JS-Kit Comments

Friday, June 8, 2012

TWD Sports Saturday Thread #1 For 6/8/12: 2012 French Open Women's Final Coverage (Errani/Sharapova)

                                                  Photo from FFT/RolandGarros.com 
The Preview 
History will be made Saturday in a classic David vs Goliath showdown in the 2012 French Open women's final.

For Maria Sharapova, the Goliath in this matchup, she is considered a sure bet by almost everyone to capture a career Grand Slam and her first major title after the long journey of her overcoming shoulder surgery. 

Despite all the conversations of "Cow on Ice" and just never looking like someone who could win on clay in most people's perspective, the dirt has represented the character and game of Sharapova's the most of any other court creation throughout her career. Her first Grand Slam quarterfinal came in Paris, and her resilience matches one of several necessary characteristics of winning on this surface: survive.   

With her intensity, anticipation, long reach and steadily improved movement, Sharapova's defense can be just as intimidating and overwhelming as the relentless onslaught she can bring offensively. 

Four out of her last five titles have come on the red dirt, making it fair to say that this surface has now become her best one. Not a grass court or any version of hard concrete does what the clay can do now for her, providing more time to pound her groundstrokes and enough time to recover from an opponent's attack. 

Those factors and the unheralded "David-like" opponent she will encounter in the final make it seem like a mere formality that the new world number one will capture the title that will be most dear to her heart, even more than her Wimbledon title. 

But standing in her way is an opponent who arguably would saviour a first Roland Garros championship even more. Because for newly made Top 10-er and Italian #1 Sara Errani, she is one match away from one of the greatest upsets in Grand Slam final history, as well as winning her second title of what has already been a ,magical fortnight.  

Already winning her first Grand Slam title in doubles with partner Roberta Vinci, Errani is looking to become the first woman since Mary Pierce in 2000 to "do the double" by winning both the individual and duo competitions. 

The #21 seed's remarkable run to the ultimate match is a testament to her rise throughout the women's game. It's a combination of results so unlikely that Errani may not have even pondered it in any of her dreams.     

She won't have to wake up from anything though if she lifts the title. And no one could claim that her road to an unexpected trophy was not an arduous one. 

Unlike Sharapova, whose only stiff competition coming into her six matches was the out of form Petra Kvitova, Errani has given defeats to two past French Open champions (Ana Ivamovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova) and two current Top 10 players (Angelique Kerber and Samanatha Stosur). For what she lacks in height because of her 5'4 size, Errani has displayed to the tennis community how mentally strong and cunning she is. 

The guile to overcome a pedestrian serve (understandable given her physical limitations) and her court craft liken Errani so much to her friend, countrywoman, and 2010 French open champion Francesca Schiavone. Analogous in almost everything except playing with two hands on her backhand while Schiavone plays one, Errani looks to duplicate 

Both woman have turned defense to offense so effective over the last two weeks and both woman have displayed the cerebral steel required to win this Grand Slam. 

With how each women celebrated their semifinal victories to reach their first French Open finals (Eranni with tears coming down in making her initial Grand Slam final overall while Sharapova looked to the heavens in delight), you could only imagine how unrestrained their emotions will be when one converts match point on Saturday.  

Sometimes David's swingshot isn't strong enough to defeat Goliath. Sometimes, it's all that is required to stand on top of the giant.  Either one of the two scenarios will happen, with many taking witness to it. 

The Tactics and Prediction to come before the match. 

In the meantime, take a look back 15 years to a final that was a massive upset, when Iva Majoli became the first Croatian to win a Grand Slam by shockingly Martina Hingis, who never won the career Grand Slam: 

The Tactics for the Women's Final:

For Errani
1) When getting a good first serve in, prepare for a short reply from Sharapova and close
2) Hit deep high to her backhand, Hit deep hard to her forehand
3) Hit sound drop shots, and get her off of anticipating well, different looks
4) Weather the storm when she returns, survive as much as possible
5) Be as energized as you can possibly be
 6) You have nothing to lose. Enjoy yourself throughout.

For Sharapova 
1) Continue getting off to a great start, confidence on serve, hit your spots
2) Be patient for at least 1 to 3 more shots, you'll eventually hit through her
3) Breathe and relax. Play with less tension, don't let the moment get to you
4) Let your up to down defense equal your side to side
5) This is your destiny. Calm temper and not a tight, angry temper is what is required.

Errani has the movement and the mental toughness required to make Sharapova very tight in a pressure match that she is the heavy favorite in on paper. But all of that doubles play will come to haunt Errani's energy level in this match, and this will lead to a joyous day for the Shriester legion fan club.

Sharapova in two tight sets. May Ted Robinson jump for happy joy. The Final coming your way, in a bit.

Google search