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View Full Version : French Open 2011: Andrew's TV-reports (semi-final added)


andrewbroad
May 25th, 2011, 12:37 PM
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FRENCH OPEN (Roland Garros, Paris, France; red clay; Major)
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Master thread for my French Open 2011 reports:
http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=435447

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First-round TV-report: Sharapova v Lučić (Tuesday 24th May 2011)
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+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [7,EF] d. Mirjana Lučić, 6-3 6-0

The BBC joined this match on Court Philippe Chatrier at 0:0 *4-3 after showing Murray v Prodon from Court Suzanne Lenglen.

It was a short but very sweet display of Maria. She looked very sharp (losing just four points in the second set, in which she won 15 points in a row from *0-0 to *4-0), and also very fetching in a yellow and white dress, while Lučić wore a pink dress and a left-ankle support.

It’s so wonderful to see Maria back to her best after her injury-induced slump of the last three years. She showed so much power and determination, and looked every inch the eventual champion here, which would complete her Career Grand Slam.

Lučić is a very powerful hitter herself, but was very erratic as she struggled to cope with the blistering pace from Maria.

Lučić was one of the brightest prospects in women’s tennis when she won the very first WTA tournament she entered (Bol 1997), and reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon 1999. I hated her for beating Monica Seles in the third round there, but have softened my attitude towards her in the light of the Jelena-Dokić-like story of how she had to flee from her abusive father and stop playing for several years.


First set
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SHARA _*_*_*@*@ 6
LUČIĆ *_*_*____ 3

The match was second on Chatrier, and started at 12:38 CEST.

Lučić serving 0-0: 15/0. 15/15. 30/15. 30/30. 30/40 (BP #1). Deuce #1. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Deuce #2. Ad Lučić (GP #1). Deuce #3. Ad Lučić (GP #2). Held.

Sharapova serving 0-1: 15/0. 30/0. 40/0 (GP #1). Held.

Lučić serving 1-1: 0/15. 15/15. 30/15. 30/30. 40/30 (GP #1). Held.

Sharapova serving 1-2: 15/0. 30/0. 30/15. 40/15 (GP #1). Held.

Lučić serving 2-2: 0/15. 15/15. 30/15. 40/15 (GP #1). Held.

Sharapova serving 2-3: 15/0. 30/0. 30/15. 30/30. 40/30 (GP #1). Held.

Lučić serving 3-3: 0/15. 0/30. 15/30. 15/40 (BP #1). Broken.

Sharapova serving 4-3 (new balls): The BBC joined the match at 15/0. Lučić on the fourth stroke hit a forehand long. 30/0. Wide-angled first serve forced Lučić to earth a forehand return. 40/0 (GP #1). Maria forced a short ball that sat up nicely for her to hit a crosscourt forehand winner. Maria celebrated the hold with a “c’mon”. Held.

Lučić serving 3-5: Lučić hit a wild forehand very long. 0/15. Second serve out wide: Maria dumped a backhand return into the net. 15/15. Maria opened up the court with an off-forehand, and hit a lovely swinging crosscourt forehand winner just inside the baseline. 15/30. Double fault (second serve just long). 15/40 (SP #1 for Sharapova). Second serve out wide: Maria ripped a crosscourt forehand return-winner, and celebrated the set with a yell of “c’mon” before she’d even finished her grunt. Maria won the first set 6-3 at 13:12 CEST (34m).


Second set
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SHARA *@*@*@ 6
LUČIĆ ______ 0

Sharapova serving 0-0: Ace out wide: on the sideline. 15/0. Lučić hit a down-the-line forehand deep into the corner, forcing Maria to hit a defensive backhand lob that landed on her side of the net. 15/15. Second serve: forehand return long. Lučić spread her arms and looked bewildered. 30/15. First serve: forehand return long. 40/15 (GP #1). Lučić sprayed a forehand long. Held.

Lučić serving 0-1: Maria’s deep forehand forced Lučić to bunt a forehand long. 0/15. Maria’s crosscourt backhand dropshot-return forced Lučić to net a backhand. 0/30. Maria forced a short ball and hit a blazing crosscourt backhand winner. 0/40 (BP #1). Lučić forehand just long. Broken.

Sharapova serving 2-0: First serve out wide: Lučić blasted a forehand return halfway up the net. 15/0. Lučić netted a forehand. 30/0. Lučić dumped a backhand halfway up the net. 40/0 (GP #1). Deep first serve forced Lučić to bunt a forehand return long. Held.

Lučić serving 0-3: Double fault (second serve just long). 0/15. Weak second serve out wide: Maria blasted a forehand winner down Lučić’s forehand sideline. 0/30. Maria’s big, deep forehand return down the line forced Lučić to bunt a backhand into the bottom of the net. 0/40 (BP #1). Maria hit a pinpoint backhand winner down the line. Broken.

Sharapova serving 4-0: Double fault (second serve just long). 0/15. Lučić backhand long. 15/15. Lučić sprayed a wild forehand very long. 30/15. Lučić off-forehand just wide. 40/15 (GP #1). Lučić netted a backhand. Held.

The commentators recapped Maria’s change of coach from Michael Joyce to Thomas Högstedt around the turn of the year, and John Lloyd added that she also worked with Jimmy Connors for a couple of weeks in the off-season.

Lučić serving 0-5: Double fault (second serve into the net). 0/15. Second serve: Maria blasted a huge forehand winner onto the baseline. 0/30. First serve out wide induced Maria to net a forehand return. 15/30. Lučić forehand very long. 15/40 (MP #1 for Sharapova). Deep first serve out wide forced Maria to hit a forehand return wide of the alley. 30/40 (MP #2 for Sharapova). Second serve... Lučić on the ninth stroke hit a crosscourt backhand very wide. Maria celebrated with a scream of “c’mon” and a fist-pump. Maria won 6-3 6-0 at 13:33 CEST (second set 21m, match 55m).

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
May 27th, 2011, 02:30 AM
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FRENCH OPEN (Roland Garros, Paris, France; red clay; Major)
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Second-round TV-report: Sharapova v García (Thursday 26th May 2011)
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+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [7,EF] d. Caroline García [WC], 3-6 6-4 6-0

It looked as though Maria might suffer the abject embarrassment of losing to a 17-year-old wild card ranked #188 as she went 3-6 1-4* down, but she stormed back to win the next 11 games to book her berth in the third round.

The BBC only showed the last two games of this match, as Nadal v Andújar and Kanepi v Watson both took priority, but commentator Sam Smith said that Maria struggled with her serve in the cold, windy conditions, at one point hitting a first serve over the BASELINE!

Andrew Castle: “García was half-volleying winners from the back of the court, and giving Sharapova all she could handle.”
Sam Smith: “This girl is going to be wonderful – probably top ten.”


First set
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SHARAP __@___@*_ 3
GARCÍA *@_@*@__* 6

The match was third on Court Philippe Chatrier, and started at 16:40 CEST.

García serving 0-0: 15/0. 15/15. 30/15. 30/30. 30/40 (BP #1). Deuce #1. Ad García (GP #1). Held.

Sharapova serving 0-1: 15/0. 30/0. 30/15. 40/15 (GP #1). 40/30 (GP #2). Deuce #1. Ad García (BP #1). Deuce #2. Ad García (BP #2). Broken.

García serving 2-0: 15/0. 30/0. 30/15. 30/30. 30/40 (BP #1). Broken.

Sharapova serving 1-2: 0/15. 0/30. 0/40 (BP #1). Broken.

