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andrewbroad
Mar 13th, 2007, 05:34 PM
============================ {19th-24th February 2007}
DUBAI DUTY-FREE WOMEN'S OPEN (Dubai, United Arab Emirates; outdoor hard; WTA Tier II)
============================ http://www.dubaitennischampionships.com/ (http://www.dubaitennischampionships.com/)

Maria: "I am very disappointed to have to withdraw from Dubai because the hamstring that I injured in Tokyo is not yet healed. I tried to do everything possible to be in condition to play in Dubai as it is one of my favourite tournaments, but unfortunately I'm not ready."


=================
PACIFIC LIFE OPEN (Indian Wells, California, USA; outdoor hard (Plexipave); WTA Tier I)
================= http://www.pacificlifeopen.com/ (http://www.pacificlifeopen.com/)

MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF]:
1r bye
2r + MichaŽlla KrajŪček, 7-6 (7/5) 6-4
3r + Nathalie Dechy, 7-5 6-2
4r v VERA ZVONARňVA [15,EF]

This is Maria's first tournament since retiring from Tokyo on 3rd February with a left-hamstring strain.

Maria is the defending champion, having stunned Elena Dementieva 6-1 6-2 in the 2006-final.

Maria needs to reach the semi-finals in order to hold onto the #1 ranking. But, having been bottom of the "weeks at #1" list when she regained it on 29th January 2007, she has since displaced Venus Williams (11 weeks) and Arantxa SŠnchez-Vicario (12 weeks) to reach #13 on that list with 14 weeks at #1. :)

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

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)
http://www.pacificlifeopen.com/2/players/gallery/ (http://www.pacificlifeopen.com/2/players/gallery/)
Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

Off court:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/ (http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/)

Miscellaneous:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=557 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=557) (to 567)

--------------------
Pretournament quotes
--------------------

www.mariasharapova.com (http://www.mariasharapova.com): "Maria's injury is now healed and she is very eager to return to competition here."

Maria: "It's good. It was a little worrying after I got back from Tokyo, because it wasn't really going anywhere. It stayed the same for a week or so.

"But then it started getting better, and I've been training fully for about 10 to 12 days now.

"I hurt it in Tokyo. It was a sudden movement that I did after a serve when I landed in the second game of my match against Ana [Ivanović].

"But it was sore before that, so I don't know if that had anything to do with it, or the courts that we were playing on.

"I have been training fully for ten days, and I feel ready to defend my title."

[Re. the Australian Open]
"It was a very strange tournament, from almost losing in the first round to get into the finals [Women's Singles and which other? ;)]. And then to do nothing there in the finals was kind of weird. You should be happy in a way, but then you have just lost in the final but then you're happy because you almost lost in the first round.

"Looking back, it was one of those days where she played amazing tennis - flawless tennis. And I made a lot of errors. I just wasn't capable of finding a way to beat her. I just could not find a way to try something different. She wasn't giving me any opportunities, and I wasn't able to get back into the match.

"I felt the whole initiative started at the beginning of that match. I let her break after being up in the game, and from that point she gained a lot of confidence and momentum.

"When you give someone that confidence right at the beginning, they can just steamroll throughout. Not getting any openings, it's kind of hard to find your way back."

[Re. Indian Wells 2002]
"I'm a much more experienced player than I was back then. It's been a steady progression, and hopefully I'll maintain that. I lost in the second round, I lost in the semis the year before last, and then I won last year.

"I have a lot of memories since I was young, and winning my first big match here, and winning it last year. You always look forward to coming back to a tournament you won. You always have great memories."

[Re. losing 6-0 6-2 to Monica Seles at Indian Wells 2002]
"I thought I played pretty well, but I guess not. That was pretty funny. I remember coming off that match and being in the locker-room, and I don't know if I was doing something wrong, or was she doing something amazing. It made me think a little bit. Looking back, wow, that was years ago, and a lot has happened since then.

"Back then, I was getting used to everything. At that point, I was trying to settle in. I was still fearless, but I don't think I knew what to expect from my self. When I was young, growing up, a lot of people told me I was going to be good. But at the end of the day, those are just words. It's up to you to change that. When I started winning tournaments and I won Wimbledon, I actually appreciate when they say I'm good. Back then, it was a little weird. I didn't think I deserved that yet. That was a long time ago, it seems like."

"You go year by year. Physically, I've grown. I'm a lot stronger than when I was 14. My legs were like noodles back then.

"It's still fun. I'm still amazed at the things life brings me."

[Re. becoming a UNDP-ambassador]
"When my mom was pregnant, we were in Belarus, and we moved to Siberia because of Chernobyl, because of the radiation. That's very important for me to be a part of a project that you feel a part of it. You look at the people who were affected by that, who died - it's pretty incredible. You want to help in any way, because you're lucky to still be alive."

[Re. the Vanity Fair party]
"That was a scene to see! It's not my type of scene, but very cool to see. You have Madonna on one side, Gwyneth Paltrow on the other, and then you have Gwen Stefani. You're like, 'OK, I'm not used to this. This is not my type of world.'

