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?"

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
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.

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world