Sep 8th, 2004, 01:43 AM
For most 17-year-old Russian girls, it would be a very positive experience to fight their way through to the third round of a Grand Slam, and take a set off a two-time Grand Slam champion who hits the ball like a bazooka.
If Maria Kirilenko, Anna Chakvetadze, Vera Douchevina or Eugenia Linetskaya did just that, I would say that they had made the best of a very tough draw. Indeed, I think it's fair to say that they did.
But what of the other 17-year-old Russian, who is actually younger than all of the four mentioned above?
First round: Laura Granville v MARIA SHARAPOVA 
(Arthur Ashe Court, Tuesday 31st August)
I feel vindicated in giving Maria "only" a 63% chance of beating Laura Granville, as she struggled past the American 6-3 5-7 7-5. That's the depth of women's tennis these days: even winning a Grand Slam title doesn't guarantee that you're going to have easy first-round matches.
Maria's serve had let her down in losing to Mashona Washington at New Haven, but she seemed to have worked on it very effectively, as she won the first set 6-3 without dropping more than one point in any of her service-games (I followed live score-updates at www.usopen.org (http://www.usopen.org/)).
Granville, by contrast, was taken to deuce in all four of her service-games in the first set, suffering the one crucial break at 3-4. So Granville was putting up good resistance, but it seemed that Maria could more than handle it.
But the momentum gradually shifted away from Maria during the second set, as her own service-games got tougher while Granville was now holding serve more easily than in the first set.
No doubt Maria would have been back in the locker-room about an hour earlier if she had taken one of the three break-points she had with Granville serving at 1-1 0/40. But, as at 2-3 in the first, Granville recovered from 0/40 to hold serve, and ultimately broke Maria to win the second set 7-5.
No women's singles Wimbledon champion has ever lost in the first round of the following US Open, but Maria came dangerously close to breaking Conchita Martínez's record of a third-round loss to Ginger Helgeson in 1994.
Maria broke to 15 in the first game of the third, only for Granville to return the favour to make it 1-1. Maria wasted a break-point in the next game, and with Granville having the advantage of serving first, the scoreboard-pressure on Maria to hold her own serve grew ever greater until she had to serve to stay in the match at 4-5!
Maria came through the test with flying colours, holding to 15 for 5-5, breaking to love for 6-5, and holding to 15 to seal victory. I'm very proud of Maria's bravery in such a tight situation with real potential for calamity.
Started 19:43 EDT, Maria serving first.
Sharapova 0-0: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held
Granville 0-1: 40/0 -> 40/40, ad G, held
Sharapova 1-1: 15/0, 40/15, held
Granville 1-2: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, 40/40, ad G, held
Sharapova 2-2: held to love
Granville 2-3: 0/40 (3BP) -> 40/40, ad G, Deuce #2, ad G, held
Sharapova 3-3: 40/0, 40/15, held
Granville 3-4: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad S (BP), broken! :D
Sharapova 5-3: 40/0 (3SP), 40/15, Maria won first set 6-3 at 20:17.
Granville 0-0: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held
Sharapova 0-1: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held
Granville 1-1: 0/40 (3BP) -> 40/40, ad G, held
Sharapova 1-2: 40/0, 40/30, held
Granville 2-2: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held
Sharapova 2-3: 40/0, 40/15, 40/30, held
Granville 3-3: held to love
Sharapova 3-4: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held
Granville 4-4: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held
Sharapova 4-5: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held
Granville 5-5: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held
Sharapova 5-6: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (SP), 40/40, ad G (SP #2), Granville won second set 7-5 at 21:06.
Granville 0-0: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2BP), broken
Sharapova 1-0: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2BP), broken
Granville 1-1: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, 40/40, ad S (BP), Deuce #2, ad G, held :(
Sharapova 1-2: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held
Granville 2-2: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held
Sharapova 2-3: 40/0, 40/15, held
Granville 3-3: 30/0, held
Sharapova 3-4: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held
Granville 4-4: 40/0, 40/15, held
Sharapova 4-5: 40/0, 40/15, held
Granville 5-5: 0/40 (3BP), broken
Sharapova 6-5: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15 (2MP), Maria won third set 7-5 at 21:52.
Maria: "My game went off for a while. I went to La-La Land, but I came back to Earth. It's all about the spirit. Hanging in there, and trying to do your best."
Maria dictated play with a winner:unforced-error ratio of 35:44, compared with 14:27 for Granville. A not-so-encouraging statistic is that of the ten break-points she had against the Granville serve, she only converted three of them.
Associated Press article:
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Second round: Jelena Jankovic v MARIA SHARAPOVA 
(Louis Armstrong Court, Thursday 2nd September)
Maria won the first set 6-0, but struggled on serve more than (in the first set) against Granville, having to save a break-point at 4-0. Still, it seemed nice for Maria to have a breather after such a tough first round...
At 6-0 1-0, it seemed the only question was whether Jankovic would avoid a double bagel. She did so by holding serve... and then broke Maria in the next game! Maria had two break-back points in the next game (2-1), but Jankovic saved them to lead 3-1.