"It felt like a made-up world. It was way too glamourous for me, from what I'm used to. There is more makeup in that one place than in a Max store. That was one of those times, 'Wow, this is pretty surreal.' I was overwhelmed."

^[It's so cool that Maria likes Gwen Stefani, because I am a No Doubt fan. So Gwen is a member of a member of my Eternal Fanship! :)]

Email from mariasharapova.com: "My next tournament is Indian Wells which begins next week. I am looking forward to getting back on court and playing a tournament again. Everything is going great with the injury, and it is so good to be going back there, especially after getting my 1st tournament win last year."

------------
Second round (Friday 9th March)
------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. MichaŽlla KrajŪček, 7-6 (7/5) 6-4

10 double faults, 50 unforced errors - Maria will have to buck up her ideas if she's to defend the title or her #1 ranking!

Maria is developing a disturbing habit of being broken when she serves for the match, and it happened again at 7-6 *5-3 here.

Maria looked much better than she played, her skin looking particularly smooth and clear, her legs looking particularly long! ;)

MichaŽlla is beautiful and cute, but I don't like her new hairstyle. She looked much better when she had it scraunched back with a ponytail.

www.mariasharapova.com (http://www.mariasharapova.com):
>>>
Maria was leading 5-2 in the first set, but KrajŪček fought back and forced a tiebreak that Maria won 7/5.

In the second set, something similar happened. Maria was again leading 4-2 and KrajŪček came back, but Maria was able to close out the set 6-4.

The match lasted 1 hours and 45 minutes. Maria committed 11 double faults and although she was very effective on her first serve, winning 77% of points, she only managed to win 23% of points on second serve.

Maria's opponent in the third round is Nathalie Dechy of France. Maria has played Dechy twice before, on grass, and won both matches in straight sets.
<<<

www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com):
>>>
Top seed Maria Sharapova began her Pacific Life Open title-defence with a hard-fought win over big-serving MichaŽlla KrajŪček on Friday.

Playing for the first time since retiring in the Tokyo [Pan Pacific] semis due to a hamstring strain, Sharapova was rusty but overcame Dutch teenager MichaŽlla KrajŪček, 7-6(5) 6-4.

The top seed and defending champion erred on 50 shots, and squandered leads of 5-2 in both sets of the labourous victory - a stark contrast to a 6-3 6-0 blowout in their only prior encounter, at the US Open in 2006. But the Russian still managed the win, and moved into the third round.
<<<

BBC Sport:
>>>
Top seed Maria Sharapova was given a thorough workout as she began the defence of her Pacific Life Open crown in Indian Wells, California.

The world number one, who had a bye in the opening round, needed an hour and 44 minutes to see off Dutch player MichaŽlla KrajŪček 7-6 (7/5) 6-4.

Sharapova, 19, hit 50 unforced errors and served 10 double faults.

It was a rusty display from Sharapova, who has been out of action for over a month because of a hamstring-injury.
<<<

http://sharapova.lawntennisnews.com/ (http://sharapova.lawntennisnews.com/)
>>>
Topseed Maria Sharapova won her match against Netherland's Michaella Krajicek in straight sets: 76 64. Yet struggled to serve out the sets on contrary to the Us Open encounter with the Dutch. She was leading 5-2 in both sets before eventually being able to win the first and second set. Her first serve was pretty effective, but her second serve still let her down. It was constantly attacked and all in all she served 11 double-faults. Still this time she returned better as well breaking her opponent 5 times.
<<<

Associated Press (AP):
>>>
Top-ranked Maria Sharapova opened her title-defence in the Pacific Life Open with a 7-6(5) 6-4 victory over MichaŽlla KrajŪček on Friday night in a second-round match at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Sharapova, who had a first-round bye, had not played a match since straining her left hamstring in Tokyo in early February. The effects of the layoff were obvious in her 1-hour, 44-minute struggle against KrajŪček, the 18-year-old sister of former Wimbledon-champion Richard KrajŪček.

Sharapova had 10 double faults and 50 unforced errors, and lost service four times. She finally secured the win on her fourth match-point when KrajŪček's backhand from the baseline hit the top of the net and fell on her side of the court.

Sharapova, the 15th player to be No. 1 on the WTA Tour, improved to 9-2 on the year, and will face Nathalie Dechy of France in the third round.
<<<

Greg Heakes for Agence France Presse (AFP):
>>>
Top seed Maria Sharapova launched her defence of her Indian Wells title on Friday, winning in straight sets, but not before MichaŽlla KrajŪček made her earn it.

The 19-year-old Russian beauty hammered 29 winners, but looked rusty in making 50 unforced errors, and served 10 double faults in the one hour, 44 minute second-round match.

Sharapova did not speak after her match, telling tournament-organisers she was too ill.

But she did release a statement through her agent Max Eisenbud saying, "I'm just happy to get through the match because it is first time I have played in four weeks."

The 96-player women's draw only gets tougher from here, and Sharapova will have to try to get better fast if she is to defend the title she won last year by beating compatriot Elena Dementieva 6-1 6-2 in the final.

