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Old Apr 25th, 2014, 07:37 PM   #1276
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

The shade I don't mind her being bitchy towards others who usually deserve it, but why the only other player that I truly like?
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Old Apr 28th, 2014, 10:04 PM   #1277
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

http://www.thetennisspace.com/the-cl...ria-sharapova/

Monday, 28 April 2014

Maria Sharapova won her 30th career title on Sunday as she won Stuttgart for the third time in a row, coming back to beat Ana Ivanovic in three sets. The woman who once described herself as moving like “a cow on ice” on clay courts is now something of a mudlark and it’s arguable that now, 10 years after her Wimbledon triumph, she is more dangerous at Roland Garros than any other grand slam venue.

Her win in Stuttgart was her eighth on clay, a significant percentage, but what’s more interesting, to me at least, is that six of them have come in the past three years (and seven in the past four years). She also completed the career grand slam by winning in Paris two years ago and reached the final last year.

Working out why is not so easy. When she first came along, Sharapova overpowered most of her opponents with her in-your-face groundstrokes, blistering returns and a serve that was good enough to win more than her fair share of free points. Her relative weakness – her movement – was masked by her power and her almost unmatched battling spirit.

It was back in 2007 that Sharapova first mentioned “cow on ice”, explaining how unnatural she felt playing on clay. That was when she was struggling with her serious shoulder injury. Fast forward seven years and if anything she looks more comfortable on clay even than on hard courts, her most successful surface, with 17 titles.

So how has she done it? Well, she’s matured, for a start, into a more tactical player when the surface does not do the work for her. Her groundstrokes are virtually flat, so she misses out on the reaction of the clay to top-spin, but her point-construction is far superior now to when she first came on the scene and relied on blasting people away.

Secondly, she has learned to slide on clay, especially to her backhand side. It still looks a little ungainly at times, but it’s hugely effective and since her backhand is her better wing, she has the strength on the run/slide to be able to punch the ball back with the two-hander, even when pushed to extremes. That’s something she couldn’t do until a few years ago and is a massive improvement.

Her serve has always been a weapon but it’s also something of a liability, when things are not going right, with double faults flowing occasionally. There’s not much wrong with the technique but sometimes she decelerates on it. which results in the ball going into the net. But on clay, she is able to use her height to kick her serve more, giving her more margin for error. Returning a high-kicking serve is never easy and when the ball drops short, Sharapova is able to launch her groundstrokes for the one-two, or one-two-three punch. And she’s even willing to come forward and use the drive-volley.

Also – and perhaps this is crucial – the massive weapon that is the Serena Williams serve – is not quite so effective on clay as elsewhere. That’s not to say Serena is not a better player on clay than the Russian – she’s beaten her enough times on it lately – but it levels the playing field, a touch.

Sharapova’s mental strength has been behind a lot of her success and with the longer rallies on clay, that helps even more. Only Serena Williams can match Sharapova for mental toughness and perhaps the longer rallies and longer matches play into her hands.

After a tough start to the year, and continuing pain in her shoulder, Sharapova is back in the winners’ circle and with Serena’s head not quite right at the moment and Victoria Azarenka out injured, she will be beginning to feel like Paris could be hers for the taking once more.
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Old Apr 28th, 2014, 10:06 PM   #1278
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

http://wtabackspin.blogspot.com/2014...ing-maria.html

Wk.17- The Business of Being Maria

We saw all of Maria Sharapova last week, from nearly every angle. She started out wearing her birthday suit, then ultimately ended the proceedings with seemingly nothing on but a great big smile.

No, no. I'm not talking about some new internet selfie scandal! I'm talking about Sharapova managing in a very short time to put on display nearly every facet of her public persona: the more comfortable off-court presence, the tennis player who sports a few flaws but who is still an intense competitor at her core, the athlete who has worked hard to turn her "cow on ice" clay court image into that of a player who now sports the best career win percentage on the surface among all active players and, last but not least, the tireless businesswoman who may yet prove that her current "career" could be simply a prelude to something even more interesting down the line. In the end, Sharapova's latest triumph was termed something of a "family" affair for the Russian who was once queen, and who still might have a shot to be all over again.

