiana that I'm not ultranervous for Maria at this stage. Deep down, I just don't believe that Tati can actually beat Maria.

"This one is not for the 'How to play tennis' DVD-collection. Neither of these girls has played spectacular tonight."

But I'm very tempted to order a DVD of this match! :)

Tati serving to stay in the match at 4-5: Tati lob long. 0/15. Maria long. 15/15. Maria netted. 30/15, 40/15. Ace! (111mph).

And Maria gets pegged back at 5-5 in the second set, just as she was at Miami! Why can't she serve out sets and matches against Tati?

Maria serving 5-5: Tati "volleys to the deuce-court". 0/15. Ace (103mph with spin). 15/15, 30/15. Maria forehand winner. 40/15. Service-winner.

Tati serving to stay in the match at 5-6: Maria netted. 15/0. Maria backhand return way long. 30/0. Maria netted. 40/0. Service-winner. Maria flexing her right hip and left arm after lunging for that return.

6-6 tiebreak (all scores from Maria's perspective):
{*0/0}
{1/0*} Maria crosscourt forehand winner - "a minor change to the angle paid off".
{2/0*} Maria forehand winner down the line.
{*3/0} Ace.
{*4/0} Tati forehand wide.
{5/0*} Another error from Tati.
{6/0*: 6 MPs} Tati netted a forehand. Maria won 7-6 (7/4) 7-6 (7/0) at 21:41 (second set 54m, match 2h12m).

They interviewed both girls on court. Tati said that Maria had played "an unbelievable match". Maria said she had "nothing to lose" in the semis against Mauresmo, who "is playing some of the best tennis of her career".


Statistics
----------

Maria had a positive W:UE ratio of 36:32, Tatiana a negative 19:22. The second set was much cleaner than the first: Maria 15:11, Tatiana 13:7.

Maria got 64% of her first serves in, winning 70% of the points when she did so, and - worryingly - only 37% of points on second serve (Tatiana 64%, 60% and 38%).

From the first set to the second set, Maria traded her percentage of first serves in for a higher winning-percentage, while Tatiana simply upped her percentage of first serves in from 54% to 82%.

Maria served 8 aces, Tatiana 2, and they committed 6 double faults each (5 of Tatiana's coming in the first set).

Their service-speeds were intriguingly similar: fastest 114mph for both, average first serve 104mph for both, and Tatiana had the faster second serve (89-87mph).

They broke serve 5 times each - Maria from 9 break-points, Tatiana from 11.

They came to the net 14 times each, Maria winning 10 of her net-points, Tatiana 9 of hers.

In points, Maria won 91-81 (first set 53-48, second 38-33).


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

"I love playing tennis because I'm a competitor. I don't do it to go out on the court, practise, and hit balls over and over. That's definitely not fun for me. I do it to be in those moments and try to succeed in them. I just enjoy the battle of it all.

"I play tennis because I love the challenge of it. I love challenges in life, not just on the tennis-court. Most people outside, people that go on to watch a match, might not even know anything about tennis; they just see the challenges you get, the opportunities maybe you didn't take or the opportunities you took, the ups and downs in a match.

"I love the competition. It's all about self-confidence. At the end of the day, in my sport, I got to go out, and I got to win. That's what it's all about."

[Re. Tatiana's complaints about her grunting]
"I wouldn't know because I don't know another way, so I don't worry about it."


Tatiana quotes
--------------

"We've always had tough matches. I think it's because I'm fighting all the time, and I try to get balls back and pressure her forehand with my forehand - my best shot.

"After what happened with my ankle, it took a lot of hard work to get back into shape. I played the French and Wimbledon, but I shouldn't have. It was because I wanted to get back on court. After Wimbledon, I was able to practise. Then I was fully recovered. So I'll learn from this match and I'll get better as time goes on.

"I definitely think that separates her: how she mentally handles the tough situations. She's really tough. I remember our other matches, even if you are up, she never gives up; and she actually even plays better when she's down. In the first tie-break, it really could have gone either way. But she does it. I think one of her biggest weapons is definitely her mental side of the game."

[Re. Maria's grunting]
"It was kind of a little loud out there. It is distracting. You don't need to be screaming that loud. It's okay to grunt, but you don't have to be that loud. Like I don't think the ball actually goes faster if she's grunting."

It's a shame that Tatiana complained to the umpire about Maria's grunting, because Tatiana has been going back up in my favour recently, after I decided (in April) against inducting her into my Eternal Fanship, and then (in June) promoted Anna Chakvetadze ahead of her in my demi-fanship.

---------------
Semi-final draw
---------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [1] (DAVAI MARIA!!)
* JELENA JANKOVIC [19] v JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE [2] (ajde Jelena!)


Sharapova v Mauresmo
--------------------

Maria is 0-5 in Grand Slam semi-finals after Wimbledon 2004, and 0-3 against Mauresmo. Why would today's semi-final against Mauresmo be any different?

Well for one thing, Maria went into the previous four Grand Slams with injury-concerns (shoulder and then ankle) and insufficient match-play due to pulling out of warm-up tournaments. It's commendable that she even reached the semi-finals of three of these Slams.

This time, Maria is finally free of her injuries, and comes into the US Open after winning the San Diego tournament, beating Kim Clijsters in the final - she went into that match with a 0-4 record against Clijsters.

This time, it's Mauresmo who comes into the US Open with limited match-play, having pulled out of Montréal with a right-shoulder strain, and lost 6-4 7-5 to Lindsay Davenport in the quarter-finals of New Haven.

The bad news is that Maria has gone from terrifying form, awesome scorelines and statistics in the first two rounds here, to struggling through her matches with mediocre statistics, albeit without dropping a set...

1r + Michaëlla Krajícek, 6-3 6-0
2r + Emilie Loit, 6-0 6-1
3r + ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA [32], 6-3 6-2
4r + LI,NA [24], 6-4 6-2
qf + TATIANA GOLOVIN [27], 7-6 7-6

...while Mauresmo has done the opposite, finding her form in the quarter-finals after struggling in the earlier rounds:

1r + Kristina Barrois [Q], 6-1 7-5 (Barrois led 5-2* second set)
2r + Meghann Shaughnessy, 6-4 6-4
3r + Mara Santangelo, 6-3 3-6 6-2 (Santangelo led 2-0* third set)
4r + Serena Williams [WC], 6-4 0-6 6-2
qf + DINARA SAFINA [12], 6-2 6-3

A lot of people (including me) expected Mauresmo to lose to Williams, whose form in the earlier rounds here had been ominous, and who had owned Mauresmo 9-1 head-to-head, so that fourth-round result was a major turning-point for this tournament. Safina just froze on the big stage, with a W:UE ratio of 9:27.

Mauresmo had a mental block over Grand Slams, but when two Belgian retirements handed her the Australian Open 2006 title, she derived confidence which she had no right to derive, and which helped her to win Wimbledon 'for real'. So she's now a huge threat for any Grand Slam, regardless of prior form.

Maria is renowned for her mental strength, steely determination and sheer will to win, but she's no longer immune to nerves, as she was when she won Wimbledon as a carefree 17-year-old. Against Golovin she served for the first set at 5-4 and the second at 5-3, but failed both times. She can't afford to do likewise against Mauresmo.


Matt Cronin for www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/):
>>>
It's nice to have a pick 'em in the US Open semifinals because it doesn't happen very often. But that is what the match between Amélie Mauresmo and Maria Sharapova is because, believe it or not, the higher bounces on hard courts will play more in Sharapova's favour than the grass of Wimbledon or the quick indoor courts of the Staples Center did. Those are the last two locales where Mauresmo downed the Russian, and she did it by slicing low, serving hard, charging the net and retrieving with abandon. Mauresmo says that Sharapova doesn't like how she mixes up her repertoire, and that's exactly right, but that doesn't mean that Sharapova hasn't matured to a point where she can't figure out a way to beat her. She just has to show the world that she can.

Most importantly, Sharapova is going to have to crush her forehand and make sure to keep Mauresmo on her heels. She cannot afford to let the Frenchwoman go quickly from defense to offense like Serena did. That means that she's going to have to keep her first-serve percentage very high and return aggressively. There is no point for Maria to play conservatively in her return games because Mauresmo will end up holding anyway. She has to gun balls down the lines and force one or two breaks a set.

With all that said, Mauresmo has become a terrific on-court tactician, mainly because she keeps her nerves calm, which allows her to think clearly. She knows how to get Sharapova pressing and, at times during the match, will have the 19-year-old Russian rolling her eyes into the back of her head. But this is Sharapova's time to shine at a Slam once again, and for the first time in her career, it will be her defense that will pull her through at the Open. She's no longer just a gangly teen, and she can run and counterpunch. Sharapova in a three-set thriller.
<<<

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

"I'll definitely need to improve before my next match. Amélie is definitely the player to beat right now. Honestly, I feel like I don't have anything to lose going into this match. If I take my chances and go out there and enjoy it, I can come up with a win.

