Thursday, April 5, 2007

Top-seeded Maria Sharapova, who had eight double faults, lost in 58 minutes at the Sony Ericsson Open

It was less a match than a memorandum of what Serena Williams is capable of when she puts her mind behind her might. Covering the court like a tarp, Williams suffocated top-seeded Maria Sharapova in 58 bloodless minutes Tuesday in the fourth round of the Sony Ericsson Open.The final score was 6-1, 6-1, and from high above Crandon Park’s Stadium Court, it looked more lopsided. Before the first point was tallied, Sharapova seemed to sense that she was in for a long afternoon. She kept hitting serves after the chair umpire called, “Time,” indicating the end of warm-ups. Whatever she was searching for, Sharapova did not find it, committing eight double faults.On the other side of the court, the 13th-seeded Williams was hitting on all cylinders. Her ground strokes were so grooved that Sharapova seemed to be swatting at bugs. In the sixth game of the first set, Sharapova hit a running forehand for a winner (one of eight she had) and Williams was so surprised she reflexively applauded.By the end of the afternoon, both No. 1-seeded players were gone. Guillermo Cañas, a qualifier, sent the defending champion, Roger Federer, packing for the second consecutive tournament with a 7-6 (2), 2-6, 7-6 (5) victory. Cañas’s win came 16 days after he snapped Federer’s 41-match winning streak in a second-round match at the Masters Series event in Indian Wells, Calif. Federer, who had won both tournaments the previous two years, committed 51 unforced errors to Cañas’s 15.“You know, it happens,” Federer said. “I was really happy with my level of play. I thought it was a great match, so it was disappointing to lose.”Williams was delighted to win as emphatically as she did. With every stroke, she seemed to be issuing a rebuttal to those who openly wondered if her 6-1, 6-2 victory against Sharapova in the Australian Open final had been a fluke.“I think a lot of people might have thought it was a one-off,” said Williams, who played in only four tournaments in 2006 because of injuries. “I don’t know anyone who’s won eight Grand Slams and had so many doubters in their lives. I guess just me.” She laughed ruefully. “It’s O.K.”Williams can play the media as if they were another opponent, showing humility, hostility, humor, warmth, eloquence and indifference all in one 15-minute interview. The chip on her shoulder is not an affectation but another accessory, along with the heavy hoop earrings and gaudy gold jewelry and designer handbags, that she seldom leaves home without.She uses every slight — real and perceived — to her advantage, channeling her feelings of hurt and rage into her tennis.Williams’s sense of being a perpetual outsider despite everything she has achieved in tennis was driven home to her Monday afternoon in her match against Lucie Safarova when a heckler in the stands peppered his diatribe with a racially derogatory term.The fan was escorted from the grounds, but not before everybody within earshot got a sense of how discomfiting it can be to walk in Williams’s sneakers. Her sense of alienation bubbled to the surface Tuesday when she was asked about a trip she took last year to Africa.Williams, who was born in Michigan and raised in California and Florida, toured Senegal’s Goree Island on the west coast and visited impoverished villages in Ghana as part of a Unicef delegation.“When we first landed, we had a layover in Nigeria, and I couldn’t wait,” Williams said. “I wanted to get out of the plane and just take off my shoes and start running and never come back because I just felt at home and at ease.“I mean, I’ve never felt so comfortable physically and just like mentally,” she added. “I can’t even explain it. It’s like this whole aura that just surrounds you. That’s just how I felt. I’ve never been in a place where I felt happier ever.”Williams’s voice, which had been a monotone when she was talking about tennis, grew more animated as she talked about opening a school in Senegal on land donated by the nation’s president, Abdoulaye Wade, whom she met.“If I can provide one kid with hope,” Williams said, “even if it’s just one person, it makes a whole big difference in life.”In the hallway outside the interview room, Williams’s father and coach, Richard, talked about how sad it was that his daughter should feel more at home abroad, but he said he was not surprised. “Americans here don’t think we are Americans,” he said.“If we are Americans, we sure aren’t treated like it,” he added. “Rats, roaches, even rabbits are treated better than we are here.”When he was done speaking, Richard Williams walked out to the players’ valet parking area and, surrounded by luxury sedans and expensive sports cars, he lighted a cigarillo and smoked it.

World number one Maria Sharapova retired in the second set of her Pan Pacific Open semi-final against Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic due to a hamstring injury.

Ivanovic will play second seed Martina Hingis in the final of the 1.3 million dollar tournament after the Swiss beat Russian Elena Dementieva 6-4 6-3.Sharapova, trailing 1-6 1-0, said she felt a sharp pain after serving in the second game of the first set, adding that she had been carrying a hamstring strain since the Australian Open.‘’It’s always difficult to end the tournament this way,’’ the 19-year-old Russian told reporters.‘’My left hamstring has been having tightness since the Australian Open but after a Grand Slam you are tight all over,’’ said Sharapova, who lost to Serena Williams in the Melbourne Park final last weekend.Hingis avenged her defeat by Dementieva in last year’s final to stay on course for a record fifth Tokyo title.‘’I had a bad experience against her in last year’s final and I was happy to get more than two games,’’ said Hingis, who lost 6-2 6-0 to Dementieva in 2006.