Sharapova's time in Germany began with the celebration of her 27th birthday in the old country. It doesn't matter that Germany might not actually be HER old country, of course, because the nation has actually still managed to become a key player in her career, both on and off-court. As the two-time defending champion in the event that has kicked off her red clay season the previous two years, both of which ended with trips to the Roland Garros final (champion in '12, runner-up in '13), Sharapova has used Stuttgart as her proving ground, not only to the outside world that never really considered her a legit clay threat until fairly recently, but maybe even for herself in order to validate all the training that has vastly improved the on-court movement that was once a deadly liability for her once she took off for Europe each spring.

Early last week, we saw a bit of the "bad" side of Sharapova, circa 2013-14, something which has become more common since her most recent shoulder issues last season. Ill-timed double-faults and, sometimes more alarmingly, some shakiness under pressure with her confidence waning when it comes to half of her game, has made her seem to be close to slipping out of the discussion of the very top players in the sport. She went into last week needing to put up a good result to avoid dropping out of the Top 10 for the first time in over three years (her 160-week run was second to only Victoria Azarenka's 186 weeks for the longest active Top 10 stretch on tour), but she very nearly blew a 5-1 3rd set lead over Lucie Safarova in the 1st Round of play. Sharapova held three match points before being forced to a deciding tie-break by the Czech, then finally advanced after converting her fourth MP.

Of course, Sharapova was also dominant.

In the 2nd Round, she avenged her February Paris indoors loss to countrywoman Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, reasserting her career-long mastery over fellow Russians. In the QF against Aga Radwanska, a player who has at times (U.S. Open '07, Miami '12) in the past brought out the worst in her, Sharapova swiftly brushed the Pole aside, assuring her continued presence in the Top 10 following the tournament. Save for a stubborn stretch in the final two games in Stuttgart, Radwanska was hardly a match for Sharapova, who then dispatched Sara Errani in the semifinals even more efficiently than she had in the Roland Garros final two years ago.

In the final, Sharapova was rocky, then she got on a roll.

Ana Ivanovic raced to a 5-0 led in the 1st, and led 6-3/3-1 on the back of her powerful forehand. The Serb had a point for a 4-1 lead, but Sharapova got the break. A game later, Sharapova nearly gave the break back as AnaIvo reached BP for a 4-2 lead that might have been difficult to reverse yet again. But Sharapova, showing the gritty competitiveness that was the hallmark of her best seasons, saved the BP with a backhand winner and totally changed the complexion of the match. And maybe the WTA's EuroClay spring, too?

In nearly "Supernovic" fashion, the Russian won eleven of the final thirteen games, running her career head-to-head advantage over Ivanovic to 8-2, as the 3-6/6-4/6-1 victory was her seventh straight over AnaIvo. Stuttgart is now the first tournament at which Sharapova has managed a "three-peat" (she's 13-0 there for her career), and another undefeated week on clay means that Serena Williams is still the only player to have beaten her on the surface over the last three seasons.

Afterward, Sharapova was quite simply thrilled to have found once again the sort of inner fire that has made her a four-time slam champ, and talked of how much she loves tennis and has always worked very hard to be the best player that she can be. So far, her work ethic has now produced thirty career titles, including at least one in each of the last dozen seasons, a streak that is four years longer than any current run of success by any woman on the WTA tour.

Oh, but there's that other side to Sharapova, too. Make no mistake, she knows how to sell a product. While the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix event has been great for her tennis, the business relationship that has grown around it isn't too shabby, either. The Russian's links to Porsche are everywhere, right down to the latest Sugarpova candy -- "Sweet Ride" -- that is shaped just like the Porsche 911 that was part of her third straight winner's package for taking this week's event.

During the post-match ceremony, Sharapova said that she considers herself a "small part of the Porsche family." Not quite as eye-rolling as Serena's, "That was a real G moment" line from a few years ago, but it let everyone know that Sharapova's eyes are as squarely focused on her future as they are on her present.

And speaking of her present, what is to be made of her chances in Paris now that she has finally lifted herself out of her early season doldrums? Remember, Serena hasn't quite been herself in '14, either. The Italians (or most of them) have been slumping. Aga can't close. While she's a Roland Garros champ, clay isn't Li Na's best surface. Simona Halep still hasn't actually TOTALLY risen, and AnaIvo, JJ and Sam Stosur, while contenders, surely provide a lot of reasons why one wouldn't think they could win the season's second slam.