"She's number one in the world. She's won two majors this year. She's got all the confidence in the world. All I want to do is just go out there and enjoy the moment of it."

That's loser-talk!

[Re. semi-finalitis]
"Honestly, there is no frustration. The only frustration there is coming off a match and realising the little things you could have done differently. Things that were in your hands in order to win that match.

"But it has nothing to do with getting to the final or winning another Grand Slam. The last thing I worry about when I go on court is trying to prove anything to anyone. I don't have anything to prove."

[Re. their Wimbledon semi-final]
"I just thought I had all the momentum in the world going into the third set at Wimbledon, but I didn't use that to my advantage. When you're playing a top player that is confident, if you don't take your chances, you should get your ticket. That's the reality of it."


Mauresmo quotes
---------------

"The change of pace probably is something she doesn't like, and that's my game; that's the way I play. I'm not going to change.

"She's hitting the ball very hard. She's, you know, great competitor. She really stays in the match, she hang in there whatever happens. And, you know, physically, also being able to get better and better as, you know, the year are passing for her. So tough, tough competitor.

"I played Maria in the semis at Wimbledon and also at the [season-ending] Championships; we always had some tough ones and some pretty tight matches. Tatiana is another great player. As I've said before, we've been waiting for her to have a big breakthrough and it's coming here. Semifinal of a Grand Slam, it's not gonna be easy whoever I'm gonna have to play. I'm expecting a tough one.

"I don't feel more pressure at all. I really think what I've achieved since the US Open last year has given me the right to lose, actually, and be more relaxed and to have less pressure on me, when before I was probably inside of me telling me, 'Am I gonna be able to win one? Am I gonna do it? Am I gonna end my career without a Grand Slam title?' All these things were probably in my mind. Now it's a big relief to think that it's not there anymore.

"I've thought about winning my third Grand Slam of the year because people are talking to me about it. But to be honest, before coming here, it wasn't something that could happen, considering my preparation. Of course, it's starting to become more of a realistic challenge for me now. I needed some matches, but now I feel that my game is really coming together."

---------------
Andrew's wishes
---------------

sf + MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. AMÉLIE MAURESMO [1]
f + MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. JELENA JANKOVIC [19]

------------------------
Order of play for Friday
------------------------

Arthur Ashe Court (start 11:00 EDT = 15:00 GMT = 16:00 BST)
1. MD sf: Fisher/Phillips v BJÖRKMAN/MIRNYI [2]
(not before 13:30) 2. WS sf: JELENA JANKOVIC [19] v JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE [2]
(not before 15:30) 3. WS sf: MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [1]

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

--
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
Sep 9th, 2006, 09:52 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://www.usopen.org/ (http://www.usopen.org/)
Photos & videos
---------------

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=467 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=467) (and 468)
http://www.usopen.org/en_US/players/wtas961.html (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/players/wtas961.html)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/5329434.stm (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/5329434.stm)
http://www.tennis.info/US6.html (http://www.tennis.info/US6.html) (Semifinals)
Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

It's great to see Maria so full of joy.

Videos (match & interview):
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=221386&page=85 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=221386&page=85)

-----------
Semi-finals (Friday 8th September)
-----------

What a fantastic result!
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. AMÉLIE MAURESMO [1], 6-0 4-6 6-0

For my second-favourite player of all time to hang a double bagel on my least-favourite active player - oh now, that was SWEEET!

It was the first-ever double bagel in a women's US Open semi-final in the Open Era.

It's an emotional time for me, just to have Maria in another Grand Slam final after five semi-final losses and some serious injury-problems since her 'Cindarella' run to the Wimbledon title over two years ago. 'Semipova' no more! :D

Maria handles windy conditions much better this year! :)

www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com/):
>>>
Having lost her last five Grand Slam semifinals and staring down an 0-3 career record against this final four opponent, Maria Sharapova knew she was going to have to conjure up her very best tennis; that she did, firing groundstrokes into the corners and blasting big first serves, and aside from a late second set hiccup, she totally dominated Amélie Mauresmo, running away with a 60 46 60 win to reach the 2006 US Open final.

Sharapova was impeccable in the first set, losing just 10 points and blasting crosscourts and down-the-lines off both wings that forced numerous errors off her opponent's racquet. The set was done in 24 minutes.

Mauresmo began hanging tough with Sharapova in the second set; the two held their serves relatively easily through the first nine games, until the last game, where Sharapova fell behind, 15-40. Mauresmo squandered two set points which, incidentally, were her first break points of the match, with consecutive forehand errors, one into the net and one several feet long; but on the third, she finally hit the mark on that wing, blasting an inside-out after a long rally that shot through the court, and out of the Russian's reach.

Sharapova quickly reconjured her early form in the deciding set. This time, she took 25 minutes, one minute longer that the first, but gave only seven points to her opponent. It was the former No.1's third win over a reigning No.1, having notched two wins over Lindsay Davenport in 2005, at Tokyo [Pan Pacific] and the season-ending Championships.
<<<

Erin Gell for www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/):
>>>
The towering teen's best weapon was her confidence right out of the gate. The Russian blazed through the first set with machine-like precision, grunting through her giant groundstrokes. It took just 24 minutes for Sharapova to close out the set 6-0.

Mauresmo just barely swiped the second set thanks to a few minor errors from Sharapova, and a lot of luck. When she held her serve for the first time, Mauresmo reacted with a skip and a fist pump so jubilant, one might think she'd just put away the entire match. Though the score remained on-serve, Sharapova was winning her games easily, while Mauresmo had to battle just to hang onto her serve. Finally, at 5-4 she took a break chance, and it couldn't have come at a better time. She would have the opportunity to come back in a third set.

Yet, Mauresmo was out of steam. The final set may have had the crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium wondering if they were experiencing déjŕ-vu when it turned into a virtual copy of the first. Sharapova was on fire, and you could almost predict her winners before the ball even hit the ground purely from the volume of her grunting. Six games later, the touted Russian clinched her first-ever victory against the Frenchwoman.
<<<

Matt Cronin for www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/):
>>>
Sharapova busted her five straight Grand Slam semifinal jinx in resounding fashion when she out-stroked and out-thought No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo, 6-0, 4-6, 6-0, <snip>

But on Saturday against Mauresmo, she played a far cleaner contest, keeping her groundstrokes deep, serving intelligently and whipping passing shots past the athletic Frenchwoman.
<snip>
Sharapova started extremely strong, not allowing Mauresmo to mix and match, and bullying her foe's forehand.

Mauresmo appeared to gain control of the match when she broke Sharapova with a forehand down-the-line winner to win the second set, 6-4.

But after Mauresmo was broken to open the third set on a forehand error, her wheels quickly came off. All Sharapova had to do was play consistently, as the Frenchwoman finished the match with an ugly 38 unforced errors.

In the Wimbledon semis, Mauresmo controlled the netcords and was able to keep Sharapova guessing. But she failed to keep her approach shots deep, and the Russian frequently sent balls roaring past her.
<<<

Howard Fendrich (Associated Press): "Punctuating nearly every powerful stroke with high-pitched shouts - her 'Aaah!' or 'Whoo!' so loud at times that spectators snickered - Sharapova dictated the pace from the baseline and kept Mauresmo away from the net by whipping passing shots at will."


Piers Newbery's game-by-game comments for BBC Sport:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/5325988.stm (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/5325988.stm)


Mauresmo won the toss and elected to serve. The match started at 16:02 EDT on Arthur Ashe Court. I followed live scores at www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/), and listened to their online radio-commentary.

Here are my comments as I wrote them at the time:


First Set:
SHARAPO @*@*@* 6
MAURESM ______ 0

Mauresmo serving 0-0: 0/15. Mauresmo came into the net, forcing Maria to net a backhand. 15/15. Mauresmo netted a forehand; "mini fist-pump" by Maria. 15/30. Mauresmo running forehand winner down the line. 30/30. Mauresmo netted. 30/40 (BP). Maria netted a return off a body-jamming serve. 40/40. Double fault. Ad Maria (BP #2). A long rally ended with Mauresmo hitting a backhand long to give first blood to Maria!

C'mon Maria, let's win this quickly!

Maria serving 1-0: Mauresmo sliced backhand long. 15/0. Mauresmo framed a backhand return. 30/0. Mauresmo forehand winner down the line. 30/15. Maria at the net forced Mauresmo into error. 40/15. Maria attempted a dropshot from the baseline, netting it. 40/30. Mauresmo return long.

The commentators said that Maria finds Mauresmo difficult to play because she's not used to opponents with that amount of spin, and she doesn't move as well, or have as much stamina, as the other top players.

But they said the surface may favour Maria more than Wimbledon or the WTA Tour Championships, because the ball sits up better for Maria on Decoturf, so Mauresmo's slice is less effective.

Mauresmo serving 0-2: Maria inside-out forehand winner. 0/15. She tried the same again but netted. 15/15. Mauresmo forehand long. 15/30. Maria crosscourt backhand winner. 15/40 (2 BPs). Mauresmo netted.

