Saturday, June 7, 2014


Today at the French Open we have tennis great Siberian Maria Sharapova (seeded number 7)  and former French Open champion, playing against Romanian Simona Halep (seeded number 4) competing in the women's final.

Maria's most dominant strength? It is her belief in herself, to go for her shots even while she is down the first set, down in the second.  To me, she rallies best for herself, to keep going for her shots and knowing that they will kick in and turn the tide in her favor.  So far, this has occurred in her French Open here against latest opponent Bouchard, her previous opponent Sam Stosur, and the conqueror over Serena Williams, Muguruza. Click here for summary of Maria's performance thus far. 

And Simona? Her dominant strength is consistency. Advancing to the finals in this slam is no easy feat, and she has arrived in straight sets.  That is a solid player. No fooling around with Simona! To advance in straight sets is evidence of focus, drive and persistence to get the job done. And Simona does it. She is an efficient player. She is 5'6", and it will be interesting to see how she plays her game against the 6'2" Maria. Click here for more on Simona Halep's stats thus far in the French Open. 

Everyone is seated, and these two fabulous players enter Roland Garros. What excitement!  A great Saturday afternoon, what luck for everyone! What is Maria thinking? Anything? She is 27, and looks driven in her light coral and white, escorted by a ball boy into the arena. 

Simona enters, also escorted, her first grand slam final, in coral and purple colors.  Purple the color of royalty, coral the color of the clay.

Oh my goodness, Simona is so short compared to Maria!

This could work for and against both players.

Look at the legs and footwork of Simona.  She will be a tough contender. Maria has won 19 straight matches on clay. 31 career singles titles.

Maria plays a power game, Simona has the grace and the timing and capitalizes on winning points, a win garners more wins, she understands the game aspect.  She is smart.

This will be a great match. A match of wits versus braun. 

Note the italicized text, this indicates important strategy, tactics, moves, momentum swings.


Okay, Maria opens with the serve.  The characteristic exhale.  Polite clapping, Point to Maria.  Now 15-15. These two young women are so beautiful, they are fit beauties! In love with their sport. 15-40 now. 30-40. Fault. 40-40 now. double fault. AD Halep. Let serve. Fault.  Game to Halep, Maria hits a wide cross court volley.

Halep serves, 15-0. Great footwork, smaller steps for Halep here, all in her favor. A four shot rally, 15-15 now. 15-30 now. Maria hits long from the net, 30-30. 40-30, had Maria on the run.  Maria has Simona on the run! 40-40. Great crosscourt from Maria.  40-40. A two ball rally, AD Halep. Fault. Maria in trouble at the baseline, Simona comes in immediately to the net and gracefully puts the ball away. Game to Halep, 2-0. This is a great game to show how to get ahead quickly in an opening set.

Maria serves. Halep gos to Maria's backhand twice, but Maria returns down the line for a winner. 15-0. 30-15 now.  30-30 now.  Maria is going for BIG shots.  Each is trying to corner the other. 40-30 now.  Both women are all over the net, Maria gets the point and the game at 1-2 now.

Halep serves.  If she can hold service she will take the set.  You only have to break your opponent once and hold serve to win the set.  Maria will be looking every chance she can get to break Simona.

Halep serves, 15-0.  15-15 now.  A three shot crosscourt rally, point to Halep, 30-15.  Another rally, point to Maria.  Thsi could be a long day at the office for both players!  30-30. Fault.  Point to Sharapova, hitting early. 30-40.  Halep corners Maria gets to the net and gets the point, 40-40 now. Now AD Maria.  Both are really fighting for this crucial point.  Back to deuce, 40-40.  Halep goes for a drop shot, Maria approaches net and puts away down the line. AD Maria.  Fault.  Another crucial break point. Maria hits out. 40-40 now.  Now AD Maria. Fault. Game to Maria, she over powered from the baseline, hitting early, back on serve at 2-2 now.