Sharapova advances to the third round where she will meet France's Nathalie Dechy, who surprised Italian 31st seed Flavia Pennetta 6-7 (3/7) 6-4 6-2.

Not only is she the reigning champ, but Sharapova also needs to reach the semi-finals in order to retain her world number-one ranking.

She has not played this year since being forced to pull out of a tournament in Tokyo last month with a left-hamstring injury.

Sharapova won Friday's first set in a tiebreak, but she needed three challenges of bad line-calls to win 7/5.

Her final challenge came on a kick-serve that was called out by the linesman, which was changed to an ace to get Sharapova to set-point.

There is a Sharapova look-alike contest on Saturday in which seven California beauties [hah!] will vie to see who resembles the Russian megastar the most.

They are all blonde, leggy and tall, and for a while in the first set, it appeared one of them might have been standing in for error-prone Sharapova on the stadium-court.

Sharapova committed nine of 10 double faults in that first set against KrajŪček, before settling down and finding her serve in the second.
<<<

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

"I've been out of competition for the last five weeks, and I didn't know what to expect.

"I'm just happy to get through the match. I've just got to keep improving, and get the rust off."

-----------
Third round (Sunday 11th March)
-----------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. Nathalie Dechy, 7-5 6-2

I remember watching Maria play Dechy at Wimbledon 2005. Maria played poorly, but still won 6-4 6-2. This time, she made 47 unforced errors, and let slip a *5-2 lead in the first set - yes, she twice failed to serve it out!

www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com):
>>>
She almost let the first set get away from her, but Maria Sharapova kept her winning-streak alive in the desert on Sunday, moving past Nathalie Dechy, 7-5 6-2, to reach the round of 16 at the $2.1 million Pacific Life Open.

Under sunny afternoon-skies, Dechy battled back from a 5-2 deficit to even things up, 5-5; but Sharapova broke the Frenchwoman's serve in a four-deuce 11th game to regain the momentum, then from there switched to cruise-control for her third win in three career-meetings with her veteran opponent.

In addition to Dechy's unique brand of aggression and solid retrieving, Sharapova was also challenged to overcome some difficult [hot] playing-conditions.
<<<

Matthew Cronin (Reuters):
>>>
Top seed Maria Sharapova overcame sloppy serving and brutal heat to beat Frenchwoman Nathalie Dechy 7-5 6-2 and reach the Pacific Life Open third round on Sunday.

Sharapova, who has struggled with a hamstring-injury and illness, had trouble controlling her groundstrokes in the first set, but improved in the second.

The Russian has hardly played since losing to Serena Williams in the Australian Open final in January.

Sharapova is having trouble with her big first serve, and blamed her sore hamstring.
<<<

www.mariasharapova.com (http://www.mariasharapova.com):
>>>
Maria is through to the 4th round at Indian Wells after she defeated unseeded Nathalie Dechy of France 7-5 6-2 in 1 hour and 40 minutes.*This is Maria's 10th win of the year, and Maria's 3rd straight-set win over Dechy.

Even though this was a straight-set win, the match was long in the afternoon-heat at Indian Wells.
<<<

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

"Knowing it was going to be pretty hot today, I was ready. It's a lot drier here. From yesterday, I was just getting hydrated, as well as mentally being prepared for going out there, and getting ready to play a three-set match."

[Re. her mediocre form]
"It's hard to go into this event. When you don't compete for that amount of time, it's normal. In as much as you know you've worked hard and you know you're ready to play, you can't really expect amazing things from your game.

"So, yeah, I definitely feel like these matches are getting the rough stuff out. But it's just good to be back on court and being in some tight situations - I miss that after a while. I definitely feel these matches are helping me work on things here and there.

[Re. how her hamstring-injury has affected her serve]
"In Tokyo, I struggled with [the serve] a little bit. Part of it was probably the leg, because that's how I injured it. That limited me from serving a lot in practice. I only started serving five days before the tournament started, because I got the injury when I landed on the serve. So I have to take it easy on that.

--------------------
Fourth-round preview (Tuesday 13th March)
--------------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v VERA ZVONARňVA [15,EF]

For me, this is the most mouthwatering match-up among active players on the WTA Tour - not just looks, but in tennis-terms!

They have a glorious contrast of styles: Maria's powerful game generates plenty of spectacular winners, while Bepa defends so well, has flairsome power of her own off the ground, and is like quicksilver at the net. Their games are the perfect foil for each other.

Their first four meetings were in 2004, and were tied at 2:2. Maria has since pulled away to 4:2 with wins at San Diego 2006 and the Australian Open 2007 - but Bepa always gives her at least a tough two-setter.

Maria has made 97 unforced errors in her first two matches combined, so she looks ripe for the upset. She'll definitely have to step it up against Bepa, who is so talented and, when on form, very solid (Bepa has dropped only 12 games in her first two matches here; Maria has dropped 17 games).

MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF]:
2r + MichaŽlla KrajŪček, 7-6 (7/5) 6-4
3r + Nathalie Dechy, 7-5 6-2

VERA ZVONARňVA [15,EF]:
2r + Jill Craybas, 7-5 6-1
3r + Victoria Azarenka [Q], 6-3 6-3

As a Maria-fan I'm very worried about this match; as a Bepa-fan, I see it as a great opportunity to take the head-to-head to 4:3.