Maria Sharapova Super sexy

Maria Sharapavo Fails To Block Documentary
Tennis ace Maria Sharapova's bid to halt a documentary that features footage of her has been blocked by a Miami, Florida, judge. The Russian-born blonde feared fans would mistake the film for an official documentary, and claimed it violated trademark laws.
However, a federal judge ruled yesterday that production company Byzantium Productions Inc. could distribute both "Anna's Army" and a second documentary, "Russian Women's Tennis."
Peter Geisler, the company's vice president, said, "We're thrilled to have this all over with. It's been a long battle - they destroyed our business. This should allow distribution to continue, but my guess is that it's most likely too late."

More glamour to the Dubai Tennis Championships with Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova, Martina Hingis and Serena Williams

Hantuchova confirmed for Dubai Duty FreeDubai: Daniela Hantuchova will once again add glamour to the Dubai Tennis Championships when she joins Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova, Martina Hingis and Serena Williams at the grandest tennis extravaganza in the Middle East.The popular 23-year old Slovak is always a threat against any opponent, last season claiming victories over Serena Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Patty Schnyder. But perhaps her best performance was against Maria Sharapova in the Zurich final, when she took the reigning US Open champion to three sets.But there is far more to Hantuchova than tennis. Although you might think she would find it intimidating to compete in huge stadiums, the experience of playing in front of a big crowd is nothing new for her.When she was younger she was as good at playing classical music on the piano as she is now at playing tennis. Like tennis, she had to spend countless hours practising. And like tennis, she eventually had to play in front of lots of people.
Strong challenge"I did some pretty big concerts, and I can tell you I've never, ever been so nervous in my life," she said. "When I was about 13 or 14, a couple of hundred at least would be watching, maybe a thousand. It was scary stuff, but it prepared me well for the tennis circuit so it was good."I really enjoyed playing. It was very difficult time-wise because I had my school in the morning, tennis practice, then piano, then tennis again and then study in the evening. So I was finishing my day at 11, 11.30pm."Every day was like that from eight o'clock in the morning, and I loved it because there wasn't any one second I had some free time."I couldn't understand the kids when they were saying they were so bored. I never knew anything like that."Hantuchova has proved she can excel in whatever she does, and she is certain to offer a strong challenge against anyone she meets in a week of top-class tennis action."Daniela is one of the most delightful people we have welcomed to Dubai, and it is a pleasure to have her amongst us once again," said Colm McLoughlin, Managing Director of tournament organisers Dubai Duty Free."As well as being a top singles player she has twice reached the doubles semifinals here, and her many fans in Dubai will be thrilled to welcome her back."Play begins at the Dubai Tennis Stadium on February 19 with the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open, and continues with the Dubai Duty Free Men's Open on February 26 when Spain's Rafael Nadal defends his title against three-time former champion Roger Federer, charismatic Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis and rising star Novak Djokovic.

Sharapova gives cash for Chernobyl recovery

Maria Sharapova, the world's top-ranked female tennis player, became a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Fund and donated $US100,000 ($NZ146,000) to help victims of Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear disaster.At a crowded press conference, Sharapova, 19, said she gave the money to eight UN development projects in rural communities in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine for youths still suffering from the April 1986 Chernobyl power plant explosion.The world's worst nuclear accident spewed clouds of radioactive dust into parts of Europe, Russia and especially Belarus, making large areas uninhabitable."My first step is to focus on the Chernobyl-affected region, where my family has roots," Sharapova said. "Today, it is poverty and lack of opportunities that pose the greatest threat for young people in the Chernobyl region."Sharapova's family left Gomel in Belarus after the Chernobyl accident. She was born in Siberia a year later but left Russia for the United States at age 9 to study tennis. She won Wimbledon in 2004 and the US Open in 2006.Sharapova earned nearly $US19 million last year in advertising endorsements and prizemoney, according to Forbes magazine.

Sharapova, Serena Pull Out Of Dubai Event

Dubai, UAE -- (Sports Network) - World No. 1 Russian Maria Sharapova and Australian Open champion Serena Williams of the United States will skip next week's Dubai Duty Free Women's Open.The U.S. Open champion and Aussie Open runner-up Sharapova is nursing a hamstring injury, while the former world No. 1 Williams, who upset Sharapova in last month's championship match in Melbourne, is battling the flu, which forced her to miss this week's tournament in India. Williams' victory over Sharapova last month gave her an eighth Grand Slam title. Sharapova has performed in the last two major finals, including a big victory in New York last year.

Sharapova, Serena Williams

Tennis NewsFlorida, Feb 16: Australian Open finalists Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams have both withdrawn from next week's the Dubai Tennis Championships due to injury. No. 1 Sharapova will not play the $1.5-million event due to a hamstring injury she suffered several weeks ago in Tokyo."I'm very disappointed to have to withdraw," read a statement from the Florida-based Russian. "The hamstring that I injured in Tokyo is not yet healed."I tried everything possible to be in condition to play, but unfortunately I'm not ready. I'm looking forward to continuing to recover as quickly as possible so that I can get back on the court competing."Melbourne winner Williams continued her February string of withdrawals, having not played since lifting the Grand Slam nearly three weeks ago over Sharapova 6-1, 6-2.The American followed up her pullout from this week's tournament in Bangalore by pulling from Dubai, citing flu. Justine Henin, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Martina Hingis head the women's field.The men's event begins the following week of February 26th, where Spain's Rafael Nadal will defend his title against three-time former champion and world number 1 Roger Federer.Also confirmed for that field are Russian number 3 Nikolay Davydenko, Spain's Tommy Robredo, and German Tommy Haas. Five of the world Top Ten are due in the emirate.