Saturday, September 3, 2011
Back in the day you knew what you'd get with Maria Sharapova. These days you still do, but what you're getting these days ain't always purty. The former champ was sent home in the US Open third round by a revived Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 hitting 60, yes 60, UEs against only 30 winners and 12 double faults.
This erratic play has become the norm for Shrieka as we saw at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and now here. When the going gets tough the nerves get going. As the match gets tighter and the points get bigger you just know a double fault or three are likely on their way. Before the shoulder surgery it was quite the opposite. She was a big match lady baller whose game got bigger and more effective when it mattered most.
You can see it in her eyes and body language as she steps to the line to serve on a set point, match point or break point - and that 'it' is called fear. She seems afraid of these big moments, afraid her serve and game will desert her. And, sadly, she's right.
[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]