As much as I love Bepa, my loyalty is to Maria on this occasion, because a loss now would mean not only failing to defend the title, but losing the world #1 ranking (Maria has to reach the semi-finals to remain #1).

It's not a betrayal for me to support Maria against Bepa, because I was already a Maria-fan when I inducted Bepa into my Eternal Fanship.

I give Maria a 55% chance of beating Bepa. Maria's not on top form - far from it - but her mental strength and will to win have proved decisive on so many occasions.

Maria has a champion's ability to rise to the occasion, but she needs matches to play herself into form, and I'm not sure whether two mediocre wins will be sufficient preparation for playing Bepa, who has beaten Maria's last opponent - Nathalie Dechy - seven times in a row. It could work in Bepa's favour that this is a relatively early round for Maria after almost five weeks out.

www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com):
>>>
Next up for Sharapova is one of her toughest rivals, No.15-seeded compatriot Vera ZvonarŽva. Although she is 4:2 against ZvonarŽva, Sharapova's four victories have all been tight straight-set battles, most recently 7-5 6-4, in the round of 16 at the Australian Open. But the teenager still remains confident for a win.
<<<

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

{before the match}

"Last time I played Vera was in Australia, and so it's always a difficult match against her. She gets a lot of balls back, and makes you work. But if I step in and play my game, I think I have a good shot."

-------------------------
Order of Play for Tuesday
-------------------------

Stadium 1 (start 11:00 PDT = 18:00 GMT)
1. WS 4r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v VERA ZVONARňVA [15,EF]
2. (NB 13:00 PDT) MS 4r: IVAN LJUBIČIĆ [8] v DAVID NALBANDIAN [10]
3. MS 4r: JUAN CARLOS FERRERO [22] v RAFAEL NADAL [2]
4. WS 4r: MARTINA HINGIS [3] v DANIELA HANTUCHOVŃ [14,EF]
5. (NB 19:00 PDT) WS 4r: AI SUGIYAMA [16] v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [2]
6. (NB 21:00 PDT) MS 4r: RICHARD GASQUET [15] v ANDY RODDICK [3]

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
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andrewbroad
Mar 24th, 2007, 12:29 AM
=================
PACIFIC LIFE OPEN (Indian Wells, California, USA; outdoor hard (Plexipave); WTA Tier I)
================= http://www.pacificlifeopen.com/ (http://www.pacificlifeopen.com/)
Photos
------

http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova (http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova)
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=568 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=568)
http://www.pacificlifeopen.com/2/players/gallery/ (http://www.pacificlifeopen.com/2/players/gallery/) (March 13)
Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

-----
Video
-----

Highlights from Eurosport (36 seconds):
http://www.zvonareva.ru/main/Clip.avi (http://www.zvonareva.ru/main/Clip.avi)

------------
Fourth round (Tuesday 13th March)
------------

- MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] lt. VERA ZVONARňVA [15,EF], 6-4 5-7 1-6

Maria led 6-4 5-3*... then lost 8 games in a row.

I'm not going to pretend that Maria's loss doesn't hurt. She was the defending champion, she's still looking for her first title of 2007 when we're in March already, and by failing to reach the semi-finals, she lost her world #1 ranking on 19th March. Headlines such as "Sloppy Sharapova falls to defeat" [BBC Sport] just rub salt in my wounds.

But, at the same time, I'm very excited about Bepa's win. It's the first time she's ever beaten a reigning world #1, and it reignites my favourite rivalry in tennis as Bepa closes the head-to-head gap to 4:3, not having beaten Maria since Montrťal 2004.

It's the manner of Maria's defeat that disturbs me the most. Her serve - usually one of the best, and certainly the most reliable in women's tennis - let her down badly as she served 13 double faults and was broken 8 times in her 14 service-games. I appreciate that this is due to her hamstring-injury, and that she may have rushed back a little too soon, given how much she had to lose at this tournament.

But for someone so renowned for her mental strength and will to win to collapse from serving for the match at 6-4 5-4 and lose the third set 6-1... it was as if she had suddenly been replaced by one of the Sharapova-lookalikes. ;)

Maria just seems like a shadow of the player who went on a 19-match winning-streak from the start of the US Open 2006. A shadow, even, of her normal consistent self.

I'm not looking forward to the French Open and Wimbledon unless Maria sorts out her problems within two months. It's not the injury I'm worried about, it's her confidence - it's difficult for any tennis-player to rebuild shattered confidence, and though I would not have thought Maria was that fragile, she sure seemed fragile in this match. And, indeed, in all the recent sets that she's failed to serve out.

