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andrewbroad
Nov 7th, 2004, 04:42 PM
Two weeks ago, it seemed that the Force was with Maria all the way. She had just reached the Zurich final at the end of a 12-match winning streak whose victims included Venus Williams and Elena Dementieva. She was a set up in the Zurich final against Alicia Molik, playing like a dream, her first Tier I title surely about to be realised. And by reaching that final, she had secured a place in the prestigious eight-player season-ending WTA Tour Championships.

But a pectoral/shoulder-injury foiled her bid for the Zurich title (6-4 2-6 3-6), and though she said it wasn't that serious, playing Philadelphia now looks like a mistake as she had to withdraw before her semi-final, putting her participation at Los Angeles in doubt! :sad:


Ironically it was Maria who profited from an injury in her second round on Wednesday.

Maria dropped the first set 2-6 as Jelena Kostanic messed up her rhythm by mixing up her shots, giving tall Maria a lot of trouble with low-bouncing two-handed sliced backhands.

But with Maria leading 2-6 6-4 3-0, Kostanic retired with a right-leg adductor-strain that had been bothering her since the second set. In my view, it's always a shame when a player advances because her opponent had to retire.


Kostanic: "My whole right leg started to bother me in the second set. I couldn't run, wasn't quick enough so it changed the match.

"I had to mix it up for her. It's the way I can play against her and it worked. I can hit hard or mix it up, I can play both games. But then it's harder to make them stronger because I have to work on two games.

"She's obviously a good player. But I know now I can play with her and can probably beat her. But today wasn't my day."


Maria: "I wasn't really playing my game at the beginning. I wasn't attacking anything. She's a grinder, that's her strength. So I started changing things, started coming to the net more. She played really well so I had to pick up my game."


In Friday's quarter-finals, Maria avenged her loss in the Zurich final, overcoming another slow start to beat Alicia Molik 3-6 6-1 6-3. Just as Alicia had ended Maria's 12-match winning streak, Maria now ended Alicia's own winning streak of 11 matches.

Thanks to Sriganesh of the sizzlingsharapova Yahoo! Group for the following details:
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In the first set Molik broke to lead 3-1, then Maria managed to break back to 3-4 but Molik broke Maria and served it out to take the set 6-3.

In the second set Maria only dropped one game as she broke in the second and sixth game, Maria had a triple set point at 5-1 but lost the point on a double-fault but redeemed herself with an ace to take the set.

In the third set Maria broke to lead 2-1 but Molik broke straight back at love, all games were held on serve until Maria broke to lead 4-3 and didn't drop another game as she took the set and the match!
<<<


Sadly, Maria had aggravated her right-shoulder strain in beating Molik, and was distraught at having to pull out of her semi-final against Amélie Mauresmo, which had been due to be played on Saturday night (Maria pulled out in the early afternoon after a practice-session).

"I'm very disappointed I am not able to continue my play in Philadelphia. I was having a really good tournament, and I'm sure it will still be an exciting final weekend. I just wish I could be a part of it."

So Mauresmo was handed a walkover to the final, where she will meet the Vera Zvonareva who beat Nadia Petrova 6-3 7-6 (7/2) in the semi-final that was actually played.

It's been such a great week for Vera, who had a slim-looking chance of qualifying for the Championships at the start of the week, and took that chance magnificently by thrashing Jennifer Capriati 6-0 6-1 in the quarter-finals. Talk about rising to the occasion! :D

I was looking forward to a mouthwatering Maria v Vera final, but now I totally support Vera as (at the time of writing) she begins the final against Mauresmo.


Maria will move up to #6 in the WTA rankings tomorrow, having never been ranked higher than #7 before. She's still going to Los Angeles, where she will have until Wednesday to recover (or possibly Thursday, as each player has to play three round-robin matches in four days). It's a very exclusive and prestigious tournament, so although I would usually pray for a full recovery, I now pray for a speedy recovery.

Photos:
http://search.news.yahoo.com/search/news?c=news_photos&p=sharapova

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

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

Andy.
Nov 8th, 2004, 02:06 AM
Thanks for the report Andrew great as always