Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sharapova thwarts upset-minded Garcia

During the first set and half of the second, 17-year-old Caroline Garcia gave the crowd what they wanted today in Paris in the second round of the French Open. The little-known French player stepped onto the court a picture of confidence, and took it to Maria Sharapova. Garcia hit laser-like forehands and backhands, and ran the 7th seed all over the court; she was in charge of the proceedings--until she held a set point in the first set. That was when we saw the first drop in confidence, though the French player pulled herself together rather easily and won the first set 6-4.

Garcia started the second set the same way she started the first, and I couldn't help but wonder: When is the choke coming? Sharapova was surely wondering this, too, and at 4-1--that perennially deceitful scoreline--it happened. On some level, Garcia realized she was about to defeat Maria Sharapova at the French Open, and that was pretty much the end of her. As soon as the crack opened, Sharapova was ready. She cleaned up her game and reeled off eleven straight games, leaving Garcia in the red dust. The Russian, like Vera Zvonareva before her, survived to play another round.

Garcia, at age 17, wasn't able to do what Sharapova did when she was 17, but she was nevertheless very impressive, and her set and a half will be remembered as an interesting highlight of this tournament.

Aside from Kim Clijsters, the only seed who lost today was Alexandra Dulgheru, who was defeated by countrywoman Sorana Cirstea. Jarmila Gajdosova won a close (7-6, 6-4) match against Anabel Medina Garrigues, and Victoria Azarenka, Li Na and Petra Kvitova advanced in straight sets.

Dulgheru, though she lost in singles, was part of an upset in doubles. She and partner Magdalena Rybarikova defeated 10th seeds Peng Shuai and Zheng Jie.

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