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May/18

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Maria Sharapova Dominates Rafa in Rome Practice

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By Scoop Malinowski

Maria Sharapova has declared her revival this week in Rome, crunching Ashleigh Barty in three sets but more impressively she administered a beatdown to Rafa Nadal on the practice court.

Sharapova shared an Instagram video of her playing one, presumably winner take all point, against the “King of Clay” and after a long, brutal, fiercely contested rally, Sharapova began to show her superiority by manipulating the 31-year-old around the court.

In the near thirty second exchange, Sharapova set up the winning combination by blasting a forehand cross court to the vaunted Nadal backhand which he answered with a neutral reply down the middle and deep but the tenacious Russian was all over the shot and blasted a forehand into the Nadal forehand corner.

A desperate Rafa furiously raced after the penetrating attack shot but could not fully control it, launching an errant return which flew well beyond the boundary line both wide and long.

Sharapova proved once again, the female gender has a distinct superiority over male counterparts on the tennis court. The former Queen of Clay and Roland Garros raised her arms aloft like Muhammad Ali after destroying George Foreman, as a beleaguered Nadal lowered his head in stunned silence and a wry smile of acute bewilderment.

Book and movie rights of this latest Battle of the Sexes are currently being negotiated, with Lou Diamond Phillips and Karlie Kloss rumored to play the starring roles.

Sharapova will face bitter rival and critic Dominika Cibulkova in the second round.

Nadal is considering replacing his entire team and re-hiring Uncle Toni after this setback to Sharapova. He also just bought a 49% stake into Sugarpova.

(Note: This article is a parody.)

 

Little Maria Sharapova

Maria with Marcelo Rios at Bollettieri Academy in 1998.

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56 comments

  • catherine · May 16, 2018 at 2:11 am

    Now why would anyone think that was a parody Scoop ?

  • catherine · May 16, 2018 at 6:03 am

    Simona absolutely crushing Osaka. Not even a match.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 16, 2018 at 7:50 am

    Good point Catherine, girl power baby!

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 16, 2018 at 7:51 am

    Today, might have to consider making Simona and Fognini my Roland Garros picks.

  • catherine · May 16, 2018 at 11:56 am

    Sakarri bts Ka Pliskova, which is an upset of a kind . For rest of the women, no big surprises. Kerber/Begu tight as tight, 7/5 in the 3rd for Angie whose legs must be feeling it. 4 dfs didn’t help. But a good battling clay court win for her, although I suspect she’ll be back on the road again shortly.

  • catherine · May 16, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    Sorry, Sakkari. Anyway, she plays Angie next match and won’t be the underdog.

    (Camera angles on some courts in Rome are awful – you can hardly see the player at the far end.)

    Scoop, you would have been proud of Kerber’s vocalising and fist pumping at the end of that match.

    I watched Naomi’s pc just for a change and was interested in something she said about there being two types of players – one who decides to change things in a match and one who goes on the same way. Naomi saw herself as the second today but when she gets to the stage of understanding how to combine the two she’ll be a complete player.

  • catherine · May 16, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    I’m really surprised Hawkeye isn’t used in Rome – any special reason ? Didn’t see the Pliskova/Sakkari incident but it seems to me without Hawkeye there will always be human error and players just have to take the rough with the smooth.

  • catherine · May 16, 2018 at 12:40 pm

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 16, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    Maria mauls Cibulkova in three sets, the same Cibulkova who expressed some unkind words about Maria during her ban, about how she won’t miss her and how cold Maria would never say hi to anyone even if she sat next to you in the locker room. Do you think Maria’s attitude toward opponents is worse than a cold ATP net handshake after a bitter loss, like Sock to Kohlschreiber?

  • Duke Carnoustie · May 16, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    Love Pliskova’s attitude in destroying the chair. She tweeted about how she was robbed too. The WTA has a mess on their hands, they should not fine her.

    I would love to see a Jack Sock or Sam Querrey bust up some equipment like that. they need to show some fire and quick.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 16, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    Querrey actually smashed a racquet earlier this year, the first time I ever saw him do that. Yes Sock and Q should go full Baghdatis. Never knew Pliskova had that kind of fire inside, she was the closest thing to a robot on court of any player in the game. I guess anyone can snap on any given day ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Dan Markowitz · May 16, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    I heard a very cogent reason for why they don’t use Hawkeye on clay courts. The Hawkeye image is not exact, it’s something like 3 cm either way so the players might start doubting Hawkeye on hard/grass courts if they went to Hawkeye on clay and on points where there’s a clear mark, and Hawkeye actually gets wrong call, players might not trust the system on other surfaces.

