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andrewbroad
Nov 3rd, 2006, 02:01 AM
====================
GENERALI LADIES LINZ (Linz, Austria; indoor Decoturf; WTA Tier II)
==================== http://www.generali-ladies.at/ (http://www.generali-ladies.at/)

Maria won her second title in eight days - her fifth WTA or Grand Slam singles-title of 2006, and the 15th of her career.

Maria has now won 16 matches in a row (the walkover she gave Anna Chakvetadze at Moscow doesn't count), and hasn't been beaten before the semi-finals of any tournament this year except the French Open.

With this title, Maria moves up from #3 to #2 in the WTA Tour Singles Rankings - her highest since she fell from #1 to #3 on 24th October 2005.

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Photos
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On-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)
Search Getty Images for "sharapova"
http://www.mariasharapova.com/ (http://www.mariasharapova.com/)

Off-court:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=linz (http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=linz)
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=linz2 (http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=linz2)
http://www.inside-tennis.net/index.php?action=photogallery&id=279 (http://www.inside-tennis.net/index.php?action=photogallery&id=279)

Miscellaneous:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=492 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=492) (to 497)
http://www.generali-ladies.at/diashow.php (http://www.generali-ladies.at/diashow.php)

For those obsessed with digging out every last photo:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery?pg=1&cap=1 (http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery?pg=1&cap=1)

My old headmaster used to say, "Look your best, Do your best and Be your best." Maria certainly did all that on Sunday! :hearts:

Never has such a great champion looked so beautiful; never has such a beautiful girl been so successful at tennis. Linz 2006 broke all records in the tournament's history, according to the German version of www.generali-ladies.at (http://www.generali-ladies.at)! :)

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Video
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Highlights of the final:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/multimedia/ (http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/multimedia/)

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Audio
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Post-final interview:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/default.stm (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/default.stm)
(click "Sharapova revelling in successful run")

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Pretournament quotes from Maria (in German)
-------------------------------

"Ich hoffe, daß ich mir heute ein bißchen etwas von Linz ansehen kann, bevor ich am Dienstag mit dem Training beginne.

"Ich weiß, daß Linz eine Industriestadt ist. Ich habe von den Spielerinnen schon sehr viel Positives über dieses Turnier gehört. Ich komme mit viel Selbstvertrauen nach Linz, immerhin habe ich seit den US Open kein Match mehr verloren. Das Ziel ist eindeutig der Turniersieg.

"Manchmal frage ich mich: 'Wow, passiert das alles wirklich?' Allein in den vergangenen drei Jahren hat sich so viel geändert. Es ist aufregend, die Dinge, die mir gehören..

"Wenn ich mit meinem Auto fahre und die Leute mich anstarren, dann denken wohl einige, den Wagen haben ihr ihre Eltern gekauft und sie ist verwöhnt. Aber ich denke mir dann: Ich habe dieses Auto selbst verdient und selbst gekauft. Meine Familie hat sehr viel geopfert in ihrem Leben, um mir die Möglichkeit zu geben, zu machen, was ich machen wollte.

"Ich war nie einem Klassenzimmer mit 30 Kindern, ich hatte nie das tägliche Sozialleben. Aber vermisse ich es? Ich hatte es nie! Geld ist Papier. Aber natürlich mag ich Mode, kaufe mir gerne Kleidung und Juwelen - wie jedes andere junge Mädchen auch.

"Ob das ärgerlich für mich ist? Eigentlich ist es lustig, weil ich lerne mehr über mein Privatleben als ich selbst weiß! <laughing> Aber glaube ich was das steht? Nein.

"Ich würde gerne die French Open gewinnen, weil das vielleicht für mich am schwersten zu erreichen ist. Und ich liebe Herausforderungen.

"[Das Essen ist] vielleicht meine größte Schwäche. Ich glaube, ich werde jeden Tag ein Schnitzel essen.

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Pretournament interview with Maria (in German)
----------------------------------

Sharapova: "Ich bin gestern ein bißchen herumspaziert. Ihr habt großartiges Essen, daß ist ein großes Plus für mich, denn ich liebe Essen. Ich hatte gestern ein nettes Abendessen und habe mich ein bißchen ausgerastet. Bevor ich fahre, möchte ich unbedingt noch das (Lentos-) Museum besuchen..."

Was hat Ihnen denn so gut geschmeckt?

Sharapova: "Schnitzel. Ich glaube ich werde hier jeden Tag Schnitzel essen. Aus irgendeinem Grund lachen die Leute, wenn ich danach frage. Ich glaube, es ist wie ein Hamburger für die Leute."

Nun, es soll nicht das beste Essen für Sportler sein.

Sharapova <laughing>: "Das hat mich nie davon abhalten können."

Wie können sie dann Ihre Figur so halten?

Sharapova: "Essen ist eine meiner größten Schwächen. Ich liebe Essen und auch Süßigkeiten. Aber natürlich muß ich die Dinge unter Kontrolle halten."

Fühlen Sie sich eigentlich als der Popstar im Tennis, das Vorbild für viele Mädchen?

Sharapova: "Ich glaube nicht, daß ich ein Vorbild bin. Es ist einfach ein individueller Sport und ich mache meinen Sport wie jedes andere Mädchen. Ich komme zum Turnier und will es gewinnen."

Wie gehen Sie mit Ihrer Popularität um, dem Angestarrt-werden?

Sharapova: "Es nicht so schlimm wie es klingt. Es macht mir gar nichts aus, wenn mich Leute erkennen oder mich um ein Autogramm fragen. Es macht dir doch nur klar, daß du etwas geschafft hast, das die Leute dazu bringt. Wenn ich nicht mehr in den Zeitungen bin, dann muß ich anfangen, mir Sorgen zu machen."

Sie werden in diversen Umfragen immer wieder zur "most sexy woman on earth" erklärt, was sagen Sie dazu?

Sharapova: "Ich finde mich überhaupt nicht sexy. Es bedeutet mir auch gar nichts."

Sie sind laut diversen Umfragen von Magazinen wie "Forbes" die bestbezahlte Sportlerin auf diesem Planeten.

Sharapova: "Ist das wirklich wahr? Haben Sie alle anderen Sportlerinnen befragt?"

Denken Sie oft über ihre Herkunft nach? Von Sibirien kommend ins sonnige Florida?

Sharapova: "Manchmal frage ich mich: 'Wow, passiert das alles wirklich?' Allein in den vergangenen drei Jahren hat sich so viel geändert. Es ist aufregend, all die Dinge, die mir gehören."

Fühlen Sie sich wirklich als Russin? Für die meisten Leute klingen sie wie eine Amerikanerin.

Sharapova: "Wenn man mit 7 Jahren in die Staaten geht und mehr als die Hälfte des Lebens dort verbracht hat, ist das kein Wunder. Ich beklage mich bei niemanden, der das denken mag. Natürlich habe ich mich an diese Kultur gewöhnt, aber ich habe es für meine Karriere getan."

Sie mußten nach dem Wimbledon-Titel über zwei Jahre auf den nächsten Grand-Slam-Titel warten. Hat sie das gestört?

Sharapova: "Ich hätte nie erwartet, daß ich mein erstes Major mit 17 gewinne. Und wenn es passiert, dann denkt irgendwie jeder automatisch, daß du jetzt alles gewinnen mußt, aber das ist nicht möglich, egal wie gut du bist. Und ich bin immer noch weit davon entfernt."

Spielen Sie jetzt, nach dem US-Open-Titel, mit weniger Druck?

Sharapova: "Ich hatte nie das Gefühl in meiner Karriere, daß ich etwas beweisen muß. Ich lebe in einer realistischen Welt und habe nie Druck gespürt. Meine Mutter und mein Vater haben mir immer gesagt, am Boden zu bleiben, egal, was die Leute sagen."

Wie können Sie Ihr Spiel weiter verbessern?

Sharapova: "Mit einem Wort: Zeit. Ich weiß, daß ich physisch immer noch viel stärker werden muß. Ich muß auch noch mehr Erfahrung sammeln. Mit jedem vergangenen Monat fühle ich mich erfahrener. Ich sage mir, mach keine dummen Sachen. Ich mache sie immer noch, aber nicht mehr so viel."

Welchen Traum abseits vom Sport verfolgen Sie?

Sharapova: "Ich möchte etwas mit Charity machen, habe viele Ziele mit Kindern. Ich spreche da nicht übers Tennis. Ich habe viele Möglichkeiten bekommen in meinem Leben. Ich will Kindern helfen, in eine Schule zu gehen und gute Noten zu bekommen."

Ihr sportlicher Traum?

Sharapova: "Als ich aufwuchs, war das Wimbledon. Das ist abgehakt. Ich möchte wieder Nummer 1 der Welt werden. Und ich würde gerne die French Open gewinnen, weil das wahrscheinlich für mich am schwersten ist - und ich liebe die Herausforderung."

Sehen Sie sich selbst in 10 Jahren noch auf dem Court?

Sharapova: "Ich glaube nicht, daß ich für eine wirklich lange Zeit spielen werde. Ich möchte noch so viele andere Dinge in meinem Leben tun. Ich wäre dann 29 - wir werden sehen."

