Here's Maria's draw for the first week of the Australian Open:
ANASTASIA MYSKINA (6) v Sofia Arvidsson
Emmanuelle Gagliardi v Libuse Prusová (Q)
Sophie Ferguson (WC) v Teryn Ashley
Conchita Martínez Granados v MARIA SHARAPOVA (28)
Well, Maria certainly has some obscure players to contend with in the first two rounds! Conchita Martínez Granados is not the same person as Conchita Martínez, although she did win a match at Canberra this week. Given Maria's recent impressive form, she should have no problems in surpassing last year's first-round exit.
When I saw "S. Ferguson" in the draw, I thought one of the Black-Eyed Peas had escaped! ;-) I've never heard of Sophie Ferguson, and Teryn Ashley is just a name I've seen in challenger-results (she has a career win/loss record of 0-4 in the main draws of WTA tournaments). But just because someone is unknown, doesn't necessarily make her a safe opponent...
It's difficult to imagine anything other than an all-Russian third-round match between Maria and Anastasia Myskina, although Emmanuelle Gagliardi should not be overlooked as she has already won two matches this year. Maria v Myskina would be fascinating... Maria may be the future of women's tennis, but Myskina is currently world number seven. I think Maria is ready to take her on... but it's difficult to pick a winner.
Maria's likely fourth-round opponent - if she gets that far - would be Chanda Rubin, a very dangerous opponent who can hit winners from anywhere, and who was two points away from beating eventual champion Monica Seles in the semi-finals of the 1996 Australian Open before the prime of her career was ruined by a wrist-injury. Given that Venus Williams beat Rubin 6-2 6-3 and Maria 7-5 6-3 in Hong Kong, I believe Maria would have the edge... although Rubin did take a set off world number one Justine Henin-Hardenne in the quarter-finals of Sydney this week.
I think it's unfortunate that Maria v Myskina and Maria v Rubin would be third- and fourth-round matches, as IMO they are both worthy of being quarter-finals.
Maria's likely quarter-final opponent would be Kim Clijsters, were it not that Clijsters is struggling to recover from a serious ankle-injury, and is doubtful even to play in the Australian Open, let alone win it. I'm not sure of the Australian Open's seed-reshuffling policy should Clijsters withdraw before her first match, so I can only speculate about possible quarter-finals against the evergreen Conchita Martínez, or Silvia Farina Elia who had championship-point in the Canberra final today.
Unless Maria has Venus Williams standing in her way (if Clijsters withdrew and they promoted Williams to second seed), I can see no one Maria is incapable of beating before the semi-finals, where Williams would be her likely opponent. Maria put up a great performance against Williams in the Hong Kong final to lead 5-1 in the first set, but I don't think she's ready to actually beat Williams yet.
If I were God:
1r + Conchita Martinez Granados, 6-0 6-0
2r + Teryn Ashley, 6-0 6-0
3r + ANASTASIA MYSKINA (6), 6-4 6-3
4r + CHANDA RUBIN (9), 6-2 6-3
qf + SILVIA FARINA ELIA (20), 6-2 6-1
sf + VENUS WILLIAMS (3), 6-1 6-1
f - DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ (15), 6-7 7-6 10-12
By the way, I found the following article about Maria very exciting:
Maria plays Conchita Martínez Granados on Tuesday. Good luck!
Dr. Andrew Broad
Jan 20th, 2004, 08:32 AM
Maria overcame a tougher-than-expected challenge from Conchita Martínez Granados, who celebrates her 28th birthday today, to book her place in the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-4 6-3 victory on Show Court 2.
I followed live score-updates at http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/ (with a little help from the alternate scoreboard at http://www.7sport.com.au/ when www.australianopen.com (http://www.australianopen.com) went down).
The match started at 15:56 AEST. Maria held to 30 for 1-0, and I sensed a tough early challenge when CMG held to love (I think) for 1-1. This was confirmed when Maria went 0/30 down on her serve, and was broken to 15 for 1-2.
