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Fourth-round TV-report: Sharapova v Zakopalová

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

I’m sorry that this is over a year late, but at last I am ready to post my fourth-round TV-report from the French Open 2012. My quarter-final and semi-final French Open 2012 reports will almost certainly have to wait until July now, while my French Open 2013 reports take their places behind Wimbledon 2012 and the Olympics in my backlog of TV-reports.


Women’s Singles: Fourth round: Klára Zakopalová v Maria Sharapova (Monday 4th June 2012)

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [2] d. Klára Zakopalová, 6-4 6-7 (5/7) 6-2

In terms of quality from both players, this was the best match that I remember seeing at the French Open 2012 – certainly the only real contest of Maria’s seven matches, as she didn’t drop more than three games a set in any of the other six. It would have made a far worthier final than did Maria v Sara Errani.

It was cold and windy – conditions that are anathema to Maria on clay, and favoured Zakopalová more – and yet they both hit the ball extremely well, with flairsome power. Zakopalová is a good counterpuncher who spread Maria laterally by hitting crosscourt to alternate sides of the court, and disguising the direction of her shots, but Maria had too much power and closeness to the lines for Zakopalová at other times. Zakopalová also did a lot of damage with her forehand, including 33 winners off that side.

This was Maria’s third revenge for the Australian Open 2003, for Zakopalová was actually the Klára Koukalová who beat 15-year-old Maria in her first-ever match at a Major, and followed that up with a win over the great Monica Seles in the second round.

The calibre of play was high from the start, but Maria was too strong and disciplined for Zakopalová as Maria took a *5-2 lead. Maria had her first set-point at 40/15, but Zakopalová’s mishit forehand return turned into a winner, and she broke back. Maria eventually sealed the first set after being taken to deuce at *5-4.

In the second set, Maria kept breaking and being broken back. She served for the match at *5-4 and *6-5, but won only three points in those two games due to a combination of her errors and Zakopalová stepping up. With Maria serving at *0/1 in the tiebreak, the umpire incorrectly thought that Maria wanted to stop the point to have a mark checked, and awarded the point to Zakopalová after Maria had hit a winner. Zakopalová went on to take the tiebreak 7/5.

The third set was closer than 6-2 implies. Maria broke for *2-0 on a netcord after three deuces on Zakopalová’s serve, and held for 3-0* after three deuces on her own serve – still not finding a clear way to hurt Zakopalová. Maria broke again for *5-1 after five deuces on Zakopalová’s serve. Maria had her first match-point at *5-1 40/30, but Zakopalová saved it with yet another forehand winner, and Maria surrendered her serve with her 12th double fault. However, she won the match on Zakopalová’s seventh double fault at *2-5 30/40.


First set
ZAKOPALOV _@___@_@*_ 4
SHARAPOVA @_@*@_@__* 6


The match was third on Court Philippe Chatrier, and started at 14:09 CEST.

Zakopalová serving 0-0: Second serve... Maria on the fourth stroke hit a pinpoint crosscourt backhand just inside the sideline, inducing Zakopalová to bunt a one-handed backhand long. 0/15. Zakopalová, on the third stroke, hit a crosscourt backhand just wide. 0/30. A long baseline-rally ended with Maria hitting a raking crosscourt forehand winner into the corner. 0/40 (BP #1). Ace #1: first serve down the middle. 15/40 (BP #2). Zakopalová hit a deep crosscourt forehand just inside the baseline. 30/40 (BP #1). First serve out wide + down-the-line backhand just inside the sideline forced Maria to bunt a defensive forehand lob long. Deuce #1. Zakopalová went for a deep, body-jamming second serve, but Maria’s hard, deep backhand return forced Zakopalová to bunt back a short defensive backhand, enabling Maria to hit an easy down-the-line forehand winner. Ad Sharapova (BP #4). A longish baseline-rally ended with Zakopalová hitting a forehand long. Broken.