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Second round (Thursday 26th October)
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+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] d. Eleni Daniilidou [Q], 7-5 6-1

Daniilidou gave an injured Maria a torrid time at Birmingham 2005: after Maria dropped the second set, I thought she was going out of the tournament! But she came out all guns blazing in the third, and won it 6-1.

But all Maria's other meetings with the serve-volleying Philippoussis-clone have been simple straight-sets wins, and she now leads their head-to-head 4-0.

Barry Wood (Reuters):
>>>
Maria Sharapova withstood a strong first set from Greek qualifier Eleni Daniilidou before moving into the quarter-finals of the Linz Open with a 7-5 6-1 victory on Thursday.

The top-seeded Russian, who will move above Justine Henin-Hardenne to take the number two ranking if she reaches Sunday's final, showed little patience and made several careless errors against an enterprising opponent.

Daniilidou earned two break-points to lead 4-2, but Sharapova held them off, and then won a break to go 6-5 in front with a crosscourt backhand winner.

Sharapova had to survive another break-point - saved with a
backhand winner - before clinching the set with her seventh ace.

The Russian broke Daniilidou from 40/0 to lead 1-0 in the second set, and her opponent then called for medical attention for dizziness and a headache.

Having won five consecutive points, Sharapova then took six more before Daniilidou began to compete again.

But her challenge was muted, and Sharapova broke to lead 4-1
with a winning return, and again for the match when a Daniilidou
backhand volley fell wide.
<<<

www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com):
>>>
Sharapova, the top seed, and Daniilidou, a qualifier, hung on tightly to their serves throughout the first 10 games, but it was the Russian who cracked open the match with a break, going up 6-5. She blasted three aces in serving out the set and then cruised through the second after her opponent called for a medical time-out for dizziness, losing only three points in the last four games of the match and improving to 4-0 lifetime against the former Top 15 player from Greece.
<<<

www.mariasharapova.com (http://www.mariasharapova.com):
>>>
Today Maria scored her 13th win in a row dating back to the middle of August after she defeated world #41 Eleni Daniilidou of Greece 7-5 6-1 in Linz in 1 hour and 23 minutes.

The first set was very close but Maria was able to take the momentum by breaking in the 11th game to get the crucial break and then held her serve to take the set 7-5.

After being down 0/40 on Danillidou's serve, Maria was able to come back and take an early break, then Daniilidou took an injury time-out for a neck injury. Maria maintained control of the set, and took it and the match 6-1.
<<<

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

"I have played so much tennis lately that I felt a bit exhausted at the start of the match. But I settled down well after the first set.

"She played really good, solid tennis. We both held serve for a while, and I had a couple of break-points against me, but I saved them. I had a few opportunities in the first set, but didn't take them at first. I was able to break her and keep moving forward."


Maria quotes in German
----------------------

"Das war ein ziemlich schwieriges erstes Match, sie hat vor allem im ersten Satz gutes Tennis gespielt. Ich habe im zweiten Satz ein wenig besser, sie etwas schlechter gespielt. Deshalb ist es dann auch einfacher für mich gewesen. Ich habe mich dann auch sehr gut bewegt."

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Quarter-final (Friday 27th October)
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+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] d. ANA IVANOVIC [5], 7-6 (7/3) 7-5

By beating Ana - who turns 19 on 6th November - Maria maintained her astonishing record of never having lost to a younger player than herself on the WTA Tour, the ITF Women's Circuit, or in a Grand Slam!

I'd been waiting for Maria to meet Ana for a long time (along with her first match with Nicole Vaidišová - apart from their World Team Tennis rubber in July 2004, which Nicole won 5-3!).

I think Ana is a very talented player, not to mention mildly attractive - and sometimes more than mildly! ;) She hasn't played well when I've seen her play (qf French Open 2005, 3r Wimbledon 2005, 4r Wimbledon 2006), but she does have a big forehand, and plays some nice spreading rallies.

My reason says Ana is a candidate for my Eternal Fanship, but my passion says she fails to excite me as much as Anna Chakvetadze or Tatiana Golovin (both of whom I'm considering inducting in 2007), or even Maria Kirilenko (my passion says I like her as much as Anna or Tatiana, but my reason says her game is nowhere near up to Eternal Fanship standards).

I wouldn't be surprised if, within five years, women's tennis were dominated by Maria, Nicole and Ana. Maria's certainly up there already, but Nicole and Ana need to find consistency and better footwork. Ana's the one I have the most doubts about, as some people say that she is lazy and a bit overweight.

BBC Sport:
>>>
Sharapova needed two attempts to serve out the match before setting up a clash with Patty Schnyder.

