Sunday, 24 January 2016

Sharapova screams into quarters

Fifth seed Maria Sharapova had to fight through two sets before crushing Lauren Davis in the third, and she wasn't going to find it any easier against 12th seeded Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic, a star very much on the rise, having already risen plenty in 2015, one of only 3 to defeat Serena Williams last year.

The winner of this would more than likely be playing Serena in the quarter finals this year.

Sharapova opened with two aces which made holding serve an easy chore.  Three Sharapove forehand winners were not quite enough to prevent Bencic from levelling at 1-1, and two more aces sent Maria to a 2-1 advantage.

Winners from both sides overwhelmed Belinda and Maria surged to 15-40.  Errors brought it to deuce, and apart from one more break point and two more deuces, nothing untoward happened on the way to a Bencic service hold, backhand winner doing the trick. 2-2.

A double fault from Maria gave Belinda break point and Maria's unforced error lost her the serve.  Belinda led 3-2.  Sharapova's backhand won her a break point and her second backhand winner converted a second break point to level again at 3-3.

At 30-30 Belinda forced Maria into error twice to claim another break of serve to once more lead this time 4-3.  Maria hit an array of winners to earn two break points, both saved, but a third break point was not avoided, and yet another serve was lost. 4-4.

Maria was forced to deuce but an ace and forehand won her a 5-4 edge.  In a game of four deuces and two break points, Belinda scraped through, errors littering the court.  5-5.  

Sharapova was 40-0 but wasted her position and eventually won the game after two deuces. 
The set was Maria's after she forced Belinda into error with several strong ground shots.

Sharapova ahead 7-5.

Set two and Sharapova served four aces but she was still taken to deuce three times and had to save a break point before winning the game and leading 1-0.  Maria hit a couple of winners for 0-30 but Belinda steadied to level at 1-1.

Maria was at 40-15 with no concerns, but two successive double faults and a wayward forehand had her facing break point.  An ace and better forehand fixed things and she was in front 2-1.  A double fault from Belinda didn't prevent her holding for 2-2 and Sharapova's aces continued to help her save save break point troubles and win games.  3-2 she led.

Belinda survived 0-30 and a break point with solid hitting forcing errors from the Russian racquet.
3-3.  Sharapova was delivering aces as if they going out of fashion, and more came in the seventh game which she won easily and leading 4-3 she could see the end in sight.

Belinda had other ideas and held to love 4-4.  Maria closed out the ninth game with the requisite two aces and requested Belinda to hold serve or leave the tournament.  She held serve courtesy of a pair of winners from either side.

5-5 and a double fault from Maria gave some hope to Belinda but she hit a couple of poor shots and let Marai off the hook.  6-5 to the fifth seed.  At 30-15 Belinda double faulted.  Maria cashed in with a forehand winner to give her match point.  She failed to capitalise.  Belinda gave her another chance though and this time Maria's backhand was decisive, the match over 7-5 7-5.

Another quarter final for Maria the screamer but likely to face her nemesis the great Serena.

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