I'm enjoying following this match much more than I thought I would! I can hear Maria grunting, and even Mauresmo's grunt doesn't sound as objectionable as it does on TV or in person.

Maria serving 3-0: Maria forehand wide. 0/15. Maria pass-winner, off a pretty deep approach, too! 15/15. Mauresmo long. 30/15. Mauresmo forehand error. 40/15. Maria netted (forced by Mauresmo at net). 40/30. Mauresmo forehand wide - "lousy shot".

The commentators suggested that Maria might be continuing to play as a Russian just to please her parents, who are proud Russians. They said next year may reveal Maria's true colours, as she'll have to either play Fed Cup or forfeit her Olympic-eligibility.

Mauresmo serving 0-4: 15/0, 15/15. Mauresmo netted a volley. 15/30. Double fault. 15/40 (2 BPs). Maria forehand winner to go three breaks up!

It would be so cool if Maria could dish out her first double bagel for four years against my least-favourite player on the tour right now!

Maria serving for the first set at 5-0: Mauresmo netted an easy forehand off a floater from Maria. 15/0. Maria forehand long. 15/15. Mauresmo long. 30/15. Maria "stab-volley" winner. 40/15 (2 SPs). Mauresmo long. Maria won the first set 6-0 at 16:26 (24 minutes).

Wow! I guess the only explanation for this scoreline is that Maria is so hungry and focused after her previous losses to Mauresmo and in semi-finals, while Mauresmo must be in her passive mode right now.

If Maria could just get to the final, she'd have a great chance against Justine Henin-Hardenne, who struggled against health-problems and Jelena Jankovic in the other semi-final.


Second Set:
SHARAPO _* * * *__ 4
MAURESM * * * * *@ 6

Mauresmo serving 0-0: Maria swing-volley wide (the sun was in her eyes). 15/0. Maria netted a crosscourt forehand. 30/0, 40/0. Maria netted a backhand.

Aww, no whitewash! :(

Maria can't afford to get complacent (as she did against Elena Likhovtseva in the third round at the start of the second set), even now.

Maria serving 0-1: Mauresmo long. 15/0. Double fault. 15/15. Mauresmo missed yet another forehand. 30/15. Maria long. 30/30. Mauresmo long. 40/30. Mauresmo sliced backhand into the net.

"Mauresmo struggling to find her high level, Sharapova taking care of business."

Mauresmo "not working the points" today, can't figure out how to solve a problem like Maria. :)

Mauresmo serving 1-1: Mauresmo netted backhand-slice approach. 0/15. Maria crosscourt forehand winner. 0/30. Maria backhand wide. 15/30. Maria netted a return. 30/30. Ace down the middle (111mph). 40/30. Double fault - "Mauresmo very deliberate". 40/40. Maria missed a forehand. Ad Mauresmo. Maria forehand pass-winner. Deuce #2. Maria netted a backhand. Ad Mauresmo. Maria netted a forehand return.

But suddenly Mauresmo is working the points a lot better, with much better approaches to the net, rather than the wild approaches of the first set.

Maria serving 1-2: Maria swing-volley winner. 15/0. Maria backhand error. 15/15. Mauresmo missed a forehand return. 30/15. Maria "huge" crosscourt forehand winner - "terrific angle". 40/15. Mauresmo netted.

Mauresmo serving 2-2: Mauresmo forehand into the net. 0/15, 15/15. Mauresmo forehand winner down the line - just her fourth winner of the match! 30/15. Mauresmo backhand "too strong" for Maria. 40/15. Mauresmo missed a volley. 40/30. Maria netted.

Maria serving 2-3: Mauresmo backhand lob "too strong" for Maria. 0/15. Mauresmo long. 15/15. Mauresmo hit a return into the bottom of the net. 30/15, 40/15. Maria forehand winner.

Mauresmo serving 3-3: 15/0. Maria crosscourt forehand pass-winner on the run - "tremendous movement"! 15/15. Maria backhand long. 30/15. Mauresmo netted an overhead off a lob from Maria. 30/30, 40/30. Maria return wide.

My nerves are mounting with the scoreline, as I start to envisage "AMÉLIE MAURESMO [1] d. MARIA SHARAPOVA [3], 0-6 ..."

Maria serving 3-4: 30/0. Maria backhand long - "playing too carefully" in the wind. 30/15. Maria long again as Mauresmo swept her around the court. 30/30. Maria forehand winner down the line. 40/30. Mauresmo long.

An important hold for Maria, otherwise Mauresmo would have been serving for the second set at 5-3.

Mauresmo serving 4-4: 15/0. Maria netted a backhand after being in control of the point - Mauresmo's retrieving is getting to her, I think. 30/0. Maria crosscourt forehand virtual winner. 30/15. Maria netted a forehand. 40/15. Maria backhand wide.

Maria serving to stay in the second set at 4-5: Maria forehand long. 0/15. Mauresmo volley-winner - Maria pass too high. 0/30. Mauresmo wide. 15/30. Maria netted a forehand. 15/40 (2 SPs). Mauresmo netted a forehand. 30/40 (SP #2). Mauresmo framed a forehand, and it flew out. 40/40. Maria forehand error. Ad Mauresmo (SP #3). After a long, loud rally, Mauresmo hit a forehand winner to win the second set 6-4 at 17:12 (46m). Maria took a bathroom-break.

Here we go again. Can Maria finish it off in the third, and finally get past the semi-finals? My nerves can hardly take this after Maria won the first set 6-0. And Mauresmo retains the advantage of serving first, that served her so well in that second set...

The commentators are picking Mauresmo to win the third set, expecting Maria to lose focus while Mauresmo has been much stronger mentally this year.

I feel like my insides are being churned up with an egg-whisk.


Third Set:
SHARAPO @*@*@* 6
MAURESM ______ 0

Mauresmo serving 0-0: Mauresmo "drove a forehand through Maria's backhand side". 15/0. Maria return very long. 30/0. Maria forehand pass-winner down the line. 30/15. Mauresmo backhand long. 30/30. Maria backhand winner down the line. 30/40 (BP). Mauresmo netted a forehand.

YES!! Maria had no break-points in the second set. Please serve this out, Maria!

Maria serving 1-0: Mauresmo framed a backhand. 15/0. Mauresmo netted a backhand return. 30/0. Maria let a lob bounce... and buried it into the net! 30/15. Maria hard crosscourt backhand winner. 40/15. Mauresmo missed a return.

Mauresmo serving 0-2: 0/30. Mauresmo backhand into the net. 0/40 (3 BPs), 15/40, broken. The radio-coverage keeps cutting out now! :mad: But this scoreline is SWEEET!! :D

"Mauresmo's going to have to raise her level significantly here, because Sharapova's on the ball."

Maria serving 3-0: Maria netted a backhand. 0/15. Mauresmo backhand winner down the line. 0/30. Ace down the middle (112mph). 15/30. Mauresmo netted a forehand off a good one from Maria. 30/30. Maria crosscourt backhand winner. 40/30. Maria hit a shot that Mauresmo "couldn't dig out".

A vital game for Maria to hold. At 0/30, I must admit my confidence in winning this match got rather fragile!

Mauresmo serving 0-4: Double fault. 0/15. Mauresmo rushed a forehand long. 0/30. Mauresmo backhand long. 0/40 (3 BPs). Mauresmo forehand long.

"Maria's going to feel extremely pretty if she can throw a couple of bagels around Mauresmo's neck!"

OMG!!! Please don't choke now!!!

Maria serving for the match at 5-0: Double fault. 0/15. Mauresmo backhand long. 15/15. Maria forehand "too powerful". 30/15. Mauresmo forehand long. 40/15 (2 MPs). Maria hit a backhand winner, then threw up her arms and looked up to the sky! Maria won 6-0 4-6 6-0 at 17:38! (third set 26m, match 1h36m).

Maria was interviewed on court, but it was completely inaudible to me apart from little bits like "second set".


Statistics
----------

Maria had a negative W:UE ratio of 20:24 (second set 8:15), while Mauresmo's was a disastrous 10:38.

Maria got 78% of her first serves in, winning 69% of the points when she did so, and 64% on second serve (Mauresmo 66%, 55% and 32%). In the second set, Mauresmo's percentages were altogether higher, while Maria's second-serve percentage dropped to 40%.

They served one ace each; Maria committed 2 double faults, Mauresmo 4.

Although Maria hit the fastest serve of the match (112mph - Mauresmo 111mph), Mauresmo served faster than Maria on average (first serve 102-96 mph, second serve 88-85 mph).

Maria broke 6 times from 8 break-points, while Mauresmo broke once from 3 BPs (all of which occurred in the last game of the second set).

Mauresmo won 11 of 19 points at the net, but Maria was more selective and successful, winning 6 of 8.

In points, Maria won 77-50 (first set 25-10, second 28-33, third 24-7).


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

"I thought I played really smart, and I took my chances. I wasn't making errors at the wrong times. I put pressure on her. I served quite solid, and had a good percentage of first serves.