Then the scoreboard froze for a couple of games, and CMG was leading 3-2 with a break (presumably having led 3-1 if these games went with serve). Maria broke back to 15 to level up at 3-3.
Maria held to 15 for 4-3, then there was a long game on CMG's serve: Maria had one break-point at 30/40, but after two deuces, CMG held for 4-4.
Maria, serving at 4-4, was down 0/15, up 30/15, then faced a hugely important point at 30/30. I thought at the time - and on reflection now - that that was the key point of the first set. Maria won it, and held to 30 for 5-4.
With CMG serving to stay in the first set at 4-5, the scores went 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (Maria's first set-point), 40/40, advantage Maria (second set-point), Deuce #2, advantage Maria (third set-point). This pattern of Maria going ahead by one point then getting pegged back was typical of this match. Maria converted her third set-point to win the first set 6-4 at 16:33.
Maria's struggle in the first set can probably be put down to first-match rustiness, and the very much hotter conditions in Australia than Hong Kong. She ran away with the match in the second set - apart from a wobble when she led 5-0.
Maria lost the first point of the second set, but held to 15 for 1-0, broke to 30 for 2-0, and held to 15 (again after 0/15) for 3-0. Another tough and evenly-balanced game on CMG's serve followed, with two break-points for Maria at 30/40 and after the first deuce - she converted the latter for a 4-0 lead.
I totally relaxed at 4-0, knowing that there was virtually no way that Maria, with all her mental strength and focus, could lose to an opponent of CMG's calibre from this position. She held to 30 to win her seventh game in a row for a 5-0 lead.
CMG restored some pride by holding to 30 (after 15/30) for 1-5, leaving Maria to serve for the match. I'm not sure if it was nerves, loss of concentration (both of which are uncharacteristic of Maria) or a great fightback by CMG, but Maria went down 0/30, and was broken to 15, reducing the lead to 5-2.
Serving to stay in the match a second time, CMG fought back from 0/15 and 15/30 to hold to 30. Thus Maria served for the match a second time at 5-3, and this time it was serious. It's important to get the first point on the board when you're serving for the match, and Maria jumped out to a 40/0 lead - three match-points - converting the second one to seal victory at precisely 17:05.
My joy at Maria's win is all the greater for the fact that I followed the scores live, and saw her struggle a bit before securing victory.
Maria's match-statistics are none too impressive, with 41 unforced errors to only 22 winners (CMG had 24 UEs and 3 winners). Maria won only 59% of points on her first serve (CMG 51%), ironically 78% on her second serve (CMG 59%). Her second serve was as fast as CMG's first serve! Maria broke serve 4 times from 8 break-points (CMG had only two BPs but converted them both), and won 7 of 14 points at the net. These statistics are much better for the second set than for the first.
In the second round, Maria will face an unexpected opponent in Lindsay Lee-Waters, the lucky loser who replaced Teryn Ashley and thrashed Sophie Ferguson 6-3 6-1. I don't expect Lee-Waters to offer much resistance against Maria, although I think Maria would have to improve on today's performance to beat Anastasia Myskina in the third round. But you tend to play to the level of your opponent sometimes, and we know Maria is a big-match player who can rise to the occasion.
Maria's Australian Open page:
Maria's playing women's doubles with Tamarine Tanasugarn, with whom she won the Japan Open and Luxembourg doubles-titles last year. They play Australian duo Lauren Breadmore and Sophie Ferguson in the first round tomorrow.
Dr. Andrew Broad
Jan 21st, 2004, 06:31 PM
I think Maria needs to learn how to put players away on the professional level. That's the main criticism I have for her tennis early in her career.
And she will have to play cleaner tennis to be able to beat Myskina should they play in the third round. .
