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Team WTAworld, Senior Member
6,960 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
NAZGÛL-100 OPEN (Miami, Florida, USA; outdoor hard; WTA Tier I)
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This is an historic tournament in that Hawkeye will be used to verify line-calls for the first time ever on the WTA and ATP Tours. Each player will be allowed to challenge two line-calls per set (and one more in a tiebreak), but a challenge is not used up if the player is correct.

Maria: "As a player, I want to know that line-calls are as accurate as technology will allow. In that sense, today's [6th March] announcement is great news for all players."


On court:

Various players: (and pp.6-9)

Stars For Stars awards-night: ("Stars For Stars") (pp. 1, 8)

Other photos (on-court and off): (various players) (and p.126) (Maria only)
Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

Maria looked gorgeous playing Top Spin 2! :drool:

Maria Sharapova lookalikes (and MARIA herself):

Sometimes a girl goes through a phase where she just looks more gorgeous every time you see her, and in my view, Maria's going through one of those now! :hearts:

Tournament-preview (as I wrote it at the time)

2r: If Maria is healthy then I can't envisage anything other than a routine victory over Li, whom she beat 6-0 6-2 in 3r Australian Open 2005.

3r: Again, I can't envisage problems for Maria against Peschke, though I'd prefer a match with the beautiful Maria Elena Camerin (who actually beat our Maria at ITF Pittsburgh 2002 for a 1-0 head-to-head).

4r: This round promises a beautiful opponent for Maria, whether it's Flavia Pennetta as the seedings decree, Maria Kirilenko as I would prefer, or even Marta Domachowska. Big Maria should get a good workout from either Flavia or Little Maria, who were in good form before their disappointing exits at Indian Wells, but may now be struggling with an ankle-sprain and a knee-injury respectively.

qf: Perhaps Anastasia Myskina would be the one to come through that section, but she lost 6-1 6-3 to Dinara Safina at Indian Wells. I would love to see Anna Chakvetadze come through, but I think Shahar Peer is the dark horse of that section.

sf: Defending champion Kim Clijsters is the obvious threat, but she's only played one tournament (Antwerp) since suffering a serious ankle-injury at the Australian Open. But she got to the final of Antwerp, so even a seriously-injured Clijsters is hard to beat. Maria has a 0-4 head-to-head against Clijsters, but this would be a good chance to rectify that.

I would love to see Tatiana Golovin come through that quarter of the draw instead, but Elena Dementieva, Francesca Schiavone or Anna-Lena Grönefeld would be the most likely beneficiaries if anything happened to Clijsters.

final: I would love to see either Daniela Hantuchová or Vera Zvonarëva in the final, but the most likely finalists from the top half are new world #1 and fluke Australian Open champion Amélie Mauresmo (whom Maria has never beaten), Nadia Petrova (who beat Mauresmo in the Doha final, but has a mental block over playing Maria), or even Martina Hingis, who is making an amazing comeback after her three-year retirement.

Or perhaps this will be the tournament where the talented Ana Ivanovic really comes of age.

Second round (Saturday 25th March)

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [4] d. Li,Na, 6-2 6-4

Maria was 1-4 down in the second set against Li, but won the last five games.

Maria: "I played a really sloppy game on my serve. I missed six out of seven first serves, which, you know, I was serving great in the first set, and all of a sudden just didn't make any first serves. And, you know, she took advantage of that, gained confidence from that, and started hitting winners left and right. Credit to her, she played good and I got a little bit sloppy.

"I think I just stepped in the court a little bit more, and just put some pressure on her. She started making a little bit more unforced errors. She was hitting winners left and right when she was getting up to 4-1. She was going for it and missed a few."

Maria played this match on Saturday evening, and had to play again on Sunday afternoon. "Yeah, it's different, but I've done it before and, you know, it's nothing new. Just got to get a good night's sleep and be ready for tomorrow."

Maria's full interview:

Third round (Sunday 26th March)

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [4] d. Maria Elena Camerin [Q], 6-2 7-6 (7/2)

MARIA recovered from 1-4 and 2-5 in the second set, saving eight set-points. Which is not all that surprising, considering the way beautiful Maria Elena folded like a deck of cards against Nathalie Dechy at Wimbledon 2005 after building a 5-1 lead with hard hitting and spreading rallies.

So MARIA has recovered from fairly big holes in the second sets of her last two matches, which is good experience because although she wins the majority of her matches easily and is so strong mentally, I can't actually think of many examples in her career where she's recovered from the verge of losing a set - she seems to lose those sets, and although against lesser players she just steps it up in the next (usually third) set, it's been costing her places in Grand Slam finals.

MARIA: "She hit the ball very deep and hard, and she played like she had nothing to lose, and it's dangerous to play those kind of players. I fought for it. I did a good job of fighting at the end. When the day's not great, when you feel like you're not playing your best tennis, I still know that I can fight it out, and that's how I win a lot of my matches.

"I didn't really feel great out there today, but I did a very good job at the end. I started off well and things were going my way, and all of a sudden I just made a lot of unforced errors [38 in total], especially with the wind. All my balls were floating out.

"Couldn't quite get the feel out there or the rhythm, so, you know, moving was difficult for some reason. Maybe because I played - went to sleep a little bit late, so was a little bit lousy on the court.

"She's up 40/Love, serving for it so, you know, she wants to close it out. It's in her hands, you know. I just try to get another ball back and, I mean, on 40/30 I hit a lefty shot that kind of floated up in the air. I mean, it was a pretty good shot. She missed a swinging volley. I think she kind of lost her confidence from then on.

