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Old Jan 31st, 2011, 08:57 PM   #1
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Australian Open 2011: Andrew's TV-report (added full fourth-round TV-report)

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AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
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1. Introduction
2. First-round result
3. Second-round result
4. Third-round result
5. Fourth-round TV-report

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1. Introduction
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Unfortunately for tennis, I had to work during the Australian Open, so I didn't have time to write detailed daily reports like I have in previous years. But I did watch Maria's fourth-round match on BBC television; this report documents my first impressions of it.

A complete archive of point-by-point scores for all the Australian Open 2011 women's matches can be found here:
http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=426590

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2. First-round result (Monday 17th January 2011)
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+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [14,EF] d. Tamarine Tanasugarn, 6-1 6-3

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3. Second-round result (Wednesday 19th January 2011)
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+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [14,EF] d. Virginie Razzano, 7-6 (7/3) 6-3

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4. Third-round result (Friday 21st January 2011)
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I wish I could have seen Maria's match against Julia Görges. Maria won 4-6 6-4 6-4, but the BBC commentators (on Petković v Williams) gave a glowing account of Gorgeous Görges, of whom I'm already a demi-fan. They said that Julia played spectacularly, and that she would be one of the WTA's marquee-names this decade.

I was very disappointed that the order-of-play committee put Andrea Petković v Venus Williams on Friday's Rod Laver Arena evening-session. Anyone with half a brain could have foreseen that Williams would not be able to play, as she had played for three hours in the second round with a serious right-hip injury. Sure enough, it flared up early in the third-round match, and Williams retired at 0:0 0-1* 0/30*.

They should have put Sharapova v Görges in that BBC-televised slot instead.

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5. Fourth-round TV-report (Sunday 23rd January 2011)
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- MARIA SHARAPOVA [14,EF] lt. ANDREA PETKOVIĆ [30], 2-6 3-6

Yet another disappointing loss for Maria. For someone of her immense talent and iron will-power, it's astonishing that she has only reached one Major quarter-final (French Open 2009) in the three years since she won the Australian Open 2008. Even with the injuries, I thought she would have got her act together by now. I felt that she ended her 2010 season prematurely, and the long break certainly doesn't seem to have helped her.

Maria struggled with her serve, taking so much time between points to concentrate on it. She also struggled with her backhand, which is normally so reliable.

Petković was very strong with her big serves, powerful groundstrokes in general and returns in particular, but we didn't see the real Maria except for a brief fightback from 0:1 1-5* to 3-5*, when she played two brilliant games, but then threw in some unforced errors just when it looked like she was turning the match around against one of the game's renowned chokers.

With Maria at 0:0 *2-3, Petković hit a return-winner – the very thing that Maria double-faults so much to avoid – and broke for *4-2. Maria played intensely to get 30/15*, but Petković was too strong: 5-2*. A couple of deep returns put Maria 15/30 down, but she recovered with a fine one-two punch winner: 30/30. Two more deep, error-forcing returns later, Maria was a set down.

Things went from bad to worse at the start of the second set, as Petković neutered the best shots that Maria could come up with, and Maria was giving away plenty of cheap points as she lost the first three games. Maria won an amazing rally, running down a dropshot to push a forehand winner down the line, to recover from *0-3 (15/30); she followed up with an ace, and Petković mishit a forehand wide and very long: *3-1.

Despite Maria cleaning the sideline with a stunning off-forehand winner, and hitting a pinpoint forehand winner down the line, Petković held to 30 with a stunning crosscourt forehand winner into the corner for 1:0 4-1*.

Maria at 0:1 *1-4 (0/15) hit a well-controlled crosscourt forehand drive-volley winner into the corner, but was broken to 15, courtesy of some deep, error-forcing returns from Petković.

Serving for the match at 1:0 *5-1, Petković showed no nerves as she went 30/15 up, and hit an off-backhand dropshot-winner to reach her first match-point at 40/30. But her first serve was rather tentative, and Maria blasted an off-forehand virtual return-winner deep into the corner. At Deuce, Maria blasted a scorching forehand return-winner down the line to set up a break-point. A good rally ended with Petković hitting a backhand just long.

At 0:1 *2-5, Maria held to 15 with a crosscourt forehand winner into the corner, a crosscourt forehand drive-volley winner, and a brilliant off-backhand winner just inside the sideline.

Serving for the match a second time at 1:0 *5-3, Petković went 30/15 up courtesy of two unforced errors from Maria, who then pounced on a tentative serve with a huge croscourt forehand return-winner for 30/30. Maria earthed a wide backhand volley: 40/30. Maria saved the second match-point with a forehand return-winner down Petković's forehand sideline, but hit a loose forehand long to give Petković a third match-point, and dumped a makeable forehand return into the net.

Maria nearly ran off the court: back to the locker-room, where there would be weeping and grinding of teeth.

I'll post a full point-by-point report of this match here later this year – after my full reports of Maria's second-, third- and fourth-round Wimbledon 2010 matches.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
__________________
My Eternal Fanship: 1. Monica Seles; 2. Мария Шарапова (‘Maria Sharapova’); 3. Daniela Hantuchová; 4. Jelena Dokić; 5. Iva Majoli; 6. Karina Habšudová; 7. Вера Звонарёва (‘Vera Zvonarëva’); 8. Nicole Vaidišová; 9. Анна Чакветадзе (‘Anna Chakvetadze’); 10. Lucie Šafářová; 11. Ирода Туляганова (‘Iroda Tulyaganova’); 12. Magdaléna Rybáriková; 13. Sabine Lisicki

Last edited by andrewbroad : Jan 17th, 2012 at 12:49 AM.
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