Jan 22nd, 2004, 10:29 AM
well...she is playing myskina in the third round
hopefully she will avoid the same mistake she made against venus
Jan 23rd, 2004, 09:28 AM
I hope Masha is fit to play, as I really want to see that match :sad:
But it should be a close match, as Masha played 10 times better against Lee-Waters than she did against Martinez-Granados. Although Nastya was in devastating form against Gagliardi, so it should be close ;)
Udachi Masha :D
Jan 23rd, 2004, 11:51 AM
Do u know sth about Sharapova`s injury? She retired in doubles.... Maybe sb know sth more??
Jan 23rd, 2004, 12:46 PM
"taken from WTA web-site: Petrova/Shaughnessy (RUS/USA) d. Sharapova/Tanasugarn (RUS/THA) 41 ret. (Sharapova lower left leg strain"
Does anyone know sth more ? Is it serious problem? Will she play today?
Jan 23rd, 2004, 02:28 PM
Sure. if she can play,she'll win. Good luck, Maria!
Jan 23rd, 2004, 03:25 PM
Maria thrashed Lindsay Lee-Waters 6-1 6-3 in the second round yesterday. I didn't follow the live scores this time as I decided to catch up on some sleep before attending a very interesting lecture (I didn't want to risk feeling drowsy just for the sake of Maria playing a lucky loser).
I've heard Maria played much better in the second round than in the first round, and the statistics appear to confirm this. Maria hit three aces and 15 winners in the 52-minute match, and only 11 unforced errors (Lee-Waters made 27 unforced errors and 10 winners). Maria played a very baseline-oriented game, with only one approach to the net (which she lost).
Maria served only slightly faster than Lee-Waters, but got 76% of first serves in (LW 59%), won 93% of points when she did so (LW 64%), and 56% of her second-serve points (LW 26%).
Maria broke 4 times from 9 break-points (twice in each set - which means that Lee-Waters was serving first in the first set, Maria first in the second), and didn't even face a break-point on her own serve.
Maria won 61 points in the match, Lee-Waters 33. In the first set alone she was particularly dominant, beating Lee-Waters by 27 points to 8.
Maria's Australian Open page:
Maria had made an impressive start to her women's doubles campaign on Wednesday, as she and Tamarine Tanasugarn thrashed Lauren Breadmore and Sophie Ferguson 6-2 6-2. But in the second round today, they were trailing 1-4 to 8th seeds Nadia Petrova and Meghann Shaughnessy when Maria retired with a lower left leg strain.
I'm hoping that it was more of a precautionary retirement - it would be a real shame if Maria were not fully fit for the intriguing match with Anastasia Myskina tomorrow.
If Maria is fit, it's a difficult match to call. Myskina is the 6th seed (Maria the 28th), and will have a lot of pressure to prove herself against her 16-year-old compatriot, who IMO is the most talented Russian player - I think Maria can win a Grand Slam singles title in her career; I don't really expect her older compatriots to do so.
I would expect Maria v Myskina to be another very baseline-oriented contest, as Myskina is an out-and-out baseliner who likes a target at the net (although Myskina's match-statistics indicate that she is coming to the net much more than in the past, and with a 68% success-rate). Myskina seems to have played very well in her first two rounds, but playing Maria is the first match she should be really worried about.
It should be an attractive match in terms of both tennis and beauty... although Myskina bears such a striking resemblance to Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer that perhaps Maria ought to bring a stake and a crucifix as well as a tennis-racket! ;)
Saturday's order of play on the Margaret Court Arena (the third-highest court at the Australian Open) is as follows, starting at 11:00 AEST (midnight GMT):
WS 3r: Amy Frazier v SILVIA FARINA ELIA (20)
WS 3r: ANASTASIA MYSKINA (6) v MARIA SHARAPOVA (28)
MS 3r: Guillermo Cañas v TIM HENMAN (11)
MS 3r: Hicham Arazi v ALBERT COSTA (26)
I hope BBC1 will show some of this match in Grandstand tomorrow! It's inevitable that Henman will get the lion's share of the tennis-coverage (one hour provisionally allocated, starting at 13:00 GMT), although they do usually show a limited amount of the women's.