But, for Bepa, to execute such a dramatic turnaround highlights her superb fighting-qualities to the world. And hopefully - though I didn't see the match myself - her supreme talent.


http://www.pacificlifeopen.com/1/news/wta7.asp (http://www.pacificlifeopen.com/1/news/wta7.asp)
>>>
The 15th-seeded ZvonarŽva won the final four games [of the second set], with Sharapova gift-wrapping the second set with three double-faults alone in the final game. ZvonarŽva used the momentum to build a 4-0 lead in the third set and allowed Sharapova just one more tally in the match as she defeated the 19-year-old 4-6 7-5 6-1.
<<<

Ken Peters, AP Sports Writer:
>>>
Sharapova had 13 double-faults and 47 unforced errors. She was up 5-3 in the second set and serving for the match [at 5-4] when ZvonarŽva suddenly took control, winning eight consecutive games and 10 of the final 11.

Frequently looking off-balance while serving, Sharapova bounced her second serve into the net on one of her two double-faults in losing the sixth game of the third set.
<<<

Greg Heakes for Agence France Presse (AFP):
>>>
ZvonarŽva, who has had trouble in the past controlling her emotions, kept her composure on Tuesday despite losing the first set.

She had her coach come out and talk to her a number of times during the match.
<<<

Sebastian (http://blogs.tennisuniverse.com/zvonareva/News/6623):
>>>
Her match against Sharapova was not a good quality one, both players were not serving well, but there were some nice rallies from the baseline. Vera was down 4-6 3-5 before she came back (with the help of 3 DFs by Sharapova at 4-6 4-5*). In the third set Vera was the better players hitting a lot of winners and taking advantage of Sharapova's miserable serve cruising through it 61. This was the first win over a world #1 for Vera and her 7th Top10 win in her career, she makes the H2H against Sharapova 3-4.
<<<

Nick_chicane (http://www.zvonareva.com/board/viewthread.php?tid=270&page=2):
>>>
I really couldnt see Vera winning that match, Maria was over-powering Vera quite alot during the 1st set, which was very unusual to see. Vera's a tough cookie and she can usually handle the power from even the most powerful players on tour, but during that 1st set, she just wasnt. I really didnt fancy her chances.
<<<

Summon (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=10283162):
>>>
As far as I can tell she [Maria] is trying not to land on the leg that she got injured while serving, and her arm movement seems really wrong at times too, especially at the beginning of the match, she's probably thinking to much about it.
<<<

Peter Bodo (http://tennisworld.typepad.com/tennisworld/2007/03/coaching.html):
>>>
If you're anything like me, you tend to ignore things you don't like. So I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention to the ins-and-outs of on-court coaching until it appeared to have an impact to today's match, thanks to which the Pacific Life Open losts its top female seed, Maria Sharapova. She was leading Vera (Waaaaah!) ZvonarŽva by a set and 5-3 when the wheels fell off Sharapova's game. It's hard to say exactly what happened, and Sharapova had no better theory than anyone else when the smoke finally cleared. "I just deflated a little bit," she said in her presser. "I wasn't moving well, I missed a lot of first serves and that obviously gives your opponent so much confidence. She just started swinging and wasn't making a lot of errors."

One thing that did happen was that ZvonarŽva, who has had a disconcerting habit of physically abusing herself with the racquet (Take that, knee! How do you like that smack, ankle!) and bursting into tears amid emotional meltdowns (it's not a question of if! It's a question of when.) really pulled her game together following her post second-set consultation with her mentor, Sam Sumyk.

I'm not sure how much to make of that factor, because Sharapova understated the effect of her service-struggles; this is a player who's lost in the desert without a canteen when she's not bringing the hard, high one. Today, she threw in some stinkbombs that would make her countrywoman Elena Dementieva green with envy. But British journalist David Law was onto something when, noting that ZvonarŽva has suffered from nerves in past matches, he asked Sharapova if the cordial visits ZvonarŽva had with Sumyk had anything to do with the outcome.

Maria, who is a stonewaller of the highest order, gave the usual stock answer about not worrying about what her opponent is doing and how she's handling her nerves and blah-blah-blah. ZvonarŽva's take was a little different. In her presser, she said:

"You know, we don't really - it wasn't like about something, like, a game-play on something. It was just more to concentrate on myself. And he just told me to go for my shots, like, because sometimes I had a doubt, maybe I shouldn't do, maybe I should change. He told me just go for it, you know, your game is great and you have the shots, so I just have to do it. I think that was the most important thing at that moment."

Later, she added:

"I think for me, it doesn't really do a huge difference, you know, 'cause I think I can figure it out pretty good on my own. But I played only two or three matches where my coach was able to come on court, so it's too early to say about is there a big difference. I don't have that much experience in it.

"But, for sure, just like support. It's great to have a coach. I think it would be too much to - if coach would be able to come out every changeover. Still, tennis is an individual sport. But between the sets, if you can get that extra support, it definitely can take your game to the next level."

So I guess it was mere coincidence that ZvonarŽva wasn't wailing or trying to use her racquet as a meat-tenderiser on her thigh as the third set unrolled.
<<<

Personally, I have mixed feelings about on-court coaching.

Pros:
* If the players go out and play more entertaining tennis as a result, I'm all for it.
* The coaching itself may be entertaining. I would not know. The BBC don't televise any tournaments where on-court coaching is allowed (except Davis Cup, where they're not miked up anyway). And in the few matches from Eurosport that I have obtained, the on-court coaching is always during the adverts.
* Illegal coaching is widespread, yet very difficult to police, so it might as well be legalised.

Cons:
* It's not fair on the players who don't have a (good) coach.
* Tennis is supposed to be an individual sport, although it's not like chess - the player still has to go out there and physically execute the game-plan, and there's no coaching during a rally.


First set
---------
SHARAPOVA @ @__*@* * 6
ZVONARňVA _@ @*___*_ 4

The match started at 11:09 PST; I followed live scores on the Internet, and also used the scoring-thread at http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=289769 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=289769)

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

Looks like it's going to be another tough one - especially for Bepa after being broken after holding a game-point! So far so good for Maria's chances of staying at #1...

Maria serving 1-0: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad B (BP #3), broken.

An important game for Bepa, because if she'd gone 0-2 down after having points to win both games, it would have been very tough for her to recover from that.

Both these girls are among the greatest fighters in tennis.

Bepa serving 1-1: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.
Maria serving 2-1: 0/30 -> 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad B (BP #2), Deuce #2, ad B (BP #3), Deuce #3, ad B (BP #4), broken.

TheBoiledEgg: "Masha's serve has just completely gone :help:"

In contrast to their serve-dominated Australian Open encounter, it's a match of break-and-counterbreak so far.

Maria has been struggling with her serve since the Australian Open final, partly because of the injury to her left hamstring, which is an integral part of her service-motion. She's made three double faults so far, and is certainly not filling me with confidence that she can defend her title here.

Bepa serving 2-2: held to love.

First hold to Bepa! If Maria doesn't start holding herself, Bepa won't only beat her - she'll absolutely take her to the cleaners.

Maria serving 2-3: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, 40/30, held.

Maria usually responds in kind to what her opponent achieves. If they hold, she holds. If they break, she breaks back immediately.

stefi62:
>>>
Vera knows exactly what to do with Maria's long flat serves on first ball! At least two huges returns!!! :eek:

And Vera finds huge angles, that's unbelievable, I've never seen her play that well!
<<<

Bepa serving 3-3: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.

Can Maria pull clear, now that she's started holding serve?

Maria serving 4-3: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, 40/30, held.

In Maria's recent matches, she's had a nasty habit of letting 5-2 and 5-3 leads become 5-5 (and then winning the set 7-5). So you know it ain't over till the fat lady sings.

Bepa serving 3-5: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held.

Given Maria's recent track-record of serving for sets and matches, Bepa has a great chance to break here...

Maria serving 5-4: 40/0 (3 SPs), Maria won the first set 6-3 at 11:53 (44 minutes).

For once (in recent history), Maria makes it easy on herself! The vibe I'm getting is that this match is a good contest but not a great performance from either player.

amťliemomo: "Sharapova not playing good and zvonareva should come to the net but she doesnt,staying back and sharapova is stronger than her.She cant win that way."

I agree. Modern racket-technology strongly favours the baseliner in singles, but a good net-player can cause Maria all sorts of problems, and I think Bepa has the most beautiful volleys in my Eternal Fanship.


Second set
----------
SHARAPOVA @ @* * *____ 5
ZVONARňVA _@__* * *@*@ 7

Bepa serving 0-0: 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken.
Maria serving 1-0: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad M, Deuce #2, ad B (BP #3), broken.

What a game! I thought Maria had the 2-0 lead after 15/40 -> 40/40, when Bepa was crying apparently, but Bepa is such a fighter, and now I'm not so sure that Maria is going to win as I was in the middle of that game.

Bepa serving 1-1: 15/0, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad M (BP), broken.

rrfnpump: "Vera is serving ten times worse than Maria, pathetic :rolleyes:"

But Bepa certainly has something to cry about now: a point for 2-1*, but instead 1-2*. The counterbreak-pattern of the first set is being repeated...

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

And Maria 'breaks' that pattern by holding. I don't fancy Bepa's chances now, unless Maria chokes in a major way when she gets to 5.

Bepa serving 1-3: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad B, held.

Good girl. Her chances of winning the match from here are very slim, but Bepa doesn't lie down - she fights.

Maria serving 3-2: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad M, Deuce #2, ad M, held.

Although I don't want Maria to lose this match (and hence the #1 ranking), I'm now rooting for Bepa to win more games. She's never lost to Maria worse than 6-4 6-4, but time's running out quickly now, and she's still two games shy of even equalling that scoreline. :help:

On the other hand, I don't want Maria to be kept on court too long when she'd have to play her quarter-final tomorrow. She does struggle when she has to play too much tennis in too few days.

Bepa serving 2-4: 0/15, 40/15, held.
Maria serving 4-3: 0/15, 15/15, 40/15, held.
Bepa serving 3-5: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 40/15, held with Ace #4!

Worst scoreline (against Maria) equalled! :o

Will Maria's recent demons return to haunt her as she tries to serve this one out?

Maria serving 5-4: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.