But here's Sharapova, proving she still has "it" on the red stuff. Stuttgart might not make her an odds-on favorite to win a second RG title, or even reach a third straight final... but it surely inserts her back into the opening statement of the conversation, doesn't it?
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Old Apr 28th, 2014, 10:28 PM   #1279
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

Thanks for the articles!
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Old Apr 29th, 2014, 01:25 PM   #1280
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mexicola View Post
http://wtabackspin.blogspot.com/2014...ing-maria.html

Wk.17- The Business of Being Maria

We saw all of Maria Sharapova last week, from nearly every angle. She started out wearing her birthday suit, then ultimately ended the proceedings with seemingly nothing on but a great big smile.

No, no. I'm not talking about some new internet selfie scandal! I'm talking about Sharapova managing in a very short time to put on display nearly every facet of her public persona: the more comfortable off-court presence, the tennis player who sports a few flaws but who is still an intense competitor at her core, the athlete who has worked hard to turn her "cow on ice" clay court image into that of a player who now sports the best career win percentage on the surface among all active players and, last but not least, the tireless businesswoman who may yet prove that her current "career" could be simply a prelude to something even more interesting down the line. In the end, Sharapova's latest triumph was termed something of a "family" affair for the Russian who was once queen, and who still might have a shot to be all over again.

Sharapova's time in Germany began with the celebration of her 27th birthday in the old country. It doesn't matter that Germany might not actually be HER old country, of course, because the nation has actually still managed to become a key player in her career, both on and off-court. As the two-time defending champion in the event that has kicked off her red clay season the previous two years, both of which ended with trips to the Roland Garros final (champion in '12, runner-up in '13), Sharapova has used Stuttgart as her proving ground, not only to the outside world that never really considered her a legit clay threat until fairly recently, but maybe even for herself in order to validate all the training that has vastly improved the on-court movement that was once a deadly liability for her once she took off for Europe each spring.

Early last week, we saw a bit of the "bad" side of Sharapova, circa 2013-14, something which has become more common since her most recent shoulder issues last season. Ill-timed double-faults and, sometimes more alarmingly, some shakiness under pressure with her confidence waning when it comes to half of her game, has made her seem to be close to slipping out of the discussion of the very top players in the sport. She went into last week needing to put up a good result to avoid dropping out of the Top 10 for the first time in over three years (her 160-week run was second to only Victoria Azarenka's 186 weeks for the longest active Top 10 stretch on tour), but she very nearly blew a 5-1 3rd set lead over Lucie Safarova in the 1st Round of play. Sharapova held three match points before being forced to a deciding tie-break by the Czech, then finally advanced after converting her fourth MP.

Of course, Sharapova was also dominant.

In the 2nd Round, she avenged her February Paris indoors loss to countrywoman Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, reasserting her career-long mastery over fellow Russians. In the QF against Aga Radwanska, a player who has at times (U.S. Open '07, Miami '12) in the past brought out the worst in her, Sharapova swiftly brushed the Pole aside, assuring her continued presence in the Top 10 following the tournament. Save for a stubborn stretch in the final two games in Stuttgart, Radwanska was hardly a match for Sharapova, who then dispatched Sara Errani in the semifinals even more efficiently than she had in the Roland Garros final two years ago.

In the final, Sharapova was rocky, then she got on a roll.

Ana Ivanovic raced to a 5-0 led in the 1st, and led 6-3/3-1 on the back of her powerful forehand. The Serb had a point for a 4-1 lead, but Sharapova got the break. A game later, Sharapova nearly gave the break back as AnaIvo reached BP for a 4-2 lead that might have been difficult to reverse yet again. But Sharapova, showing the gritty competitiveness that was the hallmark of her best seasons, saved the BP with a backhand winner and totally changed the complexion of the match. And maybe the WTA's EuroClay spring, too?

In nearly "Supernovic" fashion, the Russian won eleven of the final thirteen games, running her career head-to-head advantage over Ivanovic to 8-2, as the 3-6/6-4/6-1 victory was her seventh straight over AnaIvo. Stuttgart is now the first tournament at which Sharapova has managed a "three-peat" (she's 13-0 there for her career), and another undefeated week on clay means that Serena Williams is still the only player to have beaten her on the surface over the last three seasons.

