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View Full Version : Wimbledon 2011: Andrew's TV-reports (1r + 2r + 3r + 4r + QF + SF + Final)


andrewbroad
Jun 23rd, 2011, 04:48 AM
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THE CHAMPIONSHIPS (Wimbledon, London, England; grass; Major)
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First-round TV-report: Sharapova v Chakvetadze (Tuesday 21st June 2011)
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+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Anna Chakvetadze [EF], 6-2 6-1

For a match between two members of my Eternal Fanship, this was rather disappointing, particularly from Anna, whom Maria now owns 7:0.

Anna retired from Dubai, Indian Wells and Stuttgart with a mystery illness that causes dizzy spells, and even caused her to faint on the court. Since then, she has played only ’s-Hertogenbosch, losing 6-4 6-1 to Lourdes Domínguez Lino, so I didn’t expect much from her here.

Maria wasn’t at her best – perhaps to be expected as she pulled out of Birmingham with an illness – but had too much power for Anna, who lacked her usual feel, although she did show some clever point-construction. Maria had some problems with her high toss in the wind, serving four double faults.

Anna appeared to suffer one of her dizzy spells at 0:1 0-1* 0/15*, although nothing too serious this time. I wish her a full recovery.


First set
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CHAKVETAD *___*___ 2
SHARAPOVA _*@*_*@* 6

The match was dynamically scheduled fourth on Centre Court, and started at 19:08 BST.

Unfortunately I missed the start, as an earlier revision of the order of play had this match on Court One after Söderling v Petzschner, so I thought it was safe to watch Bartoli v Plíšková first. I only found out about the switch to Centre Court when the match appeared on the online scoreboard, which only happens about a minute after the first point has been played, and by the time I had managed to switch my Humax to Centre Court via the BBC’s Sport Multiscreen, I had missed the first three points.

Chakvetadze serving 0-0: 15/0. 30/0. 30/15. Maria hit a crosscourt forehand return wide. 40/15 (GP #1). Anna ran down a dropshot, but hit a backhand long. 40/30 (GP #2). Maria hit a backhand winner down the line. Deuce #2. Maria netted a backhand. Anna adjusted her hairclips. Ad Chakvetadze (GP #2). Anna hit a backhand onto the baseline. Anna hit a clever backhand lob onto the baseline, forcing Maria to earth a backhand behind her. Held.

Sharapova serving 0-1: Anna hit a backhand long. 15/0. Anna netted a backhand off a deep ball from Maria. 30/0. Maria hit an off-forehand winner back behind Anna. 40/0 (GP #1). Anna forced a short ball, but sprayed a wild forehand long. Held.

Chakvetadze serving 1-1: A longish baseline-rally ended with Anna netting a backhand. 0/15. Maria hit a down-the-line backhand return just wide. 15/15. Maria forced a short ball, and hit an off-backhand winner just inside the baseline. 15/30. Maria netted a forehand. 30/30. Maria hit a pinpoint forehand winner just inside the sideline. 30/40 (BP #1). Anna hit a brave off-backhand dropshot-winner just inside the sideline. Deuce #1. Anna and Maria exchanged some strange short forehands, and Maria netted one. Ad Chakvetadze (GP #1). Anna went to the net, but netted a backhand off a dipping ball from Maria. Deuce #2. Anna hit an off-backhand wide. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Maria hit a down-the-line forehand winner as Anna did the splits behind the baseline – fortunately without the horrific knee-injury that Magdaléna Rybáriková suffered when she did the same earlier in the day. Broken.

Sharapova serving 2-1: Anna hit a crosscourt forehand just wide, and adjusted her hairclips again. 15/0. Anna forced a short ball, but caught it late and sprayed a forehand long. 30/0. Anna, driven wide, forcedly hit a down-the-line forehand wide. 40/0 (GP #1). Anna netted a makeable forehand return. Held.

Chakvetadze serving 1-3: Anna ran down a dropshot but hit a forehand would-be winner just long. 0/15. Maria hit a crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. 0/30. Maria’s deep crosscourt backhand forced Anna to earth a forehand – she mishit it so completely that it flew off to her left. 0/40 (BP #1). Deep first serve forced Maria to hit a forehand long. 15/40 (BP #2). Ace down the middle: on the centre-line. Anna got a loud cheer. 30/40 (BP #3). Anna ran down a dropshot and hit a beautiful short-angled crosscourt forehand winner – she did well to stop before touching the net. Deuce #1. Anna hit a crosscourt forehand back behind Maria, forcing her to earth a forehand. Ad Chakvetadze (GP #1). Deep first serve forced Maria to hit a forehand lob long. Broken.

Finally, we’re starting to see glimpses of the real Anna Chakvetadze. She’s been so hesitant before that game, lacking her usual feel.

Sharapova serving 3-2: First serve: Anna netted a forehand return. 15/0. Anna netted a forehand. 30/0. Anna drew Maria to the net with a
backhand dropshot down the line, hit a crosscourt backhand to force a weak backhand volley from Maria, and hit a pinpoint backhand pass-winner down the line. 30/15. Double fault (second serve into the net). 30/30. Maria’s sharp-angled crosscourt backhand forced a floater, which she dispatched with a forehand drive-volley winner down the line. 40/30 (GP #1). Anna went to the net, but her approach was too short; Maria hit a backhand drive-volley pass-winner. Held.

Chakvetadze serving 2-4: Anna went to the net, but Maria blasted a down-the-line backhand pass-winner. 0/15. First serve: forehand return long. 15/15. First serve out wide: Maria’s ferocious crosscourt forehand return forced Anna to bunt an off-forehand wide. 15/30. Ace out wide. 30/30. Anna netted a forehand off a deep ball from Maria. 30/40 (BP #1). Anna netted a forehand off a crosscourt forehand deep into the corner from Maria. Broken.

There was a nice slow-motion close-up of Maria’s legs, the delicate feminine muscles rippling as she ran.

Sharapova serving 5-2: Maria hit an off-backhand winner deep into the corner. 15/0. Anna netted a forehand from about 10 feet behind the baseline, after an intriguing baseline-rally in which they both hit lines. 30/0. Ace out wide. 40/0 (SP #1 for Sharapova). Maria’s depth induced Anna to bunt a backhand long. Sharapova won the first set 6-2 at 19:41 BST (32m).


Second set
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CHAKVETAD _@_____ 1
SHARAPOVA @_@*@*@ 6

Chakvetadze serving 0-0: Maria hit a crosscourt backhand deep into the corner, forcing Anna to hit a backhand long. 0/15. First serve out wide: Maria hit a pinpoint backhand winner down the line. 0/30. Anna handled Maria’s short-angled crosscourt backhand with a backhand dropshot, forcing Maria to hit a running forehand that clipped the netcord and fell back on her side. 15/30. First serve: forehand return long. 30/30. Maria’s deep, hard crosscourt forehand return forced Anna to net a forehand. 30/40 (BP #1). Maria forced a floater, and dispatched it with an easy crosscourt forehand smash-winner. Broken.

Nick Mullins: “It’s difficult to know quite what Anna Chakvetadze does in the face of such raw power and aggression. She’s got no form at all after the dizzy spells.”
Lindsay Davenport: “Chakvetadze’s game is all so much around the timing, being able to control her shots. She’s just not sharp in that area, hitting a lot of balls late due to Maria’s power and pace.”

Sharapova serving 1-0: Maria’s depth forced Anna to net a backhand. 15/0. Anna went into her receiving-stance, but apparently started having one of her dizzy spells: she put her hand up, turned to the back fence, and waited a few seconds before going back to receive. Second serve: Anna netted a backhand return. 30/0. Maria netted a backhand. 30/15. Maria’s depth forced Anna to hit a backhand long. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria hit an off-forehand just wide. 40/30 (GP #2). Anna’s body-jamming backhand return forced Maria to net a forehand. Deuce #1. Anna’s depth forced Maria to hit a forehand long. Ad Chakvetadze (BP #1). Maria’s deep forehand forced Anna to mishit a crosscourt backhand wide. Deuce #2. Maria sprayed a crosscourt backhand wide. Ad Chakvetadze (BP #2). Maria forced a short ball, and hit an off-backhand winner. Deuce #3. Double fault (second serve into the net). Ad Chakvetadze (BP #3). Double fault (second serve into the net). Broken.

Chakvetadze serving 1-1: Maria hit a down-the-line backhand just long. 15/0. Maria forced a short ball, and nailed an off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. 15/15. Maria forced a short ball, and hit a crosscourt forehand that forced Anna to earth a forehand. 15/30. Maria hit a deep backhand onto the baseline, forcing Anna to net a forehand. 15/40 (BP #1). Maria hit a down-the-line forehand just wide. 30/40 (BP #2). Maria netted a backhand off a mildly awkward short-angled crosscourt backhand from Anna. Deuce #1. Maria netted a backhand off a short, soft ball from Anna. Ad Chakvetadze (GP #1). Maria’s deep off-forehand forced Anna to net a backhand. Deuce #2. Anna netted a backhand off a deep forehand on the baseline from Maria. Ad Sharapova (BP #3). Deep first serve out wide forced Maria to bunt a backhand return long. Deuce #3. Maria punished a second serve with an off-backhand return-winner. Ad Sharapova (BP #4). Maria hit a deep, hard crosscourt backhand onto the baseline, forcing Anna to net a backhand half-volley. Anna wanted to challenge Maria’s shot, but the umpire wouldn’t let her because she had apparently looked at her father first. Anna argued with the umpire: “I didn’t do anything, actually. If you look, look better.” Broken.

Sharapova serving 2-1: Anna forehand long. 15/0. Anna ran down a dropshot and hit a forehand winner down the line. 15/15. Anna hit a forehand long. 30/15. Ace #2: first serve down the middle. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria hit an off-backhand just wide off a deep return from Anna. 40/30 (GP #2). Anna hit a down-the-line forehand wide. Held.

Chakvetadze serving 1-3: Anna hit an off-forehand wide off a deep, body-jamming return. 0/15. Anna’s depth forced Maria to hit a forehand long. 15/15. First serve out wide: Maria hit a pinpoint forehand return-winner down the line. 15/30. Maria punished a deep, high-bouncing ball with a crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline. 15/40 (BP #1). Maria’s deep crosscourt forehand forced Anna to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. Held.

Sharapova serving 4-1: Maria’s off-backhand clipped the netcord and landed just wide. 0/15. Maria’s deep down-the-line backhand forced Anna to hit a forehand long. 15/15. Maria netted a forehand. 15/30. Anna went to the net, but Maria hit a crunching forehand pass-winner down the line. 30/30. Double fault #4 (horrendous second serve into the bottom of the net). 30/40 (BP #1). Maria forced a short ball, and hit an off-forehand winner as Anna ran to cover the crosscourt forehand. Deuce #1. Maria forced a short ball and hit a crosscourt backhand winner. Ad Sharapova (GP #1). Maria’s depth induced Anna to net a forehand. Held.

Chakvetadze serving 1-5: Anna netted a backhand. 0/15. Body-jamming second serve forced Maria to hit a forehand that clipped the netcord, but went over, forcing Anna to net a forehand. 0/30. Maria blasted a backhand return long off a short second serve. 15/30. Maria hit an off-forehand winner. 15/40 (MP #1 for Sharapova). Anna hit a sliced off-backhand wide. Maria won 6-2 6-1 at 20:17 BST (second set 35m, match 1h08m).


Maria’s BBC interview
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This interview took place in the corridor immediately after Maria walked off Centre Court.

Rishi Persad: “Maria, how pleased are you with what looked a very smooth start?”

Maria Sharapova: “Yeah, I was. This was my first match on grass, so I didn’t have a warm-up tournament this year, but I felt really good for the first round. You never really know when you go into the match. I played against somebody that’s had really good results in the past, and was top ten in the world, so I expected a tough match.”

Rishi Persad: “And the shoulder okay?”

Maria Sharapova: “Yeah. The conditions are a little bit tricky out there – it’s colder; balls are heavier – but I’m doing really well.”

Rishi Persad: “The title, obviously the last time you won it [was in] 2004. Would it be be fair to say that, in terms of form and fitness, this is the best preparation you’ve had for this tournament since then?”

Maria Sharapova: “Well, I feel like I’m improving with every tournament this year. In the beginning of the year, my goal was just to play a lot of matches, because I feel like with matches, with wins, not only do you get confidence, you kind of start playing on auto-pilot, and don’t worry about certain situations; you just go for it, and that’s really my game. When I’m playing well, I’m aggressive, I don’t hesitate, and I win the match.”

Rishi Persad: “It’s lovely seeing you signing all those autographs for people out there. They really appreciate it.”

Maria Sharapova: “Well, I love the crowd at Wimbledon. I think they have so much respect for the game and the players. I saw that ever since I was a junior, as a 14-, 15-year-old girl. They would come out to Court 19, they don’t know who you are, but they were thrilled with the tennis. They’d sit there for hours and watch the juniors, and yeah: they’re really great.”

Rishi Persad: “Well done.”

Maria Sharapova: “Thank you.”

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jun 25th, 2011, 05:18 AM
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THE CHAMPIONSHIPS (Wimbledon, London, England; grass; Major)
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Second-round TV-report: Sharapova v Robson (Friday 24th June 2011)
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+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Laura Robson [WC,DF], 7-6 (7/4) 6-3

I expected Maria to beat the 17-year-old world #254 much more easily than this, as Robson has endured an injury-plagued year: she missed the Australian Open with a thigh-injury, and missed the French Open because her ranking was too low even to play qualifying.

But Maria suffered a 0:0 *1-4 15/30 start, as Robson came out hitting the ball sweetly with her left-handed groundstrokes of flairsome power. The weapons with which Robson dominated most of her opponents in the Girls’ Singles of the last three editions of Wimbledon, which also gave Daniela Hantuchová a major scare in the first round of Wimbledon 2009, and gave Jelena Janković two tight sets in the first round of Wimbledon 2010, proved to be quite effective even against the great Maria.

Robson made an excellent start to save five break-points at 0:0 *0-0, then saved two game-points as she broke for *2-0, and continued to play unbelievably well as she held to 15 for 3-0*.

Maria at 0:0 *1-4 recovered from 15/30, and the key point was probably 0:0 2-4* 0/15*, when she hit an error-forcing backhand onto the baseline. Robson threw in two double faults, and screamed when she netted a backhand to give the break back: *3-4.

Maria had to serve to stay in the first set at *4-5, and was under some pressure as Robson hit a terrific running forehand winner down the line for 15/15, and an amazing crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline for 30/30 before Maria held for 5-5*.

Maria also had to serve at 0:0 *5-6, and was down 6-6 (*2/4), but won the next five points to take the first set 7-6 (7/4), including an amazing crosscourt forehand winner deep into the corner at 3/4*, and a crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline at 4/4*.

