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Fabunny
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:02 PM
Sharapova just missing mark
Russian seeks to tweak her game after again losing in semis at a major

COMMENTARY
By Tracy Austin
NBC Sports
Updated: 1 hour, 9 minutes ago

LONDON - Since winning Wimbledon in 2004, Maria Sharapova has not made it back to the final of any major, but that's nothing for her to be alarmed over as she's young and her game can only get better.

The fourth-seeded Sharapova lost to No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in the Wimbledon semifinals.

In Saturday's final, Mauresmo will take on third-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne, who won in straight sets over second-seeded Kim Clijsters in the other semifinal.

A bit short on athleticism
I believe one thing that truly hurt Sharapova against Mauresmo is that the Russian does not move quite as well as some of the other top women. Sharapova doesn't possess quite the same natural athletic ability of a Clijsters, Henin-Hardenne or Mauresmo.

Sharapova is a fine competitor when she is in the offensive position on a point -- when she is in the driverís seat. But if she gets pushed into a defensive mode, she doesnít have the capability to turn the point around.

For instance, even though Clijsters lost to Henin Hardenne, she definitely is always capable to get the ball back one more time. Thatís a talent that allows Clijsters to get back to a neutral position on a point, which virtually allows her to restart a point from scratch.

But Sharapova doesnít have that ability. She always needs to win from that first strike -Ė by the first or second point she needs to be ahead, which is a little like Lindsay Davenport.

Status quo for Sharapova's game
If I was to analyze Sharapova's game, I think itís fair to say that it has remained where it was when she won the Wimbledon title in 2004.

Letís look at the facts. In 2004, Henin-Hardenne wasnít in the Wimbledon draw and either was Clijsters. Thatís all Iím going to say so feel free to read between the lines.

What was also different back in 2004 at Wimbledon was that with Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters sidelined there was just a little more of an opening for the other players that year, and Sharapova made the most of that opening.

It was the same situation when Anastasia Myskina won the 2004 French Open -Ė Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters werenít in the draw.

Iím definitely not worried about Sharapova as I feel she is on the right path, and she should stay the course. In truth, itís really only a few points here or there that are making the difference between winning and losing for Sharapova.

And letís not forget that Sharapova is only 19 so she has time on her side.

Healthy for the hardcourts
Itís very clear to see that Sharapova is trying to add to her game. Sheís trying to come into the net, which we saw against Mauresmo.

Her backhand volley needs work, especially when sheís trying to change the direction of the ball. And maybe she needs to not try to hit so fancy. But I definitely think sheís on the right track.

As far as Iím concerned, sheís consistently been in the semifinals at Grand Slams -Ė sheís been in five semifinals in the last seven majors played -Ė and I donít think thatís bad at all for a 19-year-old

Thereís no denying that against Mauresmo, Sharapova left it all out on the court. I believe she gave 100 percent, and Mauresmo just played better.

If Sharapova stays healthy, which she seems to be now, sheís in good position to make her game even better.

The ankle injury that cost her playing time before the French Open no longer seems to be a factor, nor does the her shoulder injury sustained near the end of last year.

I think her prospects for the upcoming hardcourt season are very strong -Ė she likes playing on hardcourts, and she plays well on them.

What she needed most this season was to be injury free again, and get matches under her belt, which is exactly what she did at Wimbledon. Just to be injury free, and play consecutive tournaments is important.

Iím counting on Sharapova to do well this summer, and to do well at the U.S. Open.

No melt away by Mauresmo
That's that state of Sharapova, but what about Mauresmo? Well, I think you have to give credit to the Frenchwoman. She was up a set, 3-1 and 0-40 on Sharapova's serve, and it looked like she was in the driverís seat.

And at that point in the match, Sharapova was looking very rattled -Ė to get to love-40 on her serve in the fifth game, she made three very quick errors.

So I thought Sharapova was starting to look confused, but somehow Mauresmo then got tight, eased up a bit, and was no longer as aggressive.

With Sharapova you canít give an inch -Ė when you open the door a crack, sheís going to try and throw it wide open.

So all credit to Sharapova, who all of a sudden went from the defense position, where she doesnít fare that well, to being on the offense, which is a position she definitely prefers.

But the fact that Mauresmo looked ready to do her typical melt away, but managed to pull herself together, and win the match shows sheís overcome a huge hurdle.

Sharapova probably could have served better in the third set, and she certainly could have made a few less unforced errors, but in the end, it was Mauresmo's impressive performance that did the talking.

franny
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:12 PM
She's right. Maria is just short on athleticism, defensive abilities, and volleying abilities. She needs to work on those aspects of her game. If she can improve her defense(work on those thighs you stick!), get a slice shot like Clijsters, and improve her volleys, she can win another major.

Fabunny
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:17 PM
I listened to Tracy Austin commentating on the Mauresmo/Sharapova match on Wimbledon Live today. Her comments were so pro-Sharapova that it was disgusting.

When Mauresmo had the hiccup in the second set, she said things like: - How many times have been down this road before; You just sense that the end is near.

When Maria was playing badly, she said, Maria will just shrug this off.