Dr. Andrew Broad
Jan 24th, 2004, 05:29 PM
Maria put up a brave fight against Russian number one and world number seven Anastasia Myskina on the Margaret Court Arena today, before inexperience and unforced errors caught up with her as she went down 6-4 1-6 6-2. Nothing was said about the lower left leg strain with which she had pulled out of the women's doubles yesterday.
Myskina was less assured than normal ("When two Russians play, it's always a kind of nervous match"), but showed that Maria will have to wait a little longer to reach the top of the Russian Revolution in women's tennis. After all, the 22-year-old won a Tier IIA and a Tier I tournament while the 16-year-old was winning her two Tier III tournaments last autumn.
The match started at 13:52 AEST, and I followed live score updates at http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/
Maria, serving first, was in trouble from the beginning as she won the first point of the match but was broken to 15. Myskina held to love for 2-0, and I confess I had a vision of the dreaded "double doughnut" (with Maria being injured and all) as Maria found herself 15/30 down in the third game.
But Maria bravely fought back to hold to 30 for 1-2. She had Myskina serving at 0/30 and 30/40, and although Myskina saved that break-point, Maria broke back after the first deuce to level up at 2-2!
But it degenerated into an ugly set of breaks and counter-breaks as Maria was broken to love for 2-3, broke back to 30 for 3-3, and was broken again to 15 for 3-4.
Maria reached 4-4 by breaking to love! But she was broken to 30 for 4-5, allowing Myskina to serve for the first set. Maria took the first point, but Myskina won three in a row for two set-points at 40/15. Maria saved the first one, but couldn't stop Myskina winning the first set 6-4 at 14:30.
Judging by the statistics it was a poor-quality set from both girls, with Maria making 22 unforced errors and only 3 winners, Myskina 9 UEs and 4 winners. Their serves in particular let them down, with Maria winning only 38% of points when she got her first serve in (Myskina 50%), and only 20% on second serve (Myskina 43%).
But the second set was a completely different story, as Maria thoroughly outplayed the sixth seed. She held for 30 (after 40/0) for 1-0, and broke to 30 (after 30/15) for 2-0.
Maria showed championship-qualities to recover from 0/40 on her serve in the third game. She needed two game-points to hold (after two deuces) for 3-0.
Myskina had to work hard for her lone game of the second set. Myskina won all the odd points, and Maria all the even ones until Myskina held for 1-3 after one deuce.
Maria held to 15 for 4-1, and broke to 30 for 5-1! She served it out to love, to win the second set 6-1 at 14:59.
The statistics indicate that Myskina's form dipped a little in the second set, while Maria played much better than in the first. She hit 10 winners and 7 unforced errors, while Myskina made 16 UEs and 3 winners. Maria got 52% of first serves in (Myskina 60%), but bizarrely won 54% of points on first serve yet 92% on second serve! (Myskina 58% and 25%). Maria also played more at the net, winning three points there from four approaches.
There was a long break after the second set - I'm not sure if it was a heat-break or a bathroom-break, but it certainly seemed to give Myskina a chance to regroup.
It was one of those matches where each set was a different story, with neither player able to carry the momentum from winning one set into the next. Myskina held to 30 for 1-0.
Maria struggled on her serve in the second game, winning only the even points until it was 40/40 (i.e. she saved one break-point at 30/40). She had a game-point after the first deuce, but was broken after the second deuce for 0-2.
Myskina confirmed the break by holding to 30 for 3-0. Maria continued to struggle as she faced a break-point at 30/40 - a virtual match-point - but saved it and, after one deuce, held for 1-3.
Maria had Myskina under pressure serving at 0/30, but missed her penultimate chance to break back as Myskina reeled off four points in a row to hold for 4-1. Maria recovered from 15/30 to hold to 30 for 2-4.
