Annals of Shamapova

The tragicomedy of Russian women’s tennis continues unabated in the new year: Maria Shamapova started off 2007 the way she ended 2006, as a pathetic straight-set loser. She was thrashed by Belgian Kim Clijsters at the “Champions Challenge” tournament in Hong Kong 3-7, 6-7 and squandered a 4-1 lead in the second-set tiebreaker. To reach the finals, Sharapova had to struggle past fellow Russian Elena Dementieva, the serveless wonder, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 and was broken four times in the first set. She broke the eighth-ranked Dementieva, twice in the second set to go up 3-0, but lost the next two games. Leading 5-2, she needed six set points to win the second set. Dementieva double-faulted to give Sharapova match point.

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