García serving 3-1: 15/0. 30/0. 40/0 (GP #1). 40/15 (GP #2). 40/30 (GP #3). Deuce #1. Ad García (GP #4). Deuce #2. Ad García (GP #5). Deuce #3. Ad Sharapova (BP #1). Deuce #4. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Deuce #5. Ad Sharapova (BP #3). Deuce #6. Ad Sharapova (BP #4). Deuce #7. Ad García (GP #6). Deuce #8. Ad García (GP #7). Held.

Sharapova serving 1-4: 0/15. 15/15. 15/30. 15/40 (BP #1). Broken.

García serving 5-1: 0/15. 0/30. 15/30. 30/30. 30/40 (BP #1). Broken.

Sharapova serving 2-5 (new balls): 0/15. 15/15. 30/15. 40/15 (GP #1). Held.

García serving 5-3: 15/0. 30/0. 40/0 (SP #1 for García). 40/15 (SP #2 for García). 40/30 (SP #3 for García). García won the first set 6-3 at 17:26 CEST (45m).


Second set
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SHARAP __*__@*@*@ 6
GARCÍA @*_*@_____ 4

Sharapova serving 0-0: 0/15. 0/30. 0/40 (BP #1). Broken.

García serving 1-0: 15/0. 15/15. 30/15. 30/30. 40/30 (GP #1). Held.

Sharapova serving 0-2: 0/15. 15/15. 30/15. 30/30. 40/30 (GP #1). Held.

García serving 2-1: 15/0. 30/0. 30/15. 40/15 (GP #1). Held.

Sharapova serving 1-3: 0/15. 0/30. 0/40 (BP #1). 15/40 (BP #2). Broken.

García serving 4-1: 15/0. 15/15. 15/30. 15/40 (BP #1). 30/40 (BP #2). Broken.

Sharapova serving 2-4: 15/0. 30/0. 40/0 (GP #1). Held.

García serving 4-3 (new balls): 0/15. 0/30. 15/30. 15/40 (BP #1). Broken.

Sharapova serving 4-4: 15/0. 30/0. 30/15. 30/30. 40/30 (GP #1). Held.

García serving 4-5: 0/15. 15/15. 30/15. 30/30. 30/40 (SP #1 for Sharapova). Sharapova won the second set 6-4 at 18:10 CEST (second set 43m, match so far 1h29m).


Third set
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SHARAP *@*@*@ 6
GARCÍA ______ 0

Sharapova serving 0-0: The scoreboard froze at 18:10 CEST. The scoreboard resumed at 18:14 CEST (3m). 0/15. 15/15. 30/15. 40/15 (GP #1). 40/30 (GP #2). Deuce #1. Ad Sharapova (GP #3). Deuce #2. Ad Sharapova (GP #4). Held.

García serving 0-1: 0/15. 0/30. 0/40 (BP #1). Broken.

Sharapova serving 2-0: 15/0. 30/0. 40/0 (GP #1). 40/15 (GP #2). 40/30 (GP #3). Held.

García serving 0-3: 0/15. 0/30. 15/30. 15/40 (BP #1). Broken.

Sharapova serving 4-0: First serve out wide: forehand return wide. 15/0. García sprayed a backhand very long. 30/0. Maria hit an attempted off-forehand winner just wide. 30/15. Maria netted a forehand. 30/30. Maria hit a blazing crosscourt backhand winner. 40/30 (GP #1). García nailed a pinpoint off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. Deuce #1. Ace out wide. Ad Sharapova (GP #2). First serve out wide: García netted a makeable backhand return.

García serving 0-5: García netted a backhand off a low-bouncing ball from Maria. 0/15. Double fault #6 (second serve long). 0/30. Double fault #7 (second serve into the net). 0/40 (MP #1 for Sharapova). García saved the first match-point with a first serve out wide + crosscourt forehand winner that clipped the netcord. 15/40 (MP #2 for Sharapova). García hit a backhand very long. Sharapova won 3-6 6-4 6-0 at 18:41 CEST (third set 30m, match 2h00m).

Maria celebrated with a long, Lleyton-Hewitt-esque yell of “c’mon”, then waved to the crowd as they booed her. Andrew Castle suggested that she should instead have acknowledged the applause and then pointed to her opponent.


Maria’s on-court interview
--------------------------

Cédric Pioline: “Maria, well done. It hasn’t been easy today. You’ve been down one set and 4-1, and then the match turned.”

Maria: “Well, my opponent played really well throughout the whole match. I was just trying to stay in it. The conditions were tough, and she was playing well, and I just had to adjust and do something different, and yeah, I turned things around.”

Pioline: “She’s only 17. Maybe you can say a few words about her game. Have you been surprised [by] the way she played?”

Maria: “Well, she played unbelievable the first set and a half. There wasn’t much I could do. She was controlling most of the points, and I just tried to be steady.”

Pioline: “And it’s not easy to play with this wind.”

Maria: “No, the conditions are tough, and she’s young, and she was tough from the beginning, so I really had to adjust and try many little things, but I’m glad I got through today.”

Pioline: “Alright. So now, next round, you’re gonna play Miss Chan. Your draw looks pretty open now Clijsters lost.”

Maria: “<Giggle> Well, you can’t look at those things, because you have to take it one match at a time. It’s a boring answer – I’m sorry – but I still have many rounds to go until then.”

Pioline: “Thank you very much, Maria, and good luck for your next round.”

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
May 29th, 2011, 12:58 PM
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FRENCH OPEN (Roland Garros, Paris, France; red clay; Major)
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Third-round TV-report: Sharapova v Chan (Saturday 28th May 2011)
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+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [7,EF] d. Chan,Yung-Jan [Q], 6-2 6-3

It was a routine victory for Maria, if less spectacular than her first-round performance against Mirjana Lučić. Chan fought really hard, putting up more resistance than 6-2 6-3 implies, but Maria was ruthless for the first four games (to 0:0 4-0*), and just too strong for Chan thereafter. Chan hit the ball quite hard, but didn’t have the variety to really trouble Maria.

BBC commentator Sam Smith: “Sharapova still hits the ball as hard as anyone on the Tour: unbelievably hard, unbelievably heavy, and that’s what so many of the players can’t deal with.”

Maria’s returns (especially off Chan’s second serve) were superb, and she lost her serve only once – when Chan broke back for 0:1 *3-3. Maria responded by winning the next eight points to lead 5-3*, and pegged Chan back from 40/0 to avoid having to serve for the match.

Back in 2007, Maria professed to “feel like a cow on ice” on clay, but her movement has much improved. With her long limbs and the way the ball sits up on clay, Chan was finding it very difficult to hit winners past her laterally. Clay used to be Maria’s worst surface, but now, strangely enough, it’s looking like her best. She has a Nadal-like appetite for winning every single point, and has a golden opportunity to complete her Career Grand Slam by winning this French Open.

Maria once again looked very fetching in her Eiffel-Tower-inspired yellow and white dress and matching visor. Chan, whose English name is Leticia, beat Maria only in the fingernail-department with an impressive white and black diagonal manicure.


First set
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SHAR @*@*_*_* 6
CHAN ____*_*_ 2

The match was fourth on Court Philippe Chatrier, and started at 17:06 CEST.

Chan serving 0-0: Maria on the fourth stroke hit a backhand long. 15/0. Double fault (second serve just wide). 15/15. Chan sprayed a wild forehand very long. 15/30. First serve: Maria netted a very makeable forehand return. 30/30. Maria went to the net and hit a crosscourt backhand drive-volley winner. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria hit a crosscourt forehand onto the baseline, forcing Chan to hit a forehand wide.

