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.
Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way
Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down
The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies from spine injury after doing somersault celebration
Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Isco will provide just as great a threat at Anfield as the injured Gareth Bale would have
Angel Di Maria injury: Manchester United sweat over fitness of record signing as he is in danger of missing Chelsea clash
Video: Boxer Vido Loncar brutally assaults referee following defeat
Chelsea vs Maribor player ratings: Cesc Fabregas? Eden Hazard? Didier Drogba? Who was the star of the show at Stamford Bridge?
- 1 Salisbury ranked seventh-best city in the world to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015
- 2 Disney announces new female-led film Moana
- 3 Banksy has not been arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 5 Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella