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Old Oct 28th, 2012, 08:27 PM   #1233
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Re: YEC 2012 iSTANBUL Mission: Beat Vika/Rena, humiliate Haga and win the title.

Ok I wanna start off my post by saying something new. I started being insecure about Maria beating Top 10 players in 2010(for obvious reasons) and since then I've been so insecure about Maria. However, this year she has been phenomenal, showing her real potential. Last year she started making very solid progress reaching finals and semis a lot, but fell short when playing top 10 players(Li, Kvitova, Azarenka, etc.) This year, however, she has been amazing. She looks so fresh and motivated on the court and she doesn't even need to play her best to routinely beat top 10 players(she has had easy wins over Li, Stosur, Kerber, Kvitova, Errani and others, including a handful of bagels as well ) I have had my expectations and hopes for this year and she more than met them.

I;m so happy this year went the way it did, every year she makes great progress and I hope 2013 won't be any exception. Last year ended on not a great note(as well as 2010) and we didn't know how things would work out the next year and they worked out perfectly.

These are her results this year:

Aussie Open- Runner Up
Paris- Quarterfinals
Indian Wells- Runner Up
Miami- Runner Up
Stuttgart- Winner
Madrid- Quarterfinals
Rome- Winner
French Open- Winner
Wimbledon- Round 4
Olympics- Runner Up /Silver Medal
US Open- Semifinals
Tokyo- Quarterfinals
Beijing- Runner Up
WTA Champs- Runner Up

So this year she has made 9 finals, won 3 tournaments and unfortunately lost 6 pretty big finals. However, she has been incredibly consistent all year and was 9-1 in semifinals

In 2012, Maria Sharapova improved her serve drastically and finished 3rd in the Ace race behind Serena and Petrova. She improved her fitness and confidence a lot as well and her clay game looks stronger than ever. She revenge wins over Azarenka, Kvitova, Wozniacki, Stosur, Li, Kerber, Radwanska,Lisicki, Clijsters, etc. Amazing, amazing year. The down side of this year was that she lost so many finals and has had some one sided defeats, HOWEVER, that will change in 2013. Maria will work on her forehand(that already looked great at the YEC finally!!!) and keep improving so she can hang in with Serena and Vika. That's the way Maria is, she always fights and keeps improving, she's such a hard worker. Despite not being naturally gifted like Vika and Serena, she fights for her results which shows how much she loves the sport. I think that's her best quality as opposed to GM criticizing her for somehow being a "part timer" and a celebrity. With her money and fame and results, she could have retired a long time ago, but she is an amazing athlete who loves what she does and is excellent at it.

I'm looking forward to seeing what her and Hogstedt will bring to Maria's game. he's obviously had a really nice influence on her so far and Maria's game is reaching her old peak slowly but surely. She is at her physical peak and hopefully next year she looks even sharper, readier, stronger, more motivated and better if possible

I'm definitely looking forward to 2013, I know it's going to be a great year

SS

Maria started 2012 with not very high expectations and no matches under her belt after a tough ankle injury that forced her to not play her best at the YEC in Istanbul and withdraw from Brisbane. She exceeded everyone's expectations in Australia reaching her 3rd Australian Open final. Along the way, she had easy wins to start the tournament off(including a revenge win over Dulko and easy win over Kerber, future Top 10 player). Then she survived a tough match with Lisicki in the 4th round and gone on to face Kvitova in the Semifinals. Kvitova was the favorite realistically having had an amazing 2011 season in which she won Wimbledon and the YEC and was so close to No.1 in January. Maria, in the role of the underdog fought valiantly and won the epic Semifinal 6-2 3-6 6-4 after a terrific battle

Unfortunately, she lost to Vika in the final in a painful final that nobody expected to be so one-sided. However, credit to Vika who was had an unbelievable start to 2012 and was unbeatable.

Maria continued playing solid tennis getting to the Quarterfinal of Paris, but unfortunately lost to Kerber 6-4 6-4 who was in her peak(while, lets be honest, Maria was nowhere near her best). This tournament was important because she got hold of the No.2 ranking for the 1st time in 2012.

After Paris, the real season began. Maria had loads of points to defend in the Indian Wells/Miami run, but she won even more points than she did in 2011. Maria was really solid in Indian Wells where she looked in control in all of her matches and had a great comeback in the Quarterfinals versus Kirilenko(another revenge win). She was then stopped by her great rival Victoria Azarenka, again in easy straight sets. After Indian Wells, Maria played in Miami. After not such an impressive opening match, she got better as the tournament went on. In the Quarterfinals she finally got her revenge over Li Na, losing only 3 games and then in the semifinals played another fantastic match vs Wozniacki prevailing in 3 tough sets 4-6 6-2 6-4.