"I came up with some pretty good passing shots at the right times. That's important. I'm sure it made her think a little bit the next time she wanted to come in. I've been working on my passing shots for the last three weeks, so I knew that I was definitely ready to play someone that was coming into the net. I was ready for that.

"I started off the match really well. Against someone like her, you can't get off to a slow start. I thought it was important to let her know early on - from the beginning of the match - that I was going to be strong.

"It was important to start off well, put that pressure on her from the beginning - let her know that I'm gonna be strong from the beginning. And I did. I got off to a really good start, and took advantage of that.

"My level dropped a little bit [in the second set]; I wasn't hitting the ball as deep as I was in the first. Even though I was able to hold until that last game of the second set, I didn't feel like I was playing the same level I was. But I knew it wasn't over. I didn't play a bad set. She just played a really good game to beat me.

"It was definitely tough to get broken that last game of the second set. She just played some good tennis. But I hung in there. I came off, took a little break and just thought to myself that it's not over until it's over. I was still playing good tennis, and I knew that I could win it.

"I'm not done yet. (At the end of the second set) I went to change, I just thought, 'It's all right. It's one set all. You haven't lost the match yet. Now it's equal.' So I just kept going.

"If I beat her 6-0 in the first, I could do it again. There was no doubt in my mind."

[Re. the semi-final jinx]
"Doesn't mean anything to me. I've said it a million times."

[Re. Jelena Jankovic's semi-final choke]
"It's a new thing for her. I don't think she's had that much experience."

The slogan on the tee-shirt that she wore after the match:
"I feel pretty when I grunt."


Mauresmo quotes
---------------

"I was maybe a little tired, but there was nothing specific. I think the difference today was that she made fewer unforced errors; I made the errors. I didn't feel very [good] throughout the match, maybe not thinking so good, not lucid.

"All the credit to her, she played a good match. I didn't play the way I wanted to today. Even when I won the second set, I didn't feel like things were going the way I wanted them to. But that's the way it is. The conditions weren't so good today, either. She handled them much better than I did."

[Re. Maria's grunting]
"You hear it much more when you watch the match than when you play against her. I mean, I just totally don't pay attention to that."

-------------
Final preview
-------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] v JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE [2] (DAVAI MARIA!!)

Maria may be 1-4 head-to-head with Henin, but Maria comes into this match with confidence bordering on arrogance, while Henin comes into it struggling with back- and rib-injuries. I hope it doesn't end with Henin retiring, whereupon the haters of both players would have a field-day! ;)

But we must not underestimate Henin's miraculous powers of recovery. At the US Open 2003, she had to be put on an intravenous drip after her 4-6 7-5 7-6 semi-final win over Jennifer Capriati, but she stung top seed Kim Clijsters 7-5 6-1 in the final the next day.

And at the French Open 2005, I was so sure that Henin would be exhausted after her marathon 7-6 4-6 7-5 over Svetlana Kuznetsova in over three hours on Monday, that I thought she would be a sitting duck for Maria in the quarter-finals on Tuesday. But Henin beat Maria 6-4 6-2.

Henin is the one player on the WTA Tour who is possibly stronger mentally than Maria at this point. Henin can "see fear" in her opponents' eyes as they try to close out matches against her, and can then recover from any scoreline-deficit by keeping a cool head and playing one point at a time.

Henin saved match-points in the aforementioned win over Kuznetsova, she recovered from Jelena Jankovic serving at 6-4 4-2 (40/30) in the semi-finals yesterday, and Maria herself has had difficulties closing out matches against Henin in the past.

The exhibition-tournament at Ciney, Belgium in December 2003 doesn't count towards official records. In the final, Maria had EIGHT match-points, but Henin won 1-6 7-6 (14/12) 7-6 (7/5). And Maria had beaten Mauresmo 6-1 1-6 7-5 in the semi-finals!

On the fast hard court of Miami 2005 (Henin's first tournament since the US Open 2004), Maria hit through Henin 6-1 6-7 6-2, but in the second set she blew a lead of *4-1 and *5-4 (40/0) - three match-points on her own serve.

Henin beat Maria 6-2 6-4 at Berlin 2005, and 6-4 6-2 at the French Open 2005, but then Henin completely dominated that claycourt-season, while clay is Maria's worst surface as it is much harder to put the ball away for a winner.

More worrying was Maria's 4-6 6-1 6-4 loss to Henin in the Australian Open 2006 semi-finals, although Maria came into the tournament with no match-play due to the shoulder-injury that had restricted her to just five tournaments since Wimbledon 2005.

And Henin beat her again in the Dubai final in February, 7-5 6-2 after Maria had led 5-3 in the first set - Maria had had to play both her quarter-final and semi-final the day before, and we know how easily she succumbs to fatigue.

Fatigue may be a factor for Maria in the US Open final, just 26 hours after her three-setter against Mauresmo, albeit a short 1h36m three-setter.

Henin also played a three-set semi-final, but it finished before Maria's started, giving Henin more time to recover; however, Henin has to recover from her injuries, whereas Maria is presumably injury-free and just has to recover from fatigue. I just hope that Maria can win the final on adrenaline before the fatigue kicks in.

Henin has reached the final of every Grand Slam this year, winning the French Open. Since Wimbledon, she's been sidelined with a right-knee injury, but then she stormed to the New Haven title for the loss of 17 games, beating Svetlana Kuznetsova and an injured Lindsay Davenport back to back.

Their routes to the final:

MARIA SHARAPOVA [3]:
1r + Michaëlla Krajícek, 6-3 6-0
2r + Emilie Loit, 6-0 6-1
3r + ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA [32], 6-3 6-2
4r + LI,NA [24], 6-4 6-2
qf + TATIANA GOLOVIN [27], 7-6 7-6
sf + AMÉLIE MAURESMO [1], 6-0 4-6 6-0

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE [2]:
1r + Maria Elena Camerin, 6-2 6-1
2r + Vania King, 6-1 6-2
3r + SUGIYAMA,AI [28], 4-6 6-1 6-0
4r + SHAHAR PEER [21], 6-1 6-0
qf + LINDSAY DAVENPORT [10], 6-4 6-4
sf + JELENA JANKOVIC [19], 4-6 6-4 6-0 (Jankovic led 6-4 4-2 40/30)

www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com/):
>>>
Sharapova reached just her second major final with her semifinal win over Mauresmo. She made a surprising run to the 2004 Wimbledon final, then capped a dream fortnight with a comprehensive straight set victory over Serena Williams for her first major title.

Between that fortnight and this one, she reached five major semifinals but fell each time, mostly in three sets (the lone exception was a straight set loss to Venus Williams at 2005 Wimbledon) and mostly to the eventual champion (lone exception was three set loss to Henin-Hardenne at this year's Australian Open).

Among the Russian's motivations on Saturday is a US Open Series pay-off; by finishing in second place in the US Open Series' Lever 2000 Challenge Standings, she will take home a bonus cheque of $500,000 with a title and $250,000 with a runner-up finish (additional to her regular earnings).
<<<

Matt Cronin for www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/):
>>>
Right off the bat, I'm going to stick with my pre-tournament pick to win the event, Maria Sharapova. But she's going to have to fight like hell and play as smart and consistently as she did in thumping Amelie Mauresmo in the semis. Sharapova has matured a great deal this summer, and as Mauresmo found out, it's not that easy to get the 19-year-old tripping all over herself in long rallies any more. Sharapova is serving more intelligently, standing her ground in the mid-court area, lacing her groundstrokes on the run and not playing herself out of points early.

But Justine Henin-Hardenne owns a 4-1 edge over her going into this match, including a tremendous three-set win in the Aussie Open semis and a straight-sets win over her in the Dubai final. In some way, she's the player that Sharapova fears the most because she's super quick, hits extremely hard and is one of the most determined fighters the tour has seen this century.

But Henin-Hardenne's back hurts, which means she won't be able to crack her serve and she'll likely lose some pace on her groundstrokes. You have to be able to keep your groundstrokes deep if you are going to push Sharapova around and make her doubt her shots, and Henin-Hardenne didn't show in her three-set win over Jelena Jankovic that she will be able to do that, given her current physical condition. Henin pulled off a miracle in her 2003 title run here, returning to the court less than a day later after an exhausting three-set win over Jennifer Capriati (where she had to take an IV) and then stinging Kim Clijsters for the title, but she's not as physically strong as she was then. Sharapova has kept her nose to the grindstone all year long and is not only feeling pretty but very confident that she's playing well enough to be able to beat anyone for her second Slam title. Sharapova will triumph in a terrific three-setter.
<<<

Another expert, Mark Preston, also picked Maria in three, but the poll at www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com/) is very even: at the time of writing, 50% of voters have said that Maria will win, although only 15% have said that she will do so in straight sets.

