The Russian followed up her impressive performance against her frequent tormentor Victoria Azarenka on Saturday by playing at a very high level today. She served well, played some incredible defense at times, and even dared to send more than a few return winners past Serena. The eventual champion even applauded one of them at 30-0, 4-3 in the second set. The forehand down-the-line missile was that good.
Sharapova never looked defeated, and always gave it everything she had. She fought like a madwoman. Yet all she had to show for her troubles was seven games. She didn’t create a single break point on Serena’s serve, and only got to deuce once.
When Juan Martin del Potro retired from his match against Jurgen Melzer in Shanghai with a right wrist injury shortly after winning his first Grand Slam at the 2009 US Open, many assumed the retirement was simply a sign that he had burnt out after a long, successful summer.
But del Potro’s wrist injury worsened to the point where he was forced to have surgery, and the Argentinian has been fighting ever since to get back to the top of the ATP Tour.
We pick the winners for the Basel final between Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro, the WTA Championships final between Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, and the Valencia final between David Ferrer and Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Maria Sharapova had not beaten Victoria Azarenka in over three years when the two have played on hardcourts. Here, see for yourself. Sharapova knew she had to come up with something special today, and she sure did.
We know that there isn’t much subtlety to Sharapova’s game. Today was no different: she focused on doing everything she always does (attack, attack and attack some more), and every weapon in her arsenal looked good in doing so. She served well, she hit her FH well (particularly inside-out), but most striking of all was her movement. Particularly her movement towards the net.
Yesterday, Agnieszka Radwanska started her last round robin match against Sara Errani at around 6:30 pm Istanbul time. She then partook in the longest WTA Championships match in history. It lasted 3 hours and 29 minutes, and it was an epic struggle. So, she got off the court at around 10:00 pm. You know the drill: players have to wash up, get a massage and treatment for any lingering injuries, and face the press before they can leave. It usually takes around two hours for them to complete this process. So it’s safe to say Radwanska left the Istabul arena at around midnight.
Scheduling is hard. So hard. It’s like herding cats. In your case, across continents. Believe me, I can imagine what a nightmare it must be to schedule something like the WTA Championships. It’s a ton of work, and most of it goes unseen. Which is unfair. It’s kind of like being a referee at a pro sporting event: people only notice you when you get something wrong. The ultimate goal is to go unnoticed.
Sadly, your work during this week’s event hasn’t gone unnoticed. Far from it. It’s been the big, unnecessary elephant in the room (or more precisely, in the arena in Istanbul). Here are a couple of questions that have been flying around my head this week: