If we were to tell you that so-called “Russian” tennis player Maria Sharapova won a match against a top-ten opponent despite having her own serve broken six times while serving a shocking fifteen — yes, fifteen, nearly four full games’ worth of — double faults, we bet we know how you’d respond.
“She must have been playing a Russian,” you’d quip.
And you’d be right.
And since there are only two Russians ranked in the top 10 in the world right now (how the mighty have fallen!), you’d know it would have to have been either Elena Dementieva or Vera Zvonareva she “defeated” in this manner. It was in fact “the Demented One,” Dementieva, at the Bank of the West tournament at Stanford University in California last week.
Sharapova entered the tournament because she knew she could not be required to face any of the top four players in the world, all of whom skipped the tournament. No Clijsters, no Henin, no Williams sisters, no Jancovic, no Wozniaki.
What’s more, with the tiny field of contestants it took only two matches to reach the quarterfinals, matches against third-rate pretenders, and then she was lucky enough to face a hapless Russian, a player so wretched that Sharapova could hand her three full free games on double faults and see her serve broken an additional three times simply due to wretched play and still prevail over the course of three sets. Sharapova won less than a third of service points after missing her first serve, yet Elena “the serveless wonder” was even more pathetic and it made no difference.
So our gal Shamapova weedled her way into the finals, and once there she showed why we consider her the luckiest woman ever to step on a pro tennis court. Seeded number five, not only was Shamapova not required to face any of the four higher seeds in the final, she didn’t even have to face #6 or #7. It fell to lowly #8 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, ranked just #18 in the world, to prevent Shamapova from taking the title. Once again, it was as if the tournament had been rigged from the beginning for Shamapova to win it.
And our gal Shamapova did try, really she did. She brought her “A” game, serving over 70% and whipping in five aces with a measly trio of double faults. It did not matter in the least. The lower-seeded Belarussian still broke Sharapova’s serve six times over the course of nine service games, utterly crushing the hapless Russian and blowing her off the court in easy straight sets. In the final game of the match, on Sharapova’s serve, our gal Maria did not win a single point, and she managed to win only one game in that set.
So much for Russian domination in women’s tennis.