[Re. left-handed forehands]
"Some balls where I feel I can't reach with the two-handed backhand, that's when I do it. Obviously, I don't have that much power from that side, but that's the only chance I've got."

Full MARIA interview:

Fourth-round preview (as I wrote it at the time)

SHARAPOVA v KIRILENKO: This is the third professional singles-match between the Super Maria Sisters. Big Maria won the first 7-6 6-2, but retired injured from the second.

Many people think that Little Maria will be a threat to Big Maria - Little Maria has terrific all-court skills, great returns of serve and excellent footwork. But I know Big Maria will be too strong, especially on anything resembling Indian Wells form.

Little Maria's best chance to apply some pressure on Big Maria will be when she can get to the net, and her best time to attack will be in the second set if Big Maria's last two matches are anything to go by.

Big Maria: "It's always hard playing a friend. Last time was not a good experience for me. I was injured in Beijing, and she was playing great tennis. She's a great athlete. She can definitely play the game. But that's tennis. You're gonna play your buddies once in a while."

Fourth round (Monday 27th March)

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [4] d. MARIA KIRILENKO [20], 3-6 6-4 6-1

These are the Super Maria Sisters:

* Big Maria (Sharapova) is quite possibly the best exponent of flairsome power. Her groundstrokes are powerful and heavy, yet sharp and flairsome as her soft hands whip through the ball - often on the rise - with immaculate timing. She goes for her shots and makes many brilliant winners. She also has the most amazing passion, intensity, and will to win. Big Maria is second only to Monica Seles in my eternal fanship.

* Little Maria (Kirilenko) is also a joy to watch when she's on form, as she has terrific all-court skills, great returns of serve and excellent footwork. She's a favourite member of my casual demi-fanship, and with the way her results have improved since the last time I saw her play singles (Birmingham 2005), I consider her one of the three leading contenders for possible future induction into my eternal fanship (my passion says I should induct her already, but my reason says I must wait to be sure before I make a commitment of such magnitude).

I must admit I like the Super Maria Sisters for more than just their tennis-qualities. Little Maria is ultracute and extremely pretty. Big Maria is charming, sexy and sophisticated; off court she can be even prettier than Little Maria. It's hard to believe that Big Maria is still only 18, while Little Maria is already 19.

Big Maria: "We've known each other since we were 12 or 13, playing junior tournaments. We've always kind of stuck together. We kind of have similar lives, similar interests because of our age. It's cool to have someone that's very real and has a good heart out here. You don't want to be playing a good friend in the fourth round, but, you know, you're playing a tournament every single week so that's going to happen."

I didn't see this match myself (not having access to Eurosport), but I have such a passion for the Super Maria Sisters that I couldn't resist following live scores at

With both of them playing for the third day in a row in the Miami heat, and Big Maria running Little Maria from side to side with spreading rallies, it was Little Maria who wilted in the third set.

Summon: "Maria started going for longer rallies in the second and Kirilenko made the mistake going for lots of slide shots, not a bad tactic when someone is making many errors like Sharapova, but she was starting to play better, her shots were going in again and she gained confidence, by the time Kirilenko started to attack again it was too late, Sharapova was already playing at her normal level and Kirilenko lost her own game, she started to make more and more errors, after a long final game Maria finally won!"

First Set
SHARAPOVA @*_____*_ 3
KIRILENKO __*@*@* * 6

The match started at 13:13 EST.

Kirilenko serving 0-0: 0/30 -> 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken.
Sharapova serving 1-0: 0/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held.
Kirilenko serving 0-2: 40/0, 40/15, held.
Sharapova serving 2-1: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.
Kirilenko serving 2-2: 40/0, 40/15, held.

What a turn-around for Little Maria! Big Maria has won only 3 of the last 15 points, and has already committed 11 UEs. How long can Little Maria hold onto the momentum?

Sharapova serving 2-3: 40/0 -> 40/40, ad K (BP), broken.

Well, I never thought Big Maria would suffer an attack of Alexandra Stevenson's Syndrome: dropping serve from 40/0 up! I thought the Sharapova-overdrive had kicked in, as usual when she senses a threat, but what I sense is that she is out of sorts today.

Has her friendship with Little Maria dampened her killer-instinct? I must admit that playing Little Maria does dampen the vicarious killer-instinct that I feel as a faithful fan of Big Maria.

Kirilenko serving 4-2: 0/30 -> 40/30, held.

It's usually Big Maria who is so good at pulling out games in which she is behind. Has the scoreboard got their names the wrong way round? ;) A whopping 18 UEs from Big Maria, only 5 from Little Maria.

Sharapova serving to stay in the first set at 2-5: 0/30 -> 30/30, 30/40 (SP #1), 40/40, ad S, held.

Big Maria saved 8 set-points against Maria Elena Camerin - can she do so again?

Kirilenko serving for the first set at 5-3: 40/0 (3 SPs: SP #2), Kirilenko won the first set 6-3 at 13:54. "After a nervous start, dropping the first two games of the match, the 20th-seeded Kirilenko reeled off five consecutive games to build a 5-2 lead, closing the first set out two games later with a love service game, ending it emphatically with a big overhead into an open court on her first set point [of that game]."

Big Maria W:UE 7:20, Little Maria 6:6. Big Maria is winning only 27% of points on her second serve.

C'mon Big Maria, it's time to get serious!

Second Set
SHARAPOVA *@__* *@ @ 6
KIRILENKO [email protected]* *[email protected]_ 4

Sharapova serving 0-0: 0/15, 40/15, held.
Kirilenko serving 0-1: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.

