Jan 28th, 2012, 05:10 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: On a boat bitch
Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 2
I love this article. I love it so much i want to marry it.
On serve and when whipping his forehand, Novak Djokovic's grunt is that of a bullfrog, "WooooAH-UH." Rafael Nadal goes for a throatier, "AAArrgggHH." Occasionally, Andy Murray offers up a more hushed, constricted, "Eeeeeehhh." From Roger Federer, of course, we tend to get the sound of silence.
Yet here is a selection of headlines you'll never read about tennis' top men: "Earplugs ready, it's the scream queen final," "Shrieks of nature," or "It's squeally not on."
I didn't make those up. Oh-so-witty, that is all stuff written about Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova before their women's final at the Australian Open on Saturday.
Anyone else spot the sexist double-standards here?
The issue, if it really deserves to be called that, of women players disturbing fans and perhaps the odd opponent with their shrieks is not new but it's an easy story for reporters to reheat and serve up when a ready excuse presents itself. The Azarenka-Sharapova match was one such moment, because, yes, they both make a fair bit of noise.
The WTA also is partly to blame for this hoary old chestnut again becoming a topic of discussion. It played to the gallery with a statement this week saying it is "exploring how to reduce excessive grunting, especially for younger players just starting out" and is "aware that some fans find it bothersome."
Which is surprising and somewhat confusing given that just three months ago, the WTA's CEO, Stacey Allaster, said: "Grunting is part of our sport, full stop. Athletes hitting the ball as hard as they do, they expel, and there are sounds. Guys do it, women do it, been doing it for a long time."
Noise, of course, is a very personal issue. To some, Bob Dylan or Yoko Ono singing is music, to others it's torture. If we all agreed on such things then the drone of South Africa's vuvuzela trumpets at the soccer World Cup of 2010 would have been universally loved or universally recognized as the nuisance they were.
Azarenka and Sharapova's tennis is far more interesting and noteworthy than the noise they make when hitting a ball. Yes, some people find their hoots too loud and too shrill and that irritates them. But my ears seem to screen out the racket. Is that perhaps because I'm marveling at the athleticism, shot-making and mental strength it takes to win and didn't tune to the tennis to poke fun at the women? Or is that unfair to those genuine tennis fans who say the din really does spoil their enjoyment?
Possibly. In which case, I sympathize and suggest a simple answer: the volume button.
But there are others with minds like a railway through a rural backwater _ one track and dirty _ who seemingly can only think of the bedroom. Maybe the same sort of people for whom women tennis players are eye candy to be seen but not heard and who don't want their fantasies punctured by high-pitched yelps.
For such dinosaurs, there can be no sympathy at all. Unfair? Possibly. But, again, why isn't this an issue with the men? Because their grunts and groans are manly, and thus acceptable, even expected?
Being aware of what fans want is important for any sport that wants to keep revenues flowing. But so, too, is educating them and not pandering to their every whim or basest instincts. Allaster said in October that she does seem to be getting more comments now from fans about grunting. She wondered whether that might be because improved technology has cranked up the volume on TV broadcasts. She promised the WTA will share fans' concerns with players and, "if this is a real issue," speak to coaches about what might be done.
But more important than fans' enjoyment must be what the athletes think.
Some, when asked, do complain. Agnieszka Radwanska did so this week about Sharapova, calling her noise "pretty annoying and it's just too loud" _ which was somewhat uncalled for given that the Pole didn't actually play against the Russian in Melbourne. Radwanska did play Azarenka, losing in three sets, but said she's grown accustomed to her hoots having known her for years _ proof, again, of how tolerance to noise is a personal thing.
Sharapova returned Radwanska's swipe with interest _ "Isn't she back in Poland already?" she said _ and made clear she's not about to gag herself.
"No one important enough has told me to change or do something different," she said.
Nor should she.