My own conclusion is that Henin's back- and/or rib-injury will prevent her from derailing an on-form Maria in the final. Henin will at best be playing through pain which is expected to restrict her serve and quite possibly her groundstrokes too. Maria will rise to the occasion, and will triumph in straight sets - hopefully without a Henin retirement to devalue her second Grand Slam title.


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

"I am thrilled to be in the final. The Open is all about the night matches.

"I had a terrible record against Amélie, and that ended today. I have a terrible record against Justine, so I hope that's a good luck charm at the Open.

"She's a different opponent, and it's the finals. I don't remember how I felt physically going into the previous matches. It's gonna be a new day, but knowing that I've played six matches and that I feel physically good, it definitely gives me the confidence that I can go out and beat her. Even without that, even if I wasn't feeling, I would still be in the final, still be excited about the opportunity.

"I hadn't beaten Amélie in a competition match before. I beat her today. I don't have a great record with Justine; it doesn't really matter. It's a new match, a new opportunity. I know I've definitely beaten her before, and I know I've done it, and I know that I'm playing good tennis and I'm confident. I'm looking forward to beating her again."


Henin-Hardenne quotes
---------------------

"I came back from nowhere today. I feel lucky to be in the final.

"It's going to be a tough match. I'm happy it's going to be tomorrow night. It gives me more time to recover.

"Sharapova, she's still looking for her second Grand Slam title. She will have a lot of motivation."

[Re. her back-injury]
"It's been pretty painful the last few days. I couldn't serve a lot during practice. I just have to keep fighting. It's not easy to play with the pain. But I think every athlete has to deal with a little bit of pain at the end of a Grand Slam. It's tough, but I have to deal with it. I have no choice. It has to get better till tomorrow. So we'll see. I'm sure it's gonna be fine."


Henin-Hardenne can regain the #1 ranking from Mauresmo by winning the final. Maria will move up to #3 regardless of what happens.

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

Arthur Ashe Court (start 12:00 EDT = 16:00 GMT = 17:00 BST)
1. MS sf: ROGER FEDERER [1] v NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO [7]
(15:00 EDT) 2. MS sf: ANDY RODDICK [9] v Mikhail Youzhny
|
Evening session (start 19:00 EDT = 23:00 GMT = 24:00 BST)
3. WS f: MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] v JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE [2]
4. XD f: Peschke/Damm v NAVRÁTILOVÁ/BRYAN [5]

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

--
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
Sep 12th, 2006, 10:06 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://www.usopen.org/ (http://www.usopen.org/)

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://geocities.com/andrewbroad/music/bowie/), "New York's In Love" - a prophecy from 1987!]

---------------
Photos & videos
---------------

Photos:
http://www.usopen.org/en_US/players/wtas961.html (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/players/wtas961.html)
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=468 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=468) (to 474)
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/ (http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/) (US Open Week 2)
http://www.tennis.info/US6.html (http://www.tennis.info/US6.html) ("Finals" and "Players off-court")
Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

Videos:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=221386&page=86 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=221386&page=86) (to 89)

-----
Final (Saturday 9th September)
-----

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE [2], 6-4 6-4

Maria made a very nervous start, squandering two break-points at 15/40 in the first game of the match, and two game-points on her own serve before being broken for 0-2.

But, like all great champions, she broke back immediately with the help of a one-handed backhand half-volley dropshot-winner - who says she's one-dimensional?

Maria never had to face another break-point in the match, as she broke Henin in the penultimate game of the first set, and again at 3-3 in an increasingly brilliant second set before serving her way magnificently, and without nerves, to her second Grand Slam title.

And although Henin had gone into the final under an injury-cloud, she was full of praise for Maria, rather than blaming her defeat on injury. Maria dominated Henin to the extent that Henin didn't have the confidence to execute her own game-plan: to go to the net.

The TV-ratings in America were the highest for a US Open women's final since the all-Williams final of 2002 (yawn), and the crowd were very pro-Maria.


Allan Kelly (Agence France Presse):
>>>
Maria Sharapova has won the US Open after defeating Justine Henin-Hardenne 6-4 6-4 with a riveting display of power-hitting.

In a tense and tightly-fought contest before a capacity 23,000 crowd at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, Sharapova's greater weight of shot and power-serving proved too much for the speed and counter-attacking skills of the Belgian.
<<<

Paul Malone for the Herald Sun: "Sharapova's big forehand and well-placed serving made Henin-Hardenne, a four-time grand slam finalist this year but winner of only the French Open, appear an outdated model for the first time in a career highlighted by five major titles."

Howard Fendrich for the Associated Press: "First, Sharapova dropped to her knees and covered her face. Then she hopped up and down, giggling - like the teenager she is. Then she tried to climb through the stands to hug her father, Yuri, and hitting partner, Mike Joyce, but got lost, and needed guidance from an usher. When she hoisted the trophy overhead, its lid fell off."

Mark Coultan for the Sydney Morning Herald:
>>>
The only cloud over an emphatic victory was a controversy over apparent coaching from her box. Television caught her hitting partner, Michael Joyce, holding up a banana, and then four fingers.

Sharapova grabbed a banana and appeared to signal back to him. He then gave her another hand signal. It was not the first time in this tournament Sharapova had seemed to get instructions from off-court. In a previous match, her father, Yuri, was seen raising a banana, which she then found in her bag and ate.
<<<

I'm sure this kind of thing happens all the time in competitive tennis. It's not fair to Maria that it be magnified and scrutinised. Sometimes she's so focused on the match that she forgets to eat and drink as much as she should.

Piers Newbery's game-by-game updates:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/5329512.stm (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/5329512.stm)


My match-report
---------------

No, I didn't get to watch the final myself. I realise that this is sad, but it's not my fault that the US Open is no longer freely available on UK television, unlike the other three Grand Slams. So I followed live scores at www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/), and listened to their online radio-commentary.

Maria won the toss and elected to receive. The match started at 20:20 EDT on Arthur Ashe Court.

Here are my comments as I wrote them at the time:


First Set:
SHARA __@* * *@* 6
HENIN *@__* *___ 4

Henin serving 0-0: Henin backhand long. 0/15. Henin crosscourt backhand winner. 15/15. Henin mishit forehand hit the back wall on the full! 15/30. Henin backhand long. 15/40 (2 BPs). Henin crosscourt backhand winner. 30/40. Maria forehand long. 40/40. Ace down the middle (116mph). Ad Henin. Maria backhand long.

What a waste of two break-points. :( Henin's back must be feeling pretty good right now if she can serve at 116mph - faster than Maria's fastest this tournament!

The commentators said Maria needs to stand further in to return Henin's second serve - she was standing behind the baseline.

Maria serving 0-1: Henin return into the bottom of the net off a body-jamming serve. 15/0. Maria netted a forehand. 15/15. Double fault. 15/30. Henin netted a backhand dropshot off a forceful shot from Maria. 30/30. Henin netted a forehand. 40/30. Double fault (possibly distracted by noise from the crowd). 40/40. Henin netted a backhand. Ad Maria. Maria netted a backhand. Deuce #2. Henin nailed a crosscourt forehand winner. Ad Henin (BP). Henin crosscourt pass-winner - broken.

A sloppy game from Maria. It happens so often when a player has squandered break-points in the previous game, but it's disappointing when it happens to a player of Maria's calibre! :(

It sounds like Maria lacks penetration at the moment, which for me is the difference between a good Sharapova-performance and a bad one.

Henin serving 2-0: Double fault. 0/15. Henin forehand long. 0/30. Maria netted a backhand return off a body-jamming serve. 15/30. Maria long. 30/30. Maria one-handed backhand swing-volley half-volley winner. 30/40 (BP). Henin forehand long - broken back!

Maria serving 1-2: Foot-fault; Henin forehand long. 15/0. Henin backhand return wide. 30/0. Service-winner down the middle (111mph). 40/0. Henin hit a shot which Maria thought was long; she stopped playing the point, but didn't challenge. 40/15. Maria crosscourt forehand wide. 40/30. Henin netted a backhand return.

The difference: Maria getting some cheap points off her serve now.

Henin serving 2-2: Maria forehand wide. 15/0. Maria's shot floats out. 30/0. Maria netted a return. 40/0. Maria netted a forehand volley.

Henin very pumped up; three "allez!" so far.

Maria serving 2-3: Maria backhand volley-winner into the corner. 15/0. Ace (108mph). 30/0. Maria hit a terrific 111mph serve... and netted a backhand. 30/15. Henin crosscourt forehand winner. 30/30. Maria netcord-winner. 40/30. Maria netted another backhand. 40/40. Henin error. Ad Maria. Henin netted a forehand.

An unconvincing hold. Maria's going to be in big trouble if her one-two punch is going to break down, because so many points are won that way in modern tennis.

Henin serving 3-3: Henin long & wide (forced by Maria's power). 0/15. Service-winner (108mph). 15/15. Henin crosscourt backhand winner. 30/15. Henin ripped her fourth backhand winner. 40/15. Maria netted a backhand (Henin at net).

This is not what I was hoping for, or expected at 15/40 in the very first game! :( The question in my mind is: when is Henin's pain going to increase?