The ITV commentators had the following amusing exchange after Zakopalová’s ace at 0/40:
– Amélie Mauresmo: “She’s going to have to hit a lot of those to exist today.”
– Sam Smith: “So, if you lose to Maria Sharapova, you cease to exist on the planet?”

Sharapova serving 1-0: Zakopalová netted a tame forehand. 15/0. Zakopalová’s low-bouncing crosscourt backhand forced Maria to net a backhand. 15/15. Maria, driven wide, hit a crosscourt backhand that clipped the netcord and fell wide. 15/30. Maria’s crosscourt forehand forced a short ball, which she dispatched it with an easy off-forehand winner. 30/30. Deep first serve forced Zakopalová to hit a crosscourt forehand return just wide – Zakopalová looked wistfully after it, for it would have been a winner. 40/30 (GP #1). Double fault #1 (second serve just long). Deuce #1. Zakopalová’s down-the-line forehand shot through on Maria for a winner. Ad Zakopalová (BP #1). Zakopalová hit a pinpoint crosscourt forehand winner that clipped the outside edge of the sideline. Broken.

Zakopalová is hitting the ball extremely well, with flairsome power. She’s doing a good job of spreading Maria laterally by hitting crosscourt to alternate sides of the court, and disguising the direction of her shots.

Zakopalová serving 1-1: A meaty baseline-rally ended with Zakopalová hitting a crosscourt backhand just wide. 0/15. Double fault #1 (second serve very long). 0/30. Zakopalová opened up the court with a crosscourt forehand, and hit an off-forehand winner. 15/30. Zakopalová ran down a very short dropshot, and pushed an off-backhand wide. 15/40 (BP #1). Maria forehand just long. 30/40 (BP #2). Maria hit a loose backhand long. Deuce #1. Zakopalová forehand long. Ad Sharapova (BP #3). Zakopalová forehand long. Broken.

Sharapova serving 1-2: Zakopalová sprayed a wild forehand return very long. 15/0. Zakopalová went for a pinpoint crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline, but it was wide by a whisker. 30/0. Zakopalová hit a pinpoint crosscourt forehand winner back behind Maria, just inside the baseline. 30/15. Zakopalová’s forehand clipped the netcord and dropped dead for a winner. 30/30. Maria’s deep forehand induced Zakopalová to bunt a forehand into the net. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria, driven wide to her backhand sideline, ran around her forehand and hit an acute off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. Held.

Maria has too much power and closeness to the lines for Zakopalová now.

Zakopalová serving 1-3: First serve out wide forced Maria to earth a forehand return. 15/0. Maria netted a forehand. 30/0. Maria punished a short 75mph second serve with a deep forehand return-winner down the line. 30/15. First serve down the middle caught the outside edge of the centre-line, forcing Maria to hit a forehand return long. 40/15 (GP #1). Zakopalová hit a loose crosscourt forehand wide. 40/30 (GP #2). Maria’s hard, deep forehand forced a short floater, which she dispatched with a deep crosscourt forehand winner just inside the baseline. Deuce #1. Maria hit a crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline, forcing Zakopalová to stretch wide and earth a forehand. Ad Sharapova (BP #1). Second serve... Maria’s short forehand died away on Zakopalová for a winner (the umpire called Zakopalová’s forehand “not up”). Broken.

Amélie Mauresmo: “I think she’s [Maria] improved her movement on clay lately.”

Sharapova serving 4-1: Zakopalová opened up the court and hit a crosscourt forehand winner. 0/15. Zakopalová’s deep crosscourt backhand return induced Maria to hit a backhand long. 0/30. Zakopalová punished a short, weak ball with a deep forehand winner down the line: just inside the baseline. 0/40 (BP #1). Maria’s depth induced Zakopalová to hit an early forehand very long. 15/40 (BP #2). Maria hit a deep off-forehand just inside the baseline, forcing Zakopalová to net a backhand. 30/40 (BP #3). Deep first serve induced Zakopalová to hit a forehand return very long. Deuce #1. Zakopalová hit a sweet crosscourt backhand winner. Ad Zakopalová (BP #4). Ace #1: first serve down the middle, on the centre-line. Deuce #2. Double fault #2 (second serve just long). Ad Zakopalová (BP #5). Zakopalová’s acute crosscourt forehand induced Maria to net a forehand. Broken.