Unfortunately, after that came her probably most chocking loss of the year. She lost to Agnieszka Radwanska(who was admittedly playing the best tournament of her life) and unfortunately lost her 4th Miami final

After losing 3 finals at the very beginning of 2012, things didn't look great. She entered Stuttgart, the strongest Premier event of 2012. All Top 10 players apart from Serena were playing. Maria made a fantastic comeback in the Quarterfinals beating Samantha Stosur 6-7 7-6 7-5 saving a match point in the 2nd set (another revenge win):

Then, in the semifinals, she ended Kvitova's 26 match indoor winning streak by beating her 6-4 7-6 and getting her 2nd win over Kvitova in 2012.

Then, in the final, again as the underdog, VintagePova showed up and demolished Azarenka 6-1 6-4 in one of her best matches of the year


After her amazing run in Stuttgart (where she beat 3 Top 5 players), she played on the blue clay of Madrid and reached her 1st QF there and was beaten by Serena(the eventual champion), keeping her streak of losses to only eventual champions. A week later she started her title defense in Rome which she successfully did beating Ivanovic, Venus and Kerber along the way(revenge wins over Venus and Kerber) and then she beat Li Na in one of the most dramatic finals of the season Masha came back from 6-4 4-0 to win and saved a match point in the 3rd set. The match was full of drama, comebacks, rain delays and of course billions of Unforced Errors Still, she won the match 4-6 6-4 7-6 and with that her 2nd title in Rome:


She then went to Paris for the 2nd Grand Slam of the year where she had lost to Li Na in the semis last year. She came to the tournament ranked 2nd with 2 clay titles. Her biggest threat, Serena Williams was eliminated in a 1st round thriller which opened the draw up for Maria. After 3 convincing wins came a 4th round scare vs Zakopalova. After that match, she never looked back and easily beat in-form Kanepi, then Kvitova for the 3rd time in 2012 and with that win she was back at the very top of the womens game, regaining the No.1 position after 4 years. In the final, she routined the surprise finalist and new Top 10 player Sara Errani 6-3 6-2.



Winning the 2012 French Open was a dream come true. It had been everything Maria and her fans have been waiting for for so long! After 4 tough years, after surgery and comeback, losing so many close matches, so many ups and downs and disappointments, came that amazing moment. She won her 4th Grand Slam after 4 years and became the 10th woman in tennis history to win all 4 Grand Slam titles. As a Maria fan this is one of the highlights of her career, if not the single greatest moment Pure awesomeness, so amazing!

Mentally drained and still trying to get her head back from the skies, she went into Wimbledon as the 1st seed, but her heart didn't look in it. After a major scare in the 2nd round vs Pironkova and 2 not convincing matches, she lost to Lisicki in straight sets. She wasted no time though and brought her A game at the Olympics where she had her revenge over Clijsters and Lisicki and then produced amazing tennis vs Kirilenko in the semifinals. Unfortunately, she lost to peak Serena in a very one sided final


She skipped Toronto and Cincinnati to have a mental rest after such a tough IW-Olympics run and was fresh and focused in NYC. Again, the easier rounds proved not to be a challenge and her real threat of course came in the 4th round again This time it was a very inspired Petrova. Maria had her highs and lows in this match, but played her best when it mattered and beat Petrova in a fantastic night match. Then came an ever more dramatic comeback against Bartoli. In the Semis, she faced Azarenka for the 4th time in 2012. After a phenomenal start and a 1st set won 6-3, she gave it her all and ran out of gas. She fought valiantly though and lost 3-6 6-2 6-4.

The Asian season proved to be relatively successful. Her game in Tokyo was a mess, but she fought like a champ, getting past Watson after a huge scare and getting another revenge win over Safarova Unfortunately she flopped to Stosur Beijing brought a different story. She looked fresh and focused again. She trashed Kerber and Li Na, losing a total of 4 games versus them, but was outplayed by Azarenka once again in the final, losing her 3rd Premier Mandatory final in 2012.

Her last tournament of 2012 started 5 days ago. She had 2 easy wins over Errani and Sam Stosur(another revenge win) and won probably the best match of the 2012 YEC. She avenged the Miami loss to Radwanska beating her in a grueling 3 hour 12 minute match 5-7 7-5 7-5.

She then routined Azarenka, avenging 2 losses in a row to her and like we all expected, that was her last win- 60th of 2012.

She gave it her best vs a very inspired Serena yet again and ended the year on a high note!
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