Sunday, 19 January 2014

It's Maria - as Alize becomes French toast

Conditions for Maria Sharapova's third round match against 25th seed Alize Cornet from France were a tad more comfortable than the searing heat through which she had to endure well over three hours just to win her previous match.
Providing the recovery had gone Ok, the Cornet job for Sharapova should be fairly simple to execute, with the box of tricks available to the beloved one.

Sharapova served, and after three backhand errors from Cornet, and a forehand  winner from Maria, 1-0 was the score.   A lengthy Cornet service game came to nothing for her as Sharapova hit big forehands and forced errors off both sides from the racquet of Alize.
Sharapova was hitting winners at will off the ground and out of the air dominating her way to 3-0 before Cornet bumbled her way through error after error admitting she had nothing to offer except her charity and the Maria Foundation greedily accepted another break of serve.
Against the trend, a break back put a score on the board for the French girl who was unfortunately appearing destined for the airport soon.  With Sharapova, the double fault is ever possible for her opponents to seize upon when nothing else is going to flow in their direction.
4-1 became 6-1 in a hurry, despite the annoying Maria habit of taking her time between points just to appear pretty for the camera for as long as she can.

The set took about as long as the players took to draw breath in the last Sharapova match.

An even start to the second set, with easy service games posted by both players for a 1-1 scoreline.  Then with Alize back to her first set problems, Sharapova had her facing three break points at 0-40.  For some unfathomable reason, Sharapova took pity and played a series of woeful forehands to bring Cornet back and ultimately serve was held.  Well "never give a sucker an even break" could be rephrased "never be taken for a sucker when you're about to get the break" because Cornet broke Sharapova straight after surviving that scare and led 3-1 to turn the match completely on its head, the backhand half volley winner to secure the game simply sublime.
That signalled the beginning of an amazing stretch of tennis that included five more breaks of serve in the next eight games, with wonderful tennis shots for the most part, but horribly timed double faults tempering the highlights.
Cornet refused to give in when she may have good reason to think her chances had gone.  Firstly at 3-5 and down match point she was saved.  Then as Sharapova served for the match at 5-4, double faults kept Cornet in with a chance.  Again serving for the match at 6-5, Sharapova failed to complete the task.
Only in a closely fought tie break did Maria Sharapova finally clinch the deal when at   7 points to 6 Alize Cornet netted her last shot of the match.
Sharapova into the fourth round, winning 6-1 7-6.

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