Sharapova Survives, Kvitova Not So Lucky
Published August 29, 2011 12:00
NEW YORK, NY, USA - It may not have been her best tennis, but as she said in her on-court interview, she keeps fighting no matter what. Maria Sharapova toughed out a 36 75 63 win over British teenager Heather Watson on Monday afternoon, improving her season record in three-setters to an impressive 12-0.
Sharapova, the No.3 seed this fortnight, had a -17 differential of winners to errors (41-58), but that was just a bit better than 19-year-old Watson's -21 differential (9-30), and once she clinched the 63-minute second set never fell behind again.
"To be honest, it's quite expected. I didn't know too much about my opponent and she came out and played really smart," Sharapova said. "She was smart in making me hit another ball. I was making so many errors out there. She stuck to her game plan and kept grinding. It was a matter of trying to be consistent out there and winning not just one or two, but three points in a row.
"No matter what your opponent is ranked, if you've played them before, it's a new match, it's a new day. They're going to go out there and try to beat you."
The first round of a Grand Slam has almost always been a strong round for Sharapova - she is now 31-3 in those matches and has now won 31 of her last 32 (she fell in the first round of the 2010 Australian Open to Maria Kirilenko). Sharapova is also 5-0 against Brits now, this being the only three-setter.
And what about the perfect record in three-setters this year? "Sometimes you have a match like this where you're not playing your best, but you get through it and give yourself a chance to keep going, to find yourself in the later stages of the tournament," Sharapova said. "It's good I have a day to practice tomorrow. The best thing about this match is I gave myself a chance to play another one."
Watson, the US Open girls' champion two years ago, was playing the main draw in Flushing Meadows for the first time in her blossoming career.
"I had a lot of fun in my match. It's what I want to do. I want to be out there on the big courts playing the top players," Watson said. "I think I had my chances in the second set. You have to create that opportunity, but you also have to execute - I was probably a bit too defensive on those important points.
"But I always believed I could win. I just wanted to give it everything."
Watson was given a standing ovation as she left the court. "I absolutely loved the atmosphere today. I thought everyone was going to be supporting Maria, but I had a lot of support too. I heard some people calling me Cinderella, all sorts of stuff. And when they were chanting my name, I kind of got the goosebumps."
Sharapova's projected quarterfinal opponent, No.5 seed Petra Kvitova, wasn't so fortunate. Having fallen early in both of her summer hardcourt lead-up tournaments, Kvitova was bounced in the first round earlier in the day, hitting 52 unforced errors and losing to Alexandra Dulgheru in straight sets, 76(3) 63.