  • Duke Carnoustie · May 17, 2018 at 1:30 am

    They should go back to no replays so more players can explode and have tantrums. The sport misses the vile behavior of these players who became a punchline for David Letterman.

    Serena took it too far with that one lady at the Open but OK to vent at the officials now and then, like in other sports.

  • catherine · May 17, 2018 at 2:45 am

    Like I said elsewhere – Rome can be the graveyard of hopes and dreams….Muguruza was on court around 3 hours and still managed to lose to Gavrilova.

    Is there any surface Garbine can win on ? And don’t say grass ๐Ÿ™‚

    Where’s Hartt to tell us about Denis ? Can he beat Nadal ?

    I understand Dan’s comment re Hawkeye but it’s always seemed to me pretty iffy, getting down out of the umpire’s chair and going to look at a scuffed court and decide which scuffed mark is the one in question. Plenty of room for human error there.

    (In cricket there’s a version of Hawkeye to show whether a ball’s trajectory means it would miss the stumps or not and quite often the umpire’s decision on challenge is overruled – so I’m in favour of electronic aids in tennis. Might prevent chair destruction.)

  • catherine · May 17, 2018 at 3:52 am

    Muguruza seems to play too many balls up and down the court, she’s not opening it up or going for the angles so she tends to get into these long matches where she loses because she can’t find a winner to cut short the rally and dent the opposition. Gavrilova was able to rally with her. She went to the net quite a bit against Daria but she’s hitting drive volleys which aren’t always coming off. Also she made 65 UEs in that match.

    Didn’t see much in the way of dropshots, lobs etc but I could have missed those in highlights. Garbine has power but not much variety (she’s not alone) and her No 3 ranking is flattering her.

    That match ended around 2am. Barbaric.

  • catherine · May 17, 2018 at 6:16 am

    Simona’s having a good time – a WO v Keys. Plays Garcia or Sloane next.

  • Hartt · May 17, 2018 at 6:50 am

    Lots of drama with Fognini in a big dispute with the ump – so what else is new? But the commies thought that Fognini was correct – that the call came late and did not affect his opponent’s shot. This is relevant to the Hawkeye discussion, because it would help officials if they could see replays of these kind of points.

  • Hartt · May 17, 2018 at 6:53 am

    Further to my past post, it looks like the dispute fired up Fognini, because he broke in the next game and won the set.

  • Hartt · May 17, 2018 at 6:57 am

    Catherine, regarding Denis, I tend to underestimate his chances of winning a big match, but I can’t see the youngster beating Rafa on clay. Especially given the way Rafa recently creamed another youngster, Tsitsipas. I just hope that Denis can play his best and make the match somewhat competitive.

  • Michael in uk · May 17, 2018 at 7:51 am

    I am also a big fan of Denis and am trying to copy his forehand and backhand ๐Ÿ™‚
    Hoping he can take the match to Rafa.

  • catherine · May 17, 2018 at 8:38 am

    Michael – reminds me of a time long ago when you’d pass a public court in the summer after Wimbledon and there’d be all these young guys contorting themselves trying to serve just like John McEnroe ๐Ÿ™‚

  • catherine · May 17, 2018 at 8:42 am

    I’m happy – Angie beats Sakkari 6-1 6-1 and reaches qfs for the first time in Rome and Konta loses in 3 to Ostapenko.

    (that sounds childish but I’m pleased for Angie and I just can’t get behind Konta – don’t know why)

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 17, 2018 at 8:55 am

    Pliskova was absolutely right to do what she did. Never ever accept injustice.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 17, 2018 at 8:56 am

    Kozlov vs Opelka today in Bordeaux, Gulbis beat Moutet.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 17, 2018 at 9:00 am

    Michael in UK, don’t worry if they go in or out, as long as they look like Shapovalov, you’re good. Image is everything ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 17, 2018 at 9:01 am

    Sakkari must have been fried after Pliskova drama marathon.

  • catherine · May 17, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Scoop – yes, Kerber played very well but Sakkari was probably a wreck. Although in the past (like last year) Angie could have lost that.

    Tougher challenge when she plays Svitolina. And I hope they put in on a court where you can actually see the players.

  • Hartt · May 17, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Trying to hit like Shapo has to be a big challenge – he is so incredibly flexible. Sometimes after a shot, his two arms are so far behind his back that they touch.

  • Duke Carnoustie · May 17, 2018 at 9:25 am

    It’s a big day for Canadian tennis with Shapo facing Rafa. Will he be devoured like encounters from the past in the Roman Colosseum? Or will ol Rafa get his long awaited revenge for Losing to the kid.

    Meanwhile spoiling the day are ‘racism’ claims by Canada’s Abanda. She feels Genie gets too much attention due to race. You can’t make this stuff up.

