Sharapova sails away with title as Ivanovic fluffs lines
Third Grand Slam for Russian after misguided drop shot proves turning point
Sunday 27 January 2008
Sporting contests can be decided in a fraction of a second and in the months ahead Ana Ivanovic will probably reflect long and hard on the moment that changed the course of her Australian Open final against Maria Sharapova here yesterday. The 20-year-old Serb had just won three games in a row and was leading 5-4 and30-15 on Sharapova's serve when presented with an easy mid-court ball that demanded to be put away for a winner. Ivanovic chose instead to attempt a drop shot, fluffed the ball into the net and her chance was gone.
Sharapova won the next two points, broke Ivanovic in the following game and went on to win 7-5, 6-3 to claim her third Grand Slam title. "It hurts, I can tell you that," Ivanovic said as she ref-lected on that defining moment. "It was poor shot selection."
We will never know what might have been if Ivanovic had taken the first set, but the harsh truth is that the world No 3, who will climb one place in tomorrow's updated ranking list, did not deserve to beat a resolutely determined Sharapova. It was a mediocre match – the organisers will be hoping for better when Novak Djokovic takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in today's men's final – but the Russian's mental strength and sheer determination shone through.
Even though she is only seven months older than Ivanovic, Sharapova has packed plenty into her 20 years, and the experience gained through her victories at Wimbledon in 2004 and at the 2006 US Open was clearlya help. "When she had that opportunity to break me and win that set, I think experience definitely helped me because I didn't get impatient," Sharapovasaid. "I was calm. I served my way out of it. She got a bit tight and nervous but I was just steady. I made her hit another ball and it slipped away from her."
Sharapova played conservatively, inviting her opponent to make mistakes, and Ivanovic's 33 unforced errors compared with Sharapova's 15 were crucial. While Ivanovic did not suffer a repeat of the nerves that ruined her previous attempt to win a Grand Slam final, against Justine Henin in Paris last summer, her game grew shaky in the face of Sharapova's consistency, which provedas stifling for the Serb(right) as the heat on a steamy Melbourne afternoon.
The world No 5 did not concede a point on her own serve until the eighth game, denied Ivanovic any break points in the second set, won 89 per cent of points on her first serve and made only three double faults in the entire match. All, bizarrely, came in a single game in the first set, when Ivanovic broke back to level at 4-4, having dropped her serve in the fifth game. Ivanovic's serve held up well enough, but the rest of her game did not, and after she played a poor game to go a break down at4-3 in the second set the end was swift.
At the end, Sharapova ran over to celebrate with her father and then phoned her mother. She also received a congratulatory text from Billie Jean King, who had sent her a message before the match. "She said champions take chances and pressure is a privilege," Sharapova said.
By not dropping a set in the entire tournament Sharapova underlined how well she has come back both from the psychological blow of winning only three games against Serena Williams in the final here 12 months ago and from the shoulder injury that went on to disrupt her campaign in 2007.
The bad news for her rivals is she believes her best is yet to come. "I don't think I'm at [my] peak yet," Sharapova said.
Chelsea victory parade mocked on Twitter as 'tens of fans' pack the streets of London
Preston fan who appeared to snatch Jermaine Beckford's shirt from eight-year-old boy identified and says: 'the truth will come out'
Danny Ings to Tottenham: Spurs rival Liverpool for £6m Burnley striker
FA ban Aston Villa flag for the FA Cup final because it contains a reference to Arsenal
Manchester United season player ratings: Grading Louis van Gaal's entire squad
- 1 I was raped by another man. And now the Government wants to take away the one thing that saved my life
- 2 Preston fan who appeared to snatch Jermaine Beckford's shirt from eight-year-old boy identified and says: 'the truth will come out'
- 3 Priest warns pupils the 'Charlie Charlie Challenge' is 'demonic activity'
- 4 Iran launches anti-Isis cartoon competition 'to expose true nature of Islamic State'
- 5 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train