Sharapova was uncharacteristically fragile at times against Ivanovic, missing three set-points while serving at 5-4 in the first set.

The Russian then led 5-2 in the second set, but double-faulted twice while serving for the match and was broken.
<<<

Barry Wood (Reuters):
>>>
Sharapova struggled to overcome an inspired Ivanovic. She failed to serve out either set on her first attempt despite earning early breaks.

After breaking Ivanovic in the fifth game of the opening set, Sharapova relinquished the advantage when she produced forehand errors on all three set-points at 5-4.

Ivanovic leveled at 5-5 with a glorious forehand winner.

Sharapova then failed to win any of three break points at 5-5, but took the tiebreak 7/3.

The Russian raced to a 5-2 lead in the second set, but when she served for the match at 5-3, she dropped her serve with a double fault.

With another tiebreak in prospect, Sharapova broke for the match when Ivanovic ended a lengthy rally by netting a backhand.
<<<

www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com):
>>>
Sharapova, the top seed, battled for nearly two hours against the equally-big-hitting No.5 seed, and was just a bit better at the tail ends of each set to clinch the victory. The biggest drama came late in the second set, when Ivanovic fought back from a break down to even things at 5-apiece, but Sharapova quickly regained the momentum to notch the victory in her very first meeting with her fellow teenager.

Sharapova is now 12-0 in quarter-final matches this year on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour; only twice in what is now 14 events has she not made the semi-final round, those being Roland Garros (where she fell in the round of 16) and two weeks ago in Moscow (where, bothered by a right foot strain, she withdrew prior to her quarter-final match against eventual champion Anna Chakvetadze).
<<<

www.mariasharapova.com (http://www.mariasharapova.com):
>>>
Maria was able to get a break in the middle of the 1st set but was serving for the set at 5-4 and then Ivanovic broke back to level the set.*The set was decided by a tie-break which Maria won 7/3.

Maria broke Ivanovic's serve in the 2nd game of the 2nd set, all games were then held on serve until Ivanovic broke Maria's serve when Maria was serving for the match and manged to level the set 5-5. Maria then took the next 2 games for the win.
<<<

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

{before the match}

"I think it'll be a matter of figuring out her game as early as possible. So we'll see, but I need to figure her game out."


{after the match}

"I didn't know Ana's game too well as we had never met before, but she played some amazing tennis.

"When you play someone at a pretty high level for the first time, it takes a while to get used to it; you don't know what to expect from the first point. She seemed to be going for her shots often, and some came unbelievably hard and deep, and were pretty consistent in the first set. At some times they're like a loose cannon and you don't know what's going to happen - that's difficult.

"I shouldn't have let her come back in the second set. I hope to learn from that.

"I didn't really finish it off in both sets, but credit to her, she hung in there and played a good game in the first set to get back into it. Definitely in the second set I had two double faults and made a few sloppy errors. But I hung in there, too."

[WTA Tour Quote of the Week]
"At this point I know mentally I'm not as fresh, but I feel like I'm match-tough. I feel like coming back day after day, playing the matches, and so far, winning them."


Maria quotes in German
----------------------

{before the match}

"Das wird ein interessantes Match, sie hat ein unglaubliches Jahr gehabt und ist ein Youngster auf der Tour. Man muß versuchen in den ersten Games herauszufinden, wie sie ihr Spiel anlegt."


{after the match}

"Ihre Schläge waren schwer zu lesen und sind hart und tief in den Platz gekommen. Hätte ich etwas konsequenter gespielt, hätte die Partie auch 6:4, 6:2 ausgehen können. Aber ich bin froh, daß ich durch bin.

"Ich würde mir wünschen, auch dann gut zu spielen, wenn ich klar vorne bin. Aber ich mag die Situationen, in denen es hart auf hart geht. Ich mag es, wenn ich mein bestes Tennis spielen muß, um aus einer engen Situation herauszukommen. Deshalb liebe ich diesen Sport auch so."


Ana quotes
----------

"She is playing very well at the moment, probably better than anyone, so I can take a lot of confidence from this, knowing that I was able to compete well."


Whenever I read Ana's diary at anaivanovic.com (http://anaivanovic.com), I always enjoy it because she often writes about aspects of the life of a tennis-pro that nobody else would! She had this to say after Linz:
>>>
I was happy with the tournament in Linz. Always when you play after an injury you cannot be completely sure how you will perform, so it was pleasing to reach a good level again.

The two wins gave me confidence, and I learned a lot from the Sharapova match. It was a great experience and hopefully it was an exciting match to watch. I think that the serve was an important factor in this match. She is playing very well at the moment, probably better than anyone, so I can take a lot of confidence from this, knowing that I was able to compete well.
<<<

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Semi-final (Saturday 28th October)
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+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] d. PATTY SCHNYDER [3], 7-5 7-5

Although Maria now leads their head-to-head 4-1, her matches against Schnyder have always been tough, as in three sets or two tight sets. Schnyder can be a very awkward opponent as she uses a lot of spins.

I saw them play at Birmingham 2004, and it was the only time I've seen Maria choke: she won 6-1 6-7 6-3, but got really nervous serving for the match at 6-5 in the second. And at San Diego 2006, Maria let a 5-1 lead become 5-4 in the second set of a 7-5 6-4 victory.

And Maria's only loss to Schnyder came at a crucial time for her: in the semi-finals of Rome 2005, where Maria could have become world number one for the first time just by reaching the final (she did become #1 on 22nd August 2005, but only held the position for 7 weeks - the fewest ever for a #1-ranked player - and by then it was too late to displace Steffi Graf as the fourth-youngest #1).

www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com):
>>>
In a match that was critical for her participation in the upcoming Sony Ericsson Championships, Patty Schnyder fought hard but it just wasn't enough against one of the hottest players of the fall season. Maria Sharapova won a tight semifinal, 7-5 7-5, to reach the final of the $600,000 Generali Ladies Linz, dashing the Swiss' hopes of qualifying for the season-ending event.

Sharapova and Schnyder had battled four times before, with the Russian leading 3-1 in those matches; but each one was tight, and Saturday's duel was no exception.

In the first set, Sharapova went ahead 5-3 and held five set-point opportunities, but watched as Schnyder rallied to even it up.

In the second set, the Swiss stayed even with one of the game's biggest servers through the first 10 games. But at the end of each set it was the Russian who prevailed, finishing the one-hour, 46-minute contest with her fourth ace of the match.

This is Sharapova's first time playing the Generali Ladies Linz, and she has shown nothing less than exceptional form. It is not a surprise, considering her form the last few months: she has won 23 of her last 24 matches, claiming her second career major at the US Open and picking up Tier I titles at San Diego and Zürich. Her win on Saturday was her 15th in a row, and kept her perfect in Linz.

The defeat left Schnyder out of the running for one of the remaining spots for the Sony Ericsson Championships. There were two spots remaining, and she was in a three-woman race for them, alongside Martina Hingis and Kim Clijsters. A loss prior to the final this week would grant Hingis and Clijsters the last two berths.
<<<

AP:
>>>
After an early break in the first, Sharapova went up 5-3 but missed five set-points over the next two games, with the third-seeded Schnyder breaking serve. At 6-5, Sharapova faced another break-point but clinched the first set on her sixth opportunity.

In the second set, Sharapova broke at 5-5, then finished the match with her fourth ace.
<<<

BBC Sport:
>>>
Sharapova broke early against Schnyder to lead 2-1, but failed to convert three set-points on her opponent's serve at 5-3.

She then wasted another set-point on her own serve before losing the game to go to 5-5.

The Russian broke again for 6-5 when her opponent hit a backhand long, but had to hold off a break-point before finally clinching the set on her sixth set-point.

Sharapova immediately lost her own serve after breaking for 1-0 in the second set, but then broke again for a decisive 6-5 lead when Schnyder netted a forehand.

Although she double-faulted on her first match point, she then served an ace on her third to win.
<<<

www.mariasharapova.com (http://www.mariasharapova.com):
>>>
Maria has extended her unbeaten streak to 15 matches, and*this is the*most WTA matches she has ever won in a row. Maria's previous best was*14 matches in a row between Birmingham and San Diego in 2004.
<<<

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

"I had to adjust my game since she's a tricky player, a lefty. I let the match out of my hands for a little, but I was mentally tough and able to finish the match and win. I'm happy.

"She's not an easy opponent to play against. She makes you hit a lot of balls, she has a pretty big forehand and she keeps the ball in play.

"I felt I couldn't quite put three good games together. A little bit of that is fatigue, and a little bit is lack of concentration.

"It's cool being in a new country, and playing here for the first time. It's exciting to see the fans get into it and watch you play.

"I am so excited to play another final. I am mentally a bit tired, so I was happy to win against Patty in two sets."


Maria quotes in German
----------------------

"Ich war vor allem im zweiten Satz mental ein wenig müde. Aber ich beschwere mich nicht darüber. Ich stehe mitten in einem Turnier und will es auch gewinnen. Ich bin trotz der Müdigkeit voll bei der Sache und versuche, mein Bestes zu geben. Sie hat hier sehr stark gespielt. Das wird ein harter körperlicher Test für uns beide."