At this point, horrible memories resurfaced of my players winning the first set 6-0 but going on to lose the match, as Monica Seles did against Sandrine Testud at Wimbledon 1997 (0-6 6-4 8-6), and Daniela Hantuchová did against Shinobu Asagoe at Wimbledon 2003 (0-6 6-4 12-10). Both these turnarounds started with my players' inabilities to claw back an early break in the second set.
Maria fought hard and broke back to 3-3, only for Jankovic to reestablish the break in the next game and take a 5-3 lead. Maria responded by holding to love and breaking to 30 for 5-5.
Jankovic broke Maria to 15, and thus served for the second set again at 6-5. Maria broke back to love, but a 1/4 deficit in the tiebreak proved too far for Maria to come back from, and Jankovic won the second set 7-6 (7/5). CEEFAX's report cited loss of concentration as the reason for Maria dropping the second set.
I actually felt quite angry at the end of the second set, but my feelings were very different just eight minutes into the third, when Maria had a double-break 3-0 lead, having won 12 points in a row from 30/0 Jankovic in the first game.
Surprised at how long the changeover was taking, I inferred from the NetCam that Jankovic was having an injury timeout for what I later learned was a left hip strain.
I even wondered if Jankovic was going to concede the match, as the break in play lasted 14 minutes. The rules allow three minutes of treatment (in addition to the 90 seconds of the changeover), but an unlimited time to evaluate the injury before these three minutes begin. So a player could go to hospital, get some tests done, wait two days for the results, and then the treatment-time would begin! ;)
When play finally resumed, Maria had lost none of her momentum as she held to 15 for 4-0. Jankovic survived a break-point to hold for 1-4, Maria held to 15 again for 5-1, and broke to 30 to finalise the scoreline at 6-0 6-7 (5/7) 6-1.
Started 18:35 EDT, Maria serving first.
Sharapov 0-0: 30/0, 30/30, 40/30, held
Jankovic 0-1: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2BP), 30/40, broken
Sharapov 2-0: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held
Jankovic 0-3: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken
Sharapov 4-0: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15 -> 40/40, ad J (BP), Deuce #2, ad S, held
Jankovic 0-5: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2SP), 30/40, Maria won first set 6-0 at 19:00.
Sharapov 0-0: 40/0 -> 40/40, ad S, Deuce #2, ad S, held
Jankovic 0-1: 0/15, 15/15, 40/15, 40/30, held
Sharapov 1-1: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken
Jankovic 2-1: 30/0, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad S (BP #2), Deuce #2, held
Sharapov 1-3: 40/0, 40/15, held
Jankovic 3-2: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2BP), 40/40, ad J, Deuce #2, ad S (BP #3), broken
Sharapov 3-3: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2BP), 30/40, broken
Jankovic 4-3: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held
Sharapov 3-5: held to love
Jankovic 5-4: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken
Sharapov 5-5: 15/0, 15/15, 15/40 (2BP), broken
Jankovic 6-5: broken to love
6-6 tiebreak: J 2/0, 2/1, 4/1, 4/2, 4/3, 5/3, 6/3 (3SP), 6/4, 6/5, Jankovic won second set 7-6 (7/5) at 20:07. :mad:
Jankovic 0-0: 30/0, 30/30, broken
Sharapov 1-0: held to love
Jankovic 0-2: broken to love
Injury time-out for Jankovic (20:15 - 20:29)
Sharapov 3-0: 40/0, 40/15, held
Jankovic 0-4: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad J, held
Sharapov 4-1: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held
Jankovic 1-5: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2MP), 30/40, Maria won third set 6-1 at 20:42.
Maria's W:UE ratio was 28:33, but Jankovic's was much worse at 7:25.
Maria: "I don't think I'm playing the best tennis, but you don't want to be playing your best in the first two rounds."
Pierre Cantin's eye-witness report (various matches including Maria's):
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Third round: MARY PIERCE  v MARIA SHARAPOVA 
(Arthur Ashe Court, Saturday 4th September)
This was always going to be a tough match against the Australian Open 1995 and French Open 2000 champion, who beat Venus Williams at the Olympics, and had breezed through her first two matches 6-1 6-2 and 6-0 6-1. Although Maria was seeded 20 places higher, I thought she only had a 40% chance against Pierce. It's a real shame this had to be a third-round match - Pierce is not an opponent I'd want to see in Maria's draw before the quarter-finals.
In burning heat, both players held serve easily for the first four games, then Maria broke for 3-2. At 4-3 she saved five break-points (including 0/40) to hang onto her break, and served out the first set 6-4.
But I felt (although I didn't see the match) that Maria's control of the match was fragile against the awesome power, not to mention vast experience, of Pierce. Maria was broken for 0-2, and had to save another break-point which would have given Pierce 4-0.
As it was, games went with serve - Pierce holding easily and Maria struggling against brutal returns - until Maria was serving to stay in the second set at 2-5. She saved five set-points, then had three points to make it 5-3, then Pierce converted her sixth set-point to win the second set 6-2, and worse still the advantage of serving first in the third. It might have been better for Maria if she had lost the set 6-1 and served first in the third.
