More spectacular Russian female failure on the tennis court to report. Surprise, surprise.
Russia placed seven seeds into the 32-seed draw at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California last week, but only one in the top 10 and only two in the top 15. Russia, you may have heard, is slipping.
And then it got worse.
Both of Russia’s two top seeds (#3 Vera Zvonareva and #11 Svetlana Kuznetsova) and three of its top four seeds (adding #17 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova) were blasted out of the major event before stepping on the court for their third matches. A fifth seed, #24 Maria Kirilenko, likewise lost her second match.
Zvonareva lost her second match to the lowly #25 seed, while Kuznetsova did even worse, losing her first first match (following a bye) to an unseeded wild-card qualifier from the USA. Pavlyuchenkova and Kirilenko were booted out in their second matches, but at least they lost to a higher seeds.
With more than half the Russian field devastated before their third matches could start, this left only three Russian contenders to vie for the title: #16 Maria Sharapova, #18 Nadia Petrova, #22 Alisa Kleybanova, with limping former #1 Dinara Safina, now ranked a lowly #108 in the world,also in the mix. All in the top half of the draw, at most one of them could reach the finals, though an all-Russian semi-finals match was possible.
Only Sharapova, the least “Russian” player in the group, made it to the quarter-finals, and only because unlike the other two she was lucky enough to face another Russian, Safina, on the way in. Safina collapsed like a house of cards, winning only two games in the entire match, and handing it to Sharapova on a silver platter.
So then there was one.
It’s pretty demeaning for Russia when the last Russian woman standing at a major tournament is a player who lives in the United States, learned her game there from American teachers, and owns vast real estate holdings in the USA. Sharapova spends virtually no time in Russia, has never brought glory to Russia playing for the national squad, and has a non-Russian boyfriend. Her presence in the Indian Wells quarter finals only served to remind everyone that “real” Russians are nothing but sad little footnote in WTA.
As for Sharapova, she continued proving she’s one of the luckiest human beings ever born to live. First she drew the hapless Safina in her third match after Safina somehow managed to defeat the tournament’s #4 seed. In her fourth match, Sharapova should have had to beat the dangerous #7 seed Na Li, or at least the #11 seed Kuznetsova. Yet both players lost, and this meant that in her quarter-finals Sharapova faced the unseeded and unheard of Shuai Peng of China – ranked a lowly world #36. Even so, Sharapova barely managed to win, squeaking out the victory in three sets. Sharapova waltzed into the semi-finals of one of the world’s most important tournaments without having to face a top 15 seed.
On the opposite side of the draw, the #2, #3, #5 and #6 seeds were all eliminated before the quarter finals. The semis were contested between the #15 and #23 seeds, meaning that if Sharapova reached the finals no credible opponent could stand between herself and the title. The only tough match Sharapova could face in the entire tournament was a semi-final contest against world #1 Caroline Wozniaki — a pseudo “number 1″ who has never taken a grand slam title.
As we’ve reported before, Sharapova’s entire career has been made in this way. She won her first grand-slam title after being saved from a brutal whipping by a rain delay, and our blog has tirelessly documented how time and again sheer dumb luck has advanced her when ability failed. And when luck has been absent, time and again she has gone down to humiliating failure. Her game is utterly one-dimensional and based on pure brute power. When that fails, Sharapova is a lost cause.
Needless to say, in the semi-finals Sharapova was slaughtered and humiliated. Totally non-competitive, she won just three of fifteen games played and managed to hold her own serve just once in the entire match. When she lost her serve for the final, humiliating time, she lost it by double faulting on game point.
And so it goes for Russia’s “dominant” female tennis players. They melted in the hot sun of the American desert just like they always do, playing unwatchable tennis and showing unwatchable personalities, dragging the women’s game ever deeper into the pit of failure.