That's more like it from Big Maria! Now it's Little Maria making the UEs. But Big Maria led 2-0 in the first set, then lost five games in a row!

Sharapova serving 2-0: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.

Is the 2-0 -> 2-2 pattern repeating itself? 4 UEs apiece in this set.

Kirilenko serving 1-2: 0/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held.
Sharapova serving 2-2: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, 40/30, held.
Kirilenko serving 2-3: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad K, held.

Again, it's Little Maria fighting out of the games in which she's down - a trait usually associated with Big Maria.

Sharapova serving 3-3: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held.

I feel strongly that Big Maria is going to pull this out in three sets now. She's mistress of the decisive moments.

Kirilenko serving 3-4: 0/30 -> 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken.
Sharapova serving for the second set at 5-3: 0/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30 (SP #1), 40/40, ad K (BP), Deuce #2, ad K (BP #2), broken.

It's ironic: Little Maria served out the first set easily at 5-3, but when it was Big Maria's turn in the second, she blew a set-point. All I can suppose is that Little Maria has nothing to lose, while all the pressure is on Big Maria's sexy shoulders.

Kirilenko serving to stay in the second set at 4-5: 15/0, 15/40 (2 SPs: SP #2), Sharapova won the second set 6-4 at 14:47.

Big Maria had a W:UE ratio of 8:18 for the second set, Little Maria 5:13. Both girls are struggling when they have to use their second serves. Little Maria came to the net more in the second set than she did in the first, but with a much lower success-rate.

The set-break lasted seven minutes.

Third Set
SHARAPOVA * *@*@* 6
KIRILENKO _*_____ 1

Sharapova serving 0-0: Held to love.

Has the tide turned fully in Big Maria's favour now?

"I have waited a long time for this moment, my little green friend. Now you will experience the full power of the dark side!"

Kirilenko serving 0-1: 0/15, 15/15, 40/15, held.

"Not if anything to say about it I have!"

Sharapova serving 1-1: 30/0 -> 30/30, 30/40 (BP - saved with a kick-serve), 40/40, ad S, held.

"You will not stop me. Vaidišová will become more powerful than either of us."
(They fight)

Kirilenko serving 2-1: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken.

It's actually Little Maria with more winners this set - but more UEs too.

Sharapova serving 3-1: 40/0 -> 40/40, ad S, held.

Big Maria staved off another bout of Alexandra Stevenson's Syndrome, and has surely pulled clear in this match now.

Kirilenko serving 1-4: 30/0 -> 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad S (BP), broken.

This is much more typical Sharapova than any previous game in this match: it's so hard for her opponent to close out a game against such a strong will.

Sharapova serving for the match at 5-1: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15 (2 MPs) -> 40/40, ad S (MP #3), Deuce #2, ad S (MP #4), Deuce #3, ad K (BP), Deuce #4, ad K (BP #2), Deuce #5, ad S (MP #5), Sharapova won 3-6 6-4 6-1 at 15:32 (2h19m).

Wow, what a last game! I almost wish that Little Maria had won it, to make the following Yoda-quote appropriate: "If so powerful are you, why leave?"

Instead, it's: "Into exile I must go. Failed, I have."


Big Maria had a final W:UE of 25:43, which she'll certainly need to improve on for the three challenges between herself and the title (at least she only made 5 UEs in the third set). Little Maria's W:UE was actually much better at 23:30, but what the statistics don't tell you about is forced errors - I'm sure the Force was strong with Big Maria! ;)

There was a fair amount of net-play in this match, particularly from Little Maria, who won 13 of 19 points there (Big Maria was more selective, with a higher success-rate as she won 11 of 14 points at the net).

In points it was much narrower than the scoreline implies: Big Maria 88-82. This is due to the fact that Little Maria won the first set 32-21; Big Maria won the second 34-28 and the third 32-22.

Both girls got 59% of first serves in, Big Maria winning 64% of the points when she did so (Little Maria 61%), and 44% when she had to use her second serve (Little Maria 42%). Big Maria served 5 aces and 8 double faults, Little Maria four of each.

Big Maria broke 6 times from 7 break-points, while Little Maria broke 4 times from 9. So Little Maria actually generated more opportunities for herself, but Big Maria was almost twice as successful at converting hers.

Big Maria quotes

"I was down a set, but I tried to hang in. I wasn't playing my best, that's for sure. She put pressure on me and kept me on the defensive. It came down to a few points in the second set, and I picked it up in the third.

"I definitely did not play my best tennis in the first two sets, but I was playing a lot of defense out there, and she was stepping in the court. She was hitting very deep and hard, and especially against the wind, I was just pushing everything back.

"In the second set, I think it was just one or two balls that made the difference, and then in the third, you know, I stepped it up. I could see that she was physically getting a little bit tired, wasn't getting to as many balls. I started to pick up my game."

Big Maria has an amazing ability to "step it up" in third sets, winning them 6-1. I saw her do this twice at Wimbledon 2004, and three times at Birmingham 2005.

Big Maria's full interview:

Quarter-final draw

* AMÉLIE MAURESMO [1] v NADIA PETROVA [5] (anyone but Mauresmo!)
* TATIANA GOLOVIN [22] v Zheng,Jie (allez Tatiana!)

Dr. Andrew Broad

10,989 Posts
oh wow, you quoted me :yeah:

as always a good report :)

Team WTAworld, Senior Member
6,960 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Andrew's quarter-final report

NAZGÛL-100 OPEN (Miami, Florida, USA; outdoor hard; WTA Tier I)
------ (and p.128)
Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

Quarter-final (Wednesday 29th March)


Maria played her best tennis of the tournament so far, hitting 26 winners, and winning in 1h27m.

Nine of the 18 games were breaks of serve - six against Myskina, three against Maria.

Dan: "In the end Maria's superior finding of the corners got her through".

First Set
SHARAPO @ @* * *@ 6
MYSKINA [email protected]__* *__ 3

Second Set
SHARAPO *@ @*[email protected]* 6
MYSKINA [email protected]__*@__ 3

Myskina's consistent play reduced Maria's lead from 4-1 to 4-3, but two games later Maria served out the match, with Myskina hitting a forehand wide on match-point.

After losing their first three encounters in 2004, Maria's head-to-head against Myskina now stands at 2-3.

Maria is now on a 10-match winning-streak after winning Indian Wells.

Maria quotes

"I played a clean match. I made a lot of errors in my first two matches, and knew I had to be patient since she gets a lot of balls back.

"I'm very pleased. I definitely stepped it up in this match, and I knew I had to. I had some letdowns in my first three matches, and I knew that I wouldn't be able to get away with it today.

"I knew I had to be consistent against her. That's her biggest strength, being consistent. She's not going to overpower me on the court. She's just going to try to make me hit another ball. I just had to be a little patient. I thought I did that really well. I took my opportunities, took my chances, and that was important."

Maria's full interview:

Semi-final preview


Maria v Tatiana promises to be a mouthwatering match. They've played each other (professionally) twice before:
+ Birmingham 2004 final: Maria d. Tatiana, 4-6 6-2 6-1
+ Birmingham 2005 semi-final: Maria d. Tatiana, 7-5 6-1

I had the very great pleasure of attending both matches, and if there's one day in my life that I could relive, it would be that final day of Birmingham 2004 (the Super Maria Sisters won the doubles-title too).

Maria is quite possibly the best exponent of flairsome power. Her groundstrokes are powerful and heavy, yet sharp and flairsome as her soft hands whip through the ball - often on the rise - with immaculate timing. She goes for her shots and makes many brilliant winners. She also has the most amazing passion, intensity, and will to win. Big Maria is second only to Monica Seles in my eternal fanship.

Tatiana is an intelligent player with a good command of length, who relies on excellent point-construction, rather than sheer pace, to hit a lot of winners. She also has a good serve. She's a member of my casual demi-fanship, and I consider her one of the three leading contenders for possible future induction into my eternal fanship (my passion has already brought me close to inducting Tatiana a couple of times, but my reason requires a stronger justification of her tennis-qualities).

Both girls are currently 18, but Maria's birthday is 19th April, while Tatiana's is 25th January (the same as Maria Kirilenko, who is one year older).

Playing Maria seems to bring out the best in Tatiana, even if only for the first set. Both girls hit plenty of winners, and make lovely noises on the court, so their matches are already very entertaining before we consider how sexy they look! ;)

Maria is, IMHO, currently the fourth-most attractive player on the tour (behind Daniela Hantuchová, Jelena Dokic and Iroda Tulyaganova). She's sexy and sophisticated, with long legs and amazing shoulders. Her facial beauty varies greatly, but is better than anyone's when she's really happy: those sunny smiles and very pretty eyes.

I used to find Tatiana even sexier than Maria - not so much now, as she has become more muscular (especially her upper legs). But at Birmingham 2004 she was absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, with her amazing dress-sense (those microshorts!), allied to the way that she sashayed around the court, and her alluring grunt ("uy! uy! UY!"). Since Birmingham 2005 I've only seen her in photos, but photos don't do full justice to her sex-appeal, because they lose the animation and the sound-effects!

Maria: "She's had a really good week here. She's beaten some good players. Just have to keep improving with every match. It's going to get tougher and tougher as you go along in the tournament. I think I played a lot better than I did in my three previous matches, which is a really good sign, and hopefully I keep improving in my fifth. I look forward to improving in the semis, and will hope for the best."

Tatiana: "It is good to get to the semi-final. It's gonna be different situation, different atmosphere, different conditions. I'm just happy to be in the semis. {I'm going/I want} to go out there and just really play my best. I think it's definitely going to be a different match than today because I got nothing really to lose tomorrow."

If Maria and Tatiana both play like they did in the quarter-finals, then it could be a very quick, easy win for Maria.

But Tatiana has nothing to lose, and if she rises to the occasion like she did in their first sets at Birmingham, and against Dementieva here, it could be a very tough match. Tatiana feels very comfortable here as a Miami-resident, and Maria doesn't have the advantage of playing on grass.

They have both dropped one set en route to the semi-finals: Maria against Maria Kirilenko in the fourth round, and Tatiana against Zheng,Jie in the quarter-finals.

So there's a wide spectrum of possibilities... but not many of them end up with "T. Golovin" on the left side of the "d." operator. Tatiana has choked from match-point up in her last three tournaments, and Maria is so strong mentally that she's bound to exploit any such frailties tonight.

Order of play for Thursday

Stadium Court (11:00 EST = 16:00 GMT = 17:00 BST)
1. Bryan/Bryan v Erlich/Ram
3. (15:00 EST) ANDY RODDICK [4] v DAVID FERRER [11]
4. Ancic/Ljubicic v Hanley/Ullyett
5. (19:00 EST) ROGER FEDERER [1] v JAMES BLAKE [9]

I wish I could follow live scores for Maria v Tatiana, but unfortunately I have to be up for an important meeting at 09:20 BST, and Maria v Tatiana is likely to be around the hours of 03:00 to 05:00 BST! :(

Dr. Andrew Broad

Team WTAworld, Senior Member
6,960 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Andrew's semi-final report

NAZGÛL-100 OPEN (Miami, Florida, USA; outdoor hard; WTA Tier I)

Maria Sharapova and Tatiana Golovin:

Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

So cute but so sad...