Zakopalová serving 2-4: Zakopalová netted a forehand on the third stroke. 0/15. Sharapova netted a forehand. 15/15. Maria’s deep backhand return down the middle induced Zakopalová to net a backhand. 15/30. Zakopalová punished a short ball with a backhand dropshot-winner. 30/30. Zakopalová crosscourt backhand wide. 30/40 (BP #1). 70mph second serve out wide: Maria hit a cheap forehand return long. Deuce #1. Zakopalová’s low-bouncing crosscourt backhand forced Maria to net a backhand. Ad Zakopalová (GP #1). Maria hit a fierce crosscourt backhand return just inside the sideline, forcing Zakopalová to bunt a backhand long. Deuce #2. Maria’s down-the-line backhand forced Zakopalová to net a late backhand. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Zakopalová netted a backhand return. Held.

The cold conditions favour Zakopalová more than Maria, but Maria is just too strong and disciplined.

Sam Smith: “Sharapova is really applying herself out here in difficult conditions, and she’s really starting to motor now.”

Sharapova serving 5-2 (new balls): Body-jamming first serve induced Zakopalová to hit a forehand return long. 15/0. Zakopalová netted a cheap forehand return. 30/0. Zakopalová handled a deep, high-bouncing ball with an off-forehand winner. 30/15. Deep first serve out wide induced Zakopalová to bunt a backhand return long. 40/15 (SP #1 for Sharapova). First serve out wide: Zakopalová, off-balance, mishit a deep down-the-line forehand return-winner. 40/30 (SP #2 for Sharapova). Zakopalová’s deep backhand return induced Maria to net a backhand. Deuce #1. Zakopalová hit a deep pinpoint off-forehand winner. Ad Zakopalová (BP #1). Zakopalová pounced on a netcord to hit a deep crosscourt backhand, forcing Maria to earth a backhand. Broken.

Zakopalová serving 3-5: Zakopalová backhand just long. 0/15. Maria went to the net, hit a crosscourt backhand... but totally misread Zakopalová’s crosscourt backhand pass-winner. 15/15. Maria netted a forehand return. 30/15. Maria forced a short ball, and hit a pinpoint backhand winner down the line: just inside the sideline. 30/30. Zakopalová’s depth induced Maria to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. 40/30 (GP #1). Zakopalová’s deep crosscourt forehand induced Maria to hit a forehand long. Held.

Sam Smith: “Why is Maria struggling in these last two games?”
Amélie Mauresmo: “She’s a little bit further back from her baseline, due to the fact that the Czech is reading Maria’s serve and Maria’s game pretty well, and with her speed, she’s able to take the ball early, matching the pace really good. She likes it also, and Maria having a little bit of trouble finding angles to make her move, and put the ball away from her the way she’d like to.”
Sam Smith: “The wind is a great leveller: the lower-ranked player has a better chance, because the better-ranked player can’t play her game.”

Sharapova serving 5-4: Zakopalová hit a crosscourt forehand just wide. 15/0. Double fault #3 (second serve into the net). 15/15. Maria dominated the rally, but hit a crosscourt forehand just wide. 15/30. Maria forced a short ball, and hit an off-forehand winner. 30/30. Zakopalová’s crosscourt backhand forced Maria to net a backhand. 30/40 (BP #1). Deep first serve induced Zakopalová to hit a forehand long, making this the first break-point that Maria has saved in this match. Deuce #1. Zakopalová hit a wild forehand very long. Ad Sharapova (SP #3). Maria on the third stroke hit a crosscourt forehand that looked wide but apparently caught a piece of the sideline. Sharapova won the first set 6-4 at 15:06 CEST (57m).

