Sunday, 8 June 2014

Maria makes it two at Roland Garros

Fans were greeted to one of the best women's singles finals at Grand Slam level in recent times as Maria Sharapova battled Simona Halep at Roland Garros.

Despite the large gap in experience - it was the Romanian's first GS tournament final - Halep gained the initial break of serve to take a. 2-0 lead.  Sharapova's double faulting almost had her trailing by two breaks, but her quality stroke making around the court held her in good stead, and not only did she hold serve but upped the pressure markedly, winning the next four games to lead 5-2.

Halep responded in kind, breaking back just in time and at 4-5 she could hold serve and the match would be back in balance.
Again, as she had done throughout the tournament, Sharapova picked the moment to pounce and broke to take the set, albeit with the assistance of a friendly net cord.

Set two was only two games in and once more Sharapova had control 2-0.  The quality of tennis was terrific and Halep proved that she was going to be reckoned with not just today but for many years to come, storming back into proceedings straight away neutralising the Russian service break with a Romanian version.

Games went with serve until at 4-4 Halep won a fantastic rally at deuce giving her break point on the Sharapova serve which she duly converted, presenting a chance to serve for the set.  Failing this time, Halep was then given another chance, but once more at 6-5, the job could not be completed and after four successive breaks of serve, a tie break was introduced to solve the impasse.

Sharapova looked the steadier and at 5-3 in the breaker, seemed set to take her second French Open in straight sets.  Not according to Halep who fired up dominating the next four points to even the match at a set apiece.

Four matches in a row had gone to three sets for Sharapova this tournament, and her record of winning over the long haul was remarkable even before Roland Garros.  When Halep lost her serve, and the momentum, in the fifth game of the decider,  that was all Sharapova needed, one suspected, to finish the deal.

Halep had one more comeback in her and she drew level at 4-4, another Russian double fault sealing the break.
As if to say enough was enough, Maria Sharapova won the next eight points, winners littering the Paris clay, and putting the match and the title in her name for the second time.  For all her annoying screaming, she is a great player, and in big matches one of the most reliable.

The Sharapova win 6-4 6-7 6-4 was a great advertisement for women's tennis, and before the end of the year, we should see her ranking back where it belongs, in the top two in the world.  Simona Halep is now number three and should be a top five player for a long time.

Now we need a riveting five setter between Rafa and Novak to complete a wonderful weekend of Grand Slam tennis.

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