Maria serves.  0-15 now.  Maria gets to the net and puts away. 15-15 now.  Maria is dictating this point, now at 30-15. 30-30.  Great serve from Maria, 40-30 now.  Maria hits long, 40-40. Now AD Maria.  Halep corners and gets Maria on the run hitting from the net, AD Halep.  Another angle from Maria, 40-40. Now AD Maria.  Both women are working hard for each point. Relentless tennis. 40-40 now.  This is a long game.  Finally, Maria holds for 3-2 now.

Now, Maria will look for each point to break Halep.  She will really turn on the heat, let's see!

Halep serves, 0-15 now.  15-15 now.  15-30, such quality tennis here. Long rally, net play, a lob, it is all here. 15-40, okay Maria gets her wish and breaks Halep. 4-2, Maria.

Maria serving.  0-15. How often does that happen in the score? You win one point, even a crucial one, then lose the next.  This is a very tough match for both players.  Fault, now Halep hits long, 15-15. Maria is playing her strength game. 30-15.  Halep is being steamrolled, says McEnroe, she needs another gear to intensify her efforts.  40-15.  Maria holds her serve quickly, she speeds up in quick points to lead at 5-2 now. 

Halep serves at 40-0 now, a good spot to be for any player defending.  3-5 games to Halep.

Maria serves.  Hits long after 3 shots, 0-15 now.  Halep is focused. Maria gets quickly to the net. 15-15. Maria is not giving away any points here.  Hits long, 15-30. Halep has turned up the net hitting early. Maria double faults. 15-40 here.  Tennis rewards the aggressor.  Great first serve, Halep cannot control. 30-40 now.  Maria is hitting all balls on angles, but Halep gets back and Maria hits long and wide, Halep breaks back Maria, now at 4-5.

Halep serves, let's see what she does.  Already at 15-0.  15-15 now.  Maria switched to a new racquet.  15-30 here. Maria is hitting harder and going bigger. Maria hits long, going for her shots certainly with the power. 30-30. Maria corners, runs Halep she gets to net Halep returns long, 30-40 now. Tough point here.  Halep plays to the middle then on shot 2 corners the ball for a winner. 40-40 now.  Now AD Maria, from a weaker second serve.  Another set point, let ball.  A tough spot to be in, Halep seems defensive and Maria is aggressing, she breaks Halep and takes the first set!  BIG fist pump from Maria!


Maria opens the second set.  Serving at 40-0 now.  Halep has to want this more, says commentator John McEnroe. Maria has had 18 winners to Halep's 9.  Maria's net game and volleys have helped her. Game to Maria, 1-0.

Halep serves, at 15-15 now.  Maria hits long from the crosscourt, 30-15, go Halep!  Wow, a powerpoint form Maria, hit to the deep corner and coming in fast to the service line. 30-30, now Maria hits deep and 40-30.  Fault. Second serve.  40-40 now.  AD Maria.  Tough spot to be in for Halep.  Maria just walks in the other direction at baseline (why is she walking like that?) and Halep puts way for 40-40.  Maria has such power in her shots, tough for Halep. AD Maria, now she hits long, 40-40.  Maria is going for broke here, you have to give her a lot of credit for going for her shots!  At 40-40.  Fault. Double fault, wanted more on the second serve, oh well.  AD Maria.  Fault.  Halep hits long on second shot, game to Maria leading at 2-0.

Maria serves.  You have to dominate to win in this sport.  There is no other way.  Maria does it with her power.  0-15. 0-30, a chance for Halep, but not to be too optimistic! 15-30 now. Focus, focus.  Maria has more firepower, more belief, says McEnroe.  I love his commentary! 15-40 now.  A break would be good for Halep!  Maria hits out, Halep breaks to get on the board at 1-2 now.

Halep serves.  She has had a lot of second serves to Maria's delight.  15-0, A question about the serve. Maria hits a long volley, 30-0.  Halep hits a winner down the line and Maria cannot return, Now 40-0! 40-15 now.  Halep needs to hold on and play her game.  Maria is really attacking, Halep is on the run but steadies herself pounds back and Maria hits long, game to Halep! 2-2 now. The slice took the pace off Maria's topspin, to Halep's advantage.