LDF: "The forehand drive volley into the net at 15-30 was particularly bad :o :help:"

Good for Bepa, but the more times Maria fails to serve out a set, the more it will prey on her mind. She often gets pegged back to 5-5, but still almost always wins the set.

Bepa serving 5-5: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad B, held.
Maria serving 5-6: 0/30, 15/30. DF #9. 15/40 (2 SPs), 30/40. DF #10, and Bepa won the second set at 12:50 (second set 57 minutes, match so far 1h41m).

Wow, what a turnaround - four games in a row!


Third set
---------
SHARAPOVA ____@__ 1
ZVONARňVA *@*@ @* 6

Bepa serving 0-0: held to love.

Five games in a row, and suddenly, from the verge of defeat, the momentum's all with Bepa!

It bugs me that Maria looks like losing her title and the #1 ranking now, but at the same time, I'm so excited for Bepa. This would be the first time she's ever beaten a reigning world #1.

Maria serving 0-1: 0/40 (3 BPs), 30/40, broken.

Bepa won the first 7 points of the set! And my belief in Maria's victory is fading rapidly.

Bepa serving 2-0: held to love.

But as a Bepa-fan, it's just exhilarating to see that she's going through the best player in the world so quickly now!!

And the scoring-thread is being posted-to so rapidly that I'm suddenly 8 pages behind!

Maria serving 0-3: 15/0, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken.
Bepa serving 4-0: 0/40 (3 BPs) -> 40/40, ad B, Deuce #2, ad M (BP #4), held.

Phew! After 0/40 -> ad out, I thought Maria was going to be bagelled! :o

Now all I'm hoping for is a modicum of respectability in the third-set scoreline, just as I hoped for Bepa in the second set. I don't even want Maria to take this victory away from Bepa, who deserves it more than Maria deserves to be ranked #1 right now.

Maria serving 1-4: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken.

Maria has served 13 double faults! :help:

There's only one player in this third set - and a very good one, too.

Bepa serving 5-1: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15. Bepa hit a backhand winner. 40/15 (2 MPs). DF #9. 40/30 (MP #2). Again Bepa missed her first serve, and didn't win. 40/40, ad B (MP #3). She did it! Bepa won 4-6 7-5 6-1 at 13:22 (third set 32 minutes, match 2h13m).

I'm very glad that I chose to follow live scores for this special match, otherwise I would have missed out on how my loyalty shifted.

I'm much more excited for Bepa right now than disappointed in Maria's loss of title and the #1 ranking - but not before giving Bepa her first-ever win over a reigning #1!

Ten days later, I just feel so torn in two. But I wouldn't change anything about a tournament of which Daniela HantuchovŠ was the eventual champion! :D


Statistics
----------

Bepa served 6 aces to only 2 for Maria. Maria committed a monstrous 13 double faults, and Bepa was way too high herself with 9 DFs.

Bepa got 54% of first serves in (Maria 59%), winning 61% of the points when she did so (Maria 63%) and 51% on second serve (Maria 31%).

I think second serves were the key, because Maria's second-serve winning-percentage deteriorated from 50% in the first set to 28% in the second to 11% in the third, while Bepa's improved from 29% in the first set to 63% and 62% in the second and third.

Bepa broke 8 times from 18 break-points, while Maria was more efficient with only half as many opportunities as she broke 6 times from 9 BPs. Maria actually converted all 5 BPs she had in the first two sets, then only 1 of 4 in the third, while Bepa's break-point conversion-efficiency improved set by set from 2/7 to 3/6 to 3/5!

In points, Bepa won 101-88 (first set 29-35, second set 43-38, third set 29-15).


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

"It's strange. Serving for the match, the only unforced error I really made was a swing-volley. And after that, I just deflated a little bit. I wasn't moving, moving well at all. I missed a lot of first balls. They got returned. And I missed the first ball, and I serve, miss the first ball.

"That obviously gives your opponent so much confidence. She just started swinging, and wasn't making a lot of errors.

"I was just trying to come in a little bit, maybe put some pressure on her, 'cause I felt like she started swinging a little bit more, and her balls were getting deeper and deeper as the match went on. And I wasn't sure if that was because my ball was not heavy enough, or because I needed to try something different or give her different looks, but...

"I still felt pretty rusty. It's hard coming into an event when you haven't played a lot. You try to improve with every match. The more I'm gonna play, you know, the easier it's gonna get for me.

"Sometimes you run into someone who's a great competitor, who's had a lot of experience, who plays many tournaments a year.

"You can never underestimate her. I mean, she's also had a pretty decent past. You know, you've got to be ready. You've got to take your chances when you have them.

"Even in the first two sets, I didn't feel like I was playing amazing tennis. But I did the things that I needed to do, you know. I came up with the good shots, you know, especially on her serves when I needed to.

"I try not to worry about what my opponent is doing, or how she's handling her nerves. It's tough to focus on someone else when you've got so much to focus on yourself.

"The court-speed is pretty normal. It's not too fast, not slow. But the air, the ball goes through the air pretty fast. There's a little bit of altitude, especially in the heat, the ball goes pretty fast.