According to the commentators, Maria was winning the majority of rallies that had three strokes or fewer, but Zakopalová was winning the majority of rallies that had four strokes or more.


Second set
ZAKOPALOV _@__*@_@_@_@T 7(7)
SHARAPOVA @_@*__@_@_@__ 6(5)


Zakopalová serving 0-0: ITV4 missed the first four points to show a round-up. 0/15. 15/15. 15/30. 30/30. Zakopalová opened up the court with a crosscourt forehand, and hit a hard, deep forehand down the line, forcing Maria to hit a short defensive lob, which Zakopalová dispatched with an off-forehand winner. 40/30 (GP #1). Zakopalová forehand long. Deuce #1. Zakopalová crosscourt backhand wide. Ad Sharapova (BP #1). Deep first serve down the middle forced Maria to bunt a forehand return long. Deuce #2. Zakopalová hit a powerful pinpoint off-forehand winner down the line: just inside the sideline. Ad Zakopalová (GP #2). Maria hit a fierce forehand down Zakopalová’s forehand sideline, forcing her to net a forehand. Deuce #3. Zakopalová hit a speedy forehand winner down the line – her 13th forehand winner to Maria’s 8. Ad Zakopalová (GP #3). Maria hit a pinpoint off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. Deuce #4. Another first serve out wide + forehand winner down the line forced Maria to earth a backhand. Ad Zakopalová (GP #4). Zakopalová went for a big crosscourt backhand winner to the sideline, but it was just wide. Deuce #5. Maria hit a body-jamming backhand return down the middle, inducing Zakopalová to hit an off-forehand wide. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Second serve... a neutral baseline-rally ended with Zakopalová dumping a forehand into the net. Broken.

Sharapova serving 1-0: Zakopalová opened up the court with a pinpoint crosscourt forehand to the sideline, and hit a booming forehand winner down the line. 0/15. A longish baseline-rally ended with Maria hitting a forehand long. 0/30. First serve down the middle forced Zakopalová to earth a backhand return. 15/30. Maria netted a backhand. 15/40 (BP #1). Maria hit a deep down-the-line forehand just inside the baseline, forcing Zakopalová to hit a down-the-line backhand wide. 30/40 (BP #2). Maria netted a silly backhand dropshot off a deep ball from Zakopalová. Broken.

Zakopalová serving 1-1: Maria hit a forehand just long. The umpire tried to check the mark, but couldn’t find it, for Zakopalová had apparently erased it with her foot. Maria had a long argument with the umpire while the crowd jeered louder and louder. 15/0. Zakopalová crosscourt backhand wide. 15/15. Maria’s deep forehand forced Zakopalová to net a forehand. 15/30. A longish baseline-rally ended with Maria hitting a forehand long. 30/30. Maria hit a blazing forehand winner down the line: just inside the baseline. 30/40 (BP #1). Zakopalová’s deep sliced backhand into Maria’s backhand corner induced her to net a backhand. Deuce #1. Double fault #2 (second serve just long). Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Maria crosscourt backhand wide. Deuce #2. A deep netcord from Maria pushed Zakopalová back on her heels, inducing her to net a forehand. Ad Sharapova (BP #3). Short second serve out wide: Maria’s searing crosscourt backhand return forced Zakopalová to hit a short defensive backhand, which Maria dispatched with a crosscourt forehand winner. Broken.

ITV4 left the match for seven minutes to interview Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the studio.

Sharapova serving 2-1: 15/0. 30/0. 40/0 (GP #1). 40/15 (GP #2). Held.

Zakopalová serving 1-3: 15/0. 15/15. 30/15. 30/30. 30/40 (BP #1). Deuce #1. Zakopalová broke up a hard-hitting rally with a forehand dropshot-winner. Ad Zakopalová (GP #1). Maria, on the fourth stroke, hit a forehand long. Held.