Sharapova serving 1-0: Service-winner down the middle. 15/0. Ace down the middle. 30/0. Maria crosscourt forehand just wide. 30/15. Maria backhand just long. 40/15 (GP #1). Chan hit a crosscourt backhand deep into the corner, forcing Maria to hit a down-the-line backhand wide. 40/30 (GP #2). Chan crosscourt forehand wide and just long. Held.

Chan serving 0-2: Maria crosscourt backhand just wide. 15/0. Chan backhand long (the umpire checked the mark). 15/15. First serve out wide forced Maria to net a forehand. 30/15. Chan crosscourt backhand wide. 30/30. Maria netted a forehand. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria’s deep forehand forced Chan to hit a forehand long. Deuce #1. Maria backhand long. Ad Chan (GP #2). Double fault (both serves long). Deuce #2. Chan’s off-forehand forced a short ball, which she dispatched with a crosscourt forehand winner. Ad Chan (GP #3). Chan backhand just long. Deuce #3. Maria’s deep crosscourt forehand forced Chan to bunt a forehand lob long. Ad Sharapova (BP #1). Maria hit a loose forehand just long. Deuce #4. Double fault (second serve just long). Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Maria’s backhand clipped the netcord and fell back on her side. Deuce #5. Ace down the middle. Ad Chan (GP #4). Chan forehand just long. Deuce #6. Double fault. Ad Sharapova (BP #3). Maria broke with a backhand winner down the line.

Three double faults in that game.
Sam Smith: “It’s a lot of pressure, that second serve against Sharapova, because you know that she’s coming at you. She has a great physical presence on the court.”

Sharapova serving 3-0: Chan sprayed a crosscourt forehand wide. 15/0. Maria sprayed a forehand wide and very long. 15/15. Maria hit a loose forehand long. 15/30. Maria hit a crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline. It was called wide, but the umpire checked the mark, overruled it and didn’t order a replay. 30/30. First serve out wide + crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. 40/30 (GP #1). Chan backhand winner down the line. Deuce #1. Maria netted a forehand. Ad Chan (BP #1). Deep first serve out wide – on the service-line – forced Chan to bunt a backhand return long. Deuce #2. Chan hit a deep forehand return-winner down the line. Ad Chan (BP #2). Chan, driven wide by Maria’s crosscourt forehand, netted a forehand. Maria shouted “c’mon”. Deuce #3. Maria forced a short ball and hit a crosscourt backhand winner. Ad Sharapova (GP #2). Maria ran down a weak forehand drop-volley from Chan, but put a forehand pass long. Deuce #4. Maria opened up the court with a pinpoint crosscourt backhand to the sideline, and hit a crosscourt forehand winner into the space. Ad Sharapova (GP #3). Chan forehand return just long. Held.

Chan has been fighting really hard for the first 29m of this match, but Maria is ruthless so far.

There was a nice close-up of Alizé Cornet in the stands.

Chan serving 0-4: Maria netted a forehand return. 15/0. Double fault #5 (second serve long). 15/15. Chan hit a forehand halfway up the net, and looked upset. It’s a dreadful feeling when you’re playing this well and still haven’t avoided the double bagel. 15/30. Maria backhand long. 30/30. Maria netted a forehand. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria’s deep, hard off-forehand return forced Chan to hit a defensive backhand lob wide. Deuce #1. Chan ran down a dropshot and hit a down-the-line forehand that forced Maria in no-man’s-land to net a forehand volley. Ad Chan (GP #1). Maria blasted a crosscourt forehand return wide, and Chan celebrated the avoidance of the double bagel with an emphatic shout of “c’mon”. Held.

Sharapova serving 4-1: Service-winner out wide. 15/0. Maria netted a backhand. 15/15. Maria went to the net, forced a floater, and dispatched it with an off-forehand drive-volley winner. 30/15. Chan crosscourt forehand wide. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria forced a floater, went to the net and hit a high forehand crosscourt drive-volley winner. Held.

Sam Smith: “Chan is just playing someone who does what she does about ten times better. There just isn’t any variety in her game.”

Chan serving 1-5: Maria forced a short, high-bouncing ball, and dispatched it with a high forehand crosscourt winner. 0/15. Double fault (second serve wide)... but the umpire checked the mark and ordered them to replay the point. Chan took full advantage of the silly rule that if your second-serve fault is overruled then you get another first serve, as Maria hit a crosscourt backhand return wide. 15/15. Sharapova crosscourt backhandwide. 30/15. Maria crosscourt forehand just wide. 40/15 (GP #1). Chan forehand long. 40/30 (GP #2). Chan held with a crosscourt backhand winner.

Sharapova serving 5-2 (new balls): Maria hit a short-angled off-backhand winner. 15/0. Chan off-forehand wide. 30/0. Maria hit a pinpoint off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. 40/0 (SP #1 for Sharapova). Chan mishit a forehand long. Maria won the first set 6-2 at 17:52 CEST (46m).


Second set
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SHAR _*_*@_@*@ 6
CHAN *_*__@___ 3

Chan serving 0-0: Maria forced a short, defensive lob, let it bounce and hit an off-forehand drive-volley winner. BBC commentator Andrew Castle criticised her for not taking it on the full. 0/15. Chan off-backhand winner onto the sideline. 15/15. Chan crosscourt forehand wide. 15/30. Maria crosscourt forehand return wide. 30/30. Maria forehand return long. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria played a great spreading rally, Chan fell over, and Maria kept her concentration to hit a backhand winner down the line. Chan /invited/ a ballboy to wipe the red dust off her bottom. Deuce #1. Maria went to the net, but Chan hit a testing pass, and ran down Maria’s backhand drop-volley to hit a backhand pass-winner down the line. Ad Chan (GP #2). Maria hit a crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline, but the umpire checked the mark and called it wide. Held.

Sharapova serving 0-1: Maria hit a deep, error-forcing backhand down the line. 15/0. Chan backhand just long (the umpire checked the mark). 30/0. First serve: forehand return very long. 40/0 (GP #1). Second serve: Chan hit a crosscourt backhand return-winner. 40/15 (GP #2). First serve out wide: Chan hit a crosscourt forehand return-winner. 40/30 (GP #3). Maria hit an off-forehand would-be winner wide by a whisker. Deuce #1. Service-winner out wide. Ad Sharapova (GP #4). Chan sprayed a forehand long. Held.

An amazing statistic flashed up on the screen at 40/0: Maria has won 100% of her second-serve points (obviously that changed on the very next point), Chan just 35% of hers.

Chan serving 1-1: Sharapova backhand long. 15/0. Service-winner down the middle. 30/0. Maria crosscourt backhand winner back behind Chan. 30/15. Maria’s deep crosscourt backhand return forced Chan to hit an off-backhand wide. 30/30. Maria netted an off-backhand. 40/30 (GP #1). Sharapova off-forehand wide. Held.

Sam Smith: “When she was injured and off with the shoulder in ’08 and early ’09, she told her agent Max Eisenbud to ‘get all the endorsement-contacts and people that I work for, and just tell them I’ll do whatever they want if they have me for five days a year.’ She just completely cranked up the whole operation. That came from her – not from her agent or the companies themselves. She’s got her head screwed on.”
Andrew Castle: “Girl from Siberia.”

Sharapova serving 1-2: Chan forehand long. 15/0. Chan backhand return long. 30/0. First serve out wide + forehand winner down the line. 40/0 (GP #1). First serve out wide forced a short return; Maria dispatched it with a short-angled crosscourt backhand winner back behind Chan. Held.