"Not really angry. You know, I'm pretty cool about it. I mean, it happens in my sport, and all I've got to do is just... it's not like I've been slacking off the last few weeks. I mean, I've still been working hard, and I'm gonna continue that, and, you know, you're not always gonna be rewarded for the work that you do, you know. Players, different players are always gonna have their different shining moments, you know. And, I mean, it's unrealistic to always do well and always have great days. So, yeah, you've just got to keep working.

"A loss is a loss - it is always disappointing. I don't care what anyone says, it's always disappointing, because we're athletes and we work to win. You know, but it's the way you treat a loss. It's the way you go on about it, and, you know, you just have to be professional about it.

"I'm not making any excuses. There's no need for that. It is one of those days where it didn't happen. I'm gonna have to look past that and, you know, think of what's gonna make me better for the future, how I'm gonna win Grand Slams rather than what I could have done differently to beat her today. I look at the future."

[Re. her poor serving]
"Yeah, there were a lot of wrong things going on today. That was just one of them, especially in the third set. But it was more of a snowball-effect than anything else."

[Re. on-court coaching]
"I've never personally liked it, but I don't think it's going to make that big of a difference. I think it's more for TV-purposes, to add something to the game."

[Re. the Sharapova-lookalikes]
"Oh, Jerry, God, the questions you ask me! I mean, that had nothing do with today's match. I had a lot of sweaty dudes up there and I seemed to win that okay, during the other match. And I didn't have anyone today, so maybe that's why I lost. Gotta hire them next time! <laughter>"

[Re. losing the #1 ranking]
"It doesn't mean much to me."

Excerpt from Maria's latest doodle at www.mariasharapova.com (http://www.mariasharapova.com):
>>>
Losing is not fun, especially when you feel ready to play again. As much I want to whine and complain and find excuses, it's all pretty relative and comes down to having a good perspective on life. Ok fine, I did have a little pity-party for myself that evening, and I did order a room-service burger with fries instead of the salad, but seriously, what's wrong with feeling a little sorry for yourself!!

Last year, the night after losing in the semis at Wimbledon, I was having dinner with some friends, and the owner of the restaurant brought me a little note that said, 'Tough situations don't last, but tough people do.' So that note has become my motto in life. Life rolls on... and life is good!
<<<

It's so cool that Maria - a member of my Eternal Fanship - got to talk to Gwen Stefani - a member of a member of my Eternal Fanship! Maybe Gwen could sample Maria's grunting for the next No Doubt record! ;)


Bepa quotes
-----------

"I didn't really pay attention to the score that much. I was just trying to fight for every point and trying to find my game, find my shots, till the last point is played.

"I was concentrating on every point, trying to get the rhythm, trying to get my game together, and I was just fighting for every point. I think that's why I was able to turn it around."

[Re. to pull off an upset of this magnitude]
"I haven't really thought about it this way, 'cause I played Maria a few times, and we always had tough matches. And obviously she's a great player, she's a great fighter, and, well, she's No. 1 in the world. I mean, it's just great to be able to play any player out of the top ten. But to beat a player No. 1 in the world, it's just great for anybody's career. When I would look back at it, I would say, 'yeah, I was pretty good in tennis. I beat a No. 1 player in the world.' So I don't know. It's just great for my experience.

"[Years from now, I would like to see] that I was able to get out of myself as much as I could. Like, I would love to see that I did everything I could to be the best player I can. That's the most important thing. And, you know, because I don't set the goals or something, it's a little bit different right now.

"I've been in top ten before, you know, and I've been injured after it. It was a hard time, but for myself, I just trying to look back and say, 'Well, I enjoyed my match, and I did everything I could.' That's all I can ask of myself."

[Re. her strategy against Maria]
"I'll keep it secret while it's working! <laughter> No, but the most important thing for me was today to concentrate on my game, don't pay attention to what's going on and, you know, to go for my shots.

"I've beaten Maria in the past, as well, so we always had tough matches. You know, I think every day is different, and every day you have to fight. And all players are really good right now on the Tour, and it's just depends who will be able to get the best out of that particular day."

[Re. her coach Sam Sumyk]
"He's French. I started working with Sam in the beginning of the last year, so it's been a little bit over a year. I think [the best quality he has brought to me is] just to be able to fight for every point. I don't pay attention to anything, even if I have a bad day and something is not working, still be able to get the best tennis out of myself even on a bad day. So I think it's great.

"It's great to have Sam by the side and tell me, 'Hey, calm down, you're not playing that bad,' or, 'It's just couple shots, don't worry.' It's great. I think it helps. But also I'm a little bit different player. I'm more mature. Yeah, I think it's just a combination of everything."

[Re. on-court coaching]
"I think the coach can help on court or something, but I had some opinions and they were pretty much the same. So it's really great when you have someone who understands and give you advice, and just give you support. I think it was really important, that moment, for me. But there is not much disagreement between us. You know, on what I have to do, so I just knew what I had to do, and he just gave me extra support to, you know, keep going."

[See also Peter Bodo's article above.]

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/ (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/)
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/ (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/)
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/ (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/) (added 4 external links)
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/zvona/ (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/zvona/) (added 1 external link)