Sharapova Grinds Into Semifinals
Published March 27, 2013 12:00
For two hours and 29 minutes the two players went toe-to-toe on Stadium court, Sharapova the clear aggressor with her deep, penetrating blasts off the ground and Errani changing up the tempo with her mix of spins, angles and trajectories - and some very successful ventures into the net as well.
Sharapova had the early momentum in the 80-minute first set, building a 5-3 lead and holding two set points in that game - Errani fought them both off and evened the proceedings to 5-5, but it was to no avail as Sharapova broke one more time in the next game and served the opening frame out, 7-5.
The disappointment from the end of the first set didn't damper the No.8-seeded Errani's efforts one bit as she hung tough with Sharapova throughout the second set, going down a break then breaking back, and then going down a break and breaking back again; and after holding for 5-4 she even got her own handful of set points, three to be exact. But Sharapova swatted them all away with winners, two off the backhand and one off the forehand, and after drawing even at 5-5 it was time for one last momentum shift, as the No.3-seeded Sharapova won eight of the last 10 points to put an end to it all, 75 75.
"Sara is extremely difficult to play," Sharapova said of the Italian. "She doesn't have the height or the power, but she gets so many balls back and stays so consistent, and does it over and over again. She is so consistent. She also has great court coverage and variety. She really makes you work.
"She can do a lot of things with that court coverage and variety when she has time, so my success in the beginning of the match and in some other points was when I didn't give her that opportunity. But most of the time I did, and that's why she kept coming back and kept playing really well out there.
"I feel very lucky that I'm through. She had her chances to win that second set - who knows what would have happened. I'm lucky to get to the next one and have a chance to be in the semis again."
Sharapova talked about the three set points she saved in the second set. "To begin with, I don't feel like I should have been in that position," she said. "It's great that I got myself out of it, but I don't think I should have been there. I felt like I made things more difficult than they should have been."
And on saving them with winners? "I want to play aggressive. That's my game. I don't want to wait for my opponent to make mistakes. In those points I just buckled down and made those good shots."
At the end of the day Sharapova extended her winning streak to 10 straight matches, and 20 straight sets as well - the Russian has never won this many sets in a row in her entire tennis career.
"It's one of the toughest back-to-backs of the year," Sharapova commented. "It's the amount of matches. It's also the late matches you play. It's the recovery. And you're coming from different coasts. I mean, it's not just like a hop - it's a five hour flight. The conditions are completely different.
"You have days off between matches, but it's one of the toughest back-to-backs, for sure."