Chan serving 2-2: Chan hit an off-forehand just long and just wide. 0/15. Maria forehand pass-winner down the line. 0/30. Maria netted a forehand return. 15/30. Chan hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line. Sam Smith: “It’s got to be that good to get past Sharapova on a clay court.” 30/30. Chan backhand long. 30/40 (BP #1). Chan netted a forehand. Broken.

Sharapova serving 3-2: Service-winner. 15/0. Maria ran around her backhand and hit an off-forehand winner onto the sideline. 30/0. First serve out wide: Chan connected with a crosscourt forehand return-winner. 30/15. Maria hit a loose forehand just long. 30/30. Chan pounced on a short ball with a forehand winner down the line. 30/40 (BP #1). Chan ran down an inadequate dropshot and hit a crosscourt forehand pass-winner. Broken.

Chan serving 3-3: Second serve out wide: Maria blasted a forehand return-winner down the line. 0/15. Chan went to the net, but Maria’s backhand down the line forced her to lunge and net a forehand volley. 0/30. Chan on the third stroke dumped an easy forehand into the net. 0/40 (BP #1). Maria’s sharp crosscourt backhand return forced Chan to net a backhand. Broken.

Sharapova serving 4-3: Maria hit an off-forehand winner back behind Chan. 15/0. Maria crosscourt backhand + backhand winner down the line. 30/0. First serve forced a short return, which Maria dispatched with a crosscourt forehand winner. 40/0 (GP #1). Deep first serve down the middle forced Chan to hit a forehand return long. Held.

Chan serving 3-5 (new balls): Chan forced a short ball, giving herself an easy crosscourt forehand winner. 15/0. Body-jamming first serve forced Maria to net a backhand return. 30/0. Second serve: Maria netted a cheap backhand return. 40/0 (GP #1). Maria hit a deep off-forehand winner back behind Chan: just inside the baseline. 40/15 (GP #2). First serve forced a short return, but Chan dumped a backhand into the net. 40/30 (GP #3). Maria’s body-jamming forehand down the middle forced Chan to net a forehand. Deuce #1. First serve out wide + pinpoint crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline. Ad Chan (GP #4). Maria’s deep forehand return down the middle forced Chan to net a forehand. Deuce #2. Maria punished a woefully short second serve with a blazing crosscourt forehand return-winner. Ad Sharapova (MP #1). In a meaty rally, Chan went to the net behind a crosscourt backhand onto the sideline, forcing Maria to hoist a defensive backhand lob, but Chan hit a high off-forehand drive-volley right back to her; Maria hit a backhand skyscraper lob, forcing Chan to backstep and hit an awkward high forehand smash just long. Sharapova won 6-2 6-3 at 18:36 CEST (second set 44m, match 1h29m).

Andrew Castle: “Top defensive work from Maria Sharapova to go with all the aggression and the fire that we saw today.”

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jun 2nd, 2011, 02:22 AM
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FRENCH OPEN (Roland Garros, Paris, France; red clay; Major)
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Contents
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1. Fourth-round result: Sharapova v A.Radwańska
2. Quarter-final TV-report: Sharapova v Petković

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1. Fourth-round result: Sharapova v A.Radwańska (Monday 30th May 2011)
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+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [7,EF] d. AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [12], 7-6 (7/4) 7-5

Unfortunately the BBC didn’t televise this match, as its duration was completely contained within that of Murray v Troicki.

Maria was in big trouble in both sets, as she made a dreadful *1-4 (15/40) start in the first set, and saved five set-points in the second: *3-5 (15/40) and 4-5* (0/40*). She really is the ultimate competitor in women’s tennis now.

Archive of point-by-point scores for Monday:
http://www.tennisforum.com/showpost.php?p=19646697

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2. Quarter-final TV-report: Sharapova v Petković (Wednesday 1st June 2011)
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+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [7,EF] d. ANDREA PETKOVIĆ [15], 6-0 6-3

This was a delightful match to watch, as Maria was at her brilliant, ruthless best as she stormed to a 6-0 2-0* lead. It got tough after that as Petković closed to *2-2, Maria got tight and then struggled against the wind for a couple of games, but for me, she’s hitting the ball better than anyone else that I’ve seen at the French Open 2011 – and that includes the men.

BBC commentator Sam Smith: “Look at the discipline that Maria Sharapova brings to every single moment that she’s on court. And just look at the way she presents herself: every time she comes on court, she is immaculate. She never swears; she doesn’t throw her racket; her press-conferences are superb. If you ask her an interesting question, she responds; she engages. She’s every inch the modern sports-star.”

It was such a contrast to the Australian Open 2011, where Maria lost 2-6 3-6 to Petković in the fourth round. Maria looked a pale shadow of her normal self back then, but now her serve is functioning properly again, she’s making many fewer errors, and her returns are the greatest I’ve seen since Monica Seles.

Sam Smith: “Sharapova in January didn’t even look top 30. She was hitting the ball so badly, with so many errors. She has really pulled it together. Her serve is the best it’s been since the shoulder-surgery.”

John Lloyd: “We always talk about weapons – big forehand, big serve, whatever – but one of the things we don’t talk about a lot is the mental side. I think that is a /huge/ weapon, and I think she’s in a league of her own in that regard. She always believes. It doesn’t matter if she’s down a set and 0-5 – you look in her eyes, and it looks that she still thinks she can come back from that position. I don’t believe you can teach that – to be /that/ tough, I think that’s within you. Maria Sharapova is the best competitor in the game. I’d put her above Serena Williams in that department.”

^(If we’re including former players in that comparison, I’d have to say Monica first, Maria second, and Serena joint third with Justine Henin.)

Sam Smith: “Can a ‘cow on ice’ win in Paris?”
John Lloyd: “Not in past years, but this year, the conditions are different and it’s much more open. Yes she can!”

^(“Cow on ice” refers to a throwaway comment that Maria made about her movement on clay in a press-conference at the French Open 2007.)


First set
---------
SHARAPOV @*@*@* 6
PETKOVIĆ ______ 0

The match was first on Court Suzanne Lenglen. Maria won the toss, and presumably chose to receive, although we couldn’t hear her because of background noise. The match started at 14:12 CEST.

John Lloyd: “When you consider how many injuries Maria Sharapova has had, she’s a young 24 in terms of playing.”

Sam Smith: “We’re going to see a lot of variety from this very /thoughtful/ young German.”

Petković serving 0-0: Petković played a good opening point, opening up the court for an off-forehand winner. 15/0. Maria went to the net, but Petković hit a short crosscourt backhand lob-winner over her head. 30/0. Maria netted a forehand. 40/0 (GP #1). Maria’s deep crosscourt backhand return induced Petković to net a backhand. 40/15 (GP #2). Petković netted a normal rallying forehand. 40/30 (GP #2). Petković seemed to have the initiative, but hit a forehand long. Deuce #1. Petković sprayed a wild backhand long and wide. Ad Sharapova (BP #1). Second serve: Maria netted a cheap backhand return. Deuce #2. Maria went to the net, her deep off-forehand approach forcing Petković to hit a backhand pass long. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Petković saved it with an off-backhand winner onto the sideline. Deuce #3. Maria’s deep crosscourt forehand return induced Petković to mishit a forehand wide. Ad Sharapova (BP #3). Petković netted a forehand, and Maria celebrated the break with “c’mon”. Broken.

Sharapova serving 1-0: Petković netted a forehand. 15/0. Petković netted another forehand. 30/0. Maria’s acute-angled crosscourt forehand forced Petković to net a forehand. 40/0 (GP #1). Petković hit an off-forehand winner. 40/15 (GP #2). Petković on the fourth stroke netted a cheap backhand. Held.

Petković serving 0-2: Maria hit a pinpoint crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. 0/15. Petković hit a forehand long. 0/30. Petković hit a down-the-line backhand wide. 0/40 (BP #1). Petković forced a short ball, but hit a wild crosscourt forehand wide. Broken.

Sam Smith: “She’s not settling here, Petković.”
John Lloyd: “She’s trying to force the pace too much. She’s trying to go pace for pace with Sharapova rather than mixing it up.”

Sharapova serving 3-0: Maria on the third stroke hit a crosscourt backhand just wide – a healthy error if ever there was one. 0/15. Maria went to the net, her deep approach forcing Petković to net a backhand. 15/15. Maria forehand long. 15/30. Petković netted a forehand. 30/30. Maria forehand long. 30/40 (BP #1). Petković forehand just long. Deuce #1. Petković netted a forehand off a mildly awkward deep ball from Maria. Ad Sharapova (GP #1). Service-winner out wide. Held.

John Lloyd: “I did not expect to see this score.”

Petković serving 0-4: Petković forced a short floater, let it bounce and hit an easy forehand smash-winner. 15/0. Second serve: Maria hit a huge off-forehand virtual return-winner. 15/15. Second serve: Maria hit a forehand return that looked long but must have clipped the baseline, forcing Petković to hit a forehand long. 15/30. First serve out wide forced Maria to hit a crosscourt backhand wide. 30/30. Petković’s backhand clipped the netcord and dropped dead for a winner. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria hit a crosscourt forehand + pinpoint forehand winner down the line. Deuce #1. Petković crosscourt backhand wide. Ad Sharapova (BP #1). Maria scored the triple break with a crosscourt forehand return-winner. Broken.

Sam Smith: “Petković is very extroverted, but looks very muted here.”
John Lloyd: “Too much pace from Sharapova.”
Sam Smith: “Petković is historically a slow starter. She compares herself to a diesel engine.”
John Lloyd: “It’s not a good idea to make a slow start against Sharapova!”

Sharapova serving 5-0: Maria hit a forehand halfway up the net off a deepish ball from Petković. 0/15. Petković hit a deep return just inside the baseline, forcing Maria to net a forehand. 0/30. First serve out wide: forehand return long. 15/30. Maria forced a short ball that sat up nicely for Maria to nail an off-forehand winner. 30/30. Double fault #1 (second serve into the net). 30/40 (BP #1). Maria forced a short ball that sat up nicely for her to hit a crosscourt forehand winner. Deuce #1. First serve out wide forced Petković to hit a forehand return low into the net. Ad Sharapova (SP #1). Petković forehand just long. Sharapova won the first set 6-0 at 14:44 CEST (32m).

Sam Smith: “Sharapova could open a pâtisserie [bakery] with her bagels here: second set against Mirjana Lučić in the first round, third set against Caroline García in the second round, and now this.”


Second set
----------
SHARAPOV @*__@_@*@ 6
PETKOVIĆ __*@_@___ 3

Petković took a bathroom-break after the first set, thus the second set did not begin until 14:49 CEST. She must have a really small bladder to have to do that after only 32 minutes of play!

Petković serving 0-0: Petković crosscourt backhand wide. 0/15. Maria tried to hit a down-the-line backhand off a crosscourt backhand from Petković, and put it just wide. 15/15. Deep first serve out wide: Maria ate it up with a huge forehand return-winner down the line. Andrew Castle: “That is /the/ best part of Sharapova’s game.” 15/30. Maria forehand long. 30/30. Petković off-forehand winner into the corner. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria’s deep crosscourt backhand induced Petković to hit a backhand long. Deuce #1. Maria hit a deep backhand just inside the baseline, forcing Petković to net a backhand. Ad Sharapova (BP #1). Maria hit a loose off-forehand long and wide, and Petković said: “Komm jetzt! Come on! Come on!” Deuce #2. Petković on the third stroke hit a “horrible” backhand just wide off a pretty big return down the middle. Ad Sharapova (GP #2). Petković pounced on a short ball to nail an off-forehand winner. She gave a determined fist-pump. Deuce #3. Maria played a fantastic spreading rally, moving Petković from side to side like a puppet on a string until she forcedly earthed a forehand. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Petković nailed a forehand winner down the line. Deuce #4. Petković’s backhand clipped the netcord and fell back on her side. Ad Sharapova (BP #3). Petković forehand just long. Broken.

I have to feel a little bit sorry for Petković here, because she played well and very determinedly in that game, but Maria is absolutely ruthless, and is also getting all the providence, as we saw at Deuce #4.

Sharapova serving 1-0: Petković forehand long. 15/0. Petković netted a cheap forehand return. 30/0. Maria’s acute-angled crosscourt forehand to the sideline forced Petković outside the alley to net a forehand. 40/0 (GP #1). Deep first forced Petković to net a forehand return. Held.

Not quite the same determination from Petković as in the previous game. It’s an awful feeling when you’re two thirds of the way to a 0-6 0-6 loss.

Petković serving 0-2: Petković hit an off-forehand winner that clipped the outside edge of the sideline. 15/0. Ace down the middle. 30/0. Maria netted a forehand. 40/0 (GP #1). Maria forehand long. Broken.

Sharapova serving 2-1: Petković netted a forehand. 15/0. Sharapova mishit a forehand long off a deep ball from Petković. 15/15. Double fault (second serve into the net). 15/30. Maria went to the net, but her approach was sufficiently weak to allow Petković to hit a crosscourt backhand pass-winner. 15/40 (BP #1). Petković went to the net, her deep forehand forcing Maria to hit a backhand lob long. Maria frowned. Broken.

Petković serving 2-2: Maria went to the net, forced a floater, and hit an error-forcing off-forehand drive-volley. 0/15. Maria off-forehand winner right in the corner: on the baseline and just inside the sideline. 0/30. Maria hit a loose forehand just long. 15/30. Maria crosscourt backhand just long. 30/30. Petković hit a loose forehand long. 30/40 (BP #1). Maria crosscourt backhand long and wide. Deuce #1. With poor depth on her groundstrokes, Maria netted a forehand. Ad Petković (GP #1). Maria mishit a forehand short, but Petković netted a forehand. Deuce #2. Petković off-forehand just wide. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Maria hit a pinpoint off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. Held.

An important break for Maria, as she actually seemed to be getting very tight (particularly at Deuce #1). It’s a nasty feeling when a routine win suddenly turns into a contest, as this did, however briefly, when Petković broke back for *2-2.

Sam Smith: “Didn’t see this in the first set from Sharapova – she was immaculate. She’s just started to give away a few points here.”

Sharapova serving 3-2: Petković hit a deep return, but Maria half-volleyed a deep down-the-line forehand just inside the baseline, forcing Petković to hit a backhand wide. 15/0. Maria ran down a dropshot and hit a forehand winner onto the baseline – Petković was right there but whiffed a forehand. 30/0. Double fault (second serve into the net). 30/15. Maria forehand long by a whisker (umpire Mariana Alves checked the mark). 30/30. Petković hit a crosscourt backhand onto the sideline, forcing Maria to hit a crosscourt backhand long and wide. Sam Smith: “Sharapova said that the French Open would be the most challenging one for her to win, and that’s why: when she gets pulled out of court, it’s tough for her to come back.” 30/40 (BP #1). Maria on the third stroke hit a crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline, and shouted “c’mon”. Deuce #1. Maria’s off-forehand forced Petković to net a forehand, and Maria shouted “c’mon” again. Ad Sharapova (GP #1). Petković hit a pinpoint off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. Deuce #2. Maria didn’t play very confidently in a long baseline-rally, but Petković dumped a forehand into the net. Ad Sharapova (GP #2). Petković’s deep, body-jamming crosscourt backhand return forced Maria to net a forehand. Deuce #3. Maria netted a forehand off a deep ball from Petković on the 18th stroke – the longest rally of the match so far. Ad Petković (BP #2). Maria on the third round sprayed a wild forehand long. Broken.

