Greetings Tennis Fanatics,
A big weekend of semi final action in the U.S. is headlined by perhaps the most recognizable name in all of Woman's tennis. I might be going out on a limb here, but I'd say that there might be more people worldwide who are familiar with Maria Sharapova's Pomeranian, Dolce, than they are with many of the names in the WTA's top-10.
I'm not a fan of little yappy dogs (I prefer the larger breeds who tend to bark less), nor have I ever been a fan of service yips. Dolce wasn't present last night, but Sharapova's yips certainly were.
This blog post says a lot about the state of Maria's comeback from shoulder surgery. In case you missed it, Maria had a horrific (and that's being generous) 2nd set yesterday against Urszula Radwanska. 20 2nd serves, and 11 double faults.
Amazingly, Sharapova eventually recovered to win the set from Radwanska — she was clearly the better player in all other aspects of the game — and, in spite of her obvious difficulties adjusting to her new serving motion, advanced to the semi finals where she will face Italian Flavia Pennetta today.
Sharapova had this to say about the new abbreviated serving motion that she's been using since her comeback from shoulder surgery began in may: "I was hitting from so many different positions, and I created so many bad habits...eventually it's going to work itself into place."
Clearly Maria is having issues. She's double faulted 40 times in her last 3 matches (12 vs. Azarenka, 15 vs. Bondarenko, and 13 last night) — and amazingly she's won them all. If she does get things worked out, the rest of the tour better watch out.
One thing that hasn't changed about Sharapova, however, is her feirceness. She's able to overcome her very real serving issues (issues that would cause a lesser player to crumble) with an incredibly sharp mental focus. She's hungry to win, and she's eager to assert herself over a field that clearly lacks the power to do anything about it.
While Maria's comeback has been ugly at times, one things for sure, fans are behind her. They may be coming for a spectacle more than they are coming for a clinic, but they do come out. You could of heard a pin drop during the afternoon matches at the Home Depot Center — there were probably 200 fans in the stands to watch Sorana Cirstea play Urszula's big sister Agnieska in the quarters yesterday — but that was not the case when Maria took to the court.
Clearly Maria is good for the game. Fans, whether they love her, hate her, worship her beauty, or revile here screeching howls, show up to watch.
If she gets that serve under control, there will be plenty more chances to see her play this summer. It might not be good for Dolce, who probably enjoyed cuddling with Maria during her 10 month rehab, but it is most definitely good for the WTA.