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Final (Sunday 29th October)
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+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] d. NADIA PETROVA [2], 7-5 6-2

What a difference a year makes! Last year, Petrova came here at the age of 23, having never won a WTA singles-title. Linz 2005 was her maiden title, thus this was her first experience as a defending champion.

Maria and Petrova had each played six previous finals in 2006, but while Maria had a 4-2 win/loss record in those finals, Petrova had an outstanding 5-1 record (the only loss coming at the fair hands of Anna Chakvetadze in the recent Moscow final).

Although Maria now leads Petrova 5-1 head-to-head, their matches are almost always tough - this one was surprisingly easy IMO. Usually it's three sets or two tough sets, but Maria beats Petrova in the end because she is much stronger mentally.

The first set was complicated: Maria broke in the first game and led 4-2*, but Petrova broke back, and Maria had to save two set-points at *4-5 (15/40)! She also had to save two break-points when serving for the first set at *6-5 (15/40). Those missed opportunities probably broke Petrova's spirit.


Articles
--------

Barry Wood (Reuters):
>>>
Petrova failed to repeat the commanding form she had shown in reaching the final for the loss of just nine games, and Sharapova rarely had to rise above the ordinary.

Sharapova made a perfect start, breaking to lead 1-0, but the next several games featured little drama as both held serve with little trouble.

Petrova, playing with her right thigh strapped, failed to find the power on her serve that had made her such a force against other opponents, but she finally stepped up a gear and levelled at 4-4 with a backhand volley.

She went on to earn two set-points on Sharapova's serve at 5-4, but her opponent held off the threat and broke for 6-5 when Petrova double-faulted.

Petrova failed to convert two break-points as Sharapova served for the set.

The world number five made a terrible start to the second set, surrendering her serve with a double fault.

Sharapova held on to her lead, giving up just one point in the last three games as she broke at 4-2 and served out to love for the title.
<<<

www.generali-ladies.at (http://www.generali-ladies.at):
>>>
Throughout her week at the Generali Ladies Linz, Maria Sharapova faced stern opposition but always managed to earn victory in straight sets, no matter what kind of tight situation she was in. And the story was much the same in Sunday afternoon's championship final against Nadia Petrova. The Russian teenager battled back from a 5-3 first-set deficit, and took complete control in the second set to prevail over her compatriot, 7-5 6-2, capturing an impressive fifth Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title of the year, and the 15th of her career.

It was the eighth time this season that the top two seeds would battle for a title; and for just the third time it was the favourite who downed the No.2 seed, as an inspired Sharapova battled back from 40/15 and double set-point while trailing 5-4 in the opening set, reeling off four straight games to complete the mini-comeback.

After staying relatively even through the first five games of the second set, it was again the youngster who took charge, losing just one more point from 3-2 in winning the last three games and ultimately the match. She is now 5-1 against Petrova.

Sharapova's three-tournament streak began at the US Open, where she claimed her second major title, and continued through Zürich last week and now Linz this week. She has won 16 matches in a row - one shy of Justine Henin-Hardenne's season-best - and is now tied with Petrova and the Belgian in 2006-titles won.

The eventual champion did not drop a set all week, but it was by no means easy. She broke away after a service break-less first 10 games with Eleni Daniilidou in her opening round to win, 7-5 6-1; she played clutch tie-break tennis and held off a late-match surge from fellow teen Ana Ivanovic in the quarters, 7-6(3) 7-5; and in the semi-finals she played Patty Schnyder - who was fighting valiantly for one of the remaining season-ending berths - and posted a 7-5 7-5 victory.

It was the 10th all-Russian singles final in Tour history; Sharapova is now 2-1 in her three such finals. She is projected to rise from No.3 to No.2 on the new Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Singles Rankings, marking the first time in over a year she'll be ranked among the Top 2.

The new Linz champion now looks to continue her fall form at the upcoming Sony Ericsson Championships, which begin in just over a week in Madrid.
<<<

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

The match started at 13:55 CET. I followed live scores on the Internet, and used the live scoring-thread at:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=271597 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=271597)

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

My expectation before the match is of a very tough three-setter, and I'm no more than 50% confident of Maria winning. Maria has beaten Petrova in three out of three Grand Slam quarter-finals, and definitely seemed to have a strong mental edge. But Petrova's record in finals this year is even better than Maria's, and despite Maria's 15-match winning-streak, she keeps saying that she is tired.


First set
---------

SHARAPO @* * *___*@* 7
PETROVA __* * *@*___ 5

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

Excellent start! Both players are big servers, so any breaks should be particularly valuable in this match.

Maria serving 1-0: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held.
Petrova serving 0-2: 0/30 -> 40/30, 40/40, ad P, held.

Annoying that Maria wasted a 0/30 opening. A double break would have been a very commanding lead. We'll have to look back on that game if Maria loses this set.

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

A very high percentage of first serves in has been the bedrock of Maria's fine performance so far.

Petrova serving 1-3: held to love.
Maria serving 3-2: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held (with a "gr8 drive volley" and her third ace).
Petrova serving 2-4: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, 40/30, held.
Maria serving 4-3: 0/15, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken.

I had a bad feeling about that game at 0/15, and Maria served a double fault. With Petrova holding serve since 0-2, there was increasing pressure on Maria to hold onto her lead, and she'll need all her mental strength to win this set now, especially with the disadvantage of serving second. :(

Petrova serving 4-4: 0/30 -> 30/30, 40/30, held.
Maria serving to stay in the first set at 4-5: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 SPs) -> 40/40, ad M, held.

It just goes to show how fragile the momentum of a tennis-match is - even for one as mentally strong as Maria! She could so easily have lost the first set at 15/40... but now Petrova has some mental baggage of her own to carry.

Petrova serving 5-5: 0/40 (3 BPs), 15/40, broken.

Not really surprising that Petrova should throw in a bad service-game after wasting two set-points. Please serve it out, Maria!

Maria serving for the first set at 6-5: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad M (SP), Maria won the first set 7-5 at 14:43 (48m).

Phew - 15/40 saved at *4-5 and *6-5! It was very important for Maria to win that first set if she's tired.


Second set
----------

SHARAPO @* * *@* 6
PETROVA __* *___ 2

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

Looks like those 15/40's on Maria's serve have really got to Petrova on her own serve! Of course Maria also broke at the start of the first set and then nearly lost it, but she's certainly winning the mental battle up to now.

Maria serving 1-0: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held.
Petrova serving 0-2: 40/0 -> 40/40, ad P, Deuce #2, ad P, held.

Petrova may have won that game, but Maria's still winning the mental battle as she saved four game-points!

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

Phew! A tough service-game there!

Petrova serving 1-3: 0/15, 40/15, 40/30, held.
Maria serving 3-2: held to love.
Petrova serving 2-4: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.
Maria serving for the match at 5-2: 40/0 (3 CPs), Maria won 7-5 6-2 at 15:17.


Statistics
----------

Maria got 71% of first serves in, winning 74% of the points when she did so, and 59% on second serve (Petrova 57%, 67% and 33%). In the second set, Maria won 94% of her first-serve points!

Maria served 6 aces (one on second serve) and one double fault, Petrova 2 aces and 2 DFs.

Maria broke 4 times from 5 break-points (twice each set), Petrova once from 6 BPs (all in the first set) - and that's the big difference between them: Maria takes her opportunities, Petrova bottles them.

In points, Maria won 71-51 (first set 39-33, second set 32-18).


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

{before the match}

"I haven't played Nadia in a while, but she's been playing some big tennis, so I just have to go out there and find a way to win."


{after the match}

"I thought I played really good tennis today. After feeling a little bit tired at the end of yesterday, I thought, 'This is the last one, so go out there and give it all you've got.' I really felt I played smart and solid.

"I started very well, but got a bit tired towards the end of the first set. Saving the two set-points gave me a huge boost. I always play my best tennis when under pressure.

"I'm playing with more confidence because I'm playing more. I'm more fit. I feel as I play more matches, I'm getting better and better. I'm excited that at this point in my career, I'm fit to win three tournaments in a row.

"It's been an incredible year. Winning another major has been great. It's been a really cool year; I've been consistent and have had some great results."


www.mariasharapova.com (http://www.mariasharapova.com): "Anyways it's so great to win two tourney's back-to-back. I wasn't sure if I was going to be fresh for the final, but found a way. Just shows you no matter how tired you are, the mind will always win."


Petrova quotes
--------------
{before the match}

"For sure it'll be an exciting final tomorrow. I'm sure it will be a battle, but I'm looking forward to it and just hope I hold the trophy at the end.

"Ich gehe auf den Platz ohne viel nachzudenken, versuche zu kämpfen, jeden Ball zu erreichen, früh die Kontrolle zu übernehmen und meiner Gegnerin keine Chance zu lassen, ins Spiel zu kommen. Das hat bisher perfekt funktioniert, aber ein Finale kann immer ganz anders sein als andere Matches."


{after the match}

"I am so disappointed. I really got my chances in the first set. But after missing them, I just did not play up to my usual standards anymore."