As Allaster noted in October: "No one is doing this on purpose. It's the way they've trained. It's the way they hit the ball. The athletes are very ritual and habitual, and it might be such that this generation, this is the way it's going to be."
Even more to the point, she added: "I have not had one player come to me and complain, not one. It is not bothering the athletes."
Azarenka and Sharapova reached Saturday's final because of better tennis and stronger will, not the loudest shrieks.
Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/sports/tenni...#ixzz1kjnx4ZLW
The Empress Queen Vee Masha, Vika Sexlana CaroBear
When Daylight's fading,We're gonna play in the dark
Till it's golden again
Jan 28th, 2012, 11:50 AM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 2
V. AZARENKA/M. Sharapova
Q. She's pretty tough once she can get on top of you. Seemed like you started okay, and then when she got the momentum was hard to push her away.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, she did everything better than I did today. You know, I had a good first couple of games, and that was about it. Then she was the one that was taking the first ball and hitting it deep and aggressive. I was always the one running around like a rabbit, you know, trying to play catchup all the time.
Yeah, I mean, she was, you know, a step quicker. Her shot was, you know, bigger. First shot was bigger. Just not a good combination, I guess.
Q. You made more unforced errors than you usually make. Did you feel okay? Was everything okay in your warmup? Did you have an okay day?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was just one of those days where maybe I just, you know, I think maybe because I felt like I wasn't being aggressive enough and I knew that I have to be and I knew that I had to change that.
There was no way I was gonna win the match if I was gonna let her dictate and be the one that's aggressive and, you know, go for the lines and change down the lines like she likes to do.
But, yeah, I think maybe I just kind of overdid it.
Q. Looked like in the beginning that she was going to be struggling to handle the situation. She sort of got back into it. Did you feel that she was nervous and then sort of found her composure?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, the first couple of games, only two out of so many games, and, you know, you know the match is not over until it's over.
No matter what the first two games, I mean, I had a lot of matches in my career where I had terrible starts. Sometimes those just don't really matter until you see what happens in the end.
So, yeah, I mean, she definitely ‑‑ there's a reason why she was ‑‑ you know, it wasn't just that she was making mistakes. I mean, there is a reason why she was making those mistakes in the beginning.
And from my side, I think I just kind of, I don't know, the switch went off.
Q. Were you surprised by how composed she was at the end of the match, given that it was her first Grand Slam final?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was her Grand Slam final, but she certainly has been in big tournaments. She's won big events before.
It's not that she's coming in here as an unexperienced player. She's beaten a lot of top players in her career, and it hasn't happened that she hasn't been in a Grand Slam final and hasn't won that.
But I certainly knew that she had the experience. She beat me in Miami last year. It's a pretty big event for us. She was in the finals of the Championships. She does have that experience.
Q. Does experience on your side make the disappointment easy to cope with?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, well, it's tough either way. Obviously to get to the final is a good achievement, but to end up being the one that loses is always tough, no matter what sport you're in.
But I'm proud of the fact that I made it this far. It's been a few years since I've been, you know, in the finals of the Australian Open.
It's a good start to the year, I guess, for me. I have a lot to look forward to this year.
Q. Do you think nerves were an issue for tonight at all?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I actually wasn't nervous. I was just making errors. (Smiling.)
Q. You have won plenty of matches when you haven't been at your top level. So the difference tonight being what going into the second set maybe?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it's tough to not play on a high level when your opponent is playing on a high level. It's just obviously not ‑‑ I mean, the ratio there is not very good.
So, I mean, she's a top player. She's had a fantastic tournament. She won the event before this, so she's playing with a lot of confidence, as well.
Yeah, I think that really showed.
Q. Losses must be one thing, but Grand Slam losses must really hurt. How do you deal with it? Do you go home and close the curtains and get your boxing gloves out? How long does it take to get the pain away?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's frustrating, but I have a pretty good head on my shoulders in terms of having a good perspective on sport and life.