Sharapova serving 3-2: Double fault #4 (second serve into the net). 0/15. Zakopalová ran down a dropshot and hit a crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline. 0/30. Zakopalová dominated the rally, mixed up the pace with a couple of slices, and Maria dumped a backhand into the net. 0/40 (BP #1). Double fault #5 (ambitious second serve just long). Broken.

Zakopalová serving 3-3 (new balls): Maria netted a forehand. 15/0. First serve out wide: Maria hit an off-forehand return-winner just inside the sideline. 15/15. Double fault #4 (second serve long). Zakopalová muttered in Czech. 15/30. Zakopalová hit a backhand long, smacked her left hand with her racket, and looked up at her husband Jan Zakopal. 15/40 (BP #1). Zakopalová dumped a forehand into the net, and looked cross. Broken.

Sharapova serving 4-3: Zakopalová forehand long. 15/0. Double fault #6 (second serve into the net). 15/15. First serve out wide + pinpoint forehand winner down the line. 30/15. A long baseline-rally ended with Zakopalová hitting an off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. 30/30. Zakopalová’s deep forehand forced Maria to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. Amélie Mauresmo said that Maria was going for too much from such a deep position, and should just roll it in. 30/40 (BP #1). Zakopalová hit a deep down-the-line forehand winner – her 18th forehand winner. Broken.

Zakopalová serving 4-4: Maria netted a backhand. 15/0. Deep 66mph second serve induced Maria to hit a backhand return very long. 30/0. First serve out wide: Maria used the angle for a blazing crosscourt forehand return-winner just inside the sideline. 30/15. Deep second serve out wide: Maria hit a pinpoint forehand return-winner down Zakopalová’s forehand sideline: just inside the sideline. 30/30. Maria’s crosscourt backhand clipped the netcord and fell wide. 40/30 (GP #1). Ace down the middle – except that the umpire checked the mark and called it wide, so they replayed the point. Maria, driven wide, fell over on her back with her legs in the air as she netted a forehand. Deuce #1. Zakopalová sprayed a wild forehand long and wide, and yelled in frustration. Ad Sharapova (BP #1). A longish baseline-rally ended with Maria netting a forehand. Deuce #2. Body-jamming first serve induced Maria to net a backhand return. Ad Zakopalová (GP #2). Acute crosscourt backhand return + crosscourt forehand forced Zakopalová back on her heels to net a forehand. Deuce #3. Zakopalová hit a forehand just long, and muttered. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Zakopalová hit a hard crosscourt backhand deep into the corner, forcing Maria to hit a backhand long. Deuce #4. Zakopalová hit a cheap forehand long. Ad Sharapova (BP #3). Zakopalová hit a fantastic backhand winner down the line: just inside the sideline. Deuce #5. Zakopalová mishit a crosscourt backhand wide. Ad Sharapova (BP #4). Maria hit a pinpoint backhand winner down the line: just inside the sideline. Broken.

That could have been the key game of the match. Maria was looking somewhat vulnerable for the first time in this French Open, and could easily have sprained an ankle if her fall at 40/30 had not been so graceful.

Sharapova serving 5-4: Zakopalová netted a backhand. 15/0. Zakopalová hit a booming forehand winner down the line. 15/15. Maria hit a crosscourt backhand wide. 15/30. Zakopalová’s big off-forehand forced Maria to earth a backhand. Zakopalová pumped her fist. 15/40 (BP #1). First serve into the net. Big second serve forced a very short return, but Maria sprayed an off-forehand wide. Broken.

This match has just passed the two-hour mark.

Amélie Mauresmo: “To break in this match is actually to hold serve.”