Nice winner, nice loser, sad ending:
6-3 6-7 (5/7) 4-3 (ad Maria) retired (left-ankle sprain)

I'm very sorry to hear about Tatiana's injury. She limped off the court assisted by two officials, then went to hospital to determine the extent of the damage: two torn ligaments and a bruised bone. This was no way for the biggest semi-final of her career to end, and I wish her a speedy recovery - but more importantly, a full recovery. Tatiana is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks.

I am relieved to learn that it was Tatiana's left ankle that she sprained, because she struggled with a persistent right-ankle sprain from about May to November 2005 (fortunately, there's no sign of any strapping on that ankle in this year's photos).

It sounds like it was a wonderful match up to Tatiana's fall at 4-3 (40/40). I'm thinking of including it in the big order to Tennis Videos International that I intend to place in the near future.


Steven Wine, AP Sports Writer: "The two feisty 18-year-olds waged the most dramatic match yet at the Nasdaq-100 Open. Sharapova blew a big lead, riled the crowd and won [on] Thursday night only when Golovin was forced to retire in tears because of an ankle injury."

Maria led 6-3 *5-1, then Tatiana staged an amazing fightback, saving four match-points as Maria served for the match again at *5-3!

Steven Wine: "But the situation inspired Golovin to raise her level of play, and she hung on by winning a series of extended rallies to cut the deficit to 5-4."

Maria took a bathroom-break after being broken back to 5-4* (the umpire initially denied permission, then relented), and another one at the end of the second set. She was booed as she left the court and came back on, but the crowd were totally out of line. Going to the toilet whenever you want is an inalienable human right. It would save some time, and having to ask to leave the court, if they just fitted a toilet-cubicle under the umpire's chair.

First Set
SHARAPO _*@*@__*@ 6
GOLOVIN *[email protected]*__ 3

Second Set
SHARAPO *@*@ @____*_ 6(5)
GOLOVIN [email protected] @*@* * 7(7)

Tatiana used a drop-shot to go 6/5 up in the tiebreak, then won the set-point against Maria's serve.

Third Set
SHARAPO _* *@*_ 4(ad)
GOLOVIN * *___* 3(40) retired

Tatiana led 1-0* and 2-1* by virtue of serving first, but Maria gave herself a very strong chance of victory by breaking for *3-2, especially as she held for 4-2* to confirm this break.

Tatiana was fine physically as she held for 3-4*, but with Maria facing break-point at 30/40, Tatiana rolled over on her left ankle while attempting to run down a shot into the corner.

Tatiana took an immediate medical time-out and, with the score at 40/40, tried to continue, but the pain was too bad, and she retired after hitting a return wide.

The match had lasted 2h43m and finished at 23:40 EST - 1h15m after Maria's match-points in the second set.

Tatiana left the court in tears, but to cheers from a half-empty stadium, whereas Maria was booed off court (this coming from the same crowd that booed Monica Seles off court after she injured an ankle and lost 6-0 6-0 to Martina Hingis in the Miami 2000 semis). I've never heard of a more disgracefully-behaved tennis-crowd... with two exceptions: (a) Roland Garros, and (b) certain Davis Cup crowds.

Maria quotes

"It's just very unfortunate; I feel terrible for her. She played unbelievable tennis, the best I've seen her play. She just played basically out of her mind in the second set - didn't miss a ball. She was just too good on those long points.

"And it was so close in the third set, and I hit a shot, I turned away, and the next thing I know, the crowd went silent, and I turned and she's on the ground... I did not know what happened until the ankle was being taped.

"She was really unlucky; I feel bad for her. She was probably playing her best tennis, it was amazing, the game started to turn into a physical battle."

[Re. being in the final again]
"In a way it's exciting. Obviously, unfortunate how I got there based on today. But I've played solid tennis. I should have finished it off, of course, but that's not the way it went. But I kind of have to forget about it and {look forward to/get ready for} the final."

[Re. the booing]
"It's part of the sport. It happens everywhere. The crowd needs entertainment."

Great words from Maria, and very encouraging what she says about Tatiana, who might still be the next player I induct into my eternal fanship.

Tatiana quotes

"I just overran that ball, after I hit the ball, I felt the pain as soon as I landed on that ankle. We were even, and I've tried to resume the game, but when I felt the pain going through the whole ankle, I realised I could not go on.

"With the tape and adrenaline, I kind of forgot about it. It was deuce and I wanted to give it a try. But then, I could feel the pain on both sides of my ankle, and I just knew.

"I've been playing better in my last three or four tournaments, especially going to three sets against top players such as Amélie [Mauresmo] and Kim [Clijsters] at previous events. Against Maria, I felt like I had another good opportunity. I played solid tennis during this tournament. I had a great win against Dementieva here and tonight, the crowd was amazing.

"In the second set, I just focused more and got my rhythm back. The crowd was amazing and helped me out there, especially when I was down 5-1."



Another Super Tier I, another final between Maria and one of her fellow Russians. It's great to see that the Russian Revolution is back on track, though I hope that the next finals will be between two nice Russians (e.g. Maria herself, Vera Zvonarëva, Maria Kirilenko, Anna Chakvetadze).