A tough service-game for Maria. The wind is blowing from Petković’s end of the court to hers.

Andrew Castle: “Petković is a brilliant all-rounder athletically. She can stay here with Sharapova in a physical sense. Just getting the ball back deep and showing this defensive prowess is bringing its reward now, because Sharapova is making errors.”

Petković serving 3-3: Petković hit a very short forehand; Maria hit a sliced forehand that bounced to Petković’s left with wicked sidespin; Petković went to the net behind a deep lob, forcing Maria to retreat and hit a short, defensive lob; Petković hit two forehand smashes – the second a winner. 15/0. Maria hit a crunching crosscourt backhand return of amazing power, forcing Petković to hit a backhand lob-return wide. 15/15. Petković netted a cheap forehand. 15/30. Maria hit a deep crosscourt forehand winner just inside the baseline. 15/40 (BP #1). Maria broke with a pinpoint off-forehand winner onto the sideline, and celebrated the break with a lingering fist-pump but no “c’mon”.

Petković will have to play into the wind for the next two games, so I fancy Maria’s chances of a 6-0 6-3 victory.

Sharapova serving 4-3: Petković hit a crosscourt backhand deep into the corner, forcing Maria to net a backhand. 0/15. Double fault #4 (second serve long). 0/30. Petković backhand just long. 15/30. Petković had almost too long to play a backhand, and dumped it into the net. 30/30. Maria hit a crosscourt backhand onto the sideline to force a floater, and dispatched it with a crosscourt forehand winner. She screamed “c’mon”. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria backhand just long. Deuce #1. First serve out wide: Petković bunted a forehand long. Ad Sharapova (GP #2). Petković drew Maria to the net with a dropshot, but hit an off-backhand pass wide. Held.

Petković serving 3-5: Maria’s off-forehand clipped the netcord and dropped dead for a winner. 0/15. Petković hit a deep forehand winner down the line: on the baseline. 15/15. Petković crosscourt forehand wide. 15/30. Maria hit a deep crosscourt forehand return + blazing forehand winner down the line. 15/40 (MP #1 for Sharapova). Petković saved it with a courageous crosscourt backhand winner into the corner. 30/40 (MP #2 for Sharapova). Petković netted a forehand. Sharapova won 6-0 6-3 at 15:42 CEST (second set 58m, match 1h30m).

Sam Smith: “That was as good a performance as she could have wished for in these types of conditions, against an opponent she’d lost to at the Australian Open. The first set was a cakewalk, but the second was tough.”

There was a nice close up of Maria’s face as she signed the camera-lens and kissed the air.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jun 3rd, 2011, 03:12 PM
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FRENCH OPEN (Roland Garros, Paris, France; red clay; Major)
===========-------------------------
Semi-final TV-report: Sharapova v Lǐ (Thursday 2nd June 2011)
------------------------------------

- MARIA SHARAPOVA [7,EF] lt. LǏ,NÀ [6], 4-6 5-7

Ten double faults, including one at match-point. Maria’s hopes of completing the Career Grand Slam this year blew away in a wind that kept moving the ball unpredictably as she prepared to hit it, and blowing tall clouds of red dust into her beautiful hazel-green eyes.

I certainly didn’t expect to see Lǐ doing this well at the French Open after her post-Australian-Open-final slump. She’s a great athlete, a great ball-striker, who knows how to put Maria into the positions that she doesn’t like. She made Maria work extremely hard to win points, especially in the first set, and never allowed Maria to settle.

An interesting backstory to this match is that Maria’s new coach Thomas Högstedt used to be Lǐ’s coach until late 2010, when he told her that he didn’t want to travel anymore because he wanted to spend more time with his family. Apparently, Lǐ is so angry that he’s now coaching Maria that she refuses to speak to him.

Lǐ made a great start to go up 0:0 3-0* and 4-1*, her athleticism inducing Maria to go for the lines too much. A horrendous double fault left Maria facing a break-point that would gave given Lǐ *5-1, but a couple of missed returns and Maria’s fantastic acute-angled crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline gave Maria 2-4*.

The momentum seemed to be turning in Maria’s favour as she broke back for 0:0 *3-4, but sadly she threw it away with three double faults in a game for 3-5*. Lǐ failed to serve out the first set as she played a sloppy service-game; however, Maria soon found herself triple set-point down at *4-5 (0/40), and succumbed at 15/40 with a wind-forced error.

Lǐ led 1:0 *0-0 (40/0), but it turned into an epic game of four deuces, and Maria broke with the help of three winners and a double fault at break-point. Lǐ then fell away mentally to go *1-3 down mainly due to her own errors.

Maria had break-point at 0:1 3-1* (40/30*), but Lǐ saved it with a short-angled crosscourt forehand winner just inside the baseline, and Lǐ held for 2-3* with the help of three unforced return-errors from Maria.

Maria held to 15 for 0:1 4-2*, but Lǐ rediscovered her form and broke back for *4-4 with the help of two double faults in a game. Maria at *4-5 played her best game of the match to hold to 15, but at *5-6, she served one agonising double fault at 15/15, and another at 15/40 to put her Career Grand Slam on hold for another year.

Maria said: “She played a very good match. She certainly played a lot better than I did and a lot more solid[ly], and she played the crucial points better. At times, I didn’t serve well, and was rushing more than maybe I had to, and considering the conditions, maybe I was just trying to go for too big a second serve especially.”

A common misconception is that if Lǐ were to win the final, she would become the first Asian to win a Major Women’s Singles title. But Siberia is in Asia, so Maria became the first Asian to win a Major Women’s Singles title when she won Wimbledon 2004.


First set
---------
LǏ *@*_*__@_@ 6
SH ___*_*@_@_ 4

The match was first on Court Philippe Chatrier. Maria won the toss and elected to receive. The match started at 14:10 CEST.

John Lloyd said that the windy conditions might work in Lǐ’s favour, as she handled the wind well in her quarter-final, while Maria can struggle in the wind.

Lǐ serving 0-0: Lǐ had the upper hand in the opening rally, and Maria hit a crosscourt forehand just long. 15/0. Maria hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line: right in the corner. 15/15. Lǐ picked off a deep return with a pinpoint forehand winner down the line. 30/15. Maria netted a forehand return. 40/15 (GP #1). Lǐ forced a short return, and dispatched it with an off-forehand winner. Held.

Lǐ’s playing very well if that opening game is anything to go by, so Maria’s going to have to play one of the 25% best matches of her career today.

Sharapova serving 0-1: Lǐ hit a crosscourt backhand just wide. 15/0. Lǐ hit a crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline. 15/15. Lǐ hit a forehand long. 30/15. Maria went to the net, but Lǐ hit a backhand lob-winner. 30/30. Lǐ hit a crosscourt forehand winner. John Lloyd: “Sharapova good pace but not directed well.” 30/40 (BP #1). Lǐ hit a forehand just long. Deuce #1. Lǐ hit a crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. Ad Lǐ (BP #2). Maria netted a backhand off a deep crosscourt backhand return. Broken.