    All I can say is Oh, Canada!

  • catherine · May 17, 2018 at 9:49 am

    Genie gets attention because of the way she looks.

    You might well say the same thing about Sharapova and other attractive players in the WTA, whatever their race. That’s just the way of the world I’m afraid.

  • Chazz · May 17, 2018 at 10:03 am

    I don’t know why Giorgi doesn’t get more attention.

  • catherine · May 17, 2018 at 10:16 am

    Chazz – she certainly would if she weren’t such a mediocre player.

  • Dan Markowitz · May 17, 2018 at 11:06 am

    I love Shapo’s forehand too and when I came back from Miami Open after watching Shapo play that long match against Coric, I was hitting my forehand like Shapo’s and feeling really good. He has a way of taking the racket back with the face down (although Spadea said never do that) and hitting with such a fluid low-to-high motion.

    Ernie G gets a win! They mentioned him yesterday during the Paire match v Schwartzman about how Paire has a similar too-long backswing to his forehand like Gulbis. I actually think Gulbis’s forehand, as bad as it is, is better than Paire’s.

  • Chazz · May 17, 2018 at 11:18 am

    I’m going to make a bold statement here – Shapo has a chance to be the most likeable and beloved champion ever. Look at all the past champions/#1s and find a more charismatic, positive, exciting player. Federer and Nadal are exciting and people love them for their accomplishments and personalities, but I think Shapo can be even more loved by fans. I don’t know how any fan of tennis can not like him. I don’t know if tennis can grow in popularity but Shapo is someone that could do it. He has that dynamic that Tiger Woods brought to golf 20 years ago and grew the sport immensely.

  • Chazz · May 17, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Hyeon Chung – trying to figure this out – I was shocked when I saw that he lost 6-2, 6-0 to Haase in Madrid. To me, Chung is an elite talent that would not lose a match like that. Then this week he played only doubles in a challenger (and lost). I wonder what’s going on.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 17, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Hartt, Sampras could do the same thing with his very agile flexible shoulder joints – he could touch his elbows together behind his back.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 17, 2018 at 11:36 am

    Abanda has done nothing to get any attention that I know of. Try winning a few matches Miss Abanda or shut up. Bouchard is a great player in a slump, former top five player and major finalist. And also one of the most beautiful players. Unbelievably stupid and ignorant comments by Abanda.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 17, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Gulbis has a new backhand again, I saw some of his match with Moutet, it looks like a normal forehand now. Gulbis looked very good and I can see him in the top 75 again soon.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 17, 2018 at 11:42 am

    hazz, you are going out on a fragile limb saying that but your perception could be right. I know of a lot of people, of all ages, who just love the kid, love his game, his talent, his athleticism, how he plays. It’s quite surprising actually, I ran into this one guy in Delray I used to play with is now in his 70s and he just wouldn’t stop talking about Shapovalov, he really sees something in him. It could very well happen and these experiences for Shap of being around and playing with the likes of Fed and Rafa will only rub off good things into his evolving tennis soul.

  • Hartt · May 17, 2018 at 11:52 am

    Stefanie Myles has an excellent analysis of Abanda’s remarks.

    http://tennis.life/2018/05/16/canadian-francoise-abanda-makes-noise-racism/

    I agree that Francoise needs to have better results before complaining about lack of attention. When she was a young, promising player she did get lots of attention, but she did not fulfill that promise. When you are ranked No. 128, with a career high of No. 111, I think it is, you won’t get noticed unless you are a future superstar, like Felix.

    Outside of Bouchard, none of the female players get much press in Canada. If anyone has cause for complaint is it Gabriela Dabrowski, who has a high ranking in doubles and 2 Slams in mixed doubles. But she totally flies under the radar.

    I don’t doubt that Abanda has faced racist taunts during her career, but I don’t think racism is why she does not receive much press. If racism were the issue, Felix, whose father is from Togo, would not get the considerable attention he receives.

  • Hartt · May 17, 2018 at 11:56 am

    Shapovalov just lost to Rafa in SS, but he played quite well overall, especially in the first set. Rafa is just so tough on clay, Denis would make one good shot after another, but Rafa usually prevailed to get the point. And Rafa had a terrific serving day – he had a first serve % of 84%!

    I predicted Denis would win 5 games in the match, and was correct.

  • Duke Carnoustie · May 17, 2018 at 11:57 am

    Good analysis. Abanda is 21 and yet to advance past the second round of a Slam. She is a playing a sport that few Canadians truly care about.

    She will learn.

  • Hartt · May 17, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    Wow, Chazz, that is quite the prediction about Shapo! He is certainly having an impact on tennis in Canada. He has said that he wants to grow the popularity of tennis in Canada, have more Canadian kids pick up tennis racquets. But you obviously think his appeal will be much greater. It’s true that Denis has that “x” factor that makes people root for him.

