Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Streak Snapped

It only took 32 matches, but Maria Sharapova was the someone who was finally able to exploit the weaknesses in Justine Henin's game. The resurgent Russian sent the world No. 1 packing 6-4, 6-0.

Another Australian Open match. Another bagel.

Maria was in shock after the match, but she ought not to have been. She did everything right except fail to serve out the first set. But she attacked Justine's terrible serve, hit hard, flat and deep in the corners, and came into the forecourt to put away all of Justine's defensive backhand slices. She also moved better than she usually does, and outlasted Justine in the long rallies.

If it sounds anything like the Wimbledon semifinal, the last time Justine suffered a loss on any stage, it was.

I've said it before and I mean it again: on a medium-fast to fast surface, power trumps variety when power is both patient and precise. Which is precisely why I only included the following women in the poll.

Maria will play fellow Bolliteri Academy alumna Jelena Jankovic in the semifinals.


Karen said...

If I did not witness it for myself I would not have believed it. She outplayed her in every sense of the word. Sharapova played an all court game to beat Justine. Unless Venus picks up her game, I do not see anyone stopping Sharapova right now. She was unstoppable this morning. As to Jo-Willy, I hope he comes through his half and gives Fed or whoever emerges from the other side of the draw a run for their money. He played fantastic this morning and I hope he does not have a let down after reaching so far. Good to see the under the radar young guns stepping up. Everyone was making noise about Berdych, Baghdatis, Murray etc. etc. etc. Look who came through. The fellow from Africa. A great day indeed for black men. Loving it. As to Serena's loss. What can I say - oy vey - she should really not play the AO in even number years. She never does well during that time.

oddman said...

I saw the last half of second set, and couldn't believe my eyes. She just bludgeoned the Belgian. (oh, crap, I sound like Bud - Gahhh!) She swarmed her, hitting big winners from everywhere, moving like I've never seen her move - someone's been doing her footwork drills. Maria looks hungry for that trophy.

Karen said...

Oddman, I watched the match, even though I had not planned to do so. Woke up from the nightmare that was Serena's match earlier in the day and thought to myself of the two that are playing I really do not want either of these to win. Imagine my shock when I found myself cheering on Justine (guess I just love underdogs). It was funny to see Carlos' look of utter disbelief because he could not believe what he was seeing. I do not think I have ever seen Sharapova move that well in a match and the only person who can stop her now is actually Venus, who moves so much better than her. The fact that the WS are out of doubles will perhaps give Venus a chance to prepare properly for her quarter final match with AnaI. I am wondering whether Serena was upset that she was up first yesterday, because baby girl does not like to get up early in the morning at all. Justine does not lose very often, but when she does, boy does she get some beat downs

rabbit said...

To my mind, Sharapova beating Henin was the expected result. I didn't get to watch the match, but I wasn't at all surprised to see the result.

Congrats to Tsonga! I like his game a lot. Nadal vs. Tsonga is going to be terrific. I think Tsonga's game is just the type that bothers Nadal's. Let's hope he can hold up!

oddman said...

I expected Sharapova to win that one too, but not in the manner that she did. She made Henin look helpless out there.

alyosha karamazov said...

good to see Sharapova winning again..=)