Maria held for 1:0 1-0* with a superb short-angled crosscourt backhand winner, saved a game-point at 1-0* 30/40* and broke for *2-0, but Robson broke back with a dropshot-winner for *1-2. Maria broke to love with a blazing backhand winner down the line for *3-1, and saved three game-points at *1-4 before breaking.

Robson’s mishit return at 0:1 1-5* 0/0 turned into a marvellous short-angled winner just inside the sideline, and she broke back to 15, and held to 15 with a fabulous backhand winner down the line.

Serving for the match a second time at 1:0 *5-3, Maria recovered from 0/30 and 30/40 with three winners on those crucial points, hit an off-forehand winner to reach match-point, and converted it with a service-winner down the middle.

Provided that she stays injury-free, Laura Robson is going to do some major damage in the future – especially at Wimbledon, where she always seems to find her best form.


First set
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ROBSON *@*_*___*_*__ 6(4)
SHARAP ___*_*@*_*_*T 7(7)

The match was first on Court One: the scene of Robson’s Wimbledon 2008 Girls’ Singles final. She looked scared to death as the players waited to walk onto court. She was flexing her right wrist, while Maria looked completely unfazed by the occasion.

Robson won the toss and chose to serve, and the match started at 13:08 BST.

Robson serving 0-0: A long rally ended with left-handed Robson mishitting a backhand long, but she played okay before that. 0/15. Robson avoided the possibility of a golden set with a first serve out wide that forced Maria to net a forehand return. 15/15. Double fault (second serve just long). 15/30. First serve + crosscourt forehand drive-volley winner. Robson got a huge cheer from the crowd. 30/30. Maria’s deep crosscourt backhand forced Robson to hit a backhand halfway up the net. 30/40 (BP #1). Deep backhand return down the line: Robson picked off a splendid crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline. Deuce #1. Maria forced a short ball, and hit an off-forehand winner. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). First serve out wide forced Maria to earth a backhand return. Deuce #2. Robson’s deep crosscourt forehand forced Maria to net a forehand. Ad Robson (GP #1). Maria ran down a dropshot and hit a backhand winner down the line. Deuce #3. Robson forced a short ball, but hit a forehand long. Ad Sharapova (BP #3). Robson hit a deep forehand onto the baseline, forcing Maria to net a backhand. Deuce #3. Maria hit a crunching crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. Ad Sharapova (BP #4). Maria forehand long. Deuce #4. Double fault #2 (second serve long). Ad Sharapova (BP #5). First serve forced a short return, which Robson dispatched with a crosscourt forehand winner. Deuce #5. Robson forced a short ball that sat up nicely for her to hit a crosscourt forehand winner. Ad Robson (GP #2). Maria hit a backhand long by a whisker. Held.

An excellent start by Robson. She’s playing much calmer than she looked coming onto court!

Sam Smith: “Robson has come out here striking the ball well, looking to be aggressive.”

Sharapova serving 0-1: Robson hit a deep forehand just inside the baseline, forcing Maria to bunt a backhand wide. 0/15. Maria’s crosscourt forehand forced Robson to net a backhand. 15/15. Robson opened up the court with a crosscourt forehand, and hit a forehand winner down the line. 15/30. Robson hit a crosscourt backhand deep into the corner, forcing Maria to net a forehand. 15/40 (BP #1). Deep first serve out wide forced Robson to mishit a crosscourt forehand return wide. 30/40 (BP #2). Maria’s deep crosscourt backhand forced Robson to hit a forehand long. Deuce #1. Second serve: Robson hit a forehand return long. Ad Sharapova (GP #1). Robson’s deep crosscourt forehand return forced Maria to bunt a one-handed backhand lob wide. Deuce #1. First serve out wide + forehand winner down the line. Ad Sharapova (GP #2). Robson hit an incredible short-angled crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline – her sixth forehand winner already. Deuce #2. Double fault (wild second serve long). Ad Robson (BP #3). Double fault (second serve into the net). Broken.

BBC commentator Sam Smith: “So far, the 17-year-old is pushing the former champion around this court. Two women with the same game-plan. What a start – but it is /only/ a start.”

Robson serving 2-0: First serve out wide: forehand return-winner down the line. 0/15. Robson hit a crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline – except that it was called wide. Robson made a successful Hawk-Eye challenge, then argued successfully with umpire Mariana Alves that it was a winner. 15/15. Robson’s deep crosscourt backhand forced Maria to hit a backhand long. 30/15. Maria unforcedly sprayed a backhand long. 40/15 (GP #1). Deep first serve out wide forced a short return, which Robson dispatched with a backhand winner down the line. Held.

This is scary for me as a Maria-fan. Robson is playing unbelievably well after an injury-plagued year that has seen her ranking drop to #254. She looks every bit the future champion that she did winning the Girls’ Singles here at 14.

Sharapova serving 0-3: Double fault (second serve long). 0/15. Maria hit a huge crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline. 15/15. Robson hit a forehand just long. 30/15. A netcord from Robson sat up nicely for Maria to hit an off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. 40/15 (GP #1). Robson hit a backhand long. Held.

Robson serving 3-1: Deep first serve down the middle forced Maria to earth a backhand. 15/0. Deep second serve forced Maria to hit a backhand long. 30/0. Robson crosscourt forehand wide. 30/15. Short-angled first serve out wide forced Maria outside the alley to earth a backhand return. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria hit a crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline, but it was called wide and she didn’t challenge. Held.

Sharapova serving 1-4: Double fault #4 (wild second serve halfway up the net). 0/15. Maria hit an off-forehand back behind Robson, who was slow to react, resulting in it being a virtual winner. 15/15. Robson’s deep forehand return forced Maria to net a forehand. 15/30. Robson hit a forehand long after Maria had earlier hit a forehand that looked like it was going long but just dipped in. 30/30. Robson hit a makeable forehand return long. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria’s wrong-footing off-forehand forced Robson to earth a backhand. Held.

That game suggests that hitting back behind Robson is a formula for success. She’s never been a great mover.

Robson serving 4-2: First serve forced a short return, which Robson dispatched with a crosscourt forehand return. 15/0. Maria hit a deep backhand onto the baseline, forcing Robson to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. 15/15. Double fault (second serve long). 15/30. Robson hit a deep forehand just inside the baseline, forcing Maria to net a forehand. 30/30. Double fault (second serve long). 30/40 (BP #1). Maria’s deep crosscourt backhand forced Robson to net a backhand and scream. Broken.

Sharapova serving 3-4 (new balls): Robson hit a deep backhand just inside the baseline, forcing Maria to hit a crosscourt backhand wide. 0/15. Ace #1: first serve down the middle: on the service-line. 15/15. Maria crosscourt backhand winner. 30/15. Kick second serve induced Robson to earth a forehand return. 40/15 (GP #1). Robson hit a backhand that was called long, but umpire Mariana Alves overruled it as good. First serve out wide: Robson hit a down-the-line backhand winner that clipped the outside edge of the sideline. 40/30 (GP #2). Deep first serve down the middle forced Robson to earth a backhand return. Broken.

Sam Smith: “It was an excellent start by Robson, but Sharapova is starting to pull on the reins.”

Robson serving 4-4: Robson forehand long. 0/15. First serve out wide + off-forehand just inside the sideline forced Maria to net a forehand 15/15. First serve out wide + crosscourt forehand winner. 30/15. Maria hit an off-forehand wide. 40/15 (GP #1). Deep first serve down the middle forced Maria to earth a backhand return. Held.

Sharapova serving 4-5: Ace: deep first serve out wide, on the service-line. 15/0. Robson hit a terrific running forehand winner down the line. 15/15. Second serve... Robson’s return clipped the netcord and sat up nicely for Maria to hit a deep forehand winner down the line: just inside the baseline. 30/15. Second serve out wide: Robson, driven into the alley, hit an amazing crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline. Maria made an unsuccessful Hawk-Eye challenge, and has none left in this set. 30/30. First serve out wide: off-backhand return wide. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria got away with a short second serve out wide: Robson hit a down-the-line forehand wide, and reacted with a cute little squeal. Held.

Robson serving 5-5: Robson forehand just long. 0/15. Robson hit a deep backhand just inside the baseline, forcing Maria to earth a forehand. 15/15. Maria’s deep crosscourt forehand forced Robson to bunt a backhand wide. 15/30. Deep first serve out wide forced Maria to hit a down-the-line forehand wide. 30/30. Second serve: Maria netted a makeable backhand return. Tracy Austin: “If I were Sharapova here, I might move a step to my left and take away Robson’s favourite serve.” 40/30 (GP #1). Maria played a good spreading rally, her deep crosscourt backhand forcing Robson to bunt a forehand long. Deuce #1. Robson hit an off-backhand dropshot, forcing Maria to net a forehand. Ad Robson (GP #2). Robson hit a forehand onto the baseline that looked long but wasn’t called, and Maria was out of challenges. Held.

Sharapova serving 5-6: Deep first serve: backhand return long. 15/0. Maria hit a crosscourt backhand deep into the corner, forcing Robson to hit a forehand long. 30/0. Maria hit a crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline. 40/0 (GP #1). Maria netted a forehand. 40/15 (GP #2). Robson hit a deep off-forehand just inside the baseline, back behind Maria, forcing her to earth a forehand. 40/30 (GP #3). Kick second serve out wide forced Robson to net a forehand. Held.

6-6 tiebreak (all scores Sharapova/Robson):
{0/0*} Maria off-forehand winner + “c’mon”. Tracy Austin: “Just excellent footwork. Such urgency and intensity on each and every point. Reminds me a lot of Rafael Nadal. There’s just never a let-up.” Sam Smith: “There’s never a let-up in the routine, either. That stays firm whether she’s 3-0 up, 4-0 down – whatever the situation.”
{*1/0} Maria netted a makeable forehand off a deep, body-jamming return.
{*1/1} Maria forced a short ball and squeezed an off-forehand dropshot-winner just inside the sideline, back behind Robson.
{2/1*} Robson hit a crosscourt backhand deep into the corner, forcing Maria to spray a crosscourt forehand wide.
{2/2*} Deep first serve down the middle – on the service-line – forced Maria to hit a backhand return long.
{*2/3} Double fault #5 (second serve long).
{*2/4} Maria hit a crosscourt backhand deep into the corner, forcing Robson to net a forehand.
{3/4*} Second serve... Maria hit an amazing crosscourt forehand winner deep into the corner: on the baseline, just inside the sideline. Sam Smith: “It’s been a while since she won a Major title, but she still thinks like a champion always.”
{4/4*} Maria ripped a crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline off a deep ball from Robson, accompanied by her loudest, highest-pitched grunt of the match so far.
{*5/4} Robson crosscourt forehand just wide. She challenged: Hawk-Eye zoomed far in to show that it was wide by about 1% of the width of the sideline!!
{*6/4: SP #1 for Sharapova} Robson netted a backhand. Maria won the first set 7-6 (7/4) at 14:17 BST (1h08m).

The umpire adjusted the net during the set-break.


Second set
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ROBSON __@___@*_ 3
SHARAP *@_@*@__* 6

Sharapova serving 0-0: Maria hit a crosscourt backhand wide, but made a successful challenge: Hawk-Eye showed that it caught about half the width of the sideline, so they replayed the point. Robson forced a short ball, but dumped a forehand into the net. 15/0. Deep first serve down the middle – on the service-line – forced Robson to net a forehand. 30/0. Short second serve: Robson hit an off-forehand return-winner deep into the corner. 30/15. Maria’s deep crosscourt forehand forced Robson to net a forehand. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria hit a superb short-angled crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline – what an injection of pace! Held.

Robson serving 0-1: Double fault (second serve just long). 0/15. Robson’s deep crosscourt backhand just inside the sideline forced Maria to earth a forehand. 15/15. Robson on the third stroke hit a backhand dropshot-winner. 30/15. Robson netted a forehand. 30/30. A call of “let” robbed Robson of an ace out wide. Her first serve was called wide but overruled as good. A first-serve fault and a let, and finally at the fifth attempt, she hit a short second serve, but Maria hit a sloppy crosscourt backhand wide. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria’s deep crosscourt forehand forced Robson to bunt a down-the-line backhand wide. Deuce #1. Second serve: Maria hit a blazing off-backhand return-winner. Ad Sharapova (BP #1). Robson forced a short ball, but pushed a crosscourt backhand wide, and hit a ball into the ground in frustration. Broken.

Sharapova serving 2-0: Maria on the third stroke hit a backhand just long. 0/15. Maria wasted a challenge on her first serve. Second serve: Robson’s deep crosscourt forehand return forced Maria to net a backhand. 0/30. Ace #3: first serve out wide, on the sideline. 15/30. Maria netted a forehand off a deep return just inside the baseline. 15/40 (BP #1). Maria hit a deep crosscourt backhand just inside the sideline, forcing Robson to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. 30/40 (BP #2). Robson forced a short ball and hit an off-backhand dropshot-winner. Held.

Robson serving 1-2 (new balls): Maria went to the net, forcing Robson to hit an off-forehand wide. 0/15. Maria hit a deep backhand down the line, forcing Robson to net a forehand. 0/30. Second serve... Maria pounced on a short ball with a forehand winner down the line. 0/40 (BP #1). Deep first serve out wide: Maria hit a blazing backhand return-winner down the line. Broken.

Sharapova serving 3-1: Ace out wide: just inside the sideline. 15/0. Maria forced a short ball, and hit an off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. 30/0. Ace down the middle. 40/0 (GP #1). Ace out wide: on the sideline. Held.

Robson serving 1-4: Double fault (second serve long). 0/15. Deep first serve out wide forced Maria to net a backhand. 15/15. Robson’s deep crosscourt forehand forced Maria to hit a backhand long. 30/15. Ace #1: first serve out wide. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria went to the net behind a deep sliced backhand just inside the baseline, forcing Robson to net a forehand. 40/30 (GP #2). First serve: Maria’s deep forehand return forced Robson to net a backhand. Deuce #1. First serve: forehand return long. Ad Robson (GP #3). Second serve out wide: Maria hit a short-angled crosscourt backhand winner. Deuce #2. Robson’s backhand on the baseline was called long, but both players challenged the call and Hawk-Eye showed that it caught about 20% of the breadth of the baseline, so they had to replay the point. The umpire didn’t notice that Maria challenged first, so it went down as a successful challenge for Robson. Robson went to the net, but Maria hit a perfect forehand lob-winner over her head, just inside the baseline. Ad Sharapova (BP #1). Double fault (second serve into the net). Broken.

Sharapova serving 5-1: Robson mishit a crosscourt backhand return that turned into a marvellous short-angled winner just inside the sideline! 0/15. Double fault (second serve long). 0/30. Robson hit a crosscourt backhand winner deep into the corner. 0/40 (BP #1). Maria’s short-angled crosscourt forehand clipped the netcord and landed just inside the sideline for a winner. 15/40 (BP #2). First serve out wide: Robson hit a body-jamming crosscourt forehand return down the middle, inducing Maria to net a backhand. Broken.