Maria serves. 0-15 now.  0-30 now.  Maria pounds back for 15-30.  30-30 now! This is a great match!  Maria has Halep running and running some more along the baseline. Fist pump. 40-30.  Fault.  40-40.  Halep hits long, 40-30.  AD Maria.  Maria is just pounding that ball, she is going for broke and wins the game! 3-2, Maria.

Halep serves, 15-0.  Fault.  Maria hits long, 30-0.  Halep needs to get more first serves in.  Windy conditions on the court.  A line check, 30-15.  Halep holds for quick service games, holding at 3-3 now!

Maria serves. 15-0. 30-0. 40-0.  It appears both players are conserving energy.  Maria playing harder on this point, 40-15.  Halep comes back at 40-30, a chance.   Each has the other on the run, but Maria prevails, holding serve at 4-3.

Halep serves.  This is a crucial game and Maria will be going all out to break her, hold serve and win the French Open 2014.  Will this happen, or something else? The French crowd is going wild, they know.

Okay, Halep serves.  Maria hits long, 15-0. Maria misses a passing shot, 30-0.  Halep had given her a drop shot which Maria got, then passed her.  Now at 30-15.  Hitting like the dickens here!  30-30 now.  30-40 now.  Maria is dictating each point, it is clear Halep is on the defense.  Now Halep dictates!!! 40-40 now! Wow, what strength and resolve!  Fault.  Okay, Maria dictates from a service line volley.  Halep dictates now by angling and hitting early.  40-40, AD Halep now!!  Game Halep!! 4-4 now, what a match!

Maria serves. 15-0.  Halep is not giving up easily.  Neither is Maria. 30-0.  30-15 now.  40-15 now.  So many angles these players have. Maria hits long, 40-30 now. 40-40 now, this is huge for Halep. So much fancy footwork and tough tough shots and scrambling by both players, AD Halep!!  Like David and Goliath out there!  Break point here.  This is not what Maria wants! Now, she hits out, game Halep, she leads at 5-4, the first lead since early in the first set, go Halep!  Such fabulous playing here.

Halep serves.  A four shot rally, Halep hits long 0-15.  A two shot rally, Halep hits long, 0-30. gets the next point at 15-30.  A lines man is called to evaluate the mark.  No Hawk Eye here. 15-40.  30-40.  This is a real fight going on here. Maria's ball just clears the net, 5-5 now.

Maria serves, 0-15. Fault.  Back and forth, 0-30 now.  I love both their outfits!!  Okay, Halep weakens Maria who is knee bending in the corner, so Halep approaches the net and puts the ball away from the net.  0-40.  This match is almost 2 hours long now.  BIG first serve, 15-40.  Halep returns long, 30-40 now. Maria is playing BIG to defend here.  Maria hits long, Halep leads at 6-5.

Halep serves.  0-15.  Maria is defending BIG, Halep errs and hits ball wide, 0-30.  Maria hitting BIG, Halep hits long. 0-40 now.  Fault.  Both at net, Maria just took that game from Halep!  6-6 here.

Tiebreaker.  Maria opens from deuce court.  Fault.  seven shot rally, Maria hits long and wide, point to Halep.  Halep serves form AD court.  1-1 now. Halep serves form deuce court.  Fault.  Maria dominates, 2-1.  Maria serves from AD, loses the point, 2-2 now.  maria serves from deuce court,  fault, Maria hit sa dominant backhand, 3-2 now.  Halep serves, Maria dominates, 4-2 now.  A change over now at the 6th game.  Halep serves from the deuce court.  Fault. Maria hits long, 3-4 to Halep.  Maria serves from AD court, fault, Halep hits long, 5-3 Maria.  Maria serves from the deuce court, Halep has Maria on the run, Halep gets the point at 4-5 now.  Halep serves from AD court, Halep has Maria off the court wide, gets the point to tie up at 5-5!!!!! Halep serves from deuce court and gets the point! Halep at 6-5.  Maria serves from AD court.  Maria serves evenly, Halep attacks and Maria is wide and loses the point.  Halep gets the set!!