Afterward, Sharapova was quite simply thrilled to have found once again the sort of inner fire that has made her a four-time slam champ, and talked of how much she loves tennis and has always worked very hard to be the best player that she can be. So far, her work ethic has now produced thirty career titles, including at least one in each of the last dozen seasons, a streak that is four years longer than any current run of success by any woman on the WTA tour.

Oh, but there's that other side to Sharapova, too. Make no mistake, she knows how to sell a product. While the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix event has been great for her tennis, the business relationship that has grown around it isn't too shabby, either. The Russian's links to Porsche are everywhere, right down to the latest Sugarpova candy -- "Sweet Ride" -- that is shaped just like the Porsche 911 that was part of her third straight winner's package for taking this week's event.

During the post-match ceremony, Sharapova said that she considers herself a "small part of the Porsche family." Not quite as eye-rolling as Serena's, "That was a real G moment" line from a few years ago, but it let everyone know that Sharapova's eyes are as squarely focused on her future as they are on her present.

And speaking of her present, what is to be made of her chances in Paris now that she has finally lifted herself out of her early season doldrums? Remember, Serena hasn't quite been herself in '14, either. The Italians (or most of them) have been slumping. Aga can't close. While she's a Roland Garros champ, clay isn't Li Na's best surface. Simona Halep still hasn't actually TOTALLY risen, and AnaIvo, JJ and Sam Stosur, while contenders, surely provide a lot of reasons why one wouldn't think they could win the season's second slam.

But here's Sharapova, proving she still has "it" on the red stuff. Stuttgart might not make her an odds-on favorite to win a second RG title, or even reach a third straight final... but it surely inserts her back into the opening statement of the conversation, doesn't it?
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Old Apr 29th, 2014, 02:35 PM   #1281
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

I believe we might have a good insight if her first round next week is far different from 3 tie-breakers...more along the lines of the 59 minute thing with errani. I am hoping for a tournament win with less drama....but get it however she has to get it.
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Old Apr 30th, 2014, 06:05 PM   #1282
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

http://www.wtatennis.com/news/articl...uttgart-opener

Quote:
Sharapova Survives Stuttgart Opener

Maria Sharapova survived Lucie Safarova in her Porsche Tennis Grand Prix opener, 76(5) 67(5) 76(2). When was the last time a WTA match went to three tie-breaks?

April 22, 2014

STUTTGART, Germany - Maria Sharapova got her quest for a third straight Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title going with a grueling three-hour, 23-minute win over Lucie Safarova, 76(5) 67(5) 76(2).

The Plot

There are some big things on the line for Sharapova this week. First of all, she's going for her third straight title here, which would be the first time in her career she has won the same WTA tournament three times - on a more defensive note, she needs to reach the semifinals this week to retain her place in the Top 10, an elite she has been a part of since April 4, 2011 - 160 consecutive weeks ago.

Sharapova and Safarova have had some epic battles in the past - not only did they go two hours and 56 minutes in the early rounds of Miami just a few weeks ago, with Sharapova winning, but they also went to three long sets at this tournament, and in this round, a year ago. Sharapova won that one too.

The Turning Point

This encounter was just as dramatic. For three hours and 23 minutes the two put an absolute slugfest on display in front of a packed crowd, with the serving particularly impressive early on in the match - neither player broke serve en route to the first set tie-break, with Sharapova closing that one out to take a one set lead. Safarova struck back in the second set, jumping out to a 3-0 lead and, after getting broken back, rallying from 3-0 down in the tie-break to push the match to a deciding third set.

That's where the real drama happened. After storming out to a 5-1 lead, Sharapova looked like she was on the verge of victory. But Safarova came back again, reeling off five games in a row to lead 6-5 - even fighting off a match point down 5-3 - and she was two points away, going up 30-0 in that game.

But there was one last momentum swing and it swung Sharapova's way, as the two-time defending champion won 11 of the next 13 points, breaking back for 6-all and cruising through the tie-break.

By The Numbers

The biggest differences between the two players were in serving and second serve returning. While Sharapova finished with nine aces to three double faults, Safarova finished with four aces to eight double faults - and a few of those at crucial times. And on the other side of the net, Sharapova won 57% of points returning Safarova's second serve - Safarova managed just 46% on Sharapova's.