Maria serving 3-4: Ace (108mph). 15/0. Henin mishit return. 30/0. Maria crosscourt forehand winner - so confident on that side now, running Henin all over the court! :) 40/0. Held to love.

Henin serving 4-4: Henin netted a backhand off a forehand return from Maria. 0/15. Henin netted an easy backhand. 0/30. Henin body-jamming service-winner. 15/30. Henin netted a forehand. 15/40 (2 BPs). Maria backhand lob just long. 30/40. Henin netted a sliced backhand - broken!

YES!! For the love of God, Maria, please hold now!!

Henin not serving as fast now as she was at the start - is her back hurting more?

Maria serving for the first set at 5-4: Maria inside-out forehand winner (one-two punch). 15/0. Maria netted a backhand volley? 15/15. Maria waited an age for a Henin lob to bounce, and hit a smash-winner. 30/15. Maria forehand wide. 30/30. Maria hit an error-forcing forehand down the line; Henin ballooned a backhand into the crowd. 40/30 (SP). Henin mishit forehand return. Maria won the first set 6-4 at 21:05 (45m).

YES!!! Henin came back from Maria winning the first set 6-4 at the Australian Open, but it's going to be very difficult for Henin to come back from this if she's in pain! :D

My main concern now is for Maria to finish it off quickly in the second so that I can get more than five hours' sleep. It's after 2am in England!


Second Set:
SHARA _* * *@* * 6
HENIN * * *___*_ 4

Henin serving 0-0: Maria forehand wide after a 10-stroke rally (among the longest of the match). 15/0. Henin running crosscourt forehand winner. 30/0. Service-winner. 40/0. Henin mishit long. 40/15. Henin netted an easy forehand, due to poor footwork. 40/30. Maria forehand error.

Henin's not moving Maria around the court enough.

Maria serving 0-1: Loss of radio-coverage. 30/0. Double fault. 30/15. Henin forehand into the bottom of the net - not a happy bunny right now. 40/15. Double fault. 40/30. Henin netted a forehand return off a kick-serve down the middle.

Henin serving 1-1: Henin long. 0/15. Maria netted a return. 15/15. Body-jamming service-winner. 30/15. Maria wide. 40/15. Maria forehand return "too strong" - I hate the way these commentators say that to mean an error!

Henin only getting 54% of first serves in (Maria 70%).

Maria serving 1-2: Loss of radio-coverage (Maria hit a drop-volley winner on the first point). 30/0. Henin framed a backhand. 40/0. Maria netted a dropshot after a long, hard-hitting rally. 40/15. Maria forehand pass-winner.

Maria's passing-shots are getting a good workout these last two matches! :)

Henin serving 2-2: A long rally with net-play and good athleticism from both players ended with Maria backhand long. 15/0. Maria crosscourt forehand winner into the corner. 15/15. Maria netted. 30/15. Maria hit a lunging backhand into the net. 40/15. Service-winner?

It sounds like Maria's been the stronger player since midway through the first set, with Henin struggling with her back-injury, so when can we expect a break? Both players holding reliably so far this set - no break-points.

Maria serving 2-3: Maria netted (poor footwork). 0/15. Service-winner out wide (111mph). 15/15. Henin went for a big forehand pass down the line, but it was wide; Maria pumped her fist. 30/15. Maria hit a deep, hard, error-forcing backhand. 40/15. Maria error. 40/30. Maria missed a forehand at the end of the "point of the match": a long rally with lots of shots being "dug out". 40/40. Ace down the middle (114mph). Ad Maria. Maria easy forehand long. Deuce #2. Ace out wide (101mph with slice). Ad Maria. Henin long.

What a vital game! If Maria goes on to win this set, she might well have lost it if Henin had made that pass at 15/15!

Henin serving 3-3: Maria missed a running forehand. 15/0. Henin backhand wide. 15/15. Service-winner down the middle. 30/15, 40/15. Henin backhand long. 40/30. Double fault. 40/40. Henin netted. Ad Maria (BP). Second serve. Maria netted a forehand. Deuce #2. Henin sloppy forehand long. Ad Maria (BP #2). Henin forehand error.

Maria got away with 40/15 to 40/40 in the previous game, but Henin broken from 40/15 up! I'm trembling with excitement with Maria a set and a break up for her second Grand Slam title!! Please hold here, and don't choke! OMG, my teeth are chattering!

Far more forced errors than unforced in this match.

Maria serving 4-3: Henin netted a running backhand. 15/0. Henin netted a sliced backhand, and Maria said "c'mon". 30/0. Henin backhand wide. 40/0. Henin swang and missed a return.

Now Maria has what Jelena Jankovic didn't have in the semis: a 6-4 5-3 lead. Once you reach five, you're in business.

Henin serving to stay in the match at 3-5: Maria forehand just clipped the corner for a winner - she hit two lines in that rally! 0/15. Henin forehand winner down the line, on the line. 15/15. Maria netted a backhand - going for too much, her first substantial error for a few games. 30/15. Maria backhand error. 40/15. Henin winner caught the sideline.

If Maria was feeling anything like me in that last game, she lost it due to overexcitement! Now the pressure is on as she serves for it at 5-4, as she did successfully in the Wimbledon 2004 final.

Maria serving for the match at 5-4: Maria dug out a big return from Henin, but with an anxious grunt, she hit a backhand long. 0/15. Henin netted a forehand return - loud "c'mon!" from Maria! 15/15. Maria inside-out forehand winner. 30/15. Henin netted a backhand - "C'MON!" yelled Maria! 40/15 (2 CPs: CP #1). First serve into the net. Henin hit a forehand return; Maria a backhand; Henin netted a forehand, and Maria fell to the ground in celebration. Maria won the US Open 6-4 6-4 at 21:51! (second set 46m, match 1h31m)


My reaction
-----------

It's been such a long time since I've been this happy, I thought I was no longer capable of feeling such joy! The double bagel against Mauresmo in the semis doesn't even come close to how I feel now! :D

No longer do I have to worry about Maria being labelled a one-Slam wonder. Banished is the nagging voice inside my head that kept saying: "Isn't it a shame that she won one at 17 but never won another, like Michael Chang and no other?"

With Maria's amazing combination of focus, determination, mental toughness and shotmaking ability, it was only a matter of time before she became a multiple Grand Slam champion!

It's so sweet that 2006 didn't pass without Maria winning a Grand Slam title.

Nice to be right with my straight-sets prediction too! :)

Her movement is so much better this year, and her forehand (which is her weaker side) seems to have improved since the last time I saw her play - at Wimbledon.


The presentation-ceremony
-------------------------

They interviewed both players on court during the trophy-presentation. Here are their speeches, as good as I could write them down with one hearing, but then enriched by what I later read in the media:

Henin: "It's been a great season for me. I'd like to congratulate Maria. She deserves her victory. The best player won, she really deserved it, and I hope I'll have another chance in the future."

Maria (between giggles):
>>>
Thank you guys! This is an amazing honour, and I'm so happy it's here in New York - in my favourite city in the world, and you lot are the best fans.

I figured I lost the last four times I played Justine, so everything I did in those four matches, I figured I had to flip 360 and do the total opposite, and that is what I did today.

She's had amazing results. I have to congratulate her on an amazing career and reaching all four finals this year.

I love Daddy!

I would like to thank Billie Jean King for being such an amazing woman. Without her, I would not be standing here today. What she's done for our sport, and women, is incredible. I looked up to her as a little girl, so it is a great honour that the Tennis Centre was named after her.

Without Billie Jean, this would not be possible!
<<<

There was a clatter and a "woah!" from the presenter - it sounded like she dropped the trophy! Maria had jumped up and down with such force that she knocked the top off the urn - her 25th unforced error of the evening! ;)


Statistics
----------

Maria hit 20 winners and 24 unforced errors (not including dropping the trophy-lid!), while Henin had a W:UE ratio of 15:19.

Maria got 72% of her first serves in, winning 74% of the points when she did so, and only 50% on second serve (Henin 53%, 66% and 57%). Maria improved her first-serve percentages from the first set to the second, while Henin improved her second-serve percentage.

Maria served 5 aces and 4 double faults, Henin two of each. In fact, Maria served a total of 35 aces during the tournament - the most for any woman.

Henin actually served faster than Maria: fastest 116-114 mph, average first serve 104-101 mph, second serve 92-mph - which is surprising, given that Maria is 6'2" (without high heels!) and obviously has a big serve, while Henin is only 5'5ž".

Maria broke 3 times from 7 break-points, while Henin converted the only break-point she had, which was in Maria's first service-game.

Maria won 8 of 10 points at the net, while Henin won 6 of 7 - I expected the difference to be much bigger from what Henin said in her press-conference (see below).

In points, Maria won 66-58 (first set 33-30, second 33-28).


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

"I didn't really feel nervous. I woke up, I was excited to be in a Grand Slam. I just thought I'd enjoy the moment.