Maria's first two matches against Kuznetsova went badly, as an injured 16-year-old Maria lost 6-1 2-6 7-5 in 4r Wimbledon 2003, and the newly-crowned US Open champion thrashed the reigning Wimbledon champion 6-2 6-2 at Beijing 2004.

But Maria has levelled their head-to-head at 2-2 by beating Kuznetsova 6-1 6-4 in a round-robin match at the 2004 WTA Tour Championships, and 4-6 6-2 6-2 in the Australian Open 2005 quarter-finals.

Kuznetsova slumped her way through 2005, but has a 16-4 win/loss record for 2006 going into this final, including two wins over Amélie Mauresmo. The only players to have beaten Kuznetsova in 2006 are Justine Henin-Hardenne (twice), Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis (whom she beat in the third round here).

Kuznetsova is a powerful, muscular player whom I find boring to watch, but she's obviously very effective. I'm pretty worried about this match, because Kuznetsova seems to have hit top form at just the right time in this tournament, while Maria blew a massive chance to close out her semi-final (which eventually, of course, she didn't have to).

Maria: "Judging from the points I saw, she's playing pretty well to beat the number-one player. She gained a lot of confidence from the Martina [Hingis] match. It will be my job to stop her."

Kuznetsova: "Maria is a very tough opponent. She played the final last week [at Indian Wells]. It's gonna be very tough. She hits it very hard, very flat. I'll have to move her around. The tactics are gonna be different from today."

And I hope that's what's going to give Maria the edge.

The final will be played on Saturday at 12:00 EST = 17:00 GMT = 18:00 BST. I'll be following live scores here:

Dr. Andrew Broad

1,778 Posts
good luck maria, and to the haters again...

I've never heard of a more disgracefully-behaved tennis-crowd... with two exceptions: (a) Roland Garros, and (b) certain Davis Cup crowds.

by the writer of the article the crowd were disgracful! and deserved this said to them maria did nothing wrong, and it is a good summary of the match. and good luck maria in your last match as an 18 year old!

Team WTAworld, Senior Member
6,960 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Andrew's final report

NAZGÛL-100 OPEN (Miami, Florida, USA; outdoor hard; WTA Tier I)
Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

There was a young lady of Russia,
Who screamed so that no one could hush her,
Her scream was extreme,
No one heard such a scream,
As was screamed by this lady of Russia.

Semi-final revisited

Highlights video (warning: horrible):

Tatiana Golovin: "It's quite a nasty sprain, and two ligaments are torn. I'll need to keep a cast on for ten days, and then there will be quite a lot of physio."

I can't understand why Maria has attracted so much criticism - even from her own fans - for not going over to Tatiana's side of the net to show some compassion. Personally, if I were in the position Tatiana was in, the last thing I'd want to see would be my opponent trespassing on my side of the court!

The growing amount of Maria-hate on is disturbing. It may even have affected her in the final. As strong as she is mentally, she's still an 18-year-old girl.

Monica Seles said that when she was 18, she wanted people to like her, and was distracted by the grunting-controversy that surrounded her going into the Wimbledon 1992 final (where she stopped grunting, and lost). She even received death-threats, and it was then that I began to fear for her safety. Tragically, my fears were realised ten months later when she was stabbed in the back at a changeover. Now I fear that this terrible chain of events is repeating itself for Maria...

Maria's semi-final interview:

Final (Saturday 1st April)


It seems Maria was still tired from Thursday night's 2h43m marathon against Tatiana Golovin, even after a day off, whereas Kuznetsova beat Amélie Mauresmo 6-1 6-4 on Thursday afternoon.

Maria never recovered from a sluggish start that saw her go *2-5 down in the first set, and those who saw the match say she looked disinterested and hardly grunted. So with all due credit to Kuznetsova's muscular power, hard work and self-belief, no one should delude themselves that she beat the true Maria Sharapova to win this title.

So, instead of becoming only the third woman ever to win Indian Wells and Miami back to back, Maria had to settle for the runner's-up trophy for the second year in a row, and saw her 11-match winning-streak snapped by a player ranked ten places below her at #14 (Kuznetsova will move back up to #10 on Monday, displacing the reigning Wimbledon champion Venus Williams!).

Reuters: "Sharapova was a bundle of nerves, and seemed distracted by a noisy small plane dragging an advertising banner that droned throughout the opening set until chased off by a police helicopter.

"Kuznetsova, given a pain-killer for a headache early in the second set, kept her concentration much better."

Steven Wine, AP Sports Writer: "For 90 minutes Svetlana Kuznetsova kept Maria Sharapova on the run, dashing from corner to corner in vain pursuit of a championship.

"Seeded 12th, she won the all-Russian final thanks to a superior serve and forehand, repeatedly driving Sharapova into one corner and then smacking a winner into the other."

The match started at 12:11 EST in sunny conditions. I followed live scores at ; here are my comments as I wrote them at the time:

First Set
SHARAPOVA _*[email protected]__*@_ 4
KUZNETSOV * *@ @*[email protected] 6

Kuznetsova serving 0-0: 0/15, 15/15, 40/15, held.

Only two first serves in, but Maria failed to punish any of the second serves.

Maria serving 0-1: 40/0, scoreboard froze... held.

Kuznetsova serving 1-1: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad K, held.

What a waste - I hope this isn't a sign of things to come. And still Maria hasn't won a single point on Kuznetsova's second serve, though ironically she has won 5 of 9 points when Kuznetsova does get the first serve in.

Maria serving 1-2: 0/30 -> 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad K (BP #2), Deuce #2, ad K (BP #3), Kuznetsova broke Maria's serve "with a forehand that kissed the baseline" [Craig Gabriel,].