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

1. Japan Open (Tokyo), WTA Tier III, 5th October 2003
2. Bell Challenge (Québec City), WTA Tier III, 2nd November 2003
3. DFS Classic (Birmingham), WTA Tier III, 13th June 2004
4. WIMBLEDON, Grand Slam, 3rd July 2004
5. Hansol Korea Open (Seoul), WTA Tier IV, 3rd October 2004
6. AIG Japan Open (Tokyo), WTA Tier III, 9th October 2004
7. WTA Tour Championships (Los Angeles), 15th November 2004
8. Toray Pan Pacific Open (Tokyo), WTA Tier I, 6th February 2005
9. Qatar Total Open (Doha), WTA Tier II, 26th February 2005
10. DFS Classic (Birmingham), WTA Tier III, 12th June 2005
11. Pacific Life Open (Indian Wells), WTA Tier I, 18th March 2006
12. Acura Classic (San Diego), WTA Tier I, 6th August 2006
13. US OPEN, Grand Slam, 9th September 2006
14. Zürich Open (Zürich), WTA Tier I, 22nd October 2006
15. Generali Ladies Linz (Linz, WTA Tier II, 29th October 2006

-----------
UK TV-alert
-----------

(Transworld Sport may be televised in other countries, but the details in this message are specific to the UK.)

Watch out for highlights of the Linz final in the next episode of Transworld Sport, which starts at 07:00 GMT on Sunday 5th November, on Channel 4.

--
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
Nov 5th, 2006, 02:37 PM
(Transworld Sport may be televised in other countries, but the details in this message are specific to the UK.)


There are four points from the Linz final between Maria Sharapova and Nadia Petrova in this week's Transworld Sport, which is repeated with sign-language at 04:10 GMT on {Wednesday night/Thursday morning} on Channel 4.

The tennis was 18 minutes into Sunday's broadcast of Transworld Sport, so I recommend 04:25 as a safe start-time for timer-record (allowing for both a premature start and shortened adverts).

The points they showed:

* Maria serving 4-5 (30/40): Maria played a fantastic spreading rally: a deep serve; a short, weak backhand; a searing crosscourt backhand that forced a weak backhand down the line from Petrova; an even more penetrating crosscourt forehand that forced Petrova to run and hit a very short forehand; and finally a laserlike off-forehand winner onto the sideline (it certainly didn't need to be so precise - especially at set-point down - but it sure was spectacular!).

Bruce Hammal: "Sharapova comes into the match in the most consistent form of her life, and after winning a tight first set, the nineteen-year-old ups her game still further."

* Petrova serving 5-7 0-2 (40/30): Serve down the middle; Maria hit a short, weak forehand return; Petrova a pedestrian crosscourt forehand; Maria crosscourt forehand down the middle; Petrova hit a forehand down the line, far from any lines; Maria crosscourt backhand; Petrova hit a short crosscourt backhand; Maria hit a backhand winner down the line and said "c'mon". Why they singled out that tentative point as a highlight is beyond me.

Bruce Hammal: "Petrova, the defending champion, has no answer for Sharapova's power and accuracy from the baseline."

* Maria serving 7-5 5-2 (30/0): A fantastic wide serve into the corner pushed Petrova outside the tramlines and forced a midcourt crosscourt forehand return, and Maria completed the one-two punch with a forehand winner down the line.

* Maria serving 7-5 5-2 (40/0): A good serve down the middle forced a slow but deep forehand return down the middle; Maria hit a deep crosscourt forehand; Petrova hit a down-the-line forehand just wide & just long. Maria raised her arms in triumph and yelled "yeah" in a high-pitched voice.


At the end of the episode is a preview of a TomᚠBerdych documentary to be televised in next week's Transworld Sport (Sunday 12th November at 07:00 GMT on Channel 4).

Describing it as "a love-match in the Czech Republic", the preview shows footage of Tomᚠand his girlfriend Lucie Šafářová: the two of them standing back to back, then kissing, then walking down a road holding hands, then Lucie hitting a forehand, a serve and two backhands, then the two of them playing basketball, where Lucie gropes Tomáš's face with her right hand just before scoring a goal with her left - I believe that's a foul! ;)

The preview is 51 minutes into this week's Transworld Sport, so I recommend 04:55 as a safe start-time for timer-record.

And for those who want to record the Linz highlights separately from the Tomᚠand Lucie preview, I recommend 04:34 as a safe stop-time for the former (it finishes 19 minutes into the programme, but Transworld Sport has been known to start up to 5 minutes late).


While I'm on the subject of Lucie Šafářová, there is an interview with her in the current (November 2006) issue of British tennis-magazine Ace (p.74). She has an older sister, Veronika Šafářová, who played on the ITF circuit in 1993-1995.

--
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/)