Robson serving 2-5: Robson hit an off-forehand deep into the corner, forcing Maria to net a forehand. 15/0. First serve out wide – on the sideline – induced Maria to hit a short-angled crosscourt backhand would-be return-winner just wide. 30/0. First serve out wide forced Maria to net a backhand return. 40/0 (GP #1). Maria hit a searing backhand return-winner down the line. 40/15 (GP #2). Robson hit a fabulous backhand winner down the line. Held.

Sharapova serving 5-3: A breath-taking baseline-rally ended with Maria hitting a crosscourt forehand just wide, drawing a loud cheer from the crowd. 0/15. Robson hit a pinpoint backhand return-winner down the line. 0/30. Maria hit a crosscourt forehand winner back behind Robson. 15/30. Maria hit a pinpoint backhand winner down the line: just inside both the baseline and the sideline. 30/30. Maria netted a backhand off a deep ball from Robson. 30/40 (BP #1). Maria hit a short-angled crosscourt forehand winner. Deuce #1. A long, nail-biting baseline-rally ended with Maria forcing a short ball and hitting an off-forehand winner back behind Robson. Ad Sharapova (MP #1). First serve down the middle forced Robson to hit a backhand long. Maria won 7-6 (7/4) 6-3 at 14:57 BST (second set 39m, match 1h48m).

Tracy Austin: “When you are moving from the juniors into the pros, you are thinking, ‘How far can I get? How big are my weapons? How will they match up? How will they translate into the senior game?’ This match will give Laura a lot of confidence and a lot of belief in herself. It should inspire her to work harder, because she now knows she can compete at this level.”


Maria’s BBC interview
---------------------

This interview took place in the corridor immediately after Maria walked off Court One.

Phil Jones: “Well done, Maria, on getting through. Did the level of Laura’s performance surprise you today?”

Maria: “Well, she started off the match so well, was just going for her shots and serving really well. I couldn’t get too many looks on the first serve. So I just hung in there, and I started playing better as the match went on.”

Phil Jones: “And it can’t happen so often for you – such a popular player – that you’re playing the crowd as well as a player.”

Maria: “It’s completely understandable. She’s young, and she’s moving up, and playing really good tennis. So there’s no reason why the crowd shouldn’t be behind her.”

Phil Jones: “Well, they’re behind you as well. You could see it at the end there, when you gave them a wave – most magnanimous. Now you’ve got through to the next round, I wonder what you think you need to work on – if anything – going forward.”

Maria: “I just feel a little bit of everything. I didn’t play my best today, and I feel like I made a few more errors than I had to. Tomorrow’s my next match, so it will be good to come out and hopefully improve those things.”

Phil Jones: “Well done on getting through today.”

Maria: “Thank you.”

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jun 27th, 2011, 05:06 AM
=================
THE CHAMPIONSHIPS (Wimbledon, London, England; grass; Major)
=================----------------------------
Third-round TV-report: Sharapova v Zakopalová (Saturday 25th June 2011)
---------------------------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Klára Zakopalová, 6-2 6-3

This was much tougher than the scoreline implies, as Zakopalová often matched Maria in terms of ball-striking in a baseline-oriented encounter. Maria tried to blast her way through without showing any of the variety that she has added to her game over the years, and there were some uncharacteristic looks of distress on her face in the second set.

Zakopalová was the Klára Koukalová who beat Maria and Monica Seles back to back in the first two rounds of the Australian Open 2003, and here she again prevented two members of my Eternal Fanship from meeting each other with a second-round win over her good friend Lucie Šafářová, so it was nice to get a measure of revenge over her, even though I like her for her pretty face and flairsome groundstrokes.

Zakopalová made a poor start to get broken for 0:0 0-2*, but settled down and started living at the blistering pace of Maria, breaking back for *1-2 with the help of a pinpoint backhand pass-winner down the line.

Maria came through a game of three deuces to break for 0:0 *3-1, and games went with serve until 5-2*, when the depth of Maria’s shots forced Zakopalová to make four errors as Maria broke to 30 to take the first set.

Maria saved a break-point in the opening game of the second set, and held for 1-0* after two deuces. Zakopalová saved a break-point with a pinpoint forehand winner down the line from a very deep position, and held for 1-1*.

Maria began to look distressed at 1:0 *1-1. Zakopalová hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line to reach break-point, whereupon Maria double-faulted.

Zakopalová consolidated that break for 0:1 3-1*. Maria let 40/0 become Deuce, but hit a crosscourt backhand winner and an awesome off-forehand winner – both just inside the sideline – to secure a crucial hold for 2-3*.

Maria went for broke at 1:0 2-3*, nailed two huge winners – one to save a game-point – and, after two deuces, broke back for *3-3. With Zakopalová showing characteristic negative body-language, Maria held to 15 for 4-3*, broke to 30 with an off-forehand return-winner for *5-3.

Maria served out the match after saving a break-point with a deep first serve, hitting forehand winners crosscourt and down the line on the last two points.

Zakopalová slipped five times in the match, which makes me question whether she was wearing the right shoes for grass.


First set
---------
ZAKOPALOV __@__*__ 2
SHARAPOVA *@_@*_*@ 6

The match was first on Court 2. Zakopalová won the toss and elected to receive, and the match started at 12:10 BST.

Sharapova serving 0-0: Second serve... Maria caught two tosses in the wind... Zakopalová hit a pinpoint crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline. 0/15. Zakopalová’s depth induced Maria to hit a forehand long. 0/30. First serve out wide forced Zakopalová to net a forehand. 15/30. First serve + off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. 30/30. Deep, body-jamming first serve forced Zakopalová to hit an off-backhand return wide. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria hit a deep forehand down the line, forcing Zakopalová to net a backhand. Held.

BBC commentator Virginia Wade: “Maria has incredible concentration. Her mental strength on the court is really admirable, and I really am enjoying the way she’s playing. I think that Thomas Högstedt has added such a big element. It used to be that you just thought she was trying to bulldoze her way through matches. Now, you really appreciate the purpose with each shot.”

Zakopalová serving 0-1: Double fault (second serve into the net). 0/15. Maria went to the net, her sliced backhand volley down the line forcing Zakopalová to net a forehand. 0/30. Second serve out wide: Maria hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line. 0/40 (BP #1). Zakopalová sprayed a wild forehand long off a mildly awkward return from Maria. Broken.

Sharapova serving 2-0: Double fault (second serve into the net). 0/15. Maria forced a short ball that sat up nicely for her to hit a high forehand winner crosscourt. 15/15. Maria hit a crosscourt backhand deep into the corner, forcing Zakopalová to net a backhand. 30/15. Zakopalová forced a ball that sat up nicely for her to hit a crosscourt forehand winner. 30/30. Maria went to the net, but made the mistake of hitting an off-forehand approach straight into Zakopalová’s backhand hitting-zone: Zakopalová hit a pinpoint backhand pass-winner down the line, onto the baseline. 30/40 (BP #1). A crosscourt-backhand drill ended with Maria netting one. Broken.

Zakopalová has settled down now, is striking the ball very well, and looks ready to live at Maria’s blistering pace.

Zakopalová serving 1-2: Zakopalová hit a pinpoint crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline. 15/0. Maria’s deep return down the middle forced Zakopalová to net a forehand. 15/15. First serve out wide + crosscourt backhand winner. 30/15. Maria forced a short ball, and dispatched it with a crosscourt forehand winner. 30/30. Maria hit a forehand long. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria’s depth induced Zakopalová to hit a backhand long. Deuce #1. First serve out wide: Maria’s forehand return clipped the netcord and dropped dead for a winner. Ad Sharapova (BP #1). First serve: Maria netted a forehand return. Deuce #2. Maria’s deep return forced Zakopalová to hit a backhand just long. She wasted a challenge. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Deep first serve down the middle – on the centre-line – forced Maria to bunt a forehand return long. Deuce #3. Double fault (second serve into the net). Ad Sharapova (BP #3). Maria’s crosscourt backhand forced Zakopalová to slip and net a backhand. Broken.

Sharapova serving 3-1: Maria’s depth induced Zakopalová to mishit an off-forehand wide. 15/0. Ace #1: 104mph first serve out wide, on the service-line. 30/0. Second serve down the middle: Zakopalová netted a cheap backhand return. 40/0 (GP #1). Zakopalová hit a pinpoint crosscourt backhand return just inside the sideline to force a short ball, which she dispatched with a crosscourt forehand winner. 40/15 (GP #2). Deep first serve out wide forced Zakopalová to net a forehand return. Held.

Virginia Wade: “When I say Maria’s in perfect shape, when she won Wimbledon at 17, she was just a kid, but at one stage she bulked up a little bit, and then she went almost underweight, and now, it looks like her muscle-tone is just right.”

Zakopalová serving 1-4: Zakopalová crosscourt forehand just wide. 0/15. Second serve: Maria sprayed a wild crosscourt forehand return wide. 15/15. Zakopalová hit a crosscourt backhand winner. 30/15. Maria hit a deep, body-jamming crosscourt backhand return down the middle, forcing Zakopalová to net a backhand. 30/30. First serve out wide + crosscourt backhand winner. 40/30 (GP #1). Zakopalová’s body-jamming backhand down the middle forced Maria to net a forehand. Held.

Sharapova serving 4-2: Maria’s powerful groundstrokes forced a short ball, which she dispatched with an off-forehand winner. 15/0. Double fault #2 (second serve into the net). 15/15. Zakopalová crosscourt forehand wide. 30/15. Maria forehand just long. 30/30. Maria played a great spreading rally, her crosscourt forehand forcing Zakopalová to fall over; Maria hit an off-forehand winner into space that would have been wide open with or without Zakopalová’s fall. 40/30 (GP #1). Deep first serve down the middle forced Zakopalová to hit a forehand return just long. Held.

Zakopalová serving 2-5 (new balls): Maria hit a deep forehand return just inside the baseline, forcing Zakopalová to hit a crosscourt backhand wide. 0/15. Deep first serve down the middle forced Maria to net a forehand return. 15/15. Maria’s deep forehand return forced Zakopalová to hit an off-backhand wide. 15/30. Maria sprayed a forehand long. 30/30. Maria hit a crosscourt backhand deep into the corner, forcing Zakopalová to hit a crosscourt backhand wide. 30/40 (SP #1 for Sharapova). Maria hit a crosscourt backhand deep into the corner, forcing Zakopalová to net a backhand. Sharapova won the first set 6-2 at 12:40 BST (30m).


Second set
----------
ZAKOPALOV _*@*_____ 3
SHARAPOVA *___*@*@* 6

Sharapova serving 0-0: Maria netted a backhand off a mildly awkward deep ball from Zakopalová. 0/15. Maria netted a backhand off a deep ball from Zakopalová. 0/30. Ace down the middle. 15/30. Deep first serve down the middle forced Zakopalová to net a forehand return. 30/30. Zakopalová hit a deep crosscourt forehand just inside the baseline, forcing Maria to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. 30/40 (BP #1). Roaring first serve down the middle forced Zakopalová to net a forehand return. Deuce #1. Deep second serve down the middle – on the service-line – forced Zakopalová to net a backhand return that would also have been wide. Ad Sharapova (GP #1). A call of “let” robbed Maria of an ace out wide. Second serve out wide: Zakopalová’s deep crosscourt backhand return forced Maria to hit an off-backhand wide. Deuce #2. Maria hit a deep forehand down the line, forcing Zakopalová to net a sliced backhand. Ad Sharapova (GP #2). Zakopalová sprayed a forehand long. Held.

Virginia Wade: “I’m not totally impressed with Sharapova’s game so far. It’s pretty good, but it’s sort of a little bit of a struggle for her.”
Matt Chilton: “Well, so far, it’s as good as it needs to be.”
Virginia Wade: “I think that’s a valid point, actually.”

Zakopalová serving 0-1: Deep second serve out wide induced Maria to hit a forehand return just long. She wasted a Hawk-Eye challenge. 15/0. Maria hit a crosscourt forehand deep into the corner, forcing Zakopalová to earth a forehand lob. 15/15. Zakopalová netted a forehand off a mildly awkward deep ball from Maria. 15/30. Maria’s depth induced Zakopalová to a backhand halfway up the net. 15/40 BP #1). Zakopalová hit a crosscourt forehand winner deep into the corner. 30/40 (BP #2). Zakopalová hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line – just inside the sideline – from a very deep position. Deuce #1. First serve out wide forced Maria to net a forehand return. Ad Zakopalová (GP #1). Zakopalová’s deep crosscourt backhand induced Maria to net a backhand. Held.

Sharapova serving 1-1: Zakopalová hit a crosscourt forehand return deep into the corner, forcing Maria to net a forehand. 0/15. Maria’s depth induced Zakopalová to hit a forehand long on the 16th stroke. 15/15. Maria’s depth induced Zakopalová to mishit a crosscourt forehand just wide. 30/15. Maria unforcedly dumped a backhand into the net. 30/30. Zakopalová’s deep forehand return down the middle forced Maria to net a forehand. 30/40 (BP #1). Deep first serve out wide forced Zakopalová to net a backhand. Deuce #1. Zakopalová forced a short ball and hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line. Ad Zakopalová (BP #2). Double fault (second serve into the net). Broken.

Matt Chilton: “And for the first time in the match, Sharapova looks seriously despondent.”

A worrying change of momentum, as Zakopalová is playing well, and Maria is just trying to blast her way through from the baseline without showing any of the variety that she’s added to her game over the years.

Zakopalová serving 2-1: Zakopalová hit a forehand winner down the line. 15/0. Zakopalová’s depth forced Maria to net a forehand. 30/0. Maria’s down-the-line forehand clipped the netcord and fell wide. 40/0 (GP #1). Zakopalová hit a forehand just long, and wisely eschewed Hawk-Eye. 40/15 (GP #2). First serve out wide – on the service-line and just inside the sideline – forced Maria to mishit a crosscourt forehand return wide. Held.

Sharapova serving 1-3: Ace down the middle. 15/0. Deep second serve out wide forced Zakopalová to hit a backhand return just long. 30/0. Virtual ace down the middle: on the centre-line. 40/0 (GP #1). Second serve out wide: Zakopalová hit a crosscourt backhand return-winner. 40/15 (GP #2). Double fault #4 (second serve just long). 40/30 (GP #3). Maria sprayed a wild backhand long off a mildly deep ball. Deuce #1. First serve out wide + crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. Ad Sharapova (GP #4). Maria, pushed way behind the baseline, nailed an awesome off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. Held.

It’s not too often that the 40/0 syndrome afflicts Maria. To say that that was a crucial hold (at least as far as this set is concerned) is an understatement.

Zakopalová serving 3-2: Zakopalová crosscourt forehand wide. 0/15. Second serve out wide: Maria hit a blazing crosscourt backhand return-winner. 0/30. Deep serve out wide induced Maria to blast a forehand return long. 15/30. Maria hit a big return + huge crosscourt forehand deep into the corner, forcing Zakopalová to net a forehand. 15/40 (BP #1). Deep serve out wide: Maria blasted a forehand return just long. 30/40 (BP #2). Zakopalová’s deep crosscourt backhand induced Maria to net a backhand. Deuce #1. Deep second serve out wide induced Maria to blast a down-the-line forehand return wide. Ad Zakopalová (GP #1). Maria hit a huge crosscourt forehand + pinpoint off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. Deuce #2. Double fault (second serve just long). Zakopalová wasted her penultimate challenge, as Hawk-Eye showed that it was long by a couple of millimetres. Ad Sharapova (BP #3). Zakopalová on the third stroke dumped a forehand into the net. Broken.

Maria hit some brilliant shots in that game, but she’s so up and down at the moment. She looks somewhat distressed, so I’m wondering if she might be hiding an injury that she feels she needs to go for broke.

Virginia Wade: “It’s not often that you see her giving away as much in the way of distressed expressions.”

Sharapova serving 3-3: Maria netted a forehand. 0/15. Maria went to the net, but Zakopalová hit a body-jamming backhand down the middle, forcing Maria to hit a short backhand volley; Zakopalová went for an off-forehand pass-winner onto the sideline, but it was just wide. 15/15. Zakopalová netted a backhand. 30/15. Maria’s deep forehand forced Zakopalová to net a forehand. 40/15 (GP #1). Deep first serve down the middle forced Zakopalová to hit an off-backhand return wide. Held.

Matt Chilton: “At the moment, Klára Zakopalová’s body-language says, ‘I’m gonna lose this match.’”

Zakopalová has often shown negative body-language when I’ve watched her over the years, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be all downhill for her going forward. But then again, she has lost every single match that I’ve ever seen her play.

Zakopalová serving 3-4: Maria’s deep return induced Zakopalová hit a backhand long; Zakopalová slipped for the third time in the match. 0/15. Maria’s deep return induced Zakopalová to net a backhand. 0/30. Zakopalová’s deep off-forehand induced Maria to hit a backhand long. 15/30. Second serve: Maria dumped a forehand return into the net. 30/30. Maria hit a crosscourt forehand deep into the corner, forcing Zakopalová to net a forehand and slip for the fourth time today. 30/40 (BP #1). Maria punished a short second serve with an off-forehand return-winner. Broken.

Sharapova serving 5-3 (new balls): Deep first serve out wide forced Zakopalová to hit a forehand long. 15/0. Ace down the middle: 103mph first serve just inside the centre-line. 30/0. Maria, down on her knees for a deep ball from Zakopalová, hit an off-backhand would-be winner just wide. Maria wasted a wishful Hawk-Eye challenge. 30/15. Zakopalová hit a deep ball down the middle, inducing Maria to hit a backhand long. 30/30. Maria hit an off-forehand just wide, and Zakopalová slipped for the fifth time in the match. 30/40 (BP #1). Deep first serve down the middle forced Zakopalová to hit a forehand return very long. Maria shouted “c’mon”. Virginia Wade: “An iron will she has.” Deuce #1. Maria’s crosscourt backhand forced a short ball, which she dispatched with a crosscourt forehand winner. Ad Sharapova (MP #1). Zakopalová took the initiative with a short-angled crosscourt forehand just inside the sideline, which Maria did very well to retrieve with a crosscourt forehand from the alley, but Zakopalová hit a weaker crosscourt forehand back behind Maria, who hit a forehand winner down the line. Sharapova won 6-2 6-3 at 13:28 BST (second set 48m, match 1h18m).

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jun 29th, 2011, 02:57 PM
=================
THE CHAMPIONSHIPS (Wimbledon, London, England; grass; Major)
=================-----------------------
Fourth-round TV-report: Sharapova v Péng (Monday 27th June 2011)
----------------------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. PÉNG,SHUŔI [20,S], 6-4 6-2

A more convincing performance by Maria than in her last two rounds, against one of the most prolific winners (42 matches!) on the WTA Tour this year. Péng serves very well for a 5′8″ girl, and also put up good resistance in the first set with her Selesian groundstrokes.

The match went with serve until 0:0 4-4*. Maria saved two break-points in an opening game of five deuces. Maria hit plenty of winners; notable highlights include:
• Maria hitting a perfect backhand lob-winner at *1-2 40/0.
• Maria hitting a short-angled crosscourt backhand pass-winner on the run at 3-3* 15/30*.

From 0-0 4-4*, Maria broke to 30 with the help of an off-forehand winner, then served out the first set to love, sealed with an ace.

In the second set, Maria extended her game-winning streak to 7 to take a 4-0* lead. She hit an amazing short-angled crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline at 1:0 *1-0 0/0, and was taken to Deuce before she held that service-game.

Péng at 0:1 *0-4 played a good service-game, sealed with an ace. Maria held for 5-1* with a crosscourt backhand pass-winner and another crosscourt backhand winner.

Péng saved Maria's first match-point at 0:1 *1-5 30/40 with a brilliant backhand winner down the line, and held for 2-5*, then Maria served out the match to love with an off-forehand winner, and an error-forcing off-forehand on her second match-point.

Maria may have had a problem with her right thigh at 1:0 *3-0, as she put ice on it at the changeover, and then stretched it after serving a double fault at 15/0, but she said it was fine in her BBC interview coming off the court.


First set
---------
PÉNG *_*_*_*___ 4
SHAR _*_*_*_*@* 6

The match was first on Court 2, and started at 12:14 BST.

Péng serving 0-0: Second serve out wide: Maria hit a big crosscourt forehand return, forcing Péng to net a forehand. 0/15. Maria dominated the rally and hit a crosscourt forehand winner. 0/30. Ace #1: first serve down the middle. 15/30. Péng forced a short ball and hit a crosscourt backhand winner back behind Maria. 30/30. First serve out wide: Maria netted a forehand return. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria forced a short floater, let it bounce and hit a crosscourt forehand smash-winner. Deuce #1. Péng forced a floater, and dispatched it with an off-forehand smash-winner. Ad Péng (GP #1). Deep first serve down the middle forced Maria to net a forehand return. Held.

Virginia Wade: "You'd think that two-handed shots on both sides would restrict your reach, but Sharapova's gonna have difficulty exploiting that."

Sharapova serving 0-1: Ace #1: first serve down the middle, on the centre-line. 0/15. Péng hit a crosscourt forehand winner back behind Maria. 15/15. Maria hit a crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline. 30/15. Maria's crosscourt backhand clipped the netcord and fell wide. 30/30. Maria forced a short ball, and nailed an off-forehand winner just inside the sideline, back behind Péng. 40/30 (GP #1). Péng hit a deep crosscourt backhand return just inside the sideline, forcing Maria to earth a backhand. Deuce #1. Maria forced a sitter, and hit a down-the-line forehand winner that clipped the netcord. Virginia Wade: "She's hit quite a few balls into the net, which means that she's getting on top of the ball in her anxiety to hit it hard." Ad Sharapova (GP #2). Péng hit a deep forehand return just inside the baseline, forcing Maria to hit a backhand long. Deuce #2. Double fault #1 (second serve into the net). Ad Péng (BP #1). Maria's deep crosscourt backhand induced Péng to hit a crosscourt backhand wide. Deuce #3. Deep 107mph first serve out wide: Péng hit an incredible early crosscourt forehand return-winner. Ad Péng (BP #2). Péng netted a backhand. Deuce #4. Péng's acute-angled crosscourt forehand return forced Maria to run outside the alley to hit a short-angled crosscourt forehand onto the sideline; Péng hit a forehand down the lind, but Maria hit a fabulous short-angled crosscourt backhand winner on the run. Ad Sharapova (GP #3). Double fault #2 (second serve into the net). Deuce #5. A long, loud baseline-rally ended with Maria's depth inducing Péng to hit a backhand long. Ad Sharapova (GP #3). Péng hit an off-forehand would-be winner just wide, causing Maria to do the splits behind the centre of the baseline - thankfully without suffering a horrific knee-injury like Magdaléna Rybáriková when she did the same last week. Held.

Virginia Wade: "Double faults have haunted Maria since she came back from shoulder-surgery. She abbreviated her swing, and now has gone back to a full swing, but still she goes for her second serve and makes quite a few errors on it."

Péng serving 1-1: Double fault (second serve out wide wide). 0/15. Maria netted a backhand. 15/15. Maria tried to hit a down-the-line backhand back behind Péng, but sprayed it very long and wide. 30/15. Maria forced a short sitter, and dispatched it with an off-forehand winner. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria netted an off-forehand after Péng's first serve looked long but wasn't called. 40/30 (GP #2). Péng hit a deep ball down the middle, inducing Maria to spray a crosscourt forehand wide. Held.

Sharapova serving 1-2: Péng mishit a backhand return very short; Maria ran it down and hit a crosscourt backhand winner. 15/0. Péng netted a forehand. 30/0. First serve + off-forehand winner. 40/0 (GP #1). A netcord-dropshot drew Péng to the net; Péng chopped a forehand onto the baseline with heavy slice, but Maria hit a perfect backhand lob-winner just inside the baseline. Held.

Péng serving 2-2: Deep first serve forced Maria to net a forehand return. 15/0. Deep first serve out wide forced Maria to hit a backhand return long. 30/0. Maria hit a deep forehand just inside the baseline, forcing Péng to net a forehand. 30/15. Second serve out wide: Maria hit a backhand winner down the line. 30/30. Ace #2: first serve down the middle, on the service-line. 40/30 (GP #1). Péng netted a backhand dropshot off a deep ball from Maria. Deuce #1. Péng forced a short ball and hit a short-angled off-backhand, forcing Maria to bunt a forehand into the net. Ad Péng (GP #2). Péng went to the net behind a deep ball, forcing Maria to hit a forehand lob long. Held.

Sharapova serving 2-3: First serve + searing short-angled crosscourt backhand forced Péng to earth a backhand. 15/0. Double fault (second serve out wide clipped the netcord and fell wide). 15/15. Deep first serve out wide forced Péng to bunt a forehand long. 30/15. Maria's deep crosscourt forehand forced Péng to hit a forehand long. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria's deep crosscourt backhand forced Péng to hit a crosscourt backhand wide. Péng wasted a challenge. Held.

Péng serving 3-3: Deep first serve out wide forced Maria to hit a forehand return very long. 15/0. Péng netted a forehand dropshot from the baseline. 15/15. Deep first serve out wide forced Maria to hit a forehand return long. 30/15. Péng made a late decision to go to the net behind a down-the-line forehand, but got caught in no-man's-land as Maria hit a short-angled crosscourt backhand pass-winner on the run. 30/30. Ace #3: first serve down the middle, on the service-line. 40/30 (GP #1). First serve out wide - deep in the corner - forced Maria to earth a backhand return. Held.

Sharapova serving 3-4 (new balls): Maria hit a deep forehand just inside the baseline, forcing Péng to hit a forehand long. 15/0. Second serve: Péng hit a deep down-the-line backhand return just inside the baseline, forcing Maria to bunt a down-the-line forehand long and wide. 15/15. Second serve out wide: Péng hit an off-backhand return-winner. 15/30. Maria nailed an off-forehand winner deep into the corner. 30/30. Maria hit a crosscourt forehand winner. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria netted a forehand. Deuce #1. First serve out wide forced Péng to earth a forehand return. Ad Sharapova (GP #1). Deep first serve down the middle forced Péng to bunt a forehand long. Held.

Péng serving 4-4: Double fault #3 (second serve into the net). 0/15. Péng's forehand sailed long off a deep ball from Maria. 0/30. Maria forced a short ball, and nailed an off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. 0/40 (BP #1). Péng's depth forced Maria to hit a backhand long. 15/40 (BP #2). Ace down the middle: just inside both the centre-line and the service-line. 30/40 (BP #3). Maria went to the net, forcing Péng to net a forehand. Broken.

Sharapova serving 5-4: Péng forced a floater, but let it drop too far as she hit a backhand drive-volley long. 15/0. Péng hit a deep backhand onto the baseline, but Maria responded with a deep forehand just inside the service-line, forcing Péng to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. 30/0. Maria hit a crosscourt backhand deep into the corner, forcing Péng to hit a backhand long. 40/0 (SP #1). Ace down the middle. Maria won the first set 6-4 at 13:00 BST (46m).


Second set
----------
PÉNG ____*_*_ 2
SHAR @*@*_*_* 6

Péng serving 0-0: Péng hit a deep forehand down the line to force a short lob from Maria, which Péng dispatched with an off-backhand winner. 15/0. Péng backhand long. 15/15. Double fault (second serve just wide). 15/30. Péng forced a short ball, and dispatched it with an off-forehand winner. 30/30. A meaty baseline-rally ended with Péng hitting an off-forehand just wide. 30/40 (BP #1). Maria's deep crosscourt forehand forced Péng to hit a forehand long. Broken.

BBC commentator David Mercer: "Four games in a row for Sharapova, and suddenly the former champion has a grip on the match."

Sharapova serving 1-0: Péng hit a deep forehand down the line, but Maria hit an amazing short-angled crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline. My initial reaction was that it was wide, but no one else seemed to think so. 15/0. Péng's deep crosscourt backhand forced Maria to net a backhand. 15/15. Maria's deep crosscourt forehand forced Péng to hit a forehand long. 30/15. Péng punished a weak second serve with a deep backhand return-winner down the line: just inside the baseline. 30/30. Deep first serve out wide + down-the-line forehand winner. 40/30 (GP #1). With a very loud helicopter overhead, Maria hit a forehand long. Deuce #1. Maria's deep serve out wide forced Péng to hit a forehand long. Ad Sharapova (GP #1). Péng forced a short ball, ran it down, but sprayed a wild forehand very long. Held.

Péng serving 0-2: Maria hit a crosscourt backhand deep into the corner, forcing Péng to net a one-handed backhand after recovering from a slip. 0/15. First serve: Maria hit a deep forehand return just inside the baseline, forcing Péng onto her knees to hit a crosscourt forehand just wide - but she successfully challenged it: Hawk-Eye showed that it clipped the outside edge of the sideline by 5 millimetres for a clean winner. 15/15. Péng went to the net but netted a forehand volley. 15/30. Maria's depth forced Péng to hit a backhand wide. 15/40 (BP #1). Maria's depth forced Péng to hit a backhand long. Broken.

David Mercer: "Péng is beginning to wilt in the heat."

Maria put some ice on her right thigh during the changeover.

Sharapova serving 3-0: Deep second serve down the middle forced Péng to net a backhand return. 15/0. Double fault (second serve into the net). Maria stretched her right thigh between points. 15/15. Maria hit an off-backhand deep into the corner, forcing Péng to bunt a forehand long. 30/15. First serve down the middle forced Péng to hit a forehand. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria hit a crosscourt backhand deep into the corner, forcing Péng to hit a backhand long. Held.

David Mercer: "Maria has always been a good front-runner - not afraid of winning matches, not inhibited by the sight of the finishing-line. And she's playing /very/ well now - really tested in that first set. It's as though Péng,Shuŕi has played her into form."

Péng serving 0-4: Péng hit a deep forehand onto the baseline, forcing Maria to bunt a crosscourt forehand half-volley wide. Maria wasted a Hawk-Eye challenge. 15/0. Deep first serve out wide forced Maria to earth a backhand. 30/0. Péng hit a pinpoint crosscourt backhand winner onto the baseline. 40/0 (GP #1). First serve: Maria's deep return forced Péng to hit a forehand long. 40/15 (GP #2). Maria hit a pinpoint crosscourt forehand just inside the sideline, forcing Péng to hit a forehand long. 40/30 (GP #3). Ace out wide. Held.

Sharapova serving 4-1: Péng hit a crosscourt backhand deep into the corner, forcing Maria to hit a backhand long. 0/15. Deep first serve down the middle forced Péng to net a forehand. 15/15. Péng forced a floater, and hit a crosscourt forehand drive-volley winner. 30/15. Péng went to the net, but didn't close in properly; Maria hit a crosscourt backhand pass-winner. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria hit a crosscourt forehand + crosscourt backhand winner, and yelled "c'mon!" Held.

Péng serving 1-5 (new balls): Slow first serve out wide: Maria hit a deep forehand down the line, forcing Péng to net a backhand. 0/15. Maria forced a short ball, and ripped a crosscourt forehand winner. 0/30. Péng forced a short ball and hit an off-forehand winner. 15/30. Péng's depth forced Maria to net a backhand. 30/30. First serve: Maria hit a huge off-backhand return onto the baseline, forcing Péng to mishit a forehand into the stand to her left. Péng apologised for that potentially dangerous mishit. 30/40 (MP #1 for Sharapova). First serve out wide + brilliant backhand winner down the line. Deuce #1. Maria stopped the point to challenge Péng's crosscourt backhand onto the baseline, but Hawk-Eye showed that it caught about 5% of the breadth of the baseline. Ad Péng (GP #1). Péng hit a deep down-the-line backhand onto the baseline, forcing Maria to bunt a crosscourt forehand wide. Held.

Sharapova serving 5-2: Péng netted a backhand. 15/0. Maria hit a short off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. 30/0. Maria's deep crosscourt forehand forced Péng to hit a forehand long. 40/0 (MP #2 for Sharapova). Maria forced a short, defensive lob, and dispatched it with an off-forehand that forced Péng to bunt a backhand long. Sharapova won 6-4 6-2 at 13:34 BST (second set 34m, match 1h20m).


Maria's BBC interview
---------------------

This interview took place in the corridor immediately after Maria walked off Court 2.

Rishi Persad: "Maria, tell us your thoughts on making it through to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2006!"

Maria: "I know. It's great. Last year, I lost in the fourth round to Serena [Williams], and this year I find myself in the quarter-finals, and I've given myself an opportunity to go even further, so I'm quite happy about that."

Persad: "We noticed that your right thigh looked a little tight. Is it okay now?"

Maria: "Yeah, I know; it's fine. <laughing>"

Persad: "What's it like out there? The weather is completely different to last week."

Maria: "I know. It's a completely different tournament. You see everyone putting sunscreen on, and I had the ice-bag out today. Yeah, I'm used to it. I grew up in Florida, and I still live there and train there, so I'm used to the humidity, so that really helped me."

Persad: "The public and the media are really building up your challenge this year, but I've read that you want to keep your feet firmly on the ground. Why is that?"

Maria: "Well, I have to be a little realistic about the fact that I haven't gotten past the fourth round in a few years, so this is a step forward, and it's just about taking care of business in the next round, and just going about things in matches."

Persad: "Well done today, Maria."

Maria: "Thank you."

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jun 30th, 2011, 12:03 PM
=================
THE CHAMPIONSHIPS (Wimbledon, London, England; grass; Major)
=================-----------------------------
Quarter-final TV-report: Sharapova v Cibulková (Tuesday 28th June 2011)
----------------------------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. DOMINIKA CIBULKOVÁ [24], 6-1 6-1

Once upon a time, there lived a fox and a stork. The fox invited the stork to dinner, and served the food on plates. The stork could not eat the food off the plates, so the fox got to eat both portions. Then the stork invited the fox to dinner, and served the food in tall vases. The fox could not get the food out of the vases, so the stork got to eat both portions.

Maria had previously lost to Cibulková twice on clay, including a humiliating 0-6 2-6 defeat in their French Open 2009 quarter-final, as well as Madrid 2011. But on grass, it was a completely different story, as Maria put on a masterclass to level their head-to-head at 2:2, having beaten Cibulková in the Amelia Island 2008 final.

Cibulková hits her groundstrokes amazingly hard for such a short girl (5′3″). The BBC commentators have nicknamed her “the Pocket Rocket”. But she just tried to match Maria’s power instead of changing a losing game.

As for the semi-final, Sabine Lisicki definitely has the game to upset Maria, especially if Maria’s serve goes AWOL again, but Sabine really struggled to close out her quarter-final after wasting three match-points at 6-4 *5-4, and wouldn’t get away with such a choke against Maria.


First set
---------
CIBULKOVÁ *______ 1
SHARAPOVA _*@*@*@ 6

The match was second on Centre Court. Maria won the toss and elected to receive.

During the warm-up, the BBC commentators reminded us that Maria had lost 0-6 2-6 to Cibulková in the French Open 2009 quarter-finals, but said that playing indoors on grass should suit Maria much better.

The match started at 16:03 BST.

Cibulková serving 0-0: A long opening rally ended with Maria hitting a crosscourt forehand volley-winner as Cibulková took a nasty tumble – thankfully without suffering a horrific knee-injury like Magdaléna Rybáriková a week ago. 0/15. Cibulková netted a backhand. 0/30. Deep second serve induced Maria to hit a forehand return long. 15/30. Maria forehand long. 30/30. Maria netted a backhand. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria hit a backhand just long, and didn’t challenge it. Held.

Sharapova serving 0-1: Maria spread Cibulková, her crosscourt forehand drive-volley forcing Cibulková to hit a running forehand long. 15/0. Deep first serve forced Cibulková to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. 30/0. Cibulková’s deep crosscourt backhand induced Maria to hit an off-forehand wide. 30/15. Cibulková netted a forehand. 40/15 (GP #1). Cibulková forced a short ball, but hit a forehand long. Held.

Cibulková serving 1-1: Maria hit a big crosscourt forehand winner back behind Cibulková. 0/15. Maria’s deep crosscourt forehand forced Cibulková to hit a forehand long. 0/30. Maria netted a backhand. 15/30. Cibulková nailed a huge crosscourt forehand winner just inside both lines. 30/30. Maria hit a huge off-forehand return-winner. 30/40 (BP #1). Cibulková netted a forehand. Broken.

Sharapova serving 2-1: Cibulková netted a backhand. 15/0. Cibulková hit a short-angled crosscourt backhand onto the sideline, forcing Maria to net a backhand. It was called wide after Maria hit the ball, meaning that Cibulková would have won the point had she been successful with her challenge, but Hawk-Eye confirmed that it was wide. 30/0. Cibulková overhit a crosscourt forehand just wide. 40/0 (GP #1). Maria went to the net, forcing Cibulková to net a backhand. Held.

Virginia Wade: “I really like the way Sharapova’s hitting the ball. She’s more fluid on it. She’s hitting the ball early, in front of her, and she’s generating some tremendous pace out there.”

Cibulková serving 1-3: Cibulková hit a crosscourt forehand deep into the corner, forcing Maria to net a forehand. 15/0. First serve out wide forced Maria to net a backhand. 30/0. Maria forced a floater, and dispatched it with a backhand drive-volley winner down the line. 30/15. Maria hit a pinpoint crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline. BBC commentator David Mercer: “She is middling just about every ball.” 30/30. Cibulková netted a forehand. 30/40 (BP #1). Double fault (second serve into the net). Broken.

Sharapova serving 4-1: Maria hit a short-angled crosscourt forehand winner back behind Cibulková. David Mercer: “Cibulková is hitting the ball sweetly, but Sharapova is hitting it even better.” 15/0. Cibulková forehand long. 15/15. Maria netted a forehand. 15/30. Maria sprayed a backhand very long off a defensive sliced backhand crosscourt from Cibulková. 15/40 (BP #1). Ace out wide: deep in the corner. 30/40 (BP #2). Cibulková blasted a wild crosscourt forehand return wide. Deuce #1. Deep first serve: forehand long. Ad Sharapova (GP #1). Ace out wide. Held.

Cibulková serving 1-5: Maria netted an off-backhand volley. 15/0. Maria hit a backhand long. 30/0. Cibulková’s body-jamming sliced backhand forced Maria to retreat from the net, and Cibulková hit a backhand winner down the line. 40/0 (GP #1). Short second serve: Maria hit a crosscourt forehand return-winner. 40/15 (GP #2). Maria nailed a forehand return-winner onto the baseline, and Cibulková wasted a challenge: it caught about 40% of the breadth of the baseline. 40/30 (GP #3). Cibulková netted a backhand. Deuce #1. Maria’s deep crosscourt forehand forced Cibulková to net a forehand. Ad Sharapova (SP #1). Cibulková hit a wild off-forehand would-be winner just wide. Sharapova won the first set 6-1 at 16:31 BST (27m).

So far, Maria is dominating Cibulková almost completely, but Cibulková also lost her first set 1-6 against Woźniacki in the previous round, so I know that it’s not safe to write her off yet. David Mercer: “But there’s so much more aggression about Sharapova than there is about Woźniacki.”


Second set
----------
CIBULKOVÁ __@____ 1
SHARAPOVA *@_@*@* 6

Sharapova serving 0-0: Maria hit a crosscourt forehand winner back behind Cibulková. 15/0. Maria, driven into her forehand-sideline, hit a crosscourt forehand just wide. 15/15. First serve out wide forced Cibulková to net a forehand. 30/15. Cibulková hit a forehand long. 40/15 (GP #1). First serve out wide forced Cibulková to net a forehand. Held.

BBC commentator David Mercer said that Cibulková needed to get more balls back rather than going pace for pace with Maria.

Cibulková serving 0-1: Maria hit a crosscourt forehand winner deep into the corner. 15/0. Maria’s crosscourt forehand forced Cibulková to net a down-the-line forehand – and Maria’s backhand sideline was wide open. 15/15. Deep first serve out wide forced Maria to hit a forehand return halfway up the net. 30/15. Cibulková hit a crosscourt backhand just wide. 30/30. Cibulková netted a forehand. 30/40 (BP #1). Maria hit a forehand long. Deuce #1. Cibulková hit a deep crosscourt forehand just inside the baseline, forcing Maria to net a forehand. Ad Cibulková (GP #1). Maria kept excellent depth on her groundstrokes, opened up the court with a crosscourt backhand, and hit a pinpoint backhand winner down the line: just inside the sideline. Deuce #2. Maria nailed a pinpoint forehand winner down the line: on the sideline. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Maria blasted a crosscourt forehand wide. Deuce #3. Maria’s deep off-forehand forced Cibulková to net a backhand. Ad Sharapova (BP #3). Cibulková hit a crosscourt forehand deep into the corner, forcing Maria to chop a forehand long. Deuce #4. Cibulková’s deep crosscourt backhand just inside the baseline induced Maria to hit a backhand long. Ad Cibulková (GP #2). Maria hit a deep forehand down the middle, inducing Cibulková to hit an off-backhand wide. Deuce #5. Double fault (second serve long). Ad Sharapova (BP #4). Maria hit a down-the-line forehand winner close to the sideline, and yelled “c’mon”. Broken.

Sharapova serving 2-0: Cibulková’s forehand down the middle induced Maria to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. 0/15. Body-jamming serve out wide induced Cibulková to net a forehand return. 15/15. Ace #3: first out wide, just inside the sideline. 30/15. Cibulková hit a deep crosscourt forehand just inside the baseline, forcing Maria to net a forehand. 30/30. Cibulková hit a deep forehand down the line, forcing Maria to net a backhand. 30/40 (BP #1). Maria netted a horrendous sliced backhand. Broken.

A terrible game from 30/15 – and an encouraging one not so much for Cibulková as for Sabine Lisicki, who awaits the winner of this match in the semi-finals.

Cibulková serving 1-2: Cibulková hit a crosscourt forehand wide. 0/15. Double fault (second serve into the net). 0/30. Maria hit a pinpoint crosscourt forehand just inside the sideline. 0/40 (BP #1). body-jamming first serve induced Maria to net a forehand. 15/40 (BP #2). Cibulková hit an off-forehand winner onto the sideline, but it was called wide. Cibulková should have challenged, as Hawk-Eye showed that it was in by one millimetre! Broken.

Sharapova serving 3-1: Cibulková crosscourt forehand just wide. 15/0. Maria sprayed an off-forehand just long. 15/15. Deep first serve out wide – on the sideline – forced Cibulková to hit a down-the-line forehand return wide. 30/15. Cibulková forehand return long. 40/15 (GP #1). Ace down the middle: on the centre-line. Held.

David Mercer criticised Cibulková, and young players in general (22 is young in tennis-terms these days), for not changing a losing game. He said that Cibulková was hitting the ball well, but playing right into Maria’s hands all the time instead of mixing it up.

Cibulková serving 1-4: Maria hit a short-angled crosscourt forehand winner back behind Cibulková. 0/15. Maria hit an off-forehand winner just inside both lines. 0/30. Maria hit an off-forehand winner back behind Cibulková. 0/40 (BP #1). Maria forced a short ball, and dispatched it with a crosscourt forehand smash-winner. Broken.

Sharapova serving 5-1: Double fault #1 (second serve long). 0/15. Cibulková netted a backhand. 15/15. Maria dominated the rally, forced a short ball, but put a down-the-line backhand long. 15/30. Maria, driven wide, hit a searing backhand winner down the line. 30/30. Cibulková opened up the court with a short-angled crosscourt forehand return, hit an impressive crosscourt backhand winner deep into the corner, and got a loud cheer from the crowd. 30/40 (BP #1). Ace down the middle. Deuce #1. Deep first serve out wide forced Cibulková to hit a down-the-line forehand just wide. Ad Sharapova (MP #1). First serve down the middle forced a short return; Maria hit a deep crosscourt forehand onto the baseline, couldn’t maintain the initiative from that, but Cibulková hit a forehand long. Maria won 6-1 6-1 at 17:04 BST (second set 33m, match 1h00m).

David Mercer: “It was a battle between a heavyweight and a lightweight, and the heavyweight landed a lot of punches today. She’s sending out a message: ‘I’m a Major champion – you’re not. Beat me if you can.’”
Virginia Wade: “Seeing the way Maria played today, I don’t see how anyone can beat her.”


Maria’s BBC interview
---------------------

This interview took place in the corridor immediately after Maria walked off Centre Court.

Phil Jones: “Maria, congratulations. A wonderful performance. A dazzling performance. Put it into words, what it means to be in another Wimbledon semi-final.”

Maria: “Well, it’s really an honour. It’s been a few years since I got past the fourth round, and now I’m in the semi-finals, so this is a great chance for me to take it a step further, but I’m certainly happy to be in this stage.”

Jones: “You’re in such a rich vein of form as well. If you play this well, do you have almost an air of invincibility about you?”

Maria: “Well, every opponent’s different, every day is different, and that’s why they put the nets up in the morning for us to play the matches. I’ve got a very tough opponent coming up, and I’m really looking forward to that match.”

Jones: “You played each other just once, I think, against Sabine Lisicki, earlier this year, and it was very one-sided. Does that have any bearing at all on what’s to come?”

Maria: “Well, this is a player that’s playing with a tremendous amount of confidence right now, and playing really great grass-court tennis, so it will be a really tough match, but I certainly look forward to it.”

Jones: “I know Sabine’s come back from a really bad injury, and we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact [that] you had that terrible shoulder-injury and surgery, and players very rarely come back from a thing like that – if at all. You have, and now you’re here. Can you quite believe how it’s happened?”

Maria: “Well, to be in the semis of Wimbledon is a bonus. To be able to come back and play tennis after a big injury, I was just quite happy to be back on the court, so to achieve this is wonderful, but the tournament isn’t over, so.”

Jones: “It’s wonderful to see you playing so well. Congratulations again.”

Maria: “Thanks.”

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jul 2nd, 2011, 06:09 AM
=================
THE CHAMPIONSHIPS (Wimbledon, London, England; grass; Major)
=================------------------------
Semi-final TV-report: Sharapova v Lisicki (Thursday 30th June 2011)
-----------------------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Sabine Lisicki [WC,EF], 6-4 6-3

What should have been a mouth-watering match between two members of my Eternal Fanship left a very bitter taste, as Sabine played at only 30% of her best, and Maria thus got away with a bad day on her serve (13 double faults, only 48% of first serves in, and she was broken three times). It is a disappointment to me... I confess myself disappointed.

Sabine made an excellent start, holding to 15 with a deep crosscourt backhand volley-winner just inside the baseline. Maria made a terrible start, book-ending her opening service-game with double faults as Sabine broke to love. Sabine hit four great serves to hold for 15 for 3-0*.

Maria came through a tough service-game of three deuces, saving a break-point, to hold for 0:0 1-3*. At Deuce #2, they showed a glimpse of what this match could have been as Maria nailed a deep off-forehand winner just inside both lines, and then Sabine hit an off-forehand return-winner just inside the sideline.

At 0:0 *3-1 0/15, Sabine illustrated a tactic that has served her so well in this grass-court season: she pinned Maria back and hit a forehand dropshot-winner. However, she netted another dropshot at 30/30, Maria broke back with an error-forcing off-forehand return deep into the corner, and held for 3-3*.

Sabine held convincingly to 15 for 0:0 4-3*, but would lose the next six games. At 0:0 4-3* 0/30*, she drew Maria to the net with a dropshot and hit a fantastic backhand lob-volley winner, but it was an isolated highlight.

With Maria achieving greater depth on her groundstrokes, she broke for *5-4, and hit an off-forehand winner for 40/15. Sabine saved the first set-point with a forehand dropshot-winner, but Maria converted the second with an ace down the middle.

Sabine’s resistance crumbled at the start of the second set as two of her biggest weapons – her first serve and her dropshot – went AWOL. She was broken to love for 0-1* with two double faults, and broken again to love for 0-3* as the umpire denied her request to suspend play due to light drizzle.

Sabine got one of the breaks back with the help of an off-forehand winner and two double faults: 0:1 *1-3. But Maria reinstated the double break with the help of a backhand winner down the line and an off-backhand winner.

At 1:0 *4-1, Maria came through a tough service-game of four deuces, despite serving two double faults and Sabine hitting three brilliant winners: a leaping forehand smash-winner and two backhand return-winners. Maria saved two break-points: one by hitting a down-the-line forehand winner after a great rally, and another with an off-backhand winner just inside the sideline.

Sabine held for 2-5* with a brilliant off-forehand winner onto the sideline, and got to 30/15* with a backhand return-winner down the line and a brilliant short-angled crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline. She was then gifted the break back as Maria netted a backhand volley and served her 13th double fault.

However, Maria hit two brilliant crosscourt backhand winners onto the sideline to reach match-point at 1:0 5-3* 40/15*, converting it when Sabine hit a forehand long.

Petra Kvitová is extremely dangerous, but can also get very nervous, as we saw in both her quarter-final and her semi-final. In the final, Maria will need to serve well and weather the storm, for she certainly has far more experience and superior mental strength.


First set
---------
SHARAPO ___*@*_*@* 6
LISICKI *@*___*___ 4

Ever since they set up this semi-final, I haven’t felt a clear preference for either of these players to win it. I’ve been an Eternal Fan of Maria since Wimbledon 2003, so I feel a strong loyalty to her, and would love to see her win her fourth Major. On the other hand, I inducted Sabine into my Eternal Fanship a week ago, and have been feeling the excitement of that new love ever since. I would love to see her become a Major champion, but since this is a semi-final, I have more trust in Maria to win the final because of her mental strength and far greater experience at this level. I just wish they could both win and team up for the final!

The match was second on Centre Court. Maria won the toss and presumably chose to receive, there was a nice smile on Sabine’s face during the warm-up, and the match started at 15:12 BST.

Lisicki serving 0-0: Huge first serve out wide forced Maria to earth a forehand return. 15/0. Sabine’s crosscourt forehand to the sideline forced Maria to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. 30/0. Maria forced a sitter and dispatched it with an off-forehand winner. 30/15. Deep first serve forced Maria to hit an off-forehand wide. 40/15 (GP #1). First serve out wide forced a floater, which Sabine dispatched with a deep crosscourt backhand drive-volley winner just inside the baseline. Held.

An excellent start by Sabine, and an encouraging one for the match from a neutral perspective. No sign of nerves there, but closing out could be another matter, should she find herself in that position.

Sharapova serving 0-1: Double fault #1 (second serve into the net). 0/15. Maria crosscourt backhand wide. 0/30. Sabine hit a deep forehand down the line, forcing Maria to earth a backhand return. 0/40 (BP #1). Double fault #2 (second serve into the net). Broken.

An ugly opening service-game by Maria, book-ended by double faults, but as the more experienced, mentally stronger player, she can afford such a bad start better more Sabine could afford to start like that.

BBC commentator Lindsay Davenport: “This is really how quickly she loses the rhythm on her serve. Just when you think she has her service-motion under control, she starts off the match like this.”

Lisicki serving 2-0: 121mph first serve: Maria’s forehand return clipped the netcord, forcing Sabine to run forwards and net a forehand; Sabine reacted with a cute little yelp, followed by a lovely smile. 0/15. Body-jamming first serve forced Maria to net a forehand return. 15/15. Short-angled second serve forced Maria to hit a forehand return long. 30/15. Deep second serve out wide forced Maria to hit a down-the-line backhand wide. 40/15 (GP #1). Sabine got away with a short second serve, as Maria dumped a cheap forehand return into the net. Held.

Lindsay Davenport: “We talk about Lisicki being such a great server because she serves hard, but it’s also her variety: her location she mixes up, the speed she mixes up, and the spin. She really has all the serves in her bag. It makes it very tough for the returner to know which one to cover, and what speed it’s going to come at them.”

People are returning to the stands after taking a break after the first semi-final, so that’s good for the atmosphere, which was a little flat at the start.

Sharapova serving 0-3: Double fault #3 (second serve into the net). 0/15. Maria forced a short ball and hit a crosscourt forehand virtual winner, and shouted “c’mon”. 15/15. Deep first serve out wide forced Sabine to bunt a forehand return long. 30/15. Sabine off-forehand wide. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria netted a forehand on the third stroke. 40/30 (GP #2). Sabine’s deep crosscourt forehand forced Maria to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. Deuce #1. Double fault #4 (second serve into the net). Lindsay Davenport: “She’s so tense.” Ad Lisicki (BP #1). Maria’s first serve was called long, but her Hawk-Eye challenge showed that it caught about 15% of the breadth of the service-line, so she got another first serve. Sabine hit her first dropshot of the match – a crosscourt forehand – wide. Deuce #2. Maria nailed a deep off-forehand winner deep into the corner: just inside both baseline and sideline!! Ad Sharapova (GP #3). First serve out wide: Sabine hit an 81mph off-forehand return-winner just inside the sideline. Deuce #3. First serve out wide: crosscourt forehand wide. Ad Sharapova (GP #4). Deep second serve out wide induced Sabine to hit a backhand return very long. Held.

Maria’s poor form continues, but at least she’s on the “games” section of the scoreboard now.

Lisicki serving 3-1: Maria hit a crosscourt forehand deep into the corner, forcing Sabine to earth a forehand. 0/15. Sabine pinned Maria back and hit a forehand dropshot-winner (and an off-forehand pass-winner that didn’t count, because Maria’s forehand was called “not up” by the umpire). Lindsay Davenport: “Lisicki has good feel on the dropshot. When she goes to the forehand dropshot, she almost takes two hands back with her!” 15/15. Maria’s deep off-forehand forced Sabine to bunt a backhand lob long. 15/30. Sabine went to the net behind an off-forehand, forcing Maria to net a backhand. 30/30. Sabine netted a forehand dropshot, and gave a cute wry smile. 30/40 (BP #1). Maria hit an off-forehand return deep into the corner, forcing Sabine to net a backhand. Broken.

BBC commentator Andrew Cotter: “After a stuttering start for the now-favourite for the title, she is back in it.”

Sharapova serving 2-3: Deep first serve down the middle forced Sabine to earth a forehand. 15/0. Sabine forced a short ball, dispatched it with an off-forehand winner, and said “c’mon”. 15/15. Sabine netted a forehand. 30/15. Second serve out wide: Sabine netted a makeable backhand return. 40/15 (GP #1). Double fault (second serve just long). 40/30 (GP #2). Sabine backhand just long. Held.

There are some ominous dark clouds in the vicinity. It looks likely that they will have to put the roof on Centre Court at some stage. I welcome that prospect, as Sabine has been involved in two fantastic matches under the roof so far this Wimbledon, and to be honest, this one has a way to go to reach that level.

Lisicki serving 3-3: Sabine hit a deep backhand onto the baseline, forcing Maria to hit a crosscourt backhand wide. Maria wasted a Hawk-Eye challenge: it was plumb on the baseline. 15/0. First serve out wide forced a floater, which Sabine dispatched with a crosscourt drive-volley forehand winner. Lindsay Davenport: “The best point from the German in the last three games. Just as that 3-0* game was important for Sharapova, this game is crucial for Lisicki to re-establish some momentum.” 30/0. Double fault #1 (second serve into the net). 30/15. First serve down the middle: Maria netted a makeable forehand return. 40/15 (GP #1). First serve out wide + pinpoint forehand down the line forced Maria to net a backhand. Sabine said “komm jetzt”. Held.

Andrew Cotter: “Lisicki looks the stronger at the moment. She looks absolutely unfazed.”

Sharapova serving 3-4: Kick 91mph second serve down the middle induced Sabine to net a backhand return. 15/0. Deep second serve out wide: crosscourt forehand return wide. 30/0. Sabine drew Maria to the net with a dropshot, and hit a fantastic backhand lob-volley over Maria’s head for a winner, and celebrated with a smile. 30/15. Maria’s depth induced Sabine to hit a backhand long. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria hit a deep crosscourt forehand deep into the corner, back behind Sabine, forcing her to net a forehand. Held.

Andrew Cotter: “This match has fallen into a bit of a stalemate.”

Lisicki serving 4-4: 105mph sliced first serve out wide + crosscourt backhand winner deep in the corner. 15/0. Maria hit a deep off-forehand just inside the baseline, forcing Sabine to net a backhand. 15/15. Maria hit an off-forehand wide. 30/15. Maria’s deep crosscourt forehand forced Sabine to net a forehand. 30/30. Sabine netted a forehand off a deep ball on the baseline from Maria. Sabine changed her racket. 30/40 (BP #1). Maria hit a deep forehand return just inside the baseline, forcing Sabine to hit a backhand long. Broken.

Lindsay Davenport (at 30/30): “You just get the sense that Lisicki’s on her heels more often as this match has progressed. Not in control of as many points as she was early on. Maria has started to find her range, and is seeing just too many second serves.”

Andrew Cotter: “Where’s the turnaround come from, Lindsay? Lisicki dropping her level? Sharapova picking up? A bit of both?”
Davenport: “Absolutely both, and that game at 3-0* was so crucial. Lisicki had that point to go up *4-0. Once Maria was able to eke through that game, she hasn’t looked back, and now, all of a sudden, it’s Lisicki reacting, and it’s very tough to win on grass when you’re not the one dictating play, but Maria has gained more confidence as this set has gone on. She was far from her best in the beginning, but because she believes in herself, because she stayed so positive, she’s been able to turn this match around. Now Maria is winning a higher percentage of points on the second serve – Lisicki was way ahead in that category.”

Sharapova serving 5-4: Deep first serve out wide forced Sabine to net a forehand return. 15/0. Maria’s depth induced Sabine to hit a forehand long. 30/0. Double fault (second serve wide of the centre-line). It’s now quite windy, judging by Maria’s hair. 30/15. In a good baseline-rally, Maria hit an off-forehand winner back behind Sabine. 40/15 (SP #1 for Sharapova). Sabine punished a short ball with a forehand dropshot-winner. Lindsay Davenport: “An amazing dropshot: it was so low! Great feel – Lisicki’s got the power and the touch, and you don’t see that every day.” 40/30 (SP #2 for Sharapova). Ace down the middle: just inside the centre-line. Sharapova won the first set 6-4 at 15:55 BST (43m).


Second set
----------
SHARAPO @*@_@*__@ 6
LISICKI ___@__*@_ 3

Lisicki serving 0-0: In a crowd-pleasing rally, Sabine went to the net behind a forehand dropshot down the line, but it sat up nicely for Maria to hit a crosscourt backhand that clipped the netcord; Sabine hit a crosscourt backhand dropshot that sat up nicely for Maria to hit a backhand pass-winner down the line. 0/15. Double fault #2 (second serve long). 0/30. Sabine netted a forehand dropshot. 0/40 (BP #1). Double fault (second serve into the net). Broken.

Lindsay Davenport: “Lisicki’s serve has really deserted her in this match. She needed to get a lot of first serves in, a lot of first points, and just serving at 45% [of first serves in]. That’s not going to get it done against Maria.”

As a Sabine fan, it’s very sad to see that her serve and her dropshot have both gone AWOL. This is by far the worst she’s played so far this grass-court season – little short of a complete collapse, I’m sorry to say.

Sharapova serving 1-0: Maria’s depth induced Sabine hit a forehand very long. 15/0. Sabine’s backhand return clipped the netcord and dropped dead for a winner. 15/15. Maria spread Sabine with a first serve out wide + crosscourt backhand, forcing Sabine to run to her left and net a one-handed backhand. 30/15. Sabine hit a deep forehand just long. I would have challenged. 40/15 (GP #1). Double fault (second serve into the net). 40/30 (GP #2). Double fault (second serve long). Deuce #1. Deep serve induced Sabine to hit a forehand return long. Maria twirled around, pumped her fist and yelled “c’mon”. Sabine forehand return long. Maria doubled over, pumped her fist and shouted “c’mon” again – a rather excessive reaction, given Sabine’s current lack of resistance. Held.

Lindsay Davenport: “It’s amazing how much more subtle Maria Sharapova now looks in this match. Doesn’t seem to be fighting herself nearly as much [as] in the beginning stages. You don’t see her rushed as much; she has time to set up, she has time to prepare, and that’s when she’s at her best.”

Lisicki serving 0-2: With raindrops starting to fall, they played a fantastic baseline-rally, with Maria’s short-angled crosscourt backhand to the sideline forcing Sabine outside the alley to bunt a backhand long. 0/15. Maria’s deep, body-jamming off-forehand return forced Sabine to net a backhand. 0/30. Sabine asked the umpire to suspend play, but was forced to play on in the light drizzle, and Maria nailed a huge forehand winner down the line. 0/40 (BP #1). Sabine hit a crosscourt forehand onto the sideline, forcing Maria to hit one just wide. 15/40 (BP #2). First serve forced a short return, but Sabine dumped a backhand into the net. Broken.

The rain eased off, but I feel terrible for Sabine that she had to play through it in that game. It’s not as though Maria needs any extra help in this match.

Sharapova serving 3-0: Sabine forced a short ball, and hit an off-forehand winner onto the sideline (it looked wide to me, but nobody else seemed to think so). 0/15. Double fault #9 (second serve into the net). 0/30. First serve: Sabine netted a backhand return. 15/30. Sabine’s deep off-forehand return forced Maria to net a backhand. 15/40 (BP #1). Double fault #10 (second serve just long – Maria wasted a challenge). Broken.

Instead of smiling, Sabine is now chewing on wasps, and the smile with which she celebrated the break was kind of forced.

Lisicki serving 1-3: Sabine played a good rally but netted a forehand off a deep backhand down the line just inside the baseline from Maria. 0/15. Maria ran down a dropshot and hit a backhand winner down the line. 0/30. Sabine hit a backhand long. 0/40 (BP #1). Sabine’s backhand clipped the netcord and dropped dead for a winner, putting the first genuine smile for a while on Sabine’s face. 15/40 (BP #2). First serve out wide: Maria blasted a forehand return long. 30/40 (BP #3). Deep first serve out wide forced Maria to net a backhand return. Deuce #1. Maria hit an off-backhand winner deep into the corner. Ad Sharapova (BP #4). Maria hit a deep off-forehand onto the baseline, forcing Sabine to mishit a crosscourt backhand wide. Broken.

And sadly, it now looks as though the second part of this match – the one with Sabine again playing magical tennis under the roof – is not going to materialise.

Sharapova serving 4-1: Sabine forced a floater, and dispatched it with an athletic leaping forehand smash-winner down the line. She yelled “c’mon”. 0/15. Sabine sliced a backhand just long, and rightly didn’t challenge. 15/15. Maria’s crosscourt backhand to the sideline forced Sabine to net a backhand. 30/15. Double fault #11 (second serve into the net). 30/30. Double fault #12 (second serve wide of the centre-line). Lindsay Davenport: “Very concerning. All the other aspects of Maria’s game are going well: the groundstrokes, the movement, moving forward into the court quickly. But it’s always that serve in these matches: will it hold up?” 30/40 (BP #1). Maria played a great spreading rally, her off-forehand + crosscourt forehand making Sabine run from sideline to sideline; Sabine on the run hit a short-angled crosscourt forehand, but Maria replied with a running forehand winner down the line. Deuce #1. Maria on the third stroke dumped a backhand into the net. Ad Lisicki (BP #2). Maria hit an off-backhand winner just inside the sideline, forcing Sabine to hit a forehand long. Deuce #2. First serve out wide + down-the-line forehand forced Sabine to bunt a running backhand crosscourt lob wide. Ad Sharapova (GP #1). Second serve: Sabine hit a crosscourt backhand return-winner onto the baseline. Maria used up her penultimate challenge: Hawk-Eye showed that it caught about 50% of the breadth of the baseline. Deuce #3. First serve out wide forced Sabine to mishit a crosscourt forehand wide. She muttered. Andrew Cotter: “Both players a little bit disgruntled with their form.” Ad Sharapova (GP #2). Second serve out wide: Sabine hit a brilliant crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. Lindsay Davenport: “Maria so badly needs a first serve, because second serve is allowing Lisicki to hang in the second set, and specifically this game.” Deuce #4. A long baseline-rally ended with Sabine netting a sliced backhand, but drew loud applause from the crowd. Ad Sharapova (GP #3). Deep second serve out wide induced Sabine to hit a backhand return long. Held.

That hold comes despite poor serving and a couple of brilliant points from Sabine.

Lisicki serving 1-5: Double fault (Sabine challenged her first serve, then hit the second just long). 0/15. Sabine’s deep crosscourt backhand forced Maria to net a backhand. 15/15. Deep first serve out wide forced Maria to net a forehand return. Andrew Cotter: “Since that flying start to the match, Lisicki has been on the receiving end, with Sharapova not playing at her best.” 30/15. Deep first serve down the middle – on the service-line – forced Maria to hit a forehand return long. 40/15 (GP #1). Sabine opened up the court with a deep crosscourt backhand + dropshot, but netted a very easy-looking backhand down the line. 40/30 (GP #2). Sabine hit a brilliant off-forehand winner onto the sideline, and celebrated the hold with a shout of “c’mon”. Held.

Much more positive from Sabine, but surely too little too late?

Sharapova serving 5-2: Sabine hit an off-backhand would-be return-winner just wide, and used up her penultimate challenge. 15/0. Sabine hit a backhand return-winner down the line, and pumped her fist. 15/15. Sabine, now smiling again, hit a brilliant short-angled crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline. 15/30. Ace #2: first serve down the middle. 30/30. Maria went to the net, but dumped a backhand volley into the net, and groaned “no!” 30/40 (BP #1). Double fault #13 (second serve into the net). Broken.

Wow – that could really turn this match on its head if Sabine keeps up the form she’s shown in the last two games!

Lindsay Davenport: “Well, now she seems to be playing as free as in those first few games: just swinging away, not as much pressure, and that’s when she plays her best tennis: when she’s more relaxed. She has that smile on her face a little more.

“I think Maria would much rather be returning for a match than serving for a match – especially with today’s performance in serving. She’s one of those players that can block the last five, ten minutes of play out of her head. Important for her to do that now.”

Lisicki serving 3-5: Second serve out wide: Maria hit a deep forehand return that forced Sabine to earth a backhand. 0/15. Deep first serve out wide forced Maria to hit a down-the-line backhand wide. 15/15. Maria forced a sitter and hit a blazing crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline. 15/30. Second serve out wide: Maria hit an amazing deep crosscourt backhand return-winner onto the sideline. 15/40 (MP #1 for Sharapova). First serve into the net. Sabine caught her second-serve toss. Deep, kicking second serve, but Sabine on the third stroke hit a forehand long, and it was Maria’s smile lighting up a gloomy Centre Court. Sharapova won 6-4 6-3 at 16:39 BST (second set 44m, match 1h27m).

Sabine gave the crowd a wave and a nice smile, but left the court pretty quickly. I’m sure she’ll be bitterly disappointed – just as I am – that she didn’t do justice to her incredible talent in that match.

BBC presenter Sue Barker: “The start was just spectacular from Lisicki. How much was it Lisicki falling off, and how much Maria just upping the gears?”
Lindsay Davenport: “Oh, it was a combination of both – there’s no question. And surprising that Maria started so slow; she seemed to be on her heels a bit, and Lisicki was able to really take control of most of the rallies, but that game at 3-0* was so huge. Lisicki had that point to go up *4-0, missed a dropshot, and from there, once Maria got on the scoreboard, she really seemed to relax, go after her shots there, and then it became a real uphill struggle for Lisicki.

“It was a huge occasion for Lisicki: her first Major semi-final. She’s been through so much. But this is what Maria has trained so hard for the last few years. Even though it was pretty poor service-day for Maria, she was very good off the ground; she was very precise; she was moving well. Once they got into baseline-rallies, there wasn’t much Lisicki could do.”


Maria’s BBC interview
---------------------

Phil Jones: “Maria, many congratulations.”

Maria: “Thank you.”

Jones: “It feels like after all the trials and tribulations of the last three and a half years, you’re back where you belong.”

Maria: “Well, it’s amazing to be back in the final of Wimbledon. It has been a while, like you said. So to break through here and to get to the final, I’m really happy, even though I didn’t play my best tennis today.”

Jones: “Take me back to the start of the match, when Sabine got off to a fast start. How did you manage to turn it around?”

Maria: “Yeah, well, she played really well, and I did quite the opposite. <laughing> It was tough. I just had to stay focused. I got back on track, and just remained really focused throughout the rest of the match.”

Jones: “It’s one thing to be a form-player and come in as one of the favourites – if not /the/ favourite. It’s another thing to deliver. Are you proud of yourself, the way you’ve been able to do that?”

Maria: “Well, I have really realistic expectations, in terms of I hadn’t gone past the fourth round in a few years, so to be in the final again is a great achievement for me, but I still feel that I have more to do.”

Jones: “Now it’s Petra Kvitová in the final. Your take on that match-up and how your game will manage hers?”

Maria: “She’s a really tricky player, because she’s a great grass-court player. She’s a lefty, she uses her serve really well, and she’s playing really good tennis. So it will be a tough match, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Jones: “It’s great to see you back in the Wimbledon final: champion in 2004, maybe again this year. Congratulations.”

Maria: “Thanks a lot.”

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jul 7th, 2011, 01:07 AM
=================
THE CHAMPIONSHIPS (Wimbledon, London, England; grass; Major)
=================-----------------------------------
Women's Singles final TV-report: Sharapova v Kvitová (Saturday 2nd July 2011)
----------------------------------------------------

- MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] lt. PETRA KVITOVÁ [8], 3-6 4-6

I used to call her "a poor man's Lucie Šafářová". When her ranking dropped to #61 due to injury, the organisers of Hobart 2010 didn't even deign to give her a wild card to defend her title.

But now, the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. Petra Kvitová looks set to become the leader that women's tennis has been accused of lacking in the absence and decline of the Williams sisters and Kim Clijsters, and the continuing failure of world #1 Caroline Woźniacki to win a Major, as she dominated the great Maria with an irresistable display of sharp, left-handed power.

From a neutral perspective, it's good to see a 21-year-old win a Major title, as the Majors have been dominated by players in their late 20s since Ana Ivanović won the French Open 2008. Women's tennis needs new stars who have a decade ahead of them, and it would really boost it if Sabine Lisicki, Victoria Azarenka and Woźniacki could also become Major champions - as well as Maria winning many more Majors, of course!

Kvitová is currently in Tier III of my list of favourite players - the level just below my demi-fanship. I thought about promoting her to my demi-fanship after her semi-final, but decided against doing so for the time being. I like her game and her cute canine yelps, and even find her mildly attractive, but beating Maria in a Wimbledon final is a bit of a passion-killer for me! I'm sure I'm going to see Kvitová in plenty more of important matches in the future, so I don't feel a need to prioritise her for her own sake, as I do for more esoteric players.

Kvitová is the first Czech to win a Major Women's Singles title since Jana Novotná at Wimbledon 1998. I hope that her success will inspire Nicole Vaidišová to come back and Lucie Šafářová to do better, as well as inspiring a new generation of Vaidišové and Šafářové!


First set
---------
SHARAPO @__*___*_ 3
KVITOVÁ _@*_*@*_* 6

The match was first on Centre Court. They did the toss with a girl in a wheelchair who suffers from a muscle-wasting disease (the little girl with cancer from the Wimbledon 2004 final has since died). Maria won the toss (Kvitová called "heads" but it was tails) and chose to receive. The match started at 14:10 BST.

Kvitová serving 0-0: First serve into the net. Second serve on the service-line... Kvitová on the third stroke hit a forehand just long. 0/15. Maria's deep off-forehand return forced Kvitová to hit a forehand long. 0/30. Maria, driven wide and deep, hit a backhand long. 15/30. Kvitová went to the net and hit a fantastic sliced backhand volley just inside the baseline off a dipping ball from Maria. 30/30. Maria drove Kvitová outside the alley with an acute-angled crosscourt backhand to the sideline, and hit a forehand down the middle, forcing Kvitová to earth a running backhand lob. 30/40 (BP #1). Kvitová netted a forehand. Broken.

A nervous start by Kvitová, although the 15/30 point was encouraging for her. There we saw the wisdom of Maria electing to receive, as she always seems to do.

Sharapova serving 1-0: Kvitová on the run hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line: right in thecorner. 0/15. Kvitová's off-backhand return induced Maria to net a backhand. 0/30. Kvitová hit a deep, body-jamming forehand return down the middle, forcing Maria to bunt a crosscourt backhand wide. 0/40 (BP #1). Maria hit a deep backhand just inside the baseline, forcing Kvitová to hit a backhand long. 15/40 (BP #2). Kvitová's depth induced Maria to hit a forehand long. Broken.

A very worrying game for Maria. If she doesn't serve great, Kvitová's going to be all over her with her hard, deep groundstrokes.

Kvitová serving 1-1: Maria off-forehand wide. 15/0. Deep first serve down the middle forced Maria to bunt a forehand long. 30/0. Maria ran down a dropshot but sprayed a backhand just long, but her Hawk-Eye challenge showed that it caught about 1% of the breadth of the baseline for a winner!! 30/15. Kvitová's depth forced Maria to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. 40/15 (GP #1). Kvitová went to the net behind a short off-forehand; Maria's down-the-line forehand forced her to hit an awkward crosscourt forehand volley wide. 40/30 (GP #2). Maria pounced on a short second serve with a blazing forehand return-winner down Kvitová's backhand sideline. Deuce #1. Maria's deep forehand return forced Kvitová to hit a backhand long. Ad Sharapova (BP #1). Ace out wide. Kvitová emitted her first bark of the match. But Maria challenged: it was wide. Second serve... Kvitová went to the net behind a crosscourt backhand to the sideline, forcing Maria to net a forehand. Deuce #2. Deep second serve out wide - just inside the service-line - forced Maria to net a forehand. Ad Kvitová (GP #3). First serve out wide + pinpoint crosscourt backhand winner. Held.

Kvitová is hitting amazing shots, but at least Maria sent a message at 40/30 in that game that short second serves are going to be punished. That will make Kvitová feel nervous when it gets tight.

