Pushed on the Brink, Sharapova Survives Second Scare to Summersault Into Semifinal in Paris
After being a game away from losing the match, Maria Sharapova emerged 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 winner over the tenacious Spaniard Garbine Muruguza. To a large extent, the script of this much was similar to the one Sharapova played against Sam Stosur in her fourth round match. Regardless, Sharapova is through to the semifinals despite the second back to back scare, when she literally stood on the verge of defeat. For the place in her second successive final, Sharapova will take on the Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, another emerging talent in the world of tennis. Other than Sharapova and Bouchard, Tuesday marked semifinal entries also for Novak Djokovic and Ernests Gulbis.
What Sharapova did against Stosur on Sunday was fresh in people’s memory, when she took on Garbine Muguruza. Miracles have no place in everyday life and Sharapova reeling off 9 straight games to turn the tables on a shocked Stosur can best be counted as a one-off thing. Therefore, when she stood facing the gun barrel on Tuesday, down 4-5 in the second set with a hopeless loss in the first, not many would have given Sharapova the slightest chance of bouncing back into the match. But one cannot help calling it another miracle by Sharapova, who had lost the first set 1-6 and trailed 4-5 on her serve in the second. To begin her journey back from the brink, Sharapova first reeled off three points in a row to take the second set. And then in third, she didn’t allow Muguruza any foothold to wrap the decider 6-1. But to credit the efforts of the 20-year old Muguruza, it must be added that the girl was not scared of Sharapova; it was merely a lack of experience, which comes from playing more matches.
Eugenie Bouchard entered her second successive Grand Slam semifinal in 2014, thwarting a challenge from Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro with a hard-fought three-set victory. Just 10 days back, Bouchard had won her first clay court at Nurnberg, Germany defeating Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in a tough final. Yesterday, despite trailing 1-4 in the third set, Bouchard made marvelous recovery to take the third set and the match 7-6, 2-6, 7-5. Both Bouchard and Navarro relapsed to an error-prone tennis in middle games, making avoidable errors and missing absolute sitters. But the 20-year old Canadian looked the better player when the match ended.
In the first quarterfinal of the men’s singles, the formidable Novak Djokovic didn’t allow Milos Raonic to settle down and finally defeated the gifted Canadian 7-5, 7-6, 6-4 in a match lasting nearly two and half hours. Djokovic was professionally patient all through in his game against Raonic. The no.2 seed had many weapons in his armor for Raonic and regardless of the score-line, it was only a matter of time before Raonic made his exit from Roland Garros. From the start of the tournament, Djokovic has been focused with a single-mindedness of a purpose. He tried in 2012 but couldn’t beat the king of clay. He has his best chance this year, with Nadal not looking his top-class until the start of the French Open 10 days ago.
In the other quarterfinal on Tuesday, hugely talented Latvian Ernests Gulbis played superbly dominant tennis to stun Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych in straight sets. The 25-year old has already beaten Federer a few days back and most top stars fear his propensity for non-conformance. But even Berdych would not have imagined the force, with which Gulbis played against him. In the first set, Gulbis raced away to a 4-0 lead before Berdych could settle down. The momentum was too much for the Czech, who went to defending himself against the marauding Latvian. The Czech did his best but couldn’t save the set, which went in the Latvian’s favor 6-3. Gulbis was equally brutal in the second set and took it even more decisively at 6-2. Berdych fought hard in the third set but Gulbis had his eyes set as he finished the match with an emphatic 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory.
The one bad news for tennis lovers came on Monday, when the celebrated pair of Mike and Bob Bryan lost in the quarterfinals. The defending champions and top seed lost 4-6, 2-6 to no.12 seeded pair of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez of Spain. The brothers have thus failed to reach the final of the last three Grand Slams after taking four major titles in a row beginning with the 2012 US open.
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