Zakopalová serving 5-5: A long baseline-rally ended with Zakopalová hitting a backhand just long. 0/15. Maria ran around her backhand to hit a booming forehand return down Zakopalová’s forehand sideline, clipping the outside edge of the sideline. 0/30. Double fault #5 (second serve wide of the sideline). 0/40 (BP #1). Maria forehand long. 15/40 (BP #2). Zakopalová dominated the rally, forcing a short ball that sat up nicely for her to hit a stinging crosscourt forehand winner. 30/40 (BP #3). Zakopalová’s deep crosscourt backhand forced Maria to hit an early crosscourt backhand wide. Deuce #1. Maria’s crosscourt forehand return forced Zakopalová to run wide and net a forehand. She muttered again. Ad Sharapova (BP #4). Maria punished a short ball with a blazing crosscourt backhand winner. Broken.

Sharapova serving 6-5: Zakopalová spread Maria with a crosscourt forehand + down-the-line forehand, forcing her to hit a backhand long. 0/15. Zakopalová slapped a late forehand into the net, instead of stepping in and taking it early. 15/15. Maria blasted a backhand into the net. 15/30. Double fault #7 (second serve just wide of the sideline). 15/40 (BP #1). Zakopalová hit a forehand just long. 30/40 (BP #2). Zakopalová forced a short ball, and dispatched it with an off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. Broken.

6-6 tiebreak (all scores Zakopalová/Sharapova):
{*0/0} ITV4 missed this point to show a round-up (Yaroslava Shvedova had just taken the second set off defending champion Lǐ,Nŕ).
{1/0*} A long baseline-rally ended with Maria hitting a pinpoint forehand winner down the line – just inside the sideline – but the umpire thought that Maria had stopped the point to ask the umpire to check a mark, and actually awarded the point to Zakopalová! Zakopalová fell over early in that point, so I think that might have distracted the umpire, who later came down from the high chair after Zakopalová hit a crosscourt forehand onto the sideline on the third-to-last stroke (then Maria and Zakopalová each hit a crosscourt forehand before Maria hit her forehand winner down the line). I think that the umpire might have misread Maria’s lasso forehand as a hand-signal to stop the point.
{2/0*} First serve out wide forced Zakopalová to hit a crosscourt forehand wide.
{*2/1} Maria netted a backhand.
{*3/1} Zakopalová netted a forehand, and gave a wry smile.
{3/2*} Zakopalová netted a forehand.
{3/3*} Zakopalová hit a deep ball down the middle, inducing Maria to hit a backhand long.
{*4/3} Second serve: Maria dumped a backhand return into the net.
{*5/3} Zakopalová pounced on a short, high-bouncing ball to hit a crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline.
{6/3*: SP #1 for Zakopalová} Off a netcord from Zakopalová, Maria hit a crosscourt backhand that looked wide but wasn’t called, forcing Zakopalová to net a backhand.
{6/4*: SP #2 for Zakopalová} Zakopalová slapped a backhand into the top of the net.
{*6/5: SP #3 for Zakopalová} First serve into the net. Second serve: Maria blasted a wild off-forehand return wide. Zakopalová won the second set 7-6 (7/5) at 16:28 CEST (second set 1h22m, match so far 2h19m).

Sam Smith: “She probably feels like smashing her rackets and strangling the umpire.”


Third set
ZAKOPALOV ___*__@_ 2
SHARAPOVA *@*_*@_@ 6


Sharapova serving 0-0: ITV4 missed this point to show a round-up (Shvedova was up a break against Lǐ in the third set). 15/0. Maria sprayed a backhand wide. 15/15. Zakopalová’s deep off-forehand forced Maria to hit a down-the-line backhand long. 15/30. First serve out wide + off-forehand winner back behind Zakopalová. 30/30. Maria forced a very short lob, which she dispatched with an easy forehand smash-winner. 40/30 (GP #1). Zakopalová netted a forehand return. Held.