The fight the two displayed made this the third-longest match of the year, with Sharapova's three-hour, 28-minute win over Karin Knapp at the Aussie Open the longest. It was also the first WTA match to go to three tie-breaks since Serena Williams' win over Vera Dushevina at Madrid in 2010.

Quotes

"I think Lucie is an exceptional player," Sharapova said. "She's presented me a lot of challenges when we've played in the past, and going into the match today I knew it wasn't going to be an easy one.

"I could have returned better. But I think this was one of the best serving matches she's played against me. She was finding the lines extremely well and mixing it up too, and it was hard to break her.

"But I'm really happy I was able to be the winner of this match. I was two points from losing."

What's Next

Awaiting Sharapova in the second round will be Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who beat Latvian qualifier Diana Marcinkevica earlier in the day, 63 62. Sharapova and Pavlyuchenkova are tied in their head-to-head, 1-1, with Pavlyuchenkova winning their most recent encounter at Paris [Indoors] this year.
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Old Apr 30th, 2014, 06:10 PM   #1283
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

http://www.wtatennis.com/news/articl...dwanska-in-qfs

Quote:
Sharapova Vs Radwanska In QFs

Maria Sharapova outdid Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to set up a tantalizing quarterfinal with Agnieszka Radwanska. Sharapova needs to win that match to stay in the Top 10.

April 24, 2014

STUTTGART, Germany - Two days after an absolutely grueling three-hour, 23-minute first round win over Lucie Safarova, Maria Sharapova regrouped and cruised past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, beating her countrywoman in straight sets, 64 63.

The Plot

The pressure is definitely on Sharapova this week - not only is she the two-time defending champion in Stuttgart, but she needs to reach the semifinals of the Premier-level event to keep her spot in the Top 10, an elite she hasn't left in more than three years. And dangerous early round opponents like Safarova and Pavlyuchenkova - both opponents she has lost to before - didn't really help the cause.

In fact Pavlyuchenkova won their last meeting, another three-setter in Paris earlier this year.

The Turning Point

Pavlyuchenkova looked like she was going to be trouble again early on in the match, breaking in the opening game and holding serve to go up 2-0, but Sharapova kicked into gear right away, winning 10 of the next 13 games to build a hefty 64 41 lead. Pavlyuchenkova got the set back on serve, holding then breaking to close to 4-3, but the No.6-seeded Sharapova got one more break and served it out.

By The Numbers

Though she had a shaky start, by the end of the match Sharapova had some very tidy numbers going - she finished with a positive differential of +1, 22 winners to 21 unforced errors. Meanwhile, on the other side of the net, Pavlyuchenkova's game went awry after the early lead, as she finished with a negative differential of -10, 18 winners to 28 unforced errors, including a netted return on match point.

What's Next

Awaiting Sharapova in the quarterfinals is No.1 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat Roberta Vinci in the first center court match of the day, 63 62. Sharapova leads Radwanska in their head-to-head series, 8-2, and has won both clay court meetings - one 6-0 in the third set, the other in straight sets.

Quotes

"Well, Agnieszka is No.3 in the world and obviously someone who's been playing extremely well to be in that position," Sharapova said. "And I love these kinds of challenges. We've played each other many times, and there are certainly no secrets about each other's games. But I don't think we've played on clay in a while, so I look forward to improving all aspects of my game because she's playing well."
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Good Luck
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A. Radwanska V. Zvonareva C. Wozniacki N. Petrova M. Hingis
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Old Apr 30th, 2014, 06:14 PM   #1284
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

http://www.wtatennis.com/news/articl...radwanska-test

Quote:
Sharapova Passes Radwanska Test

Maria Sharapova kept her hopes of a third Stuttgart title alive with a 64 63 win over No.1 seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

April 25, 2014

STUTTGART, Germany - Defending champion Maria Sharapova defeated Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets on Friday to book her place in the semifinals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

The Plot

Much of the talk in the build up to the tournament concerned not just Sharapova's bid to win a third straight title at the Porsche Arena but also whether she could preserve her Top 10 status. An up and down start to the year has seen the Russian slip to No.9 in the rankings, and, with 470 points to defend, anything less than a semifinal run this week would result in her slipping outside the Top 10 for the first time since March 2011.

For Radwanska, the contest presented not only an assessment of where her game stands at the start of the hectic European clay court season, but also an opportunity to test herself against one of her rivals for next month's French Open.

