Thursday, 29 January 2015

Sharapova into Final

Number two seed Maria Sharapova was in sparkling form having disposed of Eugenie Bouchard in two quick sets in the quarters and her semi final opponent would be Ekaterina Makarova, 10th seed and fellow Russian whose demolition of Simona Halep could justifiably be described as even more impressive.

The two began the first semi final with Maria serving and that game took over ten minutes to complete, a sign of the evenness of the two women, but possibly more of the nerves taking over. Hopefully the errant groundstrokes and double faults would dissipate as the match wore on.

Sharapova held on and then broke Makarova in a game which seemed like a sprint in comparison although it did enjoy its share of deuces and ads. Makarova was the one with more trouble finding her range, in direct contrast to her comfort playing Halep.

The break was held through five games, and could have extended quite easily to two breaks had Makarova not steadied in the fourth to hold serve in the face of a concerted Sharapova barrage. 

Ekaterina fought off more break point danger with some fine serving, and then a Sharpova double fault on top of Makarova ground stroke pressure set up two break back points for the lower ranked Russian.  Maria saved one but netted a simple forehand to now only lead 4-3.

Sharapova hit straight back in the best possible way with four outright winners to brutalise the Makarova serve and then easily hold to win the set 6-3, errors freely flowing as the final resistance appeared to have gone from the Makarova racquet.

Serving the opening game of set two, Ekaterina needed to regroup swiftly or she could find herself out the door just as smartly.

Instead of looking like someone in for a fight, Makarova had her head hung, appeared beaten, resigned to the fact that this was a done deal and not at all concerned that she was losing points hand over fist.

All the first three games went the way of Sharapova, included amongst them two breaks, and most of it down to poor execution by a very disappointing Makarova. 

More of the same until at 0-4 Ekaterina suddenly realised that this was a semi final of a major and she needed to contribute a little more to the contest. She held serve, hitting a few more decent shots but relying too on some Maria mishits.

Some double fault issues resulted in two break points available to Makarova in game six but Sharapova won through that concern and led 5-1.  Makarova played some solid tennis to win possibly her last game of the tournament and gave Maria the stage to serve for the final.

Not a problem for the second seed and Maria Sharapova was the first women to qualify for the 2015 Aus Open final winning 6-3 6-2.

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