French Open final: No looking back for Sharapova

The 26-year-old Russian has the odds stacked against her despite being the defending champion, the second seed and boasting a 12-match unbeaten run at Roland Garros.

On the other side of the net will be a player who is on a career best 30-match winning streak and currently playing some of the finest tennis the women's game has seen in years.

The 31-year-old American's 6-0, 6-1, 46-minute demolition of Sara Errani in the semifinals was frightening in its intensity and French Open organisers will be hoping that this result is not re-produced in a championship match broadcast around the world.

The record books do not provide comfort reading for Sharapova. In 15 previous encounters with Williams, she has won just twice, both in 2004, in the Wimbledon final and at season-ending WTA Championships when she was just 17.

Since then she has managed to win just three sets, the last of those coming in a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 defeat in the Miami final in March. The last match between the two saw Williams win easily 6-1, 6-4 in the final at Madrid last month.

Asked if she was able to bury those depressing statistics deep in the back of her mind, Sharapova replied: "Well, you certainly try to.

"I mean, if I was thinking about it, that wouldn't be a great mindset to go into that match like that.

"But, despite that record and despite me being unsuccessful against her, I believe that I'm happy to be setting up chances to be going out and facing her – someone that's been playing and dominating tennis for almost a year now. You know, her success has been incredible.

"But going into a French Open final, that doesn't matter. It all starts from zero. You've got to play until the last point, and believe in yourself."

Messy 11 double faults
The Russian's form so far in the tournament has been mainly impressive, starting with four straight sets wins.

But she then lost the first set 0-6 against Jelena Janković in the quarterfinals before gathering herself and she then served up a messy 11 double faults in her semifinal win over Victoria Azarenka.

A repeat of that in the final against Williams would be fatal, she knows.

"Against her, you have to be able to do keep up your level for a long period of time," she said. "That set and a half [in Miami] wasn't enough.

"You know, a letdown here or there is enough to get her back in the match, and that's what she did there."  – AFP

Allan Kelly
Allan Kelly works from Versailles. Sports Editor AFP in Paris Allan Kelly has over 137 followers on Twitter.
Advertisting

Inquest into Neil Aggett’s death begins

The trade unionist was found hanged in his cell at the John Vorster Square police station in 1982

SANDF colonel accused of swindling colleagues in UN business scam

A senior soldier who is part of South Africa’s peacekeeping missions is accused by her colleagues of swindling them out of of hundreds of thousands of rands in a nonexistent business deal

Mass store and job cuts at Massmart

Changed market conditions and an appalling economy has hit low end cash-and-carry outlets

Courts to guide land expropriation

Two bits of law need to be approved before a court can decide if land owners will be compensated
Advertising

Press Releases

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.