Zakopalová serving 0-1: Double fault #6 (second serve into the net). Zakopalová yelled. 0/15. Zakopalová’s low-bouncing sliced backhand forced Maria to bend her knees and net a forehand. 15/15. Zakopalová hit a down-the-line forehand winner. Maria swished her racket in frustration, which is very unusual for her. 30/15. Maria hit a blazing forehand return-winner down Zakopalová’s forehand sideline. 30/30. Maria hit a roaring forehand return-winner down the other line. 30/40 (BP #1). Body-jamming serve forced Maria to bunt a forehand lob-return, which Zakopalová dispatched with a high forehand drive-volley winner down Maria’s forehand sideline. Deuce #1. Zakopalová netted a forehand. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Maria sprayed a forehand long. Deuce #2. Zakopalová hit a forehand winner down the line – her 25th forehand winner. Ad Zakopalová (GP #1). Second serve... Zakopalová netted a backhand, and Maria said “c’mon”. Deuce #3. Maria’s depth forced Zakopalová to bunt a backhand long as she lost her footing. Ad Sharapova (BP #3). Maria’s crosscourt backhand return clipped the netcord and dropped dead for a winner. Broken.

Sharapova serving 2-0 (new balls): First serve: Zakopalová hit a deep crosscourt forehand return onto the baseline, forcing Maria to bunt a backhand long. 0/15. First serve down the middle forced Zakopalová to stretch wide and net a forehand return. 15/15. Maria’s big forehand down the line forced Zakopalová to bunt a sliced backhand into the net. 30/15. Double fault #8 (second serve into the net). 30/30. Maria’s depth induced Zakopalová to bunt a backhand long. 40/30 (GP #1). Double fault #9 (second serve just long). Deuce #1. Second-serve let... Maria caught her toss... a tense baseline-rally ended with Zakopalová hitting a forehand long. Ad Sharapova (GP #2). Zakopalová’s depth forced Maria to bunt a backhand long. Deuce #2. Double fault #10 (second serve long). Ad Zakopalová (BP #1). Maria’s depth induced Zakopalová to bunt a sliced backhand into the top of the net. Deuce #3. Zakopalová hit a wild backhand very long, and emitted a high-pitched squeal. Ad Sharapova (GP #3). Maria hit a pinpoint backhand virtual winner down the line. Held.

As Maria struggled through that last service-game, Amélie Mauresmo said: “She’s not finding a clear way to hurt the Czech.”

Zakopalová serving 0-3: Maria netted a backhand. 0/15. Maria hit a down-the-line backhand winner back behind Zakopalová. 0/30. Maria netted a forehand. 15/30. A netcord from Zakopalová induced Maria to hit a crosscourt backhand long and wide. 30/30. Maria hit an ambitious down-the-line backhand return just wide. 40/30 (GP #1). Maria hit a backhand winner down the line. Deuce #1. Zakopalová’s depth induced Maria to bunt a backhand long. Ad Zakopalová (GP #1). Deep first serve induced Maria to net a forehand return. Held.

Sharapova serving 3-1: ITV4 missed this point to show Shvedova’s match-point against Lǐ (which, I must admit, put as big a smile on my face as it did on Shvedova’s). 15/0. First serve: Zakopalová hit a down-the-line backhand return wide. 30/0. Maria, driven wide, hit a crosscourt forehand would-be winner wide by a whisker. 30/15. Double fault #11 (second serve into the net). 30/30. Maria hit a down-the-line backhand winner just inside the sideline. 40/30 (GP #1). Zakopalová hit a wild forehand long. Held.

