Friday, November 9, 2007

Sharapova is back...and how

In a stunning display reminiscent of her 2006 U.S. Open run, Sharapova totally dominated Ana Ivanovic in her third round robin Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Year-End Championships match, easily defeating her, 6-1, 6-2. Sharapova's did not appear to be hampered in the least by her problematic shoulder. Rather, it was Ivanovic who had problems, as Sharapova went on a crosscourt tear and hit winner after winner, leaving Ivanovic with no defense. Sharapova never faced a break point. (And by the way, I really like her YEC outfit.)

Sharapova's victory puts her at the top of the Red Group, which means that she will play Anna Chakvetadze in the semifinals. Ivanovic will play world number one Justine Henin, who finished at the top of the Yellow Group. Both Sharapova and Henin won all three of their round robin matches.

In other action, Jelena Jankovic, clearly on her last leg and sick with a virus, had to retire, with Marion Bartoli leading, 6-1, 1-0. It was painful to watch an obviously sick Jankovic try to tough it out, but it was no surprise--after her overwhelming and unwisely planned schedule--that her body would go to pieces at the end of the season. Jankovic says she has been ill for a couple of days, which would certainly explain her lackluster performances against both Justine Henin and Anna Chakvetadze. She received loud applause when she walked off the court, none, in fact, more enthusiastic than the applause she got from Bartoli. It was a sad ending for Jankovic in Madrid; we can only hope she has learned a lesson and will tone her schedule way down in 2008.

The final match was between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Daniela Hantuchova. Hantuchova showed her new-found toughness by saving five set points in the first set, and by delivering solid first and second serves. The second set was all Hantuchova. Final score: Hantuchova def. Kuznetsova, 7-6, 6-0. Had Hantuchova not choked away the last two points of her match against Ana Ivanovic, she would be in the semifinals, and her chances would be good. Nevertheless, this has been a great year for Hantuchova, who is playing some of the best tennis of her career.

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