Hostile crowd boos Sharapova victory in semi-final drama

It takes a special kind of 18-year-old to deal with being booed by fans who see you as a cynical veteran ready to use gamesmanship to undermine a younger opponent. Maria Sharapova has won the hearts of most crowds since lifting the Wimbledon title two years ago but in the semi-finals of the Nasdaq-100 Open here on Thursday night the popular vote was cast overwhelmingly in favour of her opponent, Tatiana Golovin.

Sharapova won to book her place in today's final against a fellow Russian, Svetlana Kuznetsova, but only after the most dramatic match of the fortnight at Key Biscayne. Golovin, who is 10 months younger than Sharapova, had saved four match points in recovering from a set and 5-1 down, only for two and three-quarter hours of pure theatre to end in tears when the French teenager suffered a nasty ankle injury and was forced to retire at 4-3 down in the final set.

The crowd had just seen the last American bow out with James Blake's defeat by Roger Federer - the world No 1 went on to play David Ferrer in last night's semi-finals for the right to meet either Ivan Ljubicic or David Nalbandian in tomorrow's final - and were quick to adopt a player who set up home in Miami last year. Golovin lives on the other side of the Rickenbacker Causeway, which connects the island of Key Biscayne with the mainland, and practises regularly on these courts.

Born in Moscow to Russian parents, Golovin moved with her family to Lyon at eight months old and regards herself as French. However, she joined the Nick Bollettieri academy at Bradenton at the age of seven - Anna Kournikova helped her in her early years and Sharapova is a contemporary - and sounds like a typical Floridan. Ranked No 24 in the world, she has already claimed the scalps of top 10 players, including Venus Williams and Elena Dementieva.

Sharapova took the first set 6-3 and looked totally in command at 4-0 and 5-1 up in the second. The match turned, however, when the Russian served for the match at 5-3. Golovin, with nothing to lose, had already started to swing her racket more freely and her bold approach saved four match points in a marathon game.

At 5-4 Sharapova asked for a toilet break. The umpire said she should wait until before her next service game but was overruled by the supervisor. The crowd, who had already warmed to Golovin's whole-hearted display and smiling demeanour, clearly suspected Sharapova was attempting to break her opponent's rhythm and booed her thereafter.

Errors crept into the Russian's game and Golovin took the second set tie-break when she chased down a drop shot to hit a winner which hit the net cord and then the baseline. The drama heightened when Sharapova appealed without success against the line judge's "in" verdict.

Booed again when she took another toilet break, Sharapova showed great resolve to set the pace in the final set, making the only break of serve in the fifth game. Golovin was not giving up and had a break point at 4-3 down, only to turn her ankle chasing a shot into the corner.

After a lengthy delay for treatment she tried in vain to play one more point before being helped off court and taken to hospital. "I felt the pain as soon as I landed on that ankle," she said.

Sharapova said she had not come over to Golovin's side of the court because she thought her opponent had simply been suffering from cramp. The world No 4 shrugged off the fans' antipathy towards her. "It's part of the sport," she said. "It happens everywhere. The crowd needs entertainment."

Kuznetsova, who overpowered Amélie Mauresmo 6-1, 6-4, has a 2-2 record against Sharapova but has lost on their last two meetings. Sharapova, moreover, is in fine form, having won at Indian Wells a fortnight ago and reached a final and two semi-finals in her other tournaments this year.

* The ankle injury which Andy Murray suffered in Miami last week could force him to withdraw from Britain's Davis Cup tie against Serbia and Montenegro in Glasgow next weekend. A scan has confirmed ligament damage and Murray will monitor his progress daily before deciding whether he can play

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'