Zakopalová serving 1-4: Maria hit a crosscourt backhand winner. 0/15. Maria hit a down-the-line backhand long. 15/15. First serve out wide + forehand winner down the line – Zakopalová’s 29th forehand winner. 30/15. Zakopalová hit a crosscourt backhand winner. 40/15 (GP #1). Maria’s deep forehand return shot through on Zakopalová, forcing her to earth a forehand. 40/30 (GP #2). Zakopalová netted a backhand. Deuce #1. Zakopalová went to the net, but her short off-backhand gave Maria an easy forehand pass-winner up the line. Ad Sharapova (BP #1). Zakopalová’s depth forced Maria to hit a down-the-line backhand wide. Deuce #2. Maria hit a forehand return long. Ad Zakopalová (GP #3). Zakopalová netted a forehand. Deuce #3. Maria hit a backhand just long. Ad Zakopalová (GP #4). Second serve out wide: Maria hit a scorching acute-angled crosscourt backhand return, forcing Zakopalová to net a backhand. Deuce #4. Zakopalová, hitting the ball sweetly again, hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line: just inside the sideline. Sam Smith: “It’s become a routine event, her finding this shot.” Ad Zakopalová (GP #5). Zakopalová, on the third stroke, slapped a cheap forehand into the net. Deuce #5. Zakopalová went for an ambitious off-forehand winner to the sideline, but it was just wide. Ad Sharapova (BP #2). Maria forced a floater, stepped forward and hit an off-forehand drive-volley winner. Broken.

They’ve now been playing for three hours, which is longer than Maria’s first three matches combined.

Sharapova serving 5-1: Zakopalová slapped a forehand into the net, and looked up in despair. 15/0. Zakopalová punished Maria’s lack of depth with an off-forehand winner. 15/15. Zakopalová netted a backhand. 30/15. Maria caught her second-serve toss... a meaty baseline-rally ended with Zakopalová hitting a pinpoint forehand winner down the line: just inside the baseline. 30/30. Ace #3: first serve down the middle. 40/30 (MP #1 for Sharapova). A long baseline-rally ended with Zakopalová hitting an off-forehand winner. Zakopalová’s depth induced Maria to mishit an off-forehand just wide. She asked the umpire to check the mark, and the umpire confirmed it. Ad Zakopalová (BP #1). Double fault #12 (second serve long). Broken.

Zakopalová serving 2-5: Maria slapped a forehand into the net. 15/0. Maria whipped a crosscourt forehand winner back behind Zakopalová. 15/15. Maria hit a deep, hard crosscourt forehand return, forcing Zakopalová to bunt a forehand wide right. 15/30. Maria hit a backhand long. 30/30. Zakopalová netted a forehand, prompting a loud reaction from the crowd. 30/40 (MP #2 for Sharapova). Double fault #7 (second serve into the net). Sharapova won 6-4 6-7 (5/7) 6-2 at 17:20 CEST (third set 52m, match 3h11m).


Maria’s press-conference

The following excerpt from Maria’s press-conference was televised in ITV4’s highlights-show:

“The conditions were difficult, so it was a good test for me. You know, I had chances to finish it in two sets, and I didn’t, but I came out strong in the third set, and I guess that’s really what matters, and nice to be in the quarters again.


Maria’s ITV interview

Interviewer: “Maria, I wanna do top ones. Favourite person in your contacts on your phone.”

Maria: “Oh, my mother. I talk to her all the time, and she’s been travelling with me a little bit, so thank goodness I haven’t had a very expensive bill lately! Talking to my fiancé is more expensive, but not so much with my mother.”

[This was when Maria was engaged to Sasha Vujačić.]

Interviewer: “Favourite song on your iPod.”

Maria: “Right now, it’s Florence and the Machine, ‘Never Let Me Go’.”

Interviewer: “Favourite item in your handbag.”

Maria: “My handbag... my Samsung phone. I mean: I’m on the phone all the time – it’s a no-brainer!

Interviewer: “Bought it placement so good.”

Maria: “Favourite title I won... well, always will be Wimbledon, yes.”

Interviewer: “Top dish that you like to eat.”

Maria: “Russian borscht: soup.”

Interviewer: “Favourite party ever.”

Maria: “Favourite party ever... I hope it will be my wedding, yeah.”

Interviewer: “And last one: your favourite dream.”

Maria: “Favourite dream... oh, I don’t know; dreams are just all over the map. But my favourite one: whenever I’m on the beach... those are good to wake up to, except you wake up and you’re back in reality!

--
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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