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Sazali Abdul Aziz
Sunday, Oct 26, 2014

Sports

Listless Maria Suffers

The New Paper | Sazali Abdul Aziz | Sunday, Oct 26, 2014

After serving a double fault in the second set of her match against Petra Kvitova yesterday, world No. 2 Maria Sharapova shook her head, looked down at her racket and picked at its strings.

In the end, though, the 27-year-old knew her 6-3, 6-2 defeat in a White Group encounter at the BNP Paribas Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, was not down to a hardware issue.

Statistics usually don't lie.

Sharapova committed six double faults in all, and 20 unforced errors.

World No. 3 Kvitova only had two double faults and 13 unforced errors.

And the 24-year-old Czech hit 19 winners to Sharapova's 11, and two aces to zero. The defeat was Sharapova's second at the week-long WTA Finals, and left her hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals hanging by a thread.

Facing the press later, the Russian was in defiant mood, brushing aside suggestions that her three-hour-plus defeat by Caroline Wozniacki on Tuesday had left her feeling drained.

Said the 2004 WTA champion: "Of course I had a long match two days ago but I don't feel tired.

"I'm happy to be here, a part of this event.

"It's easy to sit here and say: I'm tired, I lost two matches. But that's not the way I feel or I choose to speak.

"I still have a match ahead of me and I'll do my best to finish on a good note."

The reigning French Open champion, who arrived here hot after two successive tournament wins, had high hopes of dislodging Serena Williams and finishing the year as world No. 1 for the first time.

But her two successive losses here have put paid to her chances of becoming world No. 1 and she must now win her last group match against Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska in two sets today and hope Wozaniacki beats Kvitova in a similar style, if she hopes to advance to the semi-finals.

Sharapova started yesterday's match strongly, racing to a 2-0 lead in the first set.

But Kvitova eventually found her groove and claimed the first set 6-3.

Unforced errors crept into Sharapova's game in the second set as the five-time Grand Slam winner appeared to wane.

Kvitova, meanwhile, seemed to get stronger and comfortably won the second set 6-2.

It was the two-time Wimbledon champion's third win over Sharapova in nine meetings, and the first since 2011.

She was delighted with the way she bounced back after her opening defeat by Radwanska in their first match on Tuesday, which started close to midnight because of the Sharapova-Wozniacki epic.

Said Kvitova: "I was really disappointed when I lost to Aga (Radwanska).

"It was a match I didn't really know what I was doing, and for a moment, I was sick and tired of tennis.

"So I didn't practise yesterday and I just relaxed, cleared my mind a bit.

"I played (Sharapova) in the Beijing final (at the China Open last month, which Sharapova won) and I knew what I needed to do. I served better today than in Beijing, for sure.

"Everything I did today was really good... And I'm glad I beat her and still have a chance to go into the semi-final."


This article was first published on October 24, 2014.
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