Sharapova serving 1-2: Kvitová's sliced backhand forced Maria to hit a down-the-line backhand wide. 0/15. Deep first serve on the service-line forced Kvitová to hit an off-backhand return wide. 15/15. Double fault (second serve into the net). 15/30. Second serve: Kvitová netted a cheap forehand return. 30/30. Maria's crosscourt forehand onto the sideline forced Kvitová to hit a crosscourt backhand wide, as she stretched for the ball rather than taking an extra step. 40/30 (GP #1). Kvitová backhand long. Held.

A crucial first hold for Maria, and Kvitová has gone off the boil a little after two brilliant games.

Kvitová serving 2-2: First serve out wide forced Maria to net a forehand. 15/0. Kvitová forehand long. 15/15. Maria, driven wide and deep, netted a backhand. BBC commentator John McEnroe: "She doesn't miss that very often." 30/15. Deep first serve out wide forced Maria to hit a crosscourt backhand return wide. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria's deep off-forehand forced Kvitová to hit a forehand long. 40/30 (GP #2). Deep first serve forced Maria to hit a backhand return long. Held.

Sharapova serving 2-3: Maria forced a short ball and hit an awkward off-backhand winner off the left-handed spin. 15/0. A baseline-rally with good depth from Kvitová ended with Maria hitting a forehand long. 15/15. Kvitová backhand long. 30/15. Kvitová forced a short floater, and dispatched it with an almost embarrassingly easy off-backhand winner. 30/30. Double fault (second serve long). BBC commentator Mark Petchey: "The Achilles heel reappears." 30/40 (BP #1). Double fault (horrendous second serve into the net). Broken.

Christmas came early for Kvitová, who has an average groundstroke-speed of 77 mph to Maria's 68 mph. :o

Kvitová serving 4-2: A surprisingly soft, kicking first serve induced Maria to mishit a crosscourt forehand wide. 15/0. Maria's depth forced Kvitová to hit a backhand long. 15/15. Kvitová forced a floater, and dispatched it with an off-forehand smash-winner. 30/15. Deep first serve out wide forced Maria to hit a backhand long. 40/15 (GP #1). Deep first serve out wide forced Maria to net a forehand return. Held.

A brilliant performance so far from Kvitová - as John McEnroe puts it, she looks "unbeatable" at the moment.

Sharapova serving 2-5 (new balls): Maria served her third consecutive double fault (second serve just long). 0/15. Kvitová unforcedly hit a down-the-line backhand wide. 15/15. Maria hit a deep crosscourt backhand to the sideline, forcing Kvitová to hit a forehand long - has she found a vulnerability in Kvitová's movement? 30/15. Maria backhand wide. 30/30. Maria's crosscourt forehand forced Kvitová to hit a crosscourt backhand wide. 40/30 (GP #1). Kvitová forced a short ball and hit an off-backhand winner. Deuce #1. Maria's deep forehand down Kvitová's backhand sideline forced her to hit a backhand long. Ad Sharapova (GP #2). Maria netted a forehand off a deep backhand from Kvitová. Deuce #2. Maria dumped a cheap backhand into the net. Ad Kvitová (SP #1). Ace down the middle: just inside the centre-line. Deuce #3. First serve out wide, on the service-line: Kvitová hit an acute-angled crosscourt forehand onto the other sideline, but Maria managed to squeeze a deep forehand down the line, forcing Kvitová to hit a skyscraper-lob; Maria let it bounce and hit an off-forehand smash, forcing Kvitová to bunt a forehand lob long - the crowd was amazed that she even managed to get her racket on it. Ad Sharapova (GP #3). First serve out wide forced Kvitová to hit a forehand return long. Held.

Mark Petchey: "So many obvious attributes, the Russian, but that competitiveness gets her through so many encounters."
John McEnroe: "That's so true: her tenacity and her will to win are incredible."

Kvitová serving 5-3: First serve down the middle forced Maria to bunt an off-backhand return wide. Kvitová celebrated with a yelp. 15/0. Maria forehand long. 30/0. Maria netted a forehand off a body-jamming serve. 40/0 (SP #2 for Kvitová). Deep first serve forced Maria to net a forehand return. Kvitová won the first set 6-3 at 14:50 BST (39m).

John McEnroe: "Perhaps more disturbing for Maria is that she's not hitting the ball as clean off the ground as we're used to seeing, especially in this tournament."
Tracy Austin: "She's feeling a lot more rushed than against her previous opponents: Cibulková in the quarters and Lisicki in the semis."


Second set
----------
SHARAPO __*@_@__*_ 4
KVITOVÁ @*__@_@*_* 6

Sharapova serving 0-0: First serve down the middle forced Kvitová to hit an off-forehand return wide. 15/0. Maria's deep forehand forced Kvitová to mishit a forehand long. 30/0. Maria on the third stroke hit a forehand just long. 30/15. Kvitová, driven wide, hit a stunning crosscourt forehand winner back behind Maria. 30/30. Double fault #5 (second serve long). 30/40 (BP #1). Kvitová, driven wide, hit a deep pinpoint forehand winner down the line. Maria challenged: it caught about 20% of the breadth of the baseline! Broken.

Kvitová serving 1-0: Double fault #1 (second serve wide). 0/15. Kvitová hit a forehand onto the baseline, inducing Maria to hit a backhand very long. 15/15. Maria hit a deep forehand return onto the baseline, but Kvitová hit an unbelievable backhand half-volley dropshot-winner up the line! 30/15. Kvitová spread Maria with a crosscourt backhand deep into the corner + backhand winner down the line. 40/15 (GP #1). Kvitová crosscourt forehand wide. 40/30 (GP #2). Double fault #2 (second serve just long). Deuce #1. Deep first serve out wide forced Maria to earth a forehand return. Kvitová celebrated with a yelp. Ad Kvitová (GP #3). Deep first serve down the middle forced Maria to net a forehand return. Held.

Kvitová looked seriously nervous for the first time in the match there, so it's a real shame that Maria couldn't make her pay for it.

Sharapova serving 0-2: Kvitová backhand long. 15/0. Ace down the middle: on the centre-line. 30/0. Deep first serve down the middle forced Kvitová to earth a forehand return. 40/0 (GP #1). First serve: Kvitová netted a cheap forehand return. Held.

Kvitová serving 2-1: First serve down the middle induced Maria to net a backhand. 15/0. Double fault #3 (second serve into the net). 15/15. First serve out wide + backhand winner down the line + cute canine yelp. 30/15. First serve out wide: Maria hit a big backhand return-winner down the line. 30/30. Kvitová netted a forehand. 30/40 (BP #1). Kvitová went to the net, but her volley lacked conviction, and Maria hit a perfect backhand lob-winner onto the baseline! Broken.

Finally, Kvitová looks human after all, and Maria finds something special. But she's having to stand way behind the baseline to receive first serves, in order to give herself more time.

Sharapova serving 2-2: Maria netted a backhand. 0/15. Maria's depth forced Kvitová to hit a backhand long. 15/15. Maria hit a disappointing crosscourt backhand long and wide. 15/30. In a brilliant rally, Kvitová spread Maria with a crosscourt forehand return + crosscourt forehand just inside the sideline, but Maria hit a short-angled crosscourt forehand just inside the sideline, forcing Kvitová to run outside the alley and net a backhand. 30/30. First serve out wide forced Kvitová to bunt a backhand return long. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria sprayed a forehand long off a slow, deep ball from Kvitová. Deuce #1. Kvitová's deep return forced Maria to mishit an off-forehand wide. Ad Kvitová (BP #1). Kvitová netted a makeable forehand return. Deuce #2. Maria's deep crosscourt forehand forced Kvitová to net a backhand. Ad Sharapova (GP #2). Kvitová hit a crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. Deuce #3. Ace down the middle: Kvitová wasted a challenge to show that it was plumb on the centre-line. Ad Sharapova (GP #3). Kvitová forced a short ball, and dispatched it with a crosscourt forehand winner. Deuce #4. Second serve: Kvitová's stinging forehand return forced Maria to bunt back a backhand that sat up nicely for Kvitová to hit an off-forehand just inside the sideline, forcing Maria to earth a forehand. Ad Kvitová (BP #2). Deep second serve out wide: Kvitová hit an amazing crosscourt forehand return-winner. Broken.

Mark Petchey: "Kvitová keeps passing all the mental tests in this final. Dropped her opening service-game, but hit back well. Had a set-point on Sharapova's serve: didn't take it, but served it out. Lost her break; got it back."

Kvitová serving 3-2: Maria dumped a backhand return into the net. 15/0. Maria hit a pinpoint crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. 15/15. Kvitová forced a short ball, and dispatched it with a slightly mishit crosscourt backhand winner onto the baseline. 30/15. First serve out wide forced a short return, but Kvitová took her eye off the ball and sprayed a crosscourt forehand wide. 30/30. First serve out wide + backhand winner down the line. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria's deep crosscourt backhand return forced Kvitová to net a forehand. Deuce #1. Maria's deep crosscourt forehand forced Kvitová to hit a backhand long. Ad Sharapova (BP #1). Deep body-jamming first serve forced Maria to bunt a down-the-line backhand return just wide. Deuce #2. Another body-jamming serve forced Maria to bunt back a two-handed forehand return very short, giving Kvitová a wide-open court to hit a crosscourt forehand winner, but unbelievably, she tried to blast it onto the sideline and put it just wide. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Maria hit a pinpoint backhand down the middle. Broken.

Kvitová really backed off in that game - she's literally playing from further back. And apparently Murray's match against Nadal turned on an error just like the one she made at 30/15 there.

Sharapova serving 3-3: Maria's deep backhand down the middle forced Kvitová to hit a crosscourt forehand wide; Maria shouted "c'mon". 15/0. Double fault #6 (second serve into the net). 15/15. Kvitová hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line: just inside the sideline. 15/30. Maria, driven wide, netted a forehand. 15/40 (BP #1). Maria's deep forehand induced Kvitová to net a backhand. 30/40 (BP #2). Kvitová hit a deep forehand down the middle, forcing Maria to hit an off-forehand wide. Broken.

John McEnroe: "That's a sign of a champion: to shrug off something as bad as what happened in the previous game."

Kvitová serving 4-3 (new balls): Kvitová crosscourt forehand winner. 15/0. Double fault #4 (second serve long). 15/15. Maria hit a backhand on the baseline that was called long but overruled as good, and Kvitová wasted a Hawk-Eye challenge to show that it was on the line, so they replayed the point. Second serve: Maria's deep off-backhand return induced Kvitová to hit a backhand long. 15/30. Deep, body-jamming first serve forced Maria to hit a down-the-line backhand wide. Kvitová barked again. 30/30. Body-jamming first serve forced Maria to hit a forehand return long. 40/30 (GP #1). Another body-jamming first serve induced Maria to run around her backhand to hit a forehand return long. Held.

Sharapova serving 3-5: Kvitová forced a short ball, but hit a nervy forehand very long. 15/0. Deep first serve down the middle forced Kvitová to bunt a forehand long. 30/0. Deep first serve down the middle forced Kvitová to net a forehand return. 40/0 (GP #1). Second serve out wide forced Kvitová to hit a crosscourt forehand return wide. Held.

Kvitová looked nervous in that game. Now it's the moment of truth for her, just as it was for Maria at 6-1 *5-4 when she thrashed Serena Williams in the Wimbledon 2004 final.

Kvitová serving 5-4: Kvitová hit a deep crosscourt backhand just inside the baseline + early off-backhand deep into the corner, forcing Maria to earth a left-handed forehand. 15/0. Kvitová spread Maria again, her deep crosscourt backhand forcing Maria to net a forehand. 30/0. First serve: Maria dumped a cheap backhand return into the net. 40/0 (CP #1 for Kvitová). Ace down the middle: just inside the service-line. Kvitová won 6-3 6-4 at 15:36 BST (second set 45m, match 1h25m).

Tracy Austin: "I personally think it's the first of many. She's got a very complete game. Big shots from both forehand and backhand, can finish off points at the net well, good finesse, in better shape now. Now, as a Wimbledon champion, she's going to feel a big part of the élite in women's tennis."
John McEnroe: "I couldn't agree more. I think she's gonna win many Majors. She's a really, really special talent."


On-court interviews
-------------------

These interviews took place on court after the trophies were presented. Maria was very gracious and composed in defeat, whereas Kvitová's voice trembled with emotion, and she made several mistakes with her English.

Sue Barker: "Hi Maria. I know it wasn't the result you wanted, but you came across a player who was just inspired today."

Maria: "Yeah, absolutely. Unfortunately in tennis - and fortunately - there's only one winner at the end of the day. I think that's what makes this tournament so special. <Looking at Kvitová> So big congratulations on a wonderful victory - you played a wonderful tournament. I've had amazing support over so many years, and to be back at this stage and holding the runner-up trophy this year, erm... <voice trembling> is something that obviously I would have wanted that big one, but it's something <laughing>... something that I'm gonna be back for, and I'm hoping to get again soon."

Barker: "Thank you. Maria Sharapova."

The crowd applauded Maria as she turned away. Kvitová stepped forward holding the Venus Rosewater Dish.

Barker: "Petra Kvitová: Wimbledon champion. How does that sound?"

Kvitová: "It's hard to find some words if I'm standing here with the trophy and see the great players in the Royal Box. I'm so happy that I won <giggling>."

Barker: "You showed no sign of nerves. In that final game, your coach [and] your trainer were so excited, but you looked so calm! Were you not nervous?"

Kvitová: "Well, of course that I was nervous [sic]. I thought that I can win Wimbledon, but I had to focus on each point and what is important."

Barker: "Is that the best match you've ever played?"

Kvitová: "Well, I think so, of course - in the final of Wimbledon, so! <laughing>"

Kvitová turned away as the crowd applauded her, but Barker called her back to the microphone.

Barker: "You mentioned so many great champions in the Royal Box today, and I know Martina [Navrátilová] and Jana [Novotná] are especially proud of you. Have they inspired you?"

Kvitová: "Yeah, of course. It's very nice when they're watching me and support me all the time while [during] the tournament, and gave me some advices [sic], and... it's great."

Barker: "And your family's here today, isn't it? Your parents have come over, and your brothers. Where are they?"

Kvitová: "There is. <laughing> There are."

Barker: "You got a message for them?"

Kvitová: "Of course: I love you guys."

Barker: "And you now know that, as Wimbledon champion, you've got a lot of interviews to do, but first, everyone on Centre Court wants to have a picture of you with that Wimbledon trophy. Are you ready for your lap of honour?"

Kvitová: "Yes, I'm ready! <laughing>"

When Kvitová left Centre Court, they showed her the roll of honour with her name already emblazoned on it. I'm sure she was annoyed that they misspelled her surname as "Kvitova", although she wasn't pompous enough to come right out and say it. If I were her, I'd demand that they add that acute accent!

--
Dr. Andrew Broad