Perils ahead as Sharapova progresses

It was not hugely apparent yesterday, but great dangers lie ahead for the latest of tennis golden girls, Maria Sharapova.

A 6-4, 7-5 defeat of Amy Frazier leads her into a quarter-final with Ai Sugiyama and, further ahead, possibly a semi-final encounter with the 1999 champion Lindsay Davenport. Both hold more threat than Sharapova's opponent yesterday.

Yet it is not sportsfolk the Russian has to worry about. She should fear the apparent friends dressed in bow ties, braces and exotic spectacles, the advertising and marketing lions who have already circled the 17-year-old.

Sharapova signed with IMG Models last year and will increasingly find sharper practitioners than Frazier requesting her time and further testing a resolve to concentrate singly on tennis.

Sharapova is already box office and the cause is not wholly dependent on her swiftly improving tennis. Long-limbed, 6ft-tall presentable young women have an agenda set for them.

The girl also comes with a pretty story. Sent from Siberia, which is probably the right direction in which to be travelling, she arrived with her father, Yuri, in Florida as a seven-year-old with $700 and a desire to succeed. The young Sharapova took board and lodging at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy at Bradenton, and survived long periods of loneliness. She felt like crying, but resisted it. The teenager likes to think of herself as a strong character.

So it was on Court No 1 yesterday that the lenses from the photographers' pit all pointed in the same direction from the first point. Like twitchers in a hide, they were there for only one shot.

That is not to say there was nothing arresting about Frazier. There is a history of melanomas in her family, and a consequence is that the woman from St Louis slaps on a foundation layer of sun block factor 30 from the eyes downwards, half an hour before every match and then applies another just before she goes out. It is a necessity which has left her with a troglodyte complexion.

This was the American's 16th Wimbledon and 62nd Grand Slam, the most among regular active players. This Frazier is another long-running American serial.

You do not survive this long without acquiring a certain amount of savvy and the 31-year-old - the oldest remaining player in the draw against the second youngest - opened up a 4-2 first set lead with a flurry of clever angles. But then the double faults, and there were to be 12 of them, started kicking in. Frazier lost four games on the trot, culminating in a double on set point.

Sharapova was able to relax. She stopped slapping herself on the thigh and also dispensed with her noises on shot, which are more smoker's wheeze than grunt. The Russian likes to compose herself at the back of the court, lingering near the netting with an almost indecent absence of haste. She clenches her fist after winning big points, as if embarking on a game of one potato, two potato.

Sharapova acknowledges that she has yet to grow into her antelope frame, but the robustness is gradually coming. "I've been working on that in the off-season like crazy because it's the one thing I think can improve my game tremendously, getting stronger physically, being able to last two weeks at a Grand Slam, as now I'm in the second week," she said. "I'm feeling very good. Physically, I'm feeling a lot stronger."

Mentally she is no blancmange either. Sharapova stepped outside her cocoon only once yesterday, when sport was over and she could blow kisses to the four corners of No 1. It was another small payment on the emotional investment of her parents. She aims to clear the debt as soon as possible but professes no pressure to do so.

"I know that my parents made a lot of sacrifices in my life and they always try to do the best for me," Sharapova said. "At moments like these I can return them with favours. That's what they wanted me to do in life.

"There is no pressure. Who has an opportunity in life like I do right now at the age that I am? If I feel that I have too much pressure, I'll leave. I'm 17 years old. What do I have to lose in this world?"

News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
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.

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there