Sharapova as Russia
Maria Sharapova is no longer ranked in the top 25 players in the world. Her new ranking as of last week was #30, below that of obscure journeywoman Ai Sugiyama of Japan.
Is Sharapova, who will turn 22 on April 19th and doesn’t have a college degree, all washed up?
She has won a grand total of $2,000 playing tennis so far in 2009, and it’s been a whole year since she won a tennis tournament (the Tier II event at Amelia Island in April 2008). And the only reason she managed to scrape up that title was dumb luck: in the finals she drew an unseeded Slovakian not ranked in the world’s top 30, and at no time during the tournament did she have to face an opponent ranked in the top 20. Her Amelia Island luck was no fluke: In her most recent victory prior to it, she had taken the Tier I title at Doha Qatar the month before, again meeting an unseeded opponent in the finals and not having to face a top-20 opponent at any point in the draw. The last time Sharapova won a tennis tournament by beating a top-10 opponent in the finals was well over a year ago, in January 2008.
Sharapova currently has 1,680 points on the 365-day ranking charts while the world number one, American Serena Williams, has 9,432. Just to crack the top 10, Sharapova would need to earn more than 2,000 additional points while the #10 player stood still, something that won’t happen any time in the forseeable future.
Sharapova is, and has always been, a cosmic fraud — just as we said way back in the earliest days of this blog, and now her day of reckoning has come. As such, she’s the perfect symbol of her native land, Russia.
Just as Russia prefers to try to fool the world by relying on oil prices rather than building a real economy, Shamapova prefers to rely on T&A rather than developing a real tennis game. Certainly the most one-dimensional player ever to hold the #1 ranking, Sharapova never won a tournment while holding that elite position and lost it almost as soon as she took it over. Her three grand-slam victories have come through exactly the same kind of sheer dumb luck that gave her those titles at Amelia Island and Doha last year, being placed in amazingly fortunate positions in the draws and then catching top players on shockingly bad days.
What’s more, the notion that Sharapova’s accomplishments, such as they are, bring glory to Russia is nonsense. Sharapova didn’t learn how to play tennis in Russia, she learned how from American masters in Bradenton, Florida. She fled her country as a child, speaks English on the court and resides permanently in the United States even though, these days, she has no reason to other than personal preference.
The world saw the true essence of Shamapova, as we like to call her, when she won her first grand slam, at the All-England Club in 2004. In her semi-finals match with American Lindsey Davenport, Sharapova was easily crushed in the first set, winning only two games, and was far behind in the second when it suddenly, magically started to rain. The match was postponed and the aging Davenport lost her mojo, going down in a second-set tiebreaker and then handing the third set to Shamapova without the slightest struggle.
It’s almost eerie how closely Sharapova’s fortunes have tracked those of her native land, which has been exposed as an even more spectacular fraud and collapsed even more breathtakingly. The so-called “resurgent” Russian economy has tanked right along with Sharapova’s rating, with the ruble down a third, reserves down by half and the stock market down three quarters.
Now, of course, the excuses fall like rain. Russia’s “prime minister” blames Russia’s economic failure on a “global” crisis, ignoring the fact that Russia’s performance during the crisis has been far worse than that of any other major nation, while Sharapova claims injury. But the fact is that both have been exposed as frauds. Neither took the time to develop real fundamentals, both benefitted excessively from dumb luck and became vastly overconfident, even arrogant. Neither was prepared for adversity, like the famous grasshopper who was bettered by the industrious ant, and now once again both are dominated by Amerricans.
Will either Russia or Sharapova learn anything from their recent tribulations? We don’t think so. We think both will prefer to continue living in world of hallucinatory denial, right up until the final, total failure that ends them the way it ended the USSR.
But we’d love to be proved wrong.