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Old May 17th, 2013, 10:23 PM   #4
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Third-round TV-report: Sharapova v Péng

FRENCH OPEN (Roland Garros, Paris, France; outdoor red clay; Major)

Women’s Singles: Third round: Péng,Shuŕi v Maria Sharapova (Saturday 2nd June 2012)

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [2] d. Péng,Shuŕi, 6-2 6-1

Another very impressive performance by Maria. She was hitting clean winners all over the court, serving the best I’ve seen her serve since she won the Australian Open 2008 (she had shoulder-surgery later that year), and playing the best clay-court tennis of her career.

It was a very similar match-up to Maria’s second round against Ayumi Morita, for Péng is also a hard, sweet hitter with two hands off both sides. Péng likes to take the ball early and hit it flat, but that’s very difficult against the power and depth of Maria.


First set
PÉNG ___@*___ 2
SHAR @*@__*@* 6


The match was third on Court Philippe Chatrier, and started at 16:11 CEST.

Péng serving 0-0: First serve: Maria hit a deep off-backhand return just inside the sideline, forcing Péng to earth a forehand. 0/15. Maria’s depth induced Péng to spray a forehand very long. 0/30. Deep first serve: forehand return just long. 15/30. Maria hit a pinpoint backhand winner down the line that clipped the outside edge of the sideline (Péng had the umpire Kader Nouni check the mark). 30/30. Maria’s stinging off-forehand induced Péng to bunt a backhand long. 30/40 (BP #1). Deep first serve induced Maria to mishit a forehand lob-return long. Deuce #1. Péng hit a down-the-line forehand just wide. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Maria hit a deep forehand down the middle, jamming into Péng’s body and forcing her to net a forehand. Broken.

Sharapova serving 1-0: Deep second serve on the service-line induced Péng to spray a forehand return long. 15/0. Maria finished a long rally by spreading Péng with a crosscourt forehand + off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. 30/0. Maria ran down a very short dropshot and hit an off-forehand winner back behind Péng. 40/0 (GP #1). Ace #1: first serve down the middle. Held.

A very impressive start by Maria.

Péng serving 0-2: Péng’s depth induced Maria to bunt a forehand long. 15/0. Maria punished a short ball with an off-forehand winner. 15/15. First serve out wide + forehand winner down the line. 30/15. Maria sprayed a forehand long. 40/15 (GP #1). Péng sprayed a down-the-line backhand wide. 40/30 (GP #2). First serve out wide: Maria hit a blazing crosscourt backhand return-winner, and clenched her fist. Deuce #1. Péng dumped a forehand into the net. Ad Sharapova (BP #1). Maria’s depth pushed Péng back on her heels, forcing her to bunt a backhand into the net. Broken.

Sharapova serving 3-0: Péng rifled a two-handed crosscourt forehand winner back behind Maria. 0/15. Double fault #1 (second serve long). 0/30. Maria’s defensive backhand lob looked like it landed on the baseline, but was called long (the umpire checked the mark and confirmed it). 0/40 (BP #1). Maria’s depth induced Péng to bunt a crosscourt backhand wide. 15/40 (BP #2). First serve out wide + off-forehand winner into the space thus created. 30/40 (BP #3). Maria hit a down-the-line forehand just wide. Broken.

Péng serving 1-3: Péng’s depth induced Maria to net an early backhand. 15/0. Maria’s deep forehand return forced Péng to bunt a one-handed forehand into the net. 15/15. Maria hit a loose forehand long. 30/15. Maria, on the third stroke, hit a forehand just long. 40/15 (GP #1). First serve out wide: Maria hit a forehand return long. Held.

Worrying errors are creeping into Maria’s game now.

Sharapova serving 3-2: First serve down the middle forced a short return, which Maria dispatched with an off-forehand winner. 15/0. A long baseline-rally ended with Péng hitting a forehand just long on the 18th stroke. 30/0. Ace #2: first serve out wide. 40/0 (GP #1). Péng hit a forehand just long. Held.

Péng serving 2-4: First serve out wide: Maria ate it up with a crosscourt forehand return-winner. 0/15. Maria’s deep return induced Péng to hit an early forehand long. 0/30. Péng, hitting the ball sweetly with her Selesian groundstrokes, hit a pinpoint crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline. 15/30. Péng’s deep off-forehand induced Maria to hit a backhand long. 30/30. Maria hit a backhand down the middle, jamming into Péng’s body with sidespin, forcing her to earth a forehand. 30/40 (BP #1). Péng, on the third stroke, hit an off-forehand winner back behind Maria. Deuce #1. Maria’s deep return induced Péng to hit an early forehand long. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). A long baseline-rally ended with Maria pouncing on a Péng lob to hit an off-forehand drive-volley winner into the corner. Broken.

Sharapova serving 5-2 (new balls): First serve out wide forced Péng to earth a forehand return. 15/0. Péng netted a forehand - this time from way behind the baseline. 30/0. Ace #3: first serve down the middle. 40/0 (SP #1 for Sharapova). Maria, on the third stroke, crunched an off-forehand winner back behind Péng. Sharapova won the first set 6-2 at 16:44 CEST (33m).

Maria hit 13 winners to Péng’s five in that set.


Second set
PÉNG ____*__ 1
SHAR @*@*_*@ 6


Péng serving 0-0: Second serve out wide: Maria blasted a crosscourt forehand return wide. 15/0. Péng hit a forehand just long. 15/15. Maria’s deep forehand return forced Péng to bunt a forehand very long. 15/30. A longish baseline-rally ended with Péng netting a forehand. 15/40 (BP #1). Maria hit an off-forehand winner back behind Péng. Broken.

Sharapova serving 1-0: Maria hit a forehand just long, and Kader Nouni made a very late call from the high chair. 0/15. Maria hit a blazing off-forehand winner back behind Péng. 15/15. Péng’s hard, early, low-bouncing forehand forced Maria to net a forehand. 15/30. Deep first serve out wide induced Péng to hit a backhand return long. 30/30. Second serve + crosscourt forehand winner. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria ripped a short-angled crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. Held.

Péng serving 0-2: First serve out wide: forehand return-winner down the line. 0/15. Péng’s early, flat crosscourt backhand induced Maria to net a backhand. 15/15. Deep first serve forced Maria to net a forehand return. 30/15. Maria’s deep return induced Péng to bunt a forehand long. 30/30. First serve out wide: forehand return long. 40/30 (GP #1). Double fault #1 (second serve clipped the netcord and fell back on Péng’s side). Deuce #1. Deep first serve down the middle forced Maria to net a forehand return. Ad Péng (GP #2). Maria punished a short ball with an off-backhand winner. Deuce #2. Second serve out wide: Maria hit a crosscourt forehand return-winner. Ad Sharapova (BP #1). Péng chose to leave Maria’s backhand return, but it clipped the baseline for a winner. Broken.

ITV commentator Guillaume Raoux said that Péng shouldn’t be hitting her second serves out wide to Maria, because it gives her too much angle to work with.

Sharapova serving 3-0: Deep second serve out wide induced Péng to hit a forehand long. 15/0. Maria’s early crosscourt forehand took a weird hop, inducing Péng to whiff a forehand. 30/0. Ace #4: first serve down the middle. 40/0 (GP #1). Body-jamming second serve induced Péng to hit a crosscourt forehand return wide. Held.

Péng serving 0-4: Péng hit a sweet bullet of a two-handed forehand winner down the line. 15/0. The wind blew red dust into Péng’s eyes as she prepared to serve. Second-serve let... Maria punished a short second serve with a blazing backhand return-winner down the line. 15/15. Péng’s depth induced Maria to hit a backhand long. 30/15. Péng hit a sweet, hard crosscourt forehand winner just inside the baseline. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria’s deep off-forehand induced Péng to bunt a backhand lob just long. 40/30 (GP #2). Maria’s power induced Péng to hit a down-the-line backhand just wide. Deuce #1. Deep second serve out wide: Maria hit a forehand return just long. Ad Péng (GP #3). Deep first serve out wide forced Maria to bunt a crosscourt backhand return long and wide. Held.

Sharapova serving 4-1: Péng hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line and plumb onto it. 0/15. Maria, driven wide, hit a pinpoint down-the-line backhand winner that curled back into court and landed right in the corner. 15/15. Péng sprayed a wild forehand that landed closer to the back fence than to the baseline. 30/15. Péng sprayed an off-backhand wide. 40/15 (GP #1). Péng ran down a dropshot, squeezed a one-handed backhand down the line with sidespin, but Maria handled it by bunting a crosscourt forehand pass-winner into the wide open court. Held.

Péng serving 1-5: Maria dominated the rally with a couple of hard off-forehands close to the sideline, then hit a crosscourt forehand winner into the space thus created. 0/15. First serve out wide + blazing off-forehand winner back behind Maria. 15/15. Péng ran down a dropshot and chopped back a short crosscourt forehand, but it was just wide. 15/30. Maria’s deep crosscourt forehand forced Péng to hit a forehand long. 15/40 (MP #1 for Sharapova). First serve into the net. Second serve out wide: Maria’s hard, deep, low-bouncing crosscourt forehand return forced Péng to spray a wild forehand so long that it landed below the bottom of my TV-screen. Sharapova won 6-2 6-1 at 17:18 CEST (second set 34m, match 1h07m).


Maria’s press-conference

The following excerpts from Maria’s press-conference were televised in ITV4’s highlights-show:

“I think all the players know, coming into the clay-season, that the conditions can change drastically from a day-to-day basis. One day, it’s sunny; the ball is flying. Another day, it can be windy and raining, and everything seems heavier; the court is muddier. So I think it’s just about adjusting to those situations.

“It’s a nice thing when people consider you a favourite. It means that there’s a reason why you’re considered a favourite. It’s something that I’ve dealt with a lot in my career; I’m used to it, so experience is a good thing.”

--
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
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