And as hard as it is, you know, and as much as you want to be the champion, you know, there's only one. That's why the feeling is so special when you do achieve that. That's why the work is so hard and extreme. That's why the pleasure that you get and the excitement is what you work for, because you know how special it is.
I don't regret the work that I put in at all. Getting to the stage is great for me, I mean, especially not having played matches for three months. I honestly didn't know what to expect health‑wise and game‑wise. You just don't know.
So to be at this stage is good for me. That's why I'm, you know, looking forward to the rest of the year.
Q. Do you think your best tennis is still ahead of you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I believe it is. Absolutely. I believe that there's still a lot of work that I can do to improve. That's why I'm still playing.
I think if an athlete wakes up, no matter what sport they're in, and thinks they can't be better or they can't improve or they're not gonna have good days ahead of them, it's pretty tough to put in the work.
Q. It's the fifth different Grand Slam winner in a row now. Does it make it an exciting time to be on the women's tour at the moment?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it does. She's someone that's really been the one that's been working towards that goal, as well, and someone that, you know, everyone has had a lot of expectations on. Everyone expected her to win a Grand Slam.
So, yeah, she certainly deserves that spot.
Q. You have played her since I think the first time maybe in 2007, so looks like even since 2009 not just her strokes but her movement has improved a lot. Is that one of the keys there, where she can dig out a lot of balls where maybe she didn't a couple years ago?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel like she's always been a good athlete. She's always moved pretty good around the court. But I feel like she's much more consistent, you know. That's what it felt like today.
She certainly got a lot more balls back, but she also makes you play. She created ‑‑ you know, she created offense from defense today, which is, you know, which is important and something that I think she's improved, definitely.
Q. Six women could have been No. 1 at the end of this tournament. We have a new Grand Slam champion. The 2012 season ahead for the WTA, what are your thoughts?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: A lot to look forward to. We also have the Olympics this year. Personally it's something I've been look looking forward towards for a long time, and that's a big goal of mine. To have a long grass season will be really fun.
But in terms of what the tour has to offer, I hope that we have a lot of great tennis, and personally, I hope I do, too.
Q. A lot of talk this week is about this grunting debate. Is it a bit frustrating that going on away from the game?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely not. I have heard it before and I will hear it again. I'm in the finals. You know, I'm happy that I was in the finals.
If somebody ‑‑ if you want to talk about anything else or write about anything else, that's obviously your choice and not mine.
But, hey, we do our press conferences, we answer your questions, and we get on with our lives.
Q. What do you think about the thought that it should be banned? What do you say about people who say grunting should be banned? What's your view?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think everyone has an opinion, and I think you do too ‑‑ and everyone in this room does.
As I said, it's something I have done since I was a young girl, and I've continued to do. Everyone who follows my career knows I haven't done a thing about it.
Q. You have had a lopsided loss in a Grand Slam final before here and then came back the next year and won the title. Do you turn this into a positive in any way? Does it become motivation or bulletin board material for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it's a positive, because, like I said, I didn't know what to expect from myself coming into this event. I didn't know at what level I'd play. I didn't play for so many months and I had a pretty tough injury.
I mean, it's pretty unusual to come into the first tournament of the year having it be a Grand Slam. I'm certainly happy with the level that I produced in the six matches.
Today I faced someone that, you know, came out who was too good and my level was not there. I was not competitive enough against her today.
So, yeah, everything is still a work in progress, you know, whether I won today or not. It's still a moving train.
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Jan 28th, 2012, 05:39 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 2
Maria Sharapova deserves full credit for reaching her second Grand Slam final in the past six months, given the injuries and layoffs that have marred the more recent years of her decorated career.
After suffering several early round Grand Slam defeats, losses to lowly-ranked foes and a floundering ranking in her quest to come back from shoulder surgery, her persistence has been remarkable, and her career revival wonderful news for women’s tennis.
But unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the three-time major champion may never be quite the formidable opponent she once was before that shoulder injury cruelly struck her down in her prime.
That prime was in evidence right here at Melbourne Park in 2008, when the Russian ripped through the draw to claim her first Australian Open title. It was one of the more devastating performances in women’s tennis history. Sharapova swatted aside quality opposition including Lindsay Davenport, Elena Dementieva, Justine Henin, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic – all in straight sets – to claim an emphatic victory.
It precipitated a fabulous 24-1 start to the 2008 season before her right shoulder troubles took hold.
Although it was the site of her most impressive career performance, Rod Laver Arena on women’s final day has also been the scene of some of her most devastating losses. There was the 6-1, 6-2 thumping at the hands of Serena Williams in 2007, and tonight, a similarly lopsided 6-3, 6-0 loss to new women’s world No.1 Victoria Azarenka.
Sharapova remained upbeat in the post-match press conference, highlighting the positives of reaching her first Australian Open final in four years.
“Obviously to get to the final is a good achievement, but to end up being the one that loses is always tough, no matter what sport you're in,” she said.
“But I'm proud of the fact that I made it this far … It's a good start to the year, I guess, for me. I have a lot to look forward to this year.”
It was a brave front being presented by the Russian, because just a little earlier at the trophy presentation, she looked to be holding back tears. Defeat is always a bitter pill to swallow, but when you’ve had your head handed to you on a plate for the second straight time in a Grand Slam decider – Sharapova was straight-setted by another young upstart in her first major final, Petra Kvitova, at Wimbledon last year – it is especially draining on your emotions.
There must also be the realisation that her game simply still isn’t what it was compared to when she was a frequent major contender in the mid-to-late 2000s. The flow and confidence present in her game during her 2008 Australian Open run – powerful, confident serving coupled with fluid yet shattering groundstrokes – just isn’t apparent.
Although her serve has improved enormously beyond the shaky delivery that characterised her return to professional tennis in mid 2009, her take-back is comparatively laboured and her ball-toss more erratic. Her groundstrokes err more frequently under pressure than in her prime – witness the horrendous tally of 30 errors compared with Azarenka’s tidy 12 tonight. And it was obvious that Sharapova had no plan B to counter an opponent playing irresistible tennis. When faced with the onslaught, the Russian responded with all that she knows, and that was to simply hit harder. This inevitably lead to more errors.
Sharapova put her unforced error count down to Azarenka’s superior performance, and had glowing praise for her 22-year-old conqueror.
“She did everything better than I did today … I was always the one running around like a rabbit, you know, trying to play catch-up all the time. She was a step quicker. Her shot was bigger. First shot was bigger. Just not a good combination (for me), I guess,” Sharapova recounted.
“She's a top player. She's had a fantastic tournament. She won the event (in Sydney) before this, so she's playing with a lot of confidence, as well. I think that really showed.”
So what does Sharapova have to do to reverse these kinds of results? While to a lesser degree, her game was also taken away from her at Wimbledon during the loss to Kvitova, and if she continues coming up against younger yet equally-hungry opponents on the biggest stages, she could find herself struggling to ever again lift the silverware she covets so dearly.
Although she didn’t pin-point a specific part of her game that needed addressing, Sharapova said she would continue to put in the hard work to get herself in the same position that Azarenka herself enjoyed.
It’s this positivity and refusal to dwell on the past that has been a cornerstone of her previous successes, and that could ultimately see her return to her lofty perch.
“It's frustrating (to lose in the final), but I have a pretty good head on my shoulders in terms of having a good perspective on sport and life,” Sharapova said.
“And as hard as it is, and as much as you want to be the champion, there's only one. That's why the feeling is so special when you do achieve that. That's why the work is so hard and extreme. That's why the pleasure that you get and the excitement is what you work for, because you know how special it is.
“I don't regret the work that I put in at all. Getting to this stage is great for me … That's why I'm looking forward to the rest of the year.”
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