The Turning Point

In an opening set where both players struggled on serve, the turning point came in the eighth game when Sharapova recovered from 0-40 down to hold for a 5-3 lead. A few games later, the Russian wrapped up the set when Radwanska was unable to retrieve a wide serve.

She carried this momentum into the second, two early breaks helping her race into a 4-0 lead. With Sharapova now in full flow, Radwanska was forced to batten down the hatches, belatedly stopping the rot with a gritty hold. However, the reprieve was only temporary, and despite some spirited late resistance, the defending champion wrapped up a 64 63 win on her eighth match point.

Quotes

"I think at the start I wasn't being smart at the right times and wasn't constructing the points well on my serve," Sharapova said. "But I think the key was that game that I was able to win after being down 0-40.

"She likes moving her opponents around the court and she does that extremely well when she has time. You know, I don't want to find myself running forwards and backwards. I need to look for the opportunities when I have short ball and take advantage of that and not let her get back into the point, which she does so often. That's something that I did really well.

"Obviously it was a very difficult end and she played extremely well on some of those match points. I was happy that I stayed aggressive and I was able to win the last one. It was a really big point obviously. So, yeah it's a big win for me, probably the biggest since my injury."

What's Next

Sharapova's semifinal opponent will be the winner of the second match on court, between No.8 seed Sara Errani and Carla Suárez Navarro.
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A. Radwanska V. Zvonareva C. Wozniacki N. Petrova M. Hingis
T. Paszek A. Chakvetadze K. Sprem J. Dokic I. Tulyaganova A. Myskina
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Old Apr 30th, 2014, 06:18 PM   #1285
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

http://www.wtatennis.com/news/articl...tuttgart-final

Quote:
Sharapova Cruises Into Stuttgart Final

Maria Sharapova required just 59 minutes to see off Sara Errani, 61 62, and book her place in the yet another Stuttgart final.

April 26, 2014

STUTTGART, Germany - Maria Sharapova delivered a near-flawless performance to swat aside Sara Errani and stay on course for a third straight title at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

The Plot

It has not been the easiest of starts to the season for Sharapova, with early exits at both the Australian Open and Indian Wells putting her place in the Top 10 under threat. However, over the past few years, the Russian has often saved her best tennis for the clay and after a slow start in Stuttgart her game looked back to its best during her quarterfinal win over Agnieszka Radwanska.

An intriguing subplot to her semifinal against Errani concerned the rankings, with the winner assured of a place in the Top 10 on Monday.

The Turning Point

In four previous meetings with Sharapova, Errani had never taken a set and the early signs in their latest encounter were ominous. After holding serve to love in the opening game, Sharapova unleashed an inside-out forehand winner to capture the early break and it was not long before she was wrapping up the set with another imperious service game.

There was a brief glimmer of hope for Errani when she broke at the start of the second, but it was soon snuffed out. Sharapova reestablished her dominance thanks to two more breaks of her own, and, with the on-court clock still one minute shy of the hour mark, yet another inch-perfect backhand put the finishing touches to a 61 62 victory.

By The Numbers

That backhand was the 30th winner to come from the Russian's racquet and this statistic - allied to just nine unforced errors - goes a long way to explaining the one-sided scoreline. Errani also struggled on serve throughout; she was broken five times and failed to win a point on her second serve until she was 4-2 down in the second set.

Quotes

"The further you go in the tournament, the harder it gets, and I really wanted to step up today and produce a good performance," Sharapova said. "The first tournament on clay is always tough - it's important to improve with each match and I think I've done that this week.

"I know how good Sara is on the surface and I was extra ready to perform against her. She has a lot of experience and really knows how to play, so I had to take care of things on my side of the net."

What's Next

Standing between Sharapova and a third Stuttgart crown will be the winner of the second semifinal, the all-Serbian affair between Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic.
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A. Radwanska V. Zvonareva C. Wozniacki N. Petrova M. Hingis
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Old Apr 30th, 2014, 06:23 PM   #1286
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

http://www.wtatennis.com/news/articl...y-in-stuttgart

Quote:
Sharapova Strikes Thirty In Stuttgart

Maria Sharapova stormed back against Ana Ivanovic to win her 30th WTA title at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. It's her first ever three-peat at a WTA tournament.