It wasn't until Mauresmo had a stranglehold on the third set, that I felt Tracy was genuinely complimenting Mauresmo.

Sharapova is a great player,, especially on grass, but it shouldn't always be about Sharapova. Mauresmo killed her with her variety game and Sharapova had few answers. Mauresmo got tight in the second set , but lots of players do and still recover. As the number 1 player and the Australian Open champion, I felt that Mauresmo should been given more credit for that match. Sharapova won all of her previous matches with ease, but Mauresmo played so well, that she took Sharapova out of her game. Kudos to Amelie on a great match.

By the way, Wimbledon live showed Mauresmo's leaping with delight in SUPER SUPER SLOW MOTION like an NBA star dunking a basketball. It was great - you had to compliment her athleticism.

Libertango
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:21 PM
I thought Tracey was fair and excellent in her commentary. She was equally complimentary to both players, when they deserved to be. I think she's a great commentator, and I always think she makes intelligent and valid points.

Fabunny
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:21 PM
Now that Maria has lost the match, Tracy is just saving face with this article. She hardly criticized Maria today because she thought Maria would pull it out in the end.

hablo
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:25 PM
If I was to analyze Sharapova's game, I think itís fair to say that it has remained where it was when she won the Wimbledon title in 2004.

Letís look at the facts. In 2004, Henin-Hardenne wasnít in the Wimbledon draw and either was Clijsters. Thatís all Iím going to say so feel free to read between the lines.

What was also different back in 2004 at Wimbledon was that with Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters sidelined there was just a little more of an opening for the other players that year, and Sharapova made the most of that opening.

It was the same situation when Anastasia Myskina won the 2004 French Open -Ė Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters werenít in the draw.

This part of her article is SO LAME :rolleyes:
Pathetic.

hingis-seles
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:26 PM
It was the same situation when Anastasia Myskina won the 2004 French Open -Ė Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters werenít in the draw.

Justine was in the 2004 RG draw and lost to Garbin. Myskina was in the other half. If anyone benefitted from Justine's poor form at RG 2004, it was Paola Suarez.

hingis-seles
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:31 PM
It was the same situation when Anastasia Myskina won the 2004 French Open -Ė Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters werenít in the draw.

Justine was in the 2004 RG draw and lost to Garbin. Myskina was in the other half. If anyone benefitted from Justine's poor form at RG 2004, it was Paola Suarez.

Fabunny
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:32 PM
I guess I am now accustomed to listening to the British commentators who I think do a very good job of highligting the strengths of each player and occassionally peppering their comments with some negativity, when warranted. But when commentators focus their compliments on their favorites instead of alternating between players and giving each her due -- its is very annoying.

Tennisaddict
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:34 PM
Tracy Austin is pathetic, she worships the ground Maria walks on. At some point I tuned in at the Belgian channel because she was making me sick with her biased commentary. She was praising Maria all the time like she was the better player and Amelie was the underdog, while Amelie was making Maria look like a mediocre player in the parts that she was playing well. Ugh, she did this as well in the semi against Venus last year. Now how stupid is that sucking up to a player over your fellow country player :rolleyes:. Anyway, she was proven again today that there are at least five better players than Maria out there, and that she will have to wait until they retire to win another major. It's sad that she gets paid to tell bullshit. At least we won't hear this crap from her for at least another year.

saki
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:35 PM
What ifs are silly paths to go down. Would Justine have won the '04 RG title if she'd been healthy? No clue. Myskina played her way through a really tough draw with great tennis and lifted the title. Would Justine or Kim have beaten Maria at Wimbly '04? No clue. But Maria beat a former Wimbly champion and the defending champion to win that title. Bottom line.

QUEENLINDSAY
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:38 PM
Crap article for me!

Libertango
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:47 PM
Tracey made me laugh tonight when she said the only chance Bjorkman has of beating Federer is if Roger gets knocked over by a car.

Not the most sensitive thing to say. :tape:

Fabunny
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:52 PM
Tracy Austin is pathetic, she worships the ground Maria walks on. At some point I tuned in at the Belgian channel because she was making me sick with her biased commentary. She was praising Maria all the time like she was the better player and Amelie was the underdog, while Amelie was making Maria look like a mediocre player in the parts that she was playing well. Ugh, she did this as well in the semi against Venus last year. Now how stupid is that sucking up to a player over your fellow country player :rolleyes:. Anyway, she was proven again today that there are at least five better players than Maria out there, and that she will have to wait until they retire to win another major. It's sad that she gets paid to tell bullshit. At least we won't hear this crap from her for at least another year.


Thank you. I had to zone her out and focus on the players.

ezekiel
Jul 6th, 2006, 11:04 PM
why do I get the feeling that Tracy is overly emotional and taking losses hard and personal ?

Problem with Sharapova from an unbiased view is that her success came early and now she is stuck with a true bashing game. She is still decent and riding that youthful exhuberance but she may be just one step of turrning into a female version of Roddick with his one dimensional bashing game

SAEKeithSerena
Jul 6th, 2006, 11:13 PM
i can't fucking stand tracy austin