It's just typical in tennis that if you waste break-points, you struggle in your next service-game. :( Maria could easily have been 3-1 up herself by now.

Kuznetsova serving 3-1: 0/40 (3 BPs), broken.

Excellent! :)

More UEs than winners from both players so far. Maria is struggling on her second serve; Kuznetsova still has a lower winning-percentage on her first serve than on her second!

Maria serving 2-3: Scoreboard froze... 40/15 -> 40/40, ad K (BP), broken.

An unfortunate pattern of last year's final, when Maria lost to Kim Clijsters, was how many times Maria was taken from 40/15 to 40/40 on her serve. :(

Kuznetsova serving 4-2: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held.

Another opportunity goes begging :(

Maria has a woeful W:UE of 3:10, and poor winning-percentages on both her serves.

Maria serving to stay in the first set at 2-5: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15 -> 40/40, ad M, Deuce #2, ad M, Deuce #3, ad K (SP #1), Deuce #4, ad M, Deuce #5, ad M, held.

Phew! Almost blew another service-game from 40/15 up!

Kuznetsova serving for the first set at 5-3: 30/0 -> 30/40 (BP), broken. "Sharapova hit an acutely angled backhand which forced Kuznetsova to an error" [Craig Gabriel,].

Kuznetsova has been known to choke - most notably in the last two French Opens, where she had match-points in the fourth round against the eventual champions (Justine Henin-Hardenne said she could see fear in Kuznetsova's eyes as she prepared to play match-point).

Maria serving to stay in the first set at 4-5: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 SPs: SP #2), Kuznetsova won the first set 6-4 at 13:01 (50m) when Maria hit a forehand wide.

At least Maria has added a modicum of respectability to the scoreline, but she's given Kuznetsova the advantage of serving first in the second.

Maria will need to improve on her W:UE of 7:16 (all the UEs were on her forehand) if she's going to turn this match around, and although she's getting 70% of first serves in, she's winning only 50% of the points when she does so, and 46% on second serve.

I wonder if her shoulder-injury has flared up again, making her serve go soft? Her fastest serve of the match has been only 107mph (Kuznetsova 113mph).

Second Set
SHARAPOVA _*___* *_ 3
KUZNETSOV * *@* * * 6

Kuznetsova serving 0-0: 30/0, 40/15, 40/30, held.
Maria serving 0-1: 30/0 -> 30/30, 40/30, held.
Kuznetsova serving 1-1: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held.
Maria serving 1-2: 30/0 -> 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad K (BP #2), broken "with a sensational forehand winner down the line" [Craig Gabriel,].

This time, Maria doesn't get away with blowing a 30/0 lead on serve, and if she is tired as I suspect, then it's an awfully long way back from this 4-6 1-3 scoreline. :(

If only Maria had taken one of the four match-points that she held at 6-3 5-3 against Tatiana Golovin, it could well have been a different story today (and Tatiana would not be facing a six-week lay-off, either).

Kuznetsova serving 3-1: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad K, held.
Maria serving 1-4: 0/30, 15/30, 40/30, held.

Maria seems to have traded accuracy for pace on her first serve. Her percentage of first serves in has dropped to 50%, but her percentage of points won on first serve has increased to 80%, and she has recorded a new fastest serve of 108mph. But she's only winning 30% of the points when she misses her first serve.

Kuznetsova serving 4-2: 0/15, 40/15, held.
Maria serving to stay in the match at 2-5: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held.
Kuznetsova serving for the title at 5-3: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15 (2 CPs), Kuznetsova won 6-4 6-3 at 13:41 (1h30m), sealing victory with an ace down the middle.

Steven Wine, AP Sports Writer: "As a weary Sharapova found herself on the verge of defeat, she went scrambling yet again after a shot and exclaimed, 'Ai-yi-yi.' That said it all. The crowd laughed, and Kuznetsova won the exchange to reach match point."

Craig Gabriel, "She set up match point with a splendid swinging volley winner off the forehand that went crosscourt."


Maria broke serve twice from 4 break-points, while Kuznetsova broke 4 times from 8 BPs.

Maria got 65% of first serves in (Kuznetsova 64%), winning 61% of points when she did so (Kuznetsova 62%), and only 38% on first serve (and here's the big difference: Kuznetsova 62%).

From the first set to the second, Maria's percentage of first serves in dropped from 70% to 56%, while her percentage of points won on first serve increased from 50% to 86%. As a result, she was broken only once in the second set (three times in the first), but couldn't break Kuznetsova in the second.

Maria served 2 aces and one double fault, Kuznetsova 4 aces (the last on championship-point) and no DFs. Maria recorded a fastest serve of 109mph, which is low by her standards, Kuznetsova 113mph. Maria's average serve was 97.8mph, Kuznetsova 96.7mph. When Maria won Wimbledon, she had an average second serve of 97mph, so something was wrong there.

Maria's W:UE ratio was once again in the red at 19:26, while Kuznetsova's was 24:25. Maria actually had a positive W:UE of 12:10 for the second set, but Kuznetsova was too good with 12:6.

Maria won 6 of 9 points at the net, while Kuznetsova was slightly more selective and successful, winning 5 of 7 points there.

In points, Kuznetsova won 68-58.

Maria challenged 11 line-calls to Hawkeye during the tournament, and was wrong every single time. :eek:

Maria quotes

"It was tough today, she was hitting winners off both sides and I couldn't put two points together. I was a little tired from my previous matches.