April 27, 2014

STUTTGART, Germany - She was in all kinds of trouble - her opponent led 63 31 with a point for 63 41 - but there's a reason Maria Sharapova is a four-time Grand Slam champion and former World No.1, and that unrelenting will to win came out in full force again as the Russian battled back to beat Ana Ivanovic in the final of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, 36 64 61, and capture her 30th WTA title.

The Plot

Sharapova came into the match as a strong favorite, not only being the two-time defending champion in Stuttgart but also leading Ivanovic in their head-to-head series, 7-2 - including winning their last six straight. But hungry to turn the tables, Ivanovic would come out on absolute fire from the get-go.

The Turning Point

Her massive forehand flowing and her backhand rock solid, Ivanovic came storming out to a 5-0 lead in the first set and, after eventually closing that set out, 6-3, she jumped out to a 3-1 second set lead.

Ivanovic even had a point for 4-1 in the second set - but an untimely double fault erased that point for 4-1, and from there it was all Sharapova, as the No.6-seeded Russian reeled off 11 of the last 13 games of the match to put the No.9-seeded Serb away after two hours and three minutes, 36 64 61.

Sharapova finished the match off on one last massive return winner - her 34th winner of the match.

By The Numbers

Though Ivanovic was clearly better during the first half of the match and Sharapova beefed her numbers up during the second half of the match, overall both players put on an impressive display during the final, with Sharapova putting together a +10 differential of winners to unforced errors (34 to 24) and Ivanovic coming in just behind her with a +9 differential of winners to unforced (32 to 23).

In the most critical moments of the match Sharapova performed much better on the most critical points. She won seven of nine break point opportunities - meanwhile, Ivanovic won five of 10 such chances.

Quotes

"For the first half of the match I thought it might not be my day today, but somehow I turned it around," Sharapova said. "I had quite a slow beginning to the year, but me and my team have been working hard to get in the position to win titles again, and I'm so happy to be able to do it in Stuttgart."

And on winning a WTA tournament three times for the first time? "It's really special, and it's extra special for me because the tournament is here," Sharapova, a Porsche Brand Ambassador, added. "I feel like I'm a small part of the Porsche family. It's been an incredible few years at this tournament."

After getting a lengthy standing ovation upon receiving her runner-up trophy, Ivanovic was moved.

"I'm speechless," the former World No.1 told the crowd, "thank you so much."

"From the first moment it was always a close match," she added. "It was always a few close balls to decide each game, and it went on the whole match. In the second set she definitely went for those big shots, though, and she made some amazing points. She's just a great player, and that's what happens when you play against great players in big matches like this. You need to use your opportunities.

"But there's always next time."
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Jelena: "If I had to pick someone after me, I'd pick Serena."

Good Luck
Serena Williams Maria Sharapova Jelena Jankovic
A. Radwanska V. Zvonareva C. Wozniacki N. Petrova M. Hingis
T. Paszek A. Chakvetadze K. Sprem J. Dokic I. Tulyaganova A. Myskina
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Old Apr 30th, 2014, 06:26 PM   #1287
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

http://www.wtatennis.com/news/articl...transformation

Quote:
Sharapova's Clay Court Transformation

What is the secret behind Maria Sharapova's transformation from clay court novice to serial title winner? The Tennis Space has a look at the evolution of her game.

April 28, 2014

For someone who once described her own movement on a clay court as reminiscent of a "cow on ice", Maria Sharapova has looked decidedly sure-footed on the surface in recent years.

In fact, six of her last eight titles have come on the terre battue that she once so openly loathed.

The latest of these came in Stuttgart, where on Sunday she drove away with the silverware for the third straight year. So what is the secret from her transformation from clay court neophyte to serial title winner?

"It was back in 2007 that Sharapova first mentioned "cow on ice", explaining how unnatural she felt playing on clay. That was when she was struggling with her serious shoulder injury. Fast forward seven years and if anything she looks more comfortable on clay even than on hard courts, her most successful surface, with 17 titles.

"So how has she done it? Well, she's matured, for a start, into a more tactical player when the surface does not do the work for her. Her groundstrokes are virtually flat, so she misses out on the reaction of the clay to top-spin, but her point-construction is far superior now to when she first came on the scene and relied on blasting people away.

