I love three Russians, Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn and Sharapova. I don’t love Putin, and anyway, what kind of a Russian name is Putin?
I watched a fascinating game in the quarter finals of the French Open at Rolland Garros between the magnificent Maria Sharapova and Garbine Mugurutha. Maria Sharapova (seeded 7) is 6 ft 2in, blond, beautiful and impressive to see. Her opponent was a 20 year old unseeded Spanish girl who came from nowhere and defeated Serena Williams (No. 1 in the world). So now she set about demolishing Maria, winning the first set 6:1. Maria had no chance, not only was she making many unforced errors, but Mugurutha (I love that name) was all over her. As the commentator said, this being her first outing in a quarter final of a Grand Slam, while Maria has done 17 of them, Mugurutha would come out aggressively swinging, and she did. Maria could not withstand the onslaught and even looked nervous and flustered. But, in the second set she started playing better, and got to 3:1, then 4:2, but Mugurutha (did I say I love that name) fought back and brought it to 5:5.
But, suddenly Maria started showing her class and out-played Mugurutha and took the second set 7:5. From then on it was an amazing transformation, Maria played like a champion and Mugurutha faded. I think it was case of having “shot her wad,” as they would say if she were a boy. Then Maria over-powered her and won the match 1:6 7:5 6:1. What a strange and interesting transformation. Next time out Mugurutha will harvest her energies more conservatively. But, she is undoubtedly a great player of the next generation, big, fast and accurate. Anyway, Maria is through to the semis. Now that the top seeds are all out (Serena, Radwanska, Li Na) Maria (seeded 7) is the favorite, but it was a narrow escape.
Today I watched Maria go through exactly the same process again, she played Genie Bouchard, the young Canadian challenger, in the semi-final, although this time she lost the first set 6-4, won the second set after several set-backs 7:5 as in the previous match and then won the third set 6-2. Bouchard lasted a bit longer than Mugurutha, and Maria showed her usual nerves and tension, but came through in the end to the final. She will play Simona Halep of Romania the winner of the other semi-final against Andrea Petkovic of Germany.
The Final today was excellent. Apart from the fact that Maria Sharapova made more unforced errors and double faults than she should have, it was a great match, one of the best finals in about 10 years. Halep (seeded 4) played a very good defensive game and kept up with Maria to the end. It was unlike her previous games in that Maria won the first set 6:4, then lost the second one in a tie-break 7:6, but won the final set 6:4. Maria Sharpova is to Russian tennis what Tchaikovsky was to Russian music and Tolstoy was to Russian literature. By the way, who cares about the men’s tournament, its always either Nadal or Djokovic, and this time it was Nadal again.