Don't be too strict, because it's the first time I blog here and don't notice my language mistakes because I'm not a native speaker.
This year, Maria began playing awefully in Auckland, she had no footwork, no forehand, no backhand, no serve. She only got this charming screaming and this teremendous fighting spirit which allowed her to reach the quarter-finals and lose in straight sets to eventual champion Greta Arn in straight sets.
Then, after deciding to turn down a Wild-card for the Sydney Open, she went to Melbourne to enter the Aussie Open with no real expectations as she played really bad. But, she managed to beat Tanasugarn, Razzano and Georges to reach the 4th round and the second week here which was the best we could expect from Sharapova which was seeded N.16. And, she did not make it better. In spite of facing Andrea Petkovic, which was a real good occasion to reach the Quarters, she lost 6/2 6/3 to this German player and that's how Maria's Australian Journey ended.http://www.google.fr/imgres?imgurl=h...20&tx=86&ty=47
After having played poorly against Razzano during the Fed Cup week-end, she withdrew from Paris, Dubai and Doha due to an illness. But, she was gone to come back better. In fact, the work with Thomas Hogstedt, her new coach, has to be effective and she showed it first at Indian Wells. After a though second round match against Medina Garrigues, an oppenent that has always gave Maria troubles, she just played a great tennis to beat Safina and Peng in order to reach the Semi-finals where she self-destructed against Caroline Wozniacki, the world number one in straight sets.
Maria's American Spring Story was not over yet. It would continue in Miami at the Sony Ericsson. She began the tournament playing really impressive against Petra Martic, Sabine Lisicki and Samantha Stosur which she's beatten 6/4 6/1 showing some great tennis. But then, it's been a little bit more complicated. Maria, managed to reach the finals but did not show the tennis she had at the beginning of the Open. She suffers during almost three hours and half against Dulgheru before winning 3/6 7/6 7/6. Nothing during this match was good, she won thanks to this incredible mental strengh and champion spirit. During the semi-final, she first showed the "Bad Maria", committing unforced errors, double faults and let the set gone 6/3 for Andrea Petkovic. But Maria hates losing twice in a row to the same oppenent and, recovring her tennis she managed to win 11 games in a row taking the lead 3/6 6/0 5-0 before meeting the victory 3/6 6/0 6/2. Unfortunately, she had nothing to face Azarenka with during the Final. Tired and injuried, she let the girl from Belarus get her second Miami title with a win 6/1 6/4.
This season on hard showed that Maria is raising her level little by little. We was able to recognize her powerful shots and some of those pretty good drop shots. She also, made us see a new serve motion and said during an interview, that, little by little, she wanted her original motion back. But the main point is still the serve. When it's on, all her game is on too and then she's in capacity to be astonishing (Safina, Stosur). But, this serve can fly away and come back as it wants, without preventing (Peng, Petkovic at Miami) and all her game fall apart. Sometimes, nothing works, which is a real issue she'll have to deal with (Dulgheru, Wozniacki) and sometimes her mental strengh is just not enough. This is just the beginning of the year and we can be quite optimistic for the rest and especially for the claycourt season as she seems to progress on this surface year by year. For example, last year, at the French Open, Henin had to fight three sets and to produce excellent tennis to deal with Maria. She scheduled to play The Madrid Open and the Rome Event as warming-up for Roland Garros. I think that if she does well there, she probably won't go to Strasbourg again. Whereas, if she pulls out or plays bad, she will defend her title.
Talking about rankings, Maria is back in the top 10, at the 9th spot with 3726 points, she's in a confortable position as she got enough points to stay in it. And, if she plays well she can decently target the Top 8 at least or the Top 5 for Roland Garros...
See you at Paris Maria !