Halep serves first, finally!  However, now at 15-40.  At the changeover, Maria changed her dress, same style though!  Maria gets the quick break.  Predictable behavior after a big win for Halep in the tiebreaker.

Maria serves now. 15-0.  Faults, 15-15 now.  Anything is possible here, folks! 15-30.  Halep is dominating more here, she seems fresh. 15-40.  Maria is taking her time serving.  Fault.  Halep breaks back! 1-1. 

Halep serves.  She is focused and ready. 0-15. Nothing too unusual here, 40-30 now.  Halep has a great chance to take this Open.  Halep dictates from the service line and takes the game. 2-1 now. 

Maria serves now. 0-15.  These points are so close.  Fabulous down the line shot by Maria, going for her shots, great follow through over the shoulder.  Keeps the ball inside the lines. 40-15 now.  40-30 now.  Halep defends well. 40-40 now.  AD Maria. 40-40 again.  Maria takes ball from air but shanks wide, AD Halep.  40-40 again.  Has Maria struggling at the baseline, so gets immediately to the net for the put away point.  AD Halep.  Maria has Halep on th run, 40-40 now.  Fault.  AD Maria.  Very windy here.  Maria finally takes her game! 2-2 now.

Halep serves.0-30 now. Maria is in her element! 0-40 now. Incredible.  15-40 now.  Halep's service volleys and net game are to her advantage, needs to do more.  30-40 now.  Maria breaks Halep!  Amazing!

This match has evolved into something more than choosing a French Open champion. It is about nerve, grit, strength, resolve.

Maria serves now.  0-30 now.  Maria is taking her shots as volleys from the service line.  A great shot to have, quick and easy points if your legs can get you there!  Maria leading at 4-2.

Halep serves. 0-15.  Momentum is in Maria's side of the court.  15-15 now.  Halep is strong!  30-15 now.  30-30 now.  40-30 now. Halep holds at 3-4 now.  

Anything is possible in this match!

Maria serves now. 15-30 now.  A dangerous score.  Fabulous serve, impossible to return, wow.  30-30.  When Maria is down she plays BIG.  This is a champion.  Maria returns wide, 30-40. Good heavens, Maria double faults and breaks! 4-4 now.

This match has been going on for two hours 57 minutes.

Halep serves.  A late call and called out, but it is good.  0-15. A tight call.  0-30.  0-40 now.  Maria is on.  Maria dominates and wins the game! She will be serving for the championship at 5-4.

Maria serves.  Great serve, she is fresh, looks like the first set. 15-0.  Fault.  Maria has Halep in trouble on her knees at the baseline, comes in and puts the ball away. 30-0. Halep hits long. 40-0. Serving for the match now.  Maria has Halep jammed by hitting deep and close to Halep's body, and Halep hits wide.

Maria wins the French Open 2014!

Congratulations, Maria Sharapova!  She is climbing in the stands to meet up with her coach and loved ones. She has worked so hard, remarkable!

photo courtesy Associated Press

                                   And Simona Halep, you played valiantly, we love you!

photo courtesy FFT

1 comment:

  1. I am usually a big fan of the underdog--and I really appreciate when a player of diminutive size conquers an amazonian. One of my favorite moments in recent tennis history was the occasion of the tiny Justine Henin knocking out the two Williams sisters back to back on her way to the championship.

    However I adore Maria. I have an action shot of her on my kitchen cabinet--it's one of the first things I see on my daily early morning coffee ritual. I appreciate the way she totally transformed the women's game when she won Wimbledon at age 17, proving that youth, beauty, a fighting spirit and a will to win can be a recipe for champion success in women's tennis--breaking the mold. I also admire a come back kid--so I am throwing down the rose petals, long live the queen, long may she reign.