Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Sharapova tested - for a couple of games

The final day match, effectively to determine Li Na's semi final opponent pitted second seed Maria Sharapova against compatriot Ekaterina Makarova.  Maria had spent less time on court than anyone to be paid more money than most, and Makarova could make things a little more complicated if she actually did something different from the three previous victims.  One thought is to take the word competitor just a tiny bit literally.

What Ekaterina did from the outset is use her serve to place Sharapova in situations that she was less comfortable than she had been to date in the tournament.  Accordingly Maria failed to break serve and Ekaterina led 1-0.  Sharapova had no trouble evening the situation and handing the pressure back to Makarova though I hardly think the pressure placement moved from Makarova from the time she knew that Maria was today's assignment.

With a couple of well directed double faults Makarova was able to assist Sharapova in achieving the first break of serve for the match in the third game and memory drifted back a long 48 hours to when Kirsten Flipkens won the first game and then lost the remaining twelve to Maria.  One hoped that the same fate would not befall Ekaterina.

Far from it in fact, with history being made in the fourth game.  The hitherto untouchable Sharapova serve was broken by Makarova and games now were at 2-2, a concept which the scoreboard took some time to digest, having been programmed to affix a zero in the games column of any of the Sharapova opponents in the early rounds.

The honeymoon period for Makarova lasted for the full fourth game before Sharapova took stock of her plight.  Then with tennis shots glorious to view and less pleasant to hear, Maria went on a roll, taking apart the Makarova game until it resembled nothing more than a rough idea, and parcelling up the set 6-2.

Maria strangely lowered her scream a few octaves in the second set, proving that not only does she have wonderful variety of stroke play but great vocal range to boot.  All the while Ekaterina became more confused and her original plan to combat the Sharapova all court game was now in its fifth edition, severely edited from the original.

Sharapova hit a stack of winners as she raced through yet another set dropping only two games to a disappointing Makarova. The match was won 6-2 6-2.

Maria would now play in the semi final against a level of opponent who should test her beyond the first few minutes.  Li Na won the 2011 French Open and her vanquished semi final opponent on the road to that success was none other than Maria.

No comments:

Post a Comment