"Secondly, she has learned to slide on clay, especially to her backhand side. It still looks a little ungainly at times, but it's hugely effective and since her backhand is her better wing, she has the strength on the run/slide to be able to punch the ball back with the two-hander, even when pushed to extremes. That's something she couldn't do until a few years ago and is a massive improvement."
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Serena: "We have great personalities like Jelena (Jankovic) on the tour."
Jelena: "If I had to pick someone after me, I'd pick Serena."

Good Luck
Serena Williams Maria Sharapova Jelena Jankovic
A. Radwanska V. Zvonareva C. Wozniacki N. Petrova M. Hingis
T. Paszek A. Chakvetadze K. Sprem J. Dokic I. Tulyaganova A. Myskina
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Old May 4th, 2014, 06:36 PM   #1288
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

May 2, 2014

Maria Sharapova

MADRID, SPAIN

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How are you feeling to begin this tournament? What are your expectation here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: After a good week in Stuttgart, I obviously would love to continue that form and play with the level I played last week.
Last year was a great tournament for me getting to the final and the year before in the semi, so I really hope that I can take it a step further this year.

Q. How do you feel about your season?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was tough missing the last part of last year's season. I'm finding myself regaining the form in the last few weeks, in Miami and last week.
It's always challenging coming back from an injury. It's something that you have to work on extremely hard.
But, yeah, it was great to win a title again, and I hope that I can continue that level looking forward.

Q. You have been already practicing. How have you found the courts this year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, the courts are good. I think they need a little bit more playing on, but they feel really good.
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Old May 7th, 2014, 03:37 PM   #1289
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

M. SHARAPOVA/C. McHale
6‑1, 4‑6, 6‑4
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Talk about the second set.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I didn't create any chances for
myself on her serves. I don't think I had a break point until ‑‑ in
that second set I didn't have a breakpoint until I converted a break
point in the third set.
So I don't feel like I was doing much off of my return and putting
any pressure on her and letting her dictate from the first point.
That was really getting me in trouble.

Q. You beat Christina McHale here last year in the second
round. Did you expect a match so complicated this time?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, after a really good start I didn't
keep that level. I didn't keep doing what I was doing. I think I had
a bit of a letdown.
She's a good competitor. She won't just give matches away. She
works really hard out there, and I think she showed that today.

Q. The work with Sven is bringing you new things? You feel more
secure? The objective is to beat Serena or just to be better by
yourself?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think the objective from anyone that
comes into a team for the first time, one, is to learn and observe,
and then to work on things that can make you better.
At this level of the game it's such a few little things that can make
a big difference. It's not that I hired him for a major change at
this time in my career.
It's more little things that ultimately add up and make you a better
player.

Q. In what way is it helpful for you to be able to have the coach
on your side during the match compared to the times where that
wasn't so? Does it really help you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: In terms of?

Q. Well, the coaches weren't always allowed to come and see you.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You mean on the court?

Q. Yes.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I don't think I actually‑‑ I'd prefer
that there was no such rule because it's such an individual sport. It
really depends on you out there to figure out the situation.
Of course when you come into a Grand Slam, no one is there to
help you out.
But if the system is there and you feel like you're having a bit of a
letdown and you need that bit, it's not like he's going to come in
and change so many things in that position. It's more to give you
that energy and give you a little bit of a different angle.
What he sees from the side is maybe different than what you see
playing there.

Q. Yesterday we saw all the tennis family out there on the court.
Did you know Elena?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Unfortunately I never had the chance to
get to know her personally. But despite that and despite not
knowing her, I think it's a huge tragedy not just for the tennis
world but as a human being to see somebody so close and see her as
a competitor and as an athlete, that being healthy is such a huge
part of her lifestyle and maintaining that.
To see somebody have to fight for her life in a very quick amount
of time is so sad. It's just so eye‑opening when you hear those
things. You know, my prayers and everything are with her family. I
can imagine how difficult it is for them.

Q. You are playing Sam or Garbine next. Obviously you have
played Sam a lot, and also you played Garbine I believe in Rome last
year.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yes.

Q. What do you expect from both?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, either one I believe will be a tough
match, and certainly have to raise my level for that occasion.
Whoever I play, you know, as much as you focus on who is across
the net, I prefer to focus on my game and my level. I will really
need to step it up for that next one.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
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Old May 7th, 2014, 03:43 PM   #1290
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

^ thanks for posting
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