Maria's last chance to get back into the match came in a marathon game of four deuces on Myskina's serve at 4-2. Maria had 0/15 and a break-point at 30/40, but Myskina had a game-point after each of the deuces, converting the fourth game-point for a 5-2 lead.
Serving to stay in the match at 2-5, Maria won the first point, but lost three in a row to face two match-points at 15/40. She saved the first one, but Myskina converted at 30/40 to win the final set 6-2 at 15:44.
The statistics of the third set were similar to those of the first, with Maria making 26 unforced errors and 8 winners, Myskina 9 UEs and 4 winners. The serving was better, though, with Maria winning 58% on first serve (Myskina 67%) and 36% on second serve (Myskina 57%). They each won three points at the net - Myskina from three approaches, Maria from five.
Overall, then, Maria had 55 unforced errors and 21 winners, Myskina 34 UEs and 11 winners - no doubt who went for her shots more! Maria served faster than Myskina on average, but with a lower success-rate on her first serve. Maria broke 5 times from 8 break-points, Myskina 6 times from 12 BPs.
Maria: "I'm only 16 years old, you know. This is my first full year on the tour. I just need some time. It's not easy to go and know everything. In the third set I made some stupid unforced errors, when I didn't really need to. But those kind of things, I think will just take experience, just things here and there."
Maria's Australian Open page:
So my involvement in the Australian Open is over, apart from Daniela Hantuchová's mixed doubles campaign, a casual interest in Vera Zvonareva and Tatiana Golovina, and getting up at 2am to watch anyone but Clijsters and Agassi win the finals next weekend. ;)
I hope I will have a much better `squad' for the French Open and Wimbledon.
Dr. Andrew Broad
Jan 25th, 2004, 03:04 AM
Too bad Masha lost, but she still has plenty of time ;)
I tried desperately to watch this match, but Margaret Court Arena was already packed thanks to the Elia/Frazier match, and I just couldn't find a seat in there. So I went and watched Elena L instead ;)
A note though: I watched Masha practise in the morning, and well, she was a bitch :o She made a mistake and started practicing on Alicia Molik's court, and of course when Alicia came to practise Masha had to move, and well she wasn't happy. She was yelling at her coach/dad whoever and wouldn't sign autographs, or even smile at an on-looker, as she raced off to another court.
Jan 25th, 2004, 03:06 AM
Princess Masha had to move? Oh no.
I'm sure it's just another coincidence that Maria was a bitch.
Jan 26th, 2004, 12:30 AM
I'm sure it's just another coincidence that Maria was a bitch.
goldenlox's said that you're a moderator.
Is this the way a moderator should be talking about a player in a forum dedicated to her?
Jan 26th, 2004, 09:55 PM
It may have just been a bad day for Maria. And having to move your practice in the middle of that practice makes it understandable why she would be frustrated. But tennis legend Nick Bollettieri says Masha is polite on the practice courts so I'm sure this was out of character for Maria if it indeed did happen. Kimmie's_Boy, was Masha speaking in Russian or English to her coach/dad? And players don't normally sign autographs in the middle of practicing. They wait until after their practice is over. Then they sign autographs.
Jan 27th, 2004, 12:44 AM
Was Masha speaking in Russian or English to her coach/dad? And players don't normally sign autographs in the middle of practicing.
I think Masha only speaks Russian to Yuri not English.
I saw in Hong Kong that Ferrero didn’t like to sign autographs. Navratilova didn’t sign autograph for me near players’ room (I was the only one asked for her autograph at the time), but she signed for me while I was waiting for Masha in their hotel.
Jan 27th, 2004, 10:04 PM
Tennis players are normally good to the fans. But sometimes they have bad days and don't want to deal with anybody. They are under alot of pressure.
MSF, I was under the impression when I met Maria and her father that they spoke Russian to each other. And that way very few people can understand what they are saying to each other. ;)