Lǐ serving 2-0: Lǐ crosscourt forehand just wide. 0/15. Lǐ off-forehand winner. 15/15. Maria’s deep crosscourt backhand forced Lǐ to net a backhand. 15/30. Lǐ netted a backhand. 15/40 (BP #1). Maria netted a backhand. 30/40 (BP #2). Maria sprayed a forehand long off a ball that bounced shorter than she’d anticipated due to the wind. Deuce #1. Maria’s deep forehand return clipped the back edge of the baseline, forcing Lǐ to hit a forehand long. Ad Sharapova (BP #3). Maria netted a forehand. Deuce #2. Lǐ forced a short ball and hit a crosscourt forehand winner. Ad Lǐ (GP #1). Lǐ hit a crosscourt forehand winner that clipped the outside edge of the sideline (if Hawk-Eye were available at the French Open, I’m sure that Maria would have challenged it). Held.

The commentators said that Lǐ was the better athlete, and was handling the wind better than Maria.

Sharapova serving 0-3: Lǐ netted a forehand. 15/0. First serve out wide + pinpoint off-backhand winner down the line: on the sideline. 30/0. Lǐ netted a makeable backhand return. 40/0 (GP #1). Maria hit an ambitious down-the-line backhand wide by a whisker. 40/15 (GP #2). Service-winner. Held.

Always a relief to win your first game when you’ve lost the first three (or in the case of Andrea Petković yesterday, the first eight).

Lǐ serving 3-1: Lǐ on the third stroke hit a crosscourt forehand winner back behind Maria. John Lloyd: “Sharapova’s off-balance all the time.” 15/0. Maria off-forehand just wide. 30/0. Maria’s deep return induced Lǐ to earth an off-backhand. 30/15. Second serve: Maria forehand return-winner just inside the baseline. 30/30. Lǐ’s body-jamming serve forced Maria to hit an off-backhand wide. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria’s forehand caught the back edge of the baseline, forcing Lǐ to earth a forehand. Deuce #1. Maria netted a disappointing forehand off a mildly awkward deep ball from Lǐ. Ad Lǐ (GP #2). Lǐ’s crosscourt forehand drove Maria wide, inducing her to net a forehand. Held.

The commentators think that Maria’s going for the lines too much because Lǐ’s such a great athlete. Sam Smith: “There are no safe zones to go to.”

Sharapova serving 1-4: Lǐ’s deep ball forced Maria to hit a backhand wide. 0/15. Maria forehand long. 0/30. Maria played a very precise and deliberate rally, hitting ball after ball inside the lines, working her opening until her crosscourt forehand forced Lǐ into error. Frankly, if that’s what it’s going to take to win a point against Lǐ today, I don’t fancy Maria’s chances. 15/30. Lǐ forehand long. 30/30. Maria waited for the wind to die down a bit, and hit a service-winner down the middle. 40/30 (GP #1). Lǐ’s crosscourt forehand forced Maria to earth a forehand. Deuce #1. Double fault #1 (horrendous second serve into the bottom of the net). Ad Lǐ (BP #1). Lǐ netted a backhand return. Deuce #2. Second serve: forehand return long. Maria pumped her fist and said “c’mon”. Ad Maria (GP #2). Maria, driven wide, hit a fantastic acute-angled crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline, pumped her fist and screamed “c’mon”. Held.

Lǐ serving 4-2: Maria’s depth induced Lǐ to hit a forehand long. 0/15. First serve down the middle forced a short return; Lǐ hit a pinpoint down-the-line forehand winner onto the baseline. 15/15. Maria on the fourth stroke hit an off-forehand winner. 15/30. Lǐ hit a crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline. 30/30. Lǐ played a good spreading rally, but then gave Maria the initiative by dropping a ball short, and ended up netting a forehand. 30/40 (BP #1). Maria’s deep, hard off-forehand forced Lǐ to hit a defensive backhand lob long. Broken.

The momentum is turning in Maria’s favour since she saved that break-point that would have given Lǐ *5-1. She’s not yet the favourite for this set, but she soon could be.

Sharapova serving 3-4 (new balls): Lǐ forehand return long. 15/0. Double fault #2 (second serve long). 15/15. Double fault #3 (second serve long). 15/30. Lǐ opened up the court and hit a fantastic deep off-backhand winner just inside the baseline. 15/40 (BP #1). Double fault #4 (second serve just long). Broken.

Just when Maria had got right back into this set, she goes and throws in three double faults. :help:

John Lloyd: “I think the wind is having an effect on her big time. She’s not adjusted, while Lǐ has been solid throughout. The wind is changing direction all the time, and Sharapova can’t get a read on it.”

Sam Smith: “Arguably, Lǐ’s first strike has been better than Sharapova’s today – and I can’t remember too many times that I’ve said that in a Maria Sharapova match.”

Lǐ serving 5-3: Lǐ forehand long. 0/15. Lǐ hit a big backhand up the line, forcing Maria to bunt a defensive forehand lob wide. 15/15. Lǐ sprayed a wild forehand very long. 15/30. Lǐ sprayed a crosscourt forehand wide. 15/40 (BP #1). Lǐ opened up the court with a crosscourt forehand, and nailed a sweet forehand winner down the line. 30/40 (BP #2). Lǐ crosscourt forehand wide. Broken.

Sharapova serving 4-5: Maria backhand just long. 0/15. Double fault #5 (second serve long). 0/30. Lǐ’s depth forced Maria to hit a forehand long. 0/40 (SP #1 for Lǐ). First serve: backhand return long. 15/40 (SP #2 for Lǐ). Maria forced a short ball, but the wind moved the ball just before she hit it: her crosscourt forehand clipped the netcord and fell wide. Lǐ won the first set 6-4 at 15:00 CEST (50m).


Second set
----------
LǏ __*_*_*@*_*@ 7
SH @*_*_*___*__ 5

Lǐ serving 0-0: First serve: forehand return long. 15/0. First serve out wide + crosscourt forehand winner. 30/0. Maria netted a forehand. 40/0 (GP #1). Maria stopped the rally to circle a mark on the baseline, and Lǐ hit a crosscourt forehand winner. The umpire checked the mark and called it long. 40/15 (GP #2). Lǐ netted a forehand off a deep ball from Maria. 40/30 (GP #3). Maria hit an off-forehand winner. Deuce #1. Lǐ forehand long. Ad Sharapova (BP #1). Lǐ crosscourt forehand winner. Deuce #2. Maria forced a short ball, and dispatched it with a crosscourt forehand winner. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Lǐ hit a crosscourt forehand deep into the corner, forcing Maria to hit a forehand long. Deuce #3. Lǐ forced a short ball, but the wind induced her to hit a forehand long. Ad Sharapova (BP #3). Lǐ paused as the wind blew red dust into her eyes. Maria netted a backhand return. Deuce #4. Second serve: Maria hit a roaring off-backhand return-winner right in the corner. Ad Sharapova (BP #4). Double fault #1 (second serve wide of the centre-line). Broken.

How important will that game prove to be? Lǐ led 40/0, but the wind actually helped Maria (at Deuce #3) for once! Sam Smith doesn’t trust Lǐ to win this match after that setback, because she has a history of getting down on herself and losing matches after losing the momentum.