Maria broke in the first game of the third, saved break-point to lead 2-0, and led 3-1 after both held serve. Astonishingly, Maria was to lose all five games left in the match.
I sensed the danger when Maria faced two break-points on her serve at 3-2. A break here would put tremendous pressure on Maria's serve at 3-4, as a break there would leave Pierce serving for the match at 5-3. And that is exactly what happened. :bigcry:
Started 13:34 EDT, Pierce serving first.
Pierce 0-0: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held
Sharap 0-1: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held
Pierce 1-1: 40/0, 40/15, 40/30, held
Sharap 1-2: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held
Pierce 2-2: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2BP), 40/40, ad P, Deuce #2, ad S (BP #3), broken
Sharap 3-2: 30/0, 30/30, 40/30, held
Pierce 2-4: held to love
Sharap 4-3: 0/40 (3BP) -> 40/40, ad P (BP #4), Deuce #2, ad P (BP #5), Deuce #3, ad S, held
Pierce 3-5: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held
Sharap 5-4: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15 (2SP), 40/30, Maria won first set 6-4 at 14:15.
Pierce 0-0: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad P, held
Sharap 0-1: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad P (BP), broken
Pierce 2-0: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held
Sharap 0-3: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad S, Deuce #2, ad S, Deuce #3, ad S, held
Pierce 3-1: held to love
Sharap 1-4: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, 40/30, 40/40, ad S, Deuce #2, ad S, Deuce #3, ad S, held
Pierce 4-2: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held
Sharap 2-5: 15/0, 15/15, 15/40 (2SP), 40/40, ad P (SP #3), Deuce #2, ad P (SP #4), Deuce #3, ad P (SP #5), Deuce #4, ad S, Deuce #5, ad S, Deuce #6, ad S, Deuce #7, ad P (SP #6), Pierce won second set 6-2 at 15:01.
Pierce 0-0: 15/0, 15/15, 15/40 (2BP), 30/40, broken
Sharap 1-0: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad S, Deuce #2, ad S, held
Pierce 0-2: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held
Sharap 2-1: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held
Pierce 1-3: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, 40/30, held
Sharap 3-2: 15/0, 15/15, 15/40 (2BP), broken
Pierce 3-3: 30/0, 30/15, held
Sharap 3-4: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 15/40 (2BP), 30/40, broken
Pierce 5-3: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15 (2MP), Pierce won third set 6-3 at 15:39.
I was surprised that Maria dictated the play so much with her winners and errors (W:UE ratio 37:47 for Maria, 26:22 for Mary), as I'm used to Pierce doing that against anyone. So Maria clearly has the ability to overpower Mary Pierce (at least in Mary's veteranhood), but she also served a monstrous 14 double faults.
Maria: "I think the major problem was that I tried to do too much at a certain time when I didn't need to do it. I went for too much on my serve at the wrong time. And she's an experienced player and she knows what it takes.
"I don't really think it was about the nerves, my loss today. There's so many things I have to work on. That will give me the chance to do so.
"Yeah, it's tough. If you win something big then a lot of things will happen. I lost today, but I still have to move on. It's not the end of the world, I only lost a tennis match. There are a lot more important things in the world going on right now."
On being given a code-violation for coaching: "My dad was shouting something, but I wasn't really looking. I was like: 'Whatever.'"
Maria's coach Robert Lansdorp: "It's not like she lost the match today because she had a photo-shoot three weeks ago. She has to practice a little harder. We have to give her a little bit of time. She'll be fine."
Mary Pierce: "This feels really good after all I've been through. There was a time with my back problem that I thought I wouldn't be able to play tennis again, so these moments are all the sweeter. I just love what I do so much more now than I did before."
I have to feel a little bit happy for Mary, who has been one of my favourite players just outside my fanship over the last eleven years.
Nevertheless, I was gutted that Maria lost so early now that she has the stature of Grand Slam champion. But she's so young, mentally strong and self-possessed that I have great faith in her for 2005 and beyond.
And despite the early loss, Maria looked great on court, and gave a remarkably mature and intelligent interview after the loss.
HER DAD AND HADAD
Maria's travelling coach Mauricio Hadad resigned after her loss, apparently frustrated by Yuri Sharapov's dominating influence (Maria's main coach is still Robert Lansdorp). Nick Bollettieri said Yuri needs to step back from Maria because she's always looking up at him for support during her matches. More details here:
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Maria also reached the third round in the mixed doubles (with Max Mirnyi):
1r + Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi/Andy Ram, 6-4 6-4
2r + CARA BLACK/WAYNE BLACK , 6-3 7-6 (7/4)
3r - MARTINA NAVRÁTILOVÁ/LEANDER PAES , 4-6 4-6
Report on mixed doubles 3r:
Maria's US Open page:
Dr. Andrew Broad
vBulletin® v3.6.8, Copyright ©2000-2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.