  • catherine · May 17, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    Hartt – Myles has said the right things – I imagine Abanda will look back on all this with embarrassment in a year or so.

    If Francoise achieves, she’ll get the attention. Just like Serena. Reading between the lines though, I suspect it’s not just tennis that’s on the table here. It’s Genie’s appeal, which we’ve discussed before. Nothing to be done about that. Except for Abanda to get on with the job, ignore provocation on Twitter and with success fame and fortune will come to her. If not, it won’t be because she’s black. It’ll be because she’s not good enough.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 17, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    I do DOUBT that Abanda has experienced racism in tennis. I have never seen any white racism against blacks or any non whites in my 26 years of being around pro tennis. NOT ONCE. In fact, I ve seen the opposite, I’ve witnessed whites being more than gracious and supportive of all the black players from all over the world. I have never heard of James Blake or Donald Young or Monfils or Tsonga every make any charges of dealing with racism against them in pro tennis. Young’s one accusation was proved to be false. Getting tired of the race card being played in tennis, it doesn’t happen. I once asked a good friend who is black from NYC if he experienced any racism in junior tennis and he said the closest thing was when a hotel guest mistook his mom for a hotel worker. If that even counts. Abanda should be ashamed of herself for making that ignorant, irresponsible comment, just as ashamed as Donald Young.

  • Hartt · May 17, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Abanda gave specific examples of racism, such as being told to go back to her country (she was born in Canada) when playing in a tournament. I have no reason to disbelieve her on this.

    I have wondered, however, if Abanda doesn’t have an elevated view of her talent. I remember a time when she gave the impression that she would automatically make the top 100. As some of us have said, if she starts to get good results, she is more likely to get attention. Peter Polansky is a good comparison on the men’s side. He is currently ranked around No. 124 and has never made the top 100. He gets virtually no attention, either.

  • catherine · May 17, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Scoop – it was the comment on Twitter that provoked Abanda. She wouldn’t have said what she did without that.

    She needs a bit of guidance in how to handle social media.

    Let’s answer this one – is it fair that attractive players get more attention and make more money than others who don’t have that advantage ?

    No, of course it’s not, but it happens and it will always happen. You can’t legislate for that type of discrimination. Abanda wanted to say that about Genie but she couldn’t, so she made a big mistake, which one hopes will be forgotten soon.

  • Dan Markowitz · May 17, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    Scoop,

    You’re not black, you’re the whitest white man alive in the world today, so how would you know if black players experience racism on the tour or not? And of course they do, I wrote a whole article on it in 1987 for The New York Times where there were many instances cited by black players, bad practice courts, bad practice balls, black players saying they were matched against other black players in the first round of tournaments so one would be knocked out right away.

    The very fact that there are so few black players in the game today makes it very possible that they face discrimination and racism. I know on my son’s junior circuit, I feel sorry for the black players, particularly the boys, because there’s so few out there and I know I look at a junior black player when he steps into a club or a tournament because it’s just weird. I think, “What are you doing, brother, playing tennis? They kick you off the football field or the basketball court?”

    You’ve never witnessed racism in pro tennis? What happened to Serena and Venus at Indian Wells? That wasn’t racism, the way the fans reacted, of course it had something to do with racism and the anger fueled by the fact that whites do not like blacks to be dictating the terms of anything.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 17, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    Dan what triggered the Indian Wells fans wrath that day was that it looked like Richard Williams pulled Venus from the semifinal moments before it was supposed to be played. A suspect default. Hard earned dollars spent on a phantom semi. Venus was not hurt enough to skip Miami. The Williams handled that wrong and the skin color had nothing to do with it. You pay for something and get cheated out of what you paid for you have every right to complain and express outrage over the injustice. Skin color had nothing to do with it. I’m not buying these flyweight examples of racism. Toughen up, bring your own balls, suck up the draw and deal with it. All the sudden you believe in conspiracy theories when it fits your agenda? I have played tournaments for 25 years with all races and never saw or heard of any racial incidents or comments. I have never seen anything happen at a pro tournament except white fans treat black athletes just as well and fairly than white players. Monfils, Serena, Venus, Young, Dustin Brown, Tsonga get nothing but first class treatment from fans and tournaments. It seems certain people want to go out of their way to try to incite racial disharmony and division.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 17, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    Catherine I read the Myles article, which was way too long and really harped on nothing but minor irrelevant non incidents. Tough world we live in, be tough or go work as a librarian. We live in a world of a bunch of whiners and crybabies who get offended by anything. Some people really need to toughen up.

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