Sharapova serving 1-0: First serve: Lǐ sprayed a forehand return very long. 15/0. Lǐ forced a short ball, but again the wind induced her to spray a forehand long and wide. 30/0. Maria’s deep forehand induced Lǐ to mishit a crosscourt forehand wide. 40/0 (GP #1). Lǐ backhand long. Held.

Lǐ serving 0-2: Maria’s deep return forced Lǐ to net a backhand. 0/15. Ace down the middle. 15/15. Maria backhand long. 30/15. Forehand return long. 40/15 (GP #1). Lǐ hit a pinpoint off-forehand winner just inside the sideline – sometimes she hits the ball incredibly cleanly. Held.

Sharapova serving 2-1: Lǐ forehand long. 15/0. Maria’s deep forehand forced Lǐ to hit a backhand long. 30/0. Lǐ off-forehand just wide. 40/0 (GP #1). Lǐ’s deep return induced Maria to hit a forehand long. 40/15 (GP #2). Lǐ forehand long. Held.

Sam Smith: “Lǐ is just falling away mentally. Just a lack of intensity relative to what is at the other side of the net. Sharapova still hasn’t found any rhythm and timing at all. It’s a complete donation by Lǐ,Nà.”

Lǐ serving 1-3: Double fault #2 (second serve long). 0/15. Maria hit a blazing backhand return-winner down the line. 0/30. Maria netted a forehand. 15/30. Lǐ’s deep backhand down the line forced Maria to lunge right and bunt a forehand lob wide. 30/30. Double fault #3 (second serve long). 30/40 (BP #1). Lǐ hit a short-angled crosscourt forehand winner just inside the baseline. Deuce #1. Maria crosscourt backhand return just wide, and smacked her racket in frustration. Ad Lǐ (GP #1). Maria’s deep return induced Lǐ to hit a crosscourt backhand wide. Deuce #2. Forehand return long. Ad Lǐ (GP #2). Backhand return long. Held.

Break-point wasted, and Maria missed so many returns in that game. So far, all five of Maria’s double faults have come in the first set, all three of Lǐ’s in the second.

Sharapova serving 3-2: Lǐ’s backhand clipped the netcord and fell back on her side. 15/0. Lǐ’s deep backhand return was just long but not called, so Maria stopped the point to challenge it: umpire Emmanuel Joseph checked the mark and called it long. 30/0. Lǐ netted an off-backhand that would have been a winner in the first set. 40/0 (GP #1). Lǐ pounced on a short ball with a crosscourt backhand winner. 40/15 (GP #2). Maria’s deep forehand forced Lǐ to net a forehand. Held.

Lǐ serving 2-4 (new balls): Lǐ’s crosscourt forehand induced Maria to net a forehand. 15/0. Lǐ’s deep crosscourt forehand forced Maria to bunt a forehand lob long. 30/0. Lǐ’s deep crosscourt backhand forced Maria to hit a backhand lob long. 40/0 (GP #1). Lǐ forehand just long. 40/15 (GP #2). Maria hit a wild backhand return very long. Held.

Lǐ is finally back to her game-plan of the first set: using width to force Maria into error. During the changeover, the host broadcaster showed a slow-motion close-up of Maria running to her left and hitting a left-handed forehand.

Sharapova serving 4-3: Maria’s deep forehand forced Lǐ to net a backhand dropshot. 15/0. Double fault #6 (horrendous second serve into the net). 15/15. First serve down the middle forced Lǐ to net a backhand. 30/15. Lǐ netted a backhand. 30/30. Lǐ’s deep forehand forced Maria to net a backhand. 30/40 (BP #1). Double fault #7 (second serve into the net). Broken.

Maria looked in control of this set at 3-1*, but Lǐ has raised her game, and Maria has started double-faulting again – two in that game. Maria’s been erratic throughout the entire match, but Lǐ was more erratic in the first half of this set. Not any more.

Lǐ serving 4-4: Lǐ’s crosscourt forehand induced Maria to hit a down-the-line forehand just wide. 15/0. Maria crosscourt forehand wide. 30/0. Maria’s deep crosscourt forehand return forced Lǐ to hit a forehand that clipped the netcord and fell back on her side. 30/15. Lǐ hit a down-the-line backhand long. 30/30. Lǐ, driven wide, hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria’s deep crosscourt forehand forced Lǐ to net a forehand. Deuce #1. Maria forehand just long. Ad Lǐ (GP #2). Maria’s forehand return clipped the netcord and sat up nicely for Lǐ to hit a crosscourt forehand winner. Held.

John Lloyd: “Sharapova has such a strong mind, but she’s fighting a battle with herself about her serve.”

Sharapova serving 4-5: Double fault #8 (second serve wide of the centre-line). 0/15. Maria went to the net; Lǐ’s dipping crosscourt forehand forced her to hit a half-volley drop-volley; Lǐ ran it down and hit a backhand, but Maria was there to hit a forehand smash-winner. 15/15. Maria hit a brilliant off-forehand winner back behind Lǐ. 30/15. Maria hit an off-backhand winner back behind Lǐ. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria’s depth induced Lǐ to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. Held.

Probably Maria’s best game of the match so far, and the best in terms of both women playing well at the same time.

Lǐ serving 5-5: Lǐ’s crosscourt forehand drove Maria into the alley, forcing her to net a forehand. 15/0. Lǐ threaded the needle with a pinpoint down-the-line off-backhand winner that clipped the outside edge of the sideline. 30/0. Lǐ’s deep off-forehand forced Maria to hit a backhand lob long as red dust blew into her eyes. Perhaps she should have worn goggles. 40/0 (GP #1). Lǐ hit a crosscourt forehand winner back behind Maria. Held.

Sharapova serving 5-6: Maria’s deep backhand down the line induced Lǐ to hit a down-the-line forehand wide. 15/0. Lǐ hit a deep forehand down the middle, forcing Maria to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. 15/15. Double fault #9 (second serve into the net). Of all the double faults I’ve ever seen Maria serve, that was the most painful to watch. It would not remain so for long. 15/30. Lǐ’s crosscourt forehand forced Maria to run to her right and hit a forehand long. 15/40 (MP #1). Double fault #10 (first serve long; second serve into the net). Lǐ won 6-4 7-5 at 15:58 CEST (second set 58m, match 1h48m).


Lǐ’s on-court interview
-----------------------

Cédric Pioline: “It was a tight finish. What made the difference at the end?”

Lǐ: “She had a huge serve, so I was like, ‘Please double-fault, and then I can win the match.’”

Pioline: “After many mornings, your second Major final. It’s really special. Do you think the experience you had there will help you for Saturday?”

Lǐ: “Er... yes! I never believed myself I can be in the final in French Open, and today I can, so I wish I can do even better on Saturday.”

Pioline: “You deserve it, to be in the final. You won today. You beat Maria Sharapova!”

Lǐ: “Yeah, I know! I mean: it was a tough match. I’m still happy in the end that I can win the match.”

Pioline: “You’re gonna follow, I’m sure, the other semi-final. Do you have any preference to play Marion or Francesca?”

Lǐ put her hand over her mouth and laughed, knowing what the crowd wanted to hear. “Don’t try to kid me now! I mean: the both players [are] tough, so I will watch them play a little bit later. I just enjoy the day, and [get] ready for Saturday.”

Pioline: “You’re the one in [a] good position: you’re gonna be in the lockers-room, having [a] massage and resting while they’re fighting on court.”

Lǐ: “Yeah, I will take a massage. I like to do that. I’ll take a massage, and see the opponents still fighting on the court.”

Pioline: “Okay. Thank you very much, and good luck for Saturday.”

--
Dr. Andrew Broad