"It is absolutely incredible. When you go down on the ground, you just think of everything you've put into this moment, and even though the moment is a very short time, when you get to be on court with that trophy, it's just so incredible.

"I experienced it two years ago, and I knew that I wasn't done; I had a lot more in me. This is not preparation that happened a couple weeks before the tournament; this is preparation I've done since I was a little girl, with the help of my amazing family.

"This was a new opportunity, and the final of a Grand Slam. So the last thing I was worrying about was the last four times that I lost to her. I didn't worry about what happened in my semifinal when I beat Amélie, either. I was just in a zone.

"After Wimbledon I took a week off, came back to Los Angeles and worked with a fitness-coach for seven days. I probably spent two or three hours a day doing fitness, an hour or so hitting the ball. The week after that, I started playing more tennis. I played twice a day. I played some matches. Did a bit of fitness, just alone, did some things that I took from the week before.

"I went to San Diego, and I moved better than I've moved in my career.

"I'm still pretty shocked, but I'm thrilled that I got to experience another Grand Slam win, and that it's a different Grand Slam. The vibe is a little bit different; there's nothing like winning your first major, but winning your second is pretty sweet. It's kind of like the cherry on the cake. There are a lot more cherries that I'm gonna put on that cake, so I'm looking forward to having them!

"You can't buy a Grand Slam title, you know. You can't buy it. There are people around the world that have billions of dollars, but no matter how much they want a US Open title, the only thing they can do is buy some good tennis rackets, the best trainers and work their butt off. Yeah, this beats any sort of money, any sort of paper."

[Re. signals from her camp]
"Just take the rules away, just think. If someone tells me to eat a banana, do you think that's the reason I won the match? I don't feel like I need to confirm anything. I just won a Grand Slam. The last thing I'm going to talk about is some fingers or a banana, all right? I hope you got that one, thanks.

"I believe at the end of the day, personally, my life is not about a banana. It's not about what I wear. It's not about the friends that I have. I'm sitting here as the US Open champion, a two-time Grand Slam champion, and the last thing I think people need to worry about is a banana.

"We should tell all the players to, you know, have a banana and they're all gonna win. Great.

"I'm thrilled to win my second major, but I'm not done yet, you know. I feel like I'm not done. I still have years to go in my career where I feel like I am going to improve, and I am going to become a better player than I am today.

"But I'm absolutely thrilled, because you don't get to experience these moments every day. That's what you work for every single day, these moments.

[Re. dropping the trophy-lid on her head]
"I thought to myself the second that happened, 'That's typical Maria. Typical.'

"All my friends texted me, saying, 'Typical Maria.' Things like that always happen to me. I'm a goofball. I'm the dork of the group.

"I know it's hard for everyone to hear that I'm a normal girl. I have a career at 19 years old. I've never gone to regular school. I'm not a social bunny. I don't go baby-sitting to make an extra buck.

"At the end of the day, no matter how much money I'm making, what I've done in my career, no matter what cool cars or house I have, I'm still Maria, I'm still a normal girl who still enjoys life.

[Re. seeing herself on billboards]
"I say, 'Oh my God, look, that's me.' It's crazy. It really is crazy. And it's also so unreal every time I go out of my house on Manhattan Beach in California that I own it, that it's mine. Every time that I'm out driving my car, a Land Rover, I can't believe it's mine. I go through the things that I've experienced, and the things that I've achieved in my career, and just think how unreal it's been. It's been a blast."

{Sunday}
"Wimbledon was a shock win for me. I never expected to win a Grand Slam at such a young age. And going onto the court for this one, I felt like I've done it before, and I felt the experience of it. Obviously, they're totally different Grand Slams, but I'm so totally thrilled and honoured that I could win both of them."


Henin-Hardenne quotes
---------------------

[Was her back bothering her again?]
"No, no, no. Was feeling better today. No excuses about anything.

"Maria has been a real fighter tonight, and I have no excuses. The better player won tonight. I tried to keep fighting every point, but she was just the best tonight. She served much better. I couldn't play that long today. I was not aggressive enough. She didn't give me a lot of opportunities. We could feel a lot of difference in her return and my return.

"She played very consistent, served better than she probably did in our last meetings, and took her chances. I mean she had very good shots, and played a lot down the line. I gave her too much time to organise her game - I played too short, and at this level that's not good enough. She was in good shape tonight. It was tough for me.

"I couldn't play that aggressively. She had a lot of time, and she was going for winners. She did come to the net. I didn't. Even when you know you have to do it, it's not always easy. She's been brave tonight, more than me. That made a big difference.

"I never beat the powerful players on my baseline. I have to take my opportunities on court, move forward and take my chances.

"She's played great tennis these last two weeks, and deserves her victory. She's been really strong today, and I just have to accept that.

"Second place is always the most difficult one. It's not a nice feeling, but I will have time to think about this. I just hope I have another chance.

"I had a good couple of weeks. Unfortunately it ends in a way I don't like, but it's been great season for me, and it's not over yet. I couldn't have expected these results. I've been pretty consistent for the whole year. The thing is that I'm still healthy, and I hope I can play a few more tournaments, then the [Sony Ericsson] Championships. That remains one goal of the season.

"I was saying 2006 would be a year of transition. It's the first year since 2003 I've played a whole season. At the end, I'll make conclusions, and see what my plans will be for next year."


Other quotes
------------

Michael Joyce (Maria's hitting-partner): "I think she felt a little pressure. People were talking like she didn't have her Slam. It was just a matter of time. I think she had to prove to herself that she could do it."

Martina Navrátilová: "I have more wrinkles than titles."


==============================================
Maria's Grand Slam and WTA Tour 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
12. Acura Classic (San Diego), WTA Tier I, 6th August 2006
13. US OPEN, Grand Slam, 9th September 2006


===========================
SONY ERICSSON CHAMPIONSHIPS
(Madrid, Spain; indoor hard; WTA season-ending championships)
=========================== (7th-12th November 2006)

By winning the US Open, Maria became the third player to qualify for the field of eight.

Tournament-director Manolo Santana: "Maria's impressive win at the US Open is a defining moment for her as a player, and if she keeps this level, I am sure she will be battling for the title come the final weekend in Madrid."

Race to the Sony Ericsson Championships as of 11th September 2006:
1. JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE (3473 points) - qualified
2. AMÉLIE MAURESMO (2735) - qualified
3. MARIA SHARAPOVA (2727) - qualified
4. Svetlana Kuznetsova (2093) - in line to qualify
5. Kim Clijsters (1860) - in line to qualify
6. Martina Hingis (1719) - in line to qualify
7. Elena Dementieva (1704) - in line to qualify
8. Nadia Petrova (1549) - in line to qualify
9. dinara safina (1363)
10. patty schnyder (1326)
11. nicole vaidišová (1168)
12. anastasia myskina (1000)
13. ana ivanovic (974)
14. jelena jankovic (971)
15. anna-lena grönefeld (898)
16. li,na (801)
17. francesca schiavone (800)
18. shahar peer (775)
19. daniela hantuchová (774)
20. anna chakvetadze (703)
21. flavia pennetta (695)
22. tatiana golovin (661)
23. katarina srebotnik (646)
24. marion bartoli (639)
26. vera zvonarëva (620)
<snip>

Source: http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/rankings/race/singles.asp (http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/rankings/race/singles.asp)


=========================
WTA TOUR SINGLES RANKINGS (as of 11th September 2006)
=========================

1. Amélie Mauresmo (3610 points)
2. Justine Henin-Hardenne (3474)
3. Maria Sharapova (3125)
4. Kim Clijsters (2360)
5. Svetlana Kuznetsova (2168)
6. Elena Dementieva (2027)
7. Nadia Petrova (1996)
8. Patty Schnyder (1793)
9. Martina Hingis (1719)
10. Nicole Vaidišová (1589)
11. Dinara Safina (1541)
12. Lindsay Davenport (1530)
13. Anastasia Myskina (1381)
14. Francesca Schiavone (1278)
15. Ana Ivanovic (1197)
16. Anna-Lena Grönefeld (1168)
17. Jelena Jankovic (1101)
18. Mary Pierce (981)
19. Daniela Hantuchová (910)
20. Flavia Pennetta (897)
21. Li,Na (892.75)
22. Shahar Peer (841)
23. Tatiana Golovin (837)
24. Katarina Srebotnik (820.5)
25. Maria Kirilenko (816)
26. Marion Bartoli (735)
27. Anna Chakvetadze (726)
28. Ai Sugiyama (697.5)
29. Vera Zvonarëva (688)
346. Iroda Tulyaganova (59.5)
629. Jelena Dokic (19)

Source: http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/rankings/singles_numeric.asp (http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/rankings/singles_numeric.asp)

--
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/)

xan
Sep 14th, 2006, 06:39 PM
Great reports as usual.

Thanks a lot.

markspot
Sep 14th, 2006, 08:16 PM
Thank you very very much. Your reports are just awsome.

I am very sorry you were not able to watch Maria on TV.
It cost me a lot of nerves to watch her matches, but also not knowing will I be able to see them or not. So I can imagine.
Fortunately, I was able to see all 7 matches, here in Europe.

It is too late now, but here are the ways you could have watched her
even without Sky Sport, perhaps it may help the next year:

1. Eurosport International is different than British Eurosport and carried most of her matches. The German language version is free-to-air, not scrambled at all, on Astra 19.2 east satellite.
Also French Eurosport (on Hotbird) is hacked, it sometimes shows different matches,
especially if french are playing, more choice. They also tend to stay with the match, not jump from one match to another as Eurosport International sometimes does.

2. Live streaming on the internet.
Eurosport also provided live streaming of 5 courts on the internet, the same courts as Sky Sport interactive: Ashe, Armstrong, Grandstand, court 10, court 11.
But Sky Sport interactive ended their service too early in the evening, when matches were still being played, Eurosport internet streaming - did not.
The quality was not bad: you could see the ball without trouble.
Towards the end of the tournament the number of courts went down, but they showed live stream from the conference room, that was very interesting,
you could see the whole Maria's presser in English, and then half an hour or so in russian (as it happens, I do understand russian quite well, so it was interesting), at least after SF. Also matches on demand available there.
This live streaming and on-demand service (usopen2006.eurosport.com) was available for $10, for the whole tournament, well worth the money, I think.

3. American TV channels CBS and USA Network were broadcasting US Open to American viewers. These channels are available for free here in Europe on the internet,
via p2p tv, for example, by using TVU player (just google it)
The quality, again, is such that it is possible to watch, better than nothing,
Additional advantage: the interviews after the matches on court were carried with good sound quality. I used TVU player just to catch the interviews after the matches.
You can watch also ESPN and ESPN2 with TVU player, they may show some other tournaments.

4. Maria's semifinal and final matches are available on the internet to dowload (bittorrents). Very good quality XviDs, australian broadcasts.
I downloaded them both, even though I already had recording on Europsort International and Sky Sport that I made myself. So you can still watch Masha's matches with Amelie and with Justine, better later than never. Go to www.mininova.org and search for Sharapova

Again, I'm sorry I'm too late with this information, but I just joined the forum today.

xan
Sep 16th, 2006, 11:33 AM
I have to disagree about Justine being troubled by her back in the Final. She didn't show any signs of back trouble throughout the match (and not after set 2 of the semi-final :devil: - as Jankovic noted.) I have the match on video, and have watched it three times now. Justine was hitting hard serves and groundstrokes, and said after the match that it wasn't really troubling her.

andrewbroad
Apr 13th, 2007, 12:07 AM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://2006.usopen.org/ (http://2006.usopen.org/)

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://geocities.com/andrewbroad/music/bowie/), "New York's In Love" - a prophecy from 1987!]


Having acquired Maria's matches on DVD from Tennis Videos International (http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/), I have finally got round to starting my extended reports of her US Open campaign, where I go through those DVDs with a fine pause-key, writing up a detailed description of every point!

My extended reports can be found at:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/reports.html (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/reports.html)

So far, I have uploaded:

1. My tournament-preview, and my report of Maria's first-round match against Michaëlla Krajíček. These are just HTMLised versions of the reports I posted at the time, except that I have added the following quote from Annabel Croft's commentary during Maria's second-round match:
"She was superb last night: just so confident, very composed out here, but serving exceptionally well. At some point, she was up in the high 90% of first serves, and she came off court and said, 'I think that was the best I've served in my entire career.'"

2. My extended report of Maria's second-round match against Emilie Loit. The DVD starts at 6-0 3-0, but the last three games were much tougher than the final scoreline implies! And I particularly enjoyed the commentators' discussion of three members of my Eternal Fanship:

Josh Eagle: "There're a few of them that - sort of Hantuchová (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/hantu/), Vaidišová (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/vaidi/), Sharapova (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/) - they all play very similar, don't they? They actually look fairly similar - similar body-shapes. <pause> All quite attractive."
Annabel Croft: <laughing> "That didn't go unnoticed!"
Josh Eagle: "How would you rank them, in looks?"
Annabel Croft: "You can't ask me that!"
Josh Eagle: "Well, Sharapova, Vaidišová, and Hantuchová?"
Annabel Croft: "I'm not answering that one."
Josh Eagle: "They're the glamour-girls of the women's game."
Annabel Croft: "They are. They all look good. Ten out of ten, all of them!"
Josh Eagle: "Sitting on the fence!"


I doubt very much that I will finish my US Open reports this side of Wimbledon, though I plan to do so before the French Open begins. My pre-FO schedule is becoming very tight, as numerous distractions are causing me to fall behind - mainly the 'excessive' success of my other tennis-players in recent weeks! ;)

--
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/)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sharapova_vaidisova_hantuchova/ (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sharapova_vaidisova_hantuchova/)

andrewbroad
Apr 19th, 2007, 10:26 PM
Happy birthday Maria, and welcome to your tweens!


=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://2006.usopen.org/ (http://2006.usopen.org/)

Having acquired Maria's matches on DVD from Tennis Videos International (http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/), I have now written up my extended report of her third-round match against Elena Likhovtseva, with a blow-by-blow description of every point, and transcripts of the commentary and Maria's on-court interview.

My extended reports can be found at:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/reports.html (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/reports.html)

I am becoming busier in other aspects of my life now, so the ETAs for my reports on Maria's 4r, qf, sf and final should be taken with a pinch of salt. I am extremely glad to have finished the 3r report on her birthday, but it's looking increasingly likely that I won't finish before the French Open, and will have to resume in July after a 6-week break.

--
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/)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sharapova_vaidisova_hantuchova/ (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sharapova_vaidisova_hantuchova/)

andrewbroad
Apr 28th, 2007, 11:46 AM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://2006.usopen.org/ (http://2006.usopen.org/)

Having acquired Maria's matches on DVD from Tennis Videos International (http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/), I have now written up my extended report of her fourth-round match against Li,Na, with a blow-by-blow description of every point, and transcripts of the commentary.

My extended reports can be found at:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/reports.html (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/reports.html)

--
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/)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sharapova_vaidisova_hantuchova/ (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sharapova_vaidisova_hantuchova/)

andrewbroad
May 20th, 2007, 05:17 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://2006.usopen.org/

Having acquired Maria's matches on DVD from Tennis Videos International (http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/), I have now written up my extended report of her quarter-final match against Tatiana Golovin, with a blow-by-blow description of every point, transcripts of the commentary, of the pre-match interviews, and of Maria's post-match on-court interview.

I've also written up a detailed evaluation of Tatiana that I did last December, based largely on this match. In it, I describe everything I've observed about Tatiana, and I explain why I haven't inducted her into my Eternal Fanship (at least not so far - I still think she has the potential at age 19). This evaluation appears at the end of my report.

My extended reports can be found at:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/reports.html

I will be taking a break from my job in order to follow the six most important consecutive weeks of tennis, starting with the French Open.

I plan to write up Maria's extended semi-final and final US Open 2006 reports after Wimbledon and before the US Open 2007.

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

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sharapova_vaidisova_hantuchova/

andrewbroad
Jul 28th, 2007, 10:29 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://2006.usopen.org/ (http://2006.usopen.org/)

Having acquired Maria's matches on DVD from Tennis Videos International (http://tennis%20videos%20international/), I have now written up my extended report of her semi-final match against Amélie Mauresmo, with a blow-by-blow description of every point, transcripts of the commentary, and of Maria's post-match on-court interview.

My extended reports can be found at:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/reports.html (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/reports.html)

I plan to write up my extended report of the final before this year's US Open starts. It is unclear whether I will have time to write up my report of the final day at Birmingham, and my full Wimbledon-reports, before then. My job gives me much less time for writing tennis-reports than I had before, and my first priority is to finish the US Open 2006 in time to give Maria the best possible chance of defending her title.

--
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/)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sharapova_vaidisova_hantuchova/ (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sharapova_vaidisova_hantuchova/)

andrewbroad
Aug 25th, 2007, 10:07 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://2006.usopen.org/ (http://2006.usopen.org/)

Having acquired Maria's matches on DVD from Tennis Videos International (http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/), I have now written up my extended report of last year's final against Justine Henin-Hardenne.

My extended reports can be found at:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/reports.html (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/reports.html)

As this is my last and most important report at this level of detail, I've pulled out all the stops, with a stroke-by-stroke description of every point, transcripts of the commentary (from Australian Channel 9's TV-coverage, BBC Radio 5 Live, and the usopen.org online radio), and of the on-court interviews at the presentation-ceremony, right down to the last Sharapova-giggle!

Since I won't be reporting on the US Open 2007 because I have to work (I'd be really pushing my luck if I demanded two more weeks' leave for a tournament that isn't even televised on a channel to which I have access), the only thing that remains for me is to wish Maria the best of luck for defending her title.

--
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/)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sharapova_vaidisova_hantuchova/ (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sharapova_vaidisova_hantuchova/)