With one final shriek, Sharapova is gone
It’s beyond me how anyone can deride women’s tennis as being dull. The relentless changing of the guard at the top of the world rankings and the general air of a free-for-all that the grand slams are cited as weak points in the game, when the sheer unpredictability of women’s tennis (compared to the men’s game) is precisely the reason it should be celebrated.
What many of the critics are really bemoaning, I suspect, is that Maria Sharapova didn’t go on to become the women’s Roger Federer. And while you couldn’t help be enthralled by her Wimbledon match against Gisela Dulko of Argentina on Wednesday, the Russian’s nailbiting defeat beneath the sunshine on centre-court is only going to bring more tut-tuts about the state of the game.
Which is a shame… because this was an absolute humdinger — the best match, involving men or women, on centre court so far this year.
When Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004 at the age of just 17, the breathtaking power and accuracy with which she hit her shots seemed set to usher in a long spell as the game’s dominant force.
It didn’t happen that way. It was Justine Henin who established herself as the world number one and almost as soon as the Belgian had retired, Sharapova was struck by a shoulder injury that forced her out for nine months.
Sharapova is making her way back up the rankings but it’s been slow going. She went out at the quarter-final stage at Roland Garros and here she just made too many errors in her defeat by Dulko, who five years ago to the day beat Martina Navratilova at the same second round stage.
Sharapova was pretty bad in the first set but dominated the second and fought tooth and nail to stay in the match in the third. She saved four match points and somehow stayed alive with a net cord on the fifth but then with one final shriek, and an overhit forehand, she was gone.
Bad for Wimbledon maybe, but a great tennis match.