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Updated: 06:40 AM EDT
Tennis-Wimbledon-Siberian's inexperience an advantage - McEnroe
By Ossian Shine, Reuters

LONDON, July 2 (Reuters) - Wimbledon finalist Maria Sharapova has a huge advantage heading into Saturday's title match with Serena Williams because she is so inexperienced, according to three-times men's champion John McEnroe.

"Maria Sharapova is unbelievable. At 17-years-old, she has no recollection of any past breakdowns, so she just goes out and plays every point so hard," the American said.

"This girl is not afraid. She actually believes she can win the title this year.

"And with Serena not quite at the top of her game, Sharapova will go into the final thinking she has a real chance."

McEnroe said he had not realised quite what a talent the Siberian was until he saw her beat former champion Lindsay Davenport in the semi-finals on Thursday.

"Sharapova seems to learn with each set in every match she plays. I had seen her before but did not realise how good she really is. She plays so hard," he told the BBC.

Former women's world number one Tracy Austin added: "Her victory over Lindsay Davenport was all the more meaningful because she had to come back from one set down to do it.

"She was down and out against a former champion but dug her heels in and showed great guts.

"Maria just came back playing incredible tennis.

"So all credit to the Russian -- she never gave up ... she is a great addition to the women's tour."



07/02/04 06:39 ET

Copyright 2004 Reuters Limited.




Tell that to Justine Henin-Hardenne. She is still waiting to win Wimbledon after losing to "veteran" Venus in 2001.
 

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Poor Maria, what can she do if she's got those two mega-jinxers ganging up on her?
 

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Tracy Austin is wearing on me, i can manage her for one match, but not an entire tourney. I'm glad she's not a regular on Eurosport.
 

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I like Tracy, but I wish she would make a full disclosure when she speaks of Maria and tells everyone that Maria either works with or used to work with her former coach.
 

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Yes, Austin is a bit irritating, isn't she? Against Lindsay, it was obvious that Maria couldn't work out how to change her strategy until the rain delay when presumably her coach told her that Lindsay was serving mostly to her forehand, that she needed to go for more on her second serve and risk some double faults, etc. Given that, I'm dubious that Maria will know how to fix things if they're going wrong against Serena, unless there's a rain delay and she gets more coaching. She's got a lot of talent obviously but I don't think she's really learnt what to do when things go wrong yet. She needs to learn some strategy...
 

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lizchris said:
I like Tracy, but I wish she would make a full disclosure when she speaks of Maria and tells everyone that Maria either works with or used to work with her former coach.
Actually, Tracey has been quite frank about it. She's mentioned it several times on the BBC.
 

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saki said:
Yes, Austin is a bit irritating, isn't she? Against Lindsay, it was obvious that Maria couldn't work out how to change her strategy until the rain delay when presumably her coach told her that Lindsay was serving mostly to her forehand, that she needed to go for more on her second serve and risk some double faults, etc. Given that, I'm dubious that Maria will know how to fix things if they're going wrong against Serena, unless there's a rain delay and she gets more coaching. She's got a lot of talent obviously but I don't think she's really learnt what to do when things go wrong yet. She needs to learn some strategy...
I'm sorry but I think what you say is not quite exact. Maria didn't really change her strategy but the rain delay just permitted her to regroup mentally, then she increased her first serve percentage ent went for her shots some more, while Lindsay did the contrary : her first serve percentage became to go down.

The one strategic point she might have learned yesterday is that at this level of competition you must be at 100% (or even more) of your tennis since the first point of the first game, otherwiseyour opponent gets the momentum and you're screwed. That will be particularly important against Serena.
 

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quasimodo said:
I'm sorry but I think what you say is not quite exact. Maria didn't really change her strategy but the rain delay just permitted her to regroup mentally, then she increased her first serve percentage ent went for her shots some more, while Lindsay did the contrary : her first serve percentage became to go down.

The one strategic point she might have learned yesterday is that at this level of competition you must be at 100% (or even more) of your tennis since the first point of the first game, otherwiseyour opponent gets the momentum and you're screwed. That will be particularly important against Serena.
Isn't that a change of strategy?

It was obvious she changed her strategy.
 

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That´s the good thing....the bad thing is that Serena doesn´t care either. Experienced, young or unexperienced, Serena is gonna play them all the same: all out.

A real intriguing match up for sure....
 

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quasimodo said:
I'm sorry but I think what you say is not quite exact. Maria didn't really change her strategy but the rain delay just permitted her to regroup mentally, then she increased her first serve percentage ent went for her shots some more, while Lindsay did the contrary : her first serve percentage became to go down.

The one strategic point she might have learned yesterday is that at this level of competition you must be at 100% (or even more) of your tennis since the first point of the first game, otherwiseyour opponent gets the momentum and you're screwed. That will be particularly important against Serena.
I think this is just semantics. For me, going for her shots more, counts as a change of strategy: from defensive to offensive. I didn't get the impression that she was down on herself in the first set or lacking in confidence, she just hadn't worked out what to do. But, you're right that Lindsay started to serve less well and that that was a major factor too.
 

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selesport said:
Isn't that a change of strategy?

It was obvious she changed her strategy.
I don't call that strategy, I call that levelling up her game. Strategy is like "I'm gonna play her forehand/backhand, I'm gonna make points at the net, I'm gonna put a lot of spin in my shots." There, Masha didn't change her line, she just found some extra focus to have her first serve in and she was helped by Lindsay's 1st serve percentage falling down so she could hit return winners.

In that first set, I think she was a little bit nervous so things wouldn't work.
 

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It´s just that Lindsay´s serving level dropped....because even in that firs set whenever Maria could get a return back she managed to hit winners. It´s just that Lindsay was serving so well that Maria couldn´t do much with her returns...but once Lindsay´s level dropped you could see the beginning of the end.
 

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Well..let's hope Maria lacks memory skills or else she just
might remember Miami 2004 4th round! :haha:
 
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