"Physically it was very difficult to keep up with Svetlana today. I just think I came up short on some of those long points. I just wasn't physically ready to run down a lot of balls. She was able to come back from tough points and play a few more. I was just not able to keep up with that pace, and that was the key.

"When I hit great shots, she picked up the ball on the rise pretty early, and was able to hit a bigger shot. And my feet didn't quite move to the second balls that she hit deep and hard.

"Obviously, I felt a little tired, but that's normal after playing four straight weeks. I mean, I'm not gonna feel great. My body's not gonna feel great. That's absolutely normal.

"But I just gave it all I had, and I tried. But at the end of the day, I just came up short. That's all right.

"I'm happy. I've done amazing. To be able to win 11 straight matches, get three finals in a row, I think that's pretty consistent.

"I tried to mix it up when I was down a break. Figured why not, try a little something, get the points over with a little quicker.

"Obviously never underestimate someone who has won a Grand Slam. She had a tough year last year but she's definitely playing a lot better. I haven't played her in a whole year, but she's definitely improved.

"I think she's gotten more confidence now. I mean, she's always going to be a big hitter. That's going to be always her strength. She's going to mix it up. She moves really well and makes you hit another ball. But I think confidence has a lot to do with it. When you're confident, you can do that all day.

[Re. the aeroplane]
"It only circled around about 50 times. Pretty weird."

[Re. 4-6 3-5 (15/30): "Ai-yi-yi?"]
"At that point in the match, maybe if you laugh, something will happen.

"But it was still a great week, that's the way it goes in sport. I do need some time off."

Maria's full interview:

Kuznetsova quotes

"I was not expecting this. But I was doing my best. I was enjoying it so much. I've been working very hard. I deserve this title, I gave my best.

"I just wanted to go out there and do my best. If I couldn't attack, I would go and run behind, or try and defend. Whatever was happening to me today, it was okay. I just wanted to be there, and just give it my best. I wanted this trophy badly.

"I just wanted to keep as many balls in play as possible, and give my best and see what I could do out there.

"On the championship-point, I'm thinking about the crowd, about serving. I finish the US Open also with an ace from a second serve. Today I think somebody also told me I finish with an ace, but I didn't realise it. I was just playing one more point. I knew it was important. I wanted to take my time before the serve to focus on the movement, because I change my serve in the preseason. So every time I serve, I have to be very focused on my movements. I was just trying to focus on the next point.

"The match against Hingis was the key for me. I was watching the DVD, and I had this volley which I usually would miss, and I didn't. It was key, to get more confidence, and with each match I got more and more. Of course the match of Patty, she withdrew, helped me little bit. After playing a three-setter the day before, it would have been tough. But still, I was well prepared, I was fit to play. Today was a tough match. I held it well.

"I put in lots of work in December. I had a month and a half, I was on the courts day and night. I was on my own, I was thinking what I wanted to do.

"Then I started to look at the people who play, and people have been out from the Tour, and they come back and they win many tournaments, and I think 'I can do it, too.' I was working with psychologists, I was working on myself, with many doctors, with people. I was just playing my matches, and I see if I play the right game I can make it. I'm just very excited about that. I hope to improve every match in more tournaments.

"Before [this year], I think I was trying to hit the ball too hard. Now I'm just playing like half my power, and the ball seems to go pretty fast, so I'm pretty excited about that."

[Re. the aeroplane]
"Maria didn't like it. I didn't want to get into it. I was just trying to get myself not to lose my concentration."

The Maria-haters were out in force again, cheering Kuznetsova to the title. This is what Kuznetsova had to say about it:

"I don't want to get into that. I heard a lot about the match in the semifinals... For me, it's a bit unusual, to play Maria and have the crowd behind you."

Dr. Andrew Broad (added 3 external links)

3,060 Posts
I've just read the reports. Thanks.

However there are some legends developing about these matches that need to be scotched.

1. Maria wasn't booed off court in the Golovin match. A partisan section of the crowd booed Maria's toilet breaks, but not her final exit.

2. Golovin was down a break when she retired. The idea that she was the more likely winner without the injury is not borne out if you watch the match. Golovin was clearly tiring with all her running in the 3rd set. This was noted by the ES commentators. It was this, I think, that brought on her injury. She was running on pure adrenaline and tried to do too much, retrieving an accurate wide shot from Maria and trying to turn 180 degrees at the same time for the next shot.

3. Maria was clearly tired (and maybe affected by the media attacks) during the final. She had played 11 matches in the previous 3 weeks. Kuznetsova had played 4. She looked very lacklustre and wasn't going for her accurate shots at all. Commentators said "It was a match too far for Maria."
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10,989 Posts
Doc said:
I've just read the reports. Thanks.

However there are some legends developing about these matches that need to be scotched.

1. Maria wasn't booed off court in the Golovin match. A partisan section of the crowd booed Maria's toilet breaks, but not her final exit.

2. Golovin was down a break when she retired. The idea that she was the more likely winner without the injury is not borne out if you watch the match. Golovin was clearly tiring with all her running in the 3rd set. This was noted by the ES commentators. It was this, I think, that brought on her injury. She was running on pure adrenaline and tried to do too much, retrieving an accurate wide shot from Maria and trying to turn 180 degrees at the same time for the next shot.

3. Maria was clearly tired (and maybe affected by the media attacks) during the final. She had played 11 matches in the previous 3 weeks. Kuznetsova had played 4. She looked very lacklustre and wasn't going for her accurate shots at all. Commentators said "It was a match too far for Maria."
I couldn't agree more :)
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