Going For It

The Winning Smile

If you watched the opening day of the US Open last night, with #2 Simona Halep vs. “wild card” Maria Sharapova, you saw a Prime Time example of extreme offense vs. incredible defense.

Controversial Figure

Whether you like the persona that is Maria Sharapova or not (I do)… or if you dislike the screeching on the court or not (I don’t) … you have to appreciate the willingness to crush that ball and go for winners.

While Halep was steady with 15 winners and 14 unforced errors for the match; Maria ballooned her numbers with an incredible 60 winners and 64 unforced errors.  And many of those errors came when she was able to convert only 5 of 22 break points (11 of those came in the second set, where she went from leading 1-4, break point to losing the set!).

Swinging Away

But in the deciding third set, Sharapova kept swinging away and held on for a huge first-round victory.  And, you have to feel empathetic for #2 seeded Halep, having to face the former champion in the first round.

Some Questions …

  • Wouldn’t you think it would have been prudent to recognize Sharapova’s potential and given her a 32 seed?
  • Which style of play is more likely to succeed in pro play (and in our hacker play)… steady defense or aggressive offense?
  • And wouldn’t the organizers have also been smart to “break the rules” after Andy Murray dropped out at the last minute to reconfigure the draw and take Nadal and Federer out of the same half?
  • How far can an out-of-shape Sharapova go in the Open?

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8 thoughts on “Going For It

  1. 1. Sharapova should have been seeded. It wasn’t fair for the #2 seed to have to play her in the very first round!
    2. Aggressive wins Pro matches but defensive will win many, if not most club matches.
    3. Bad decision to potentially have the top remaining players meet in the semi’s. Should have re-seeded after Murray pulled out.
    4. Sharapova is dangerous and has an outside chance to win it all.

    John, i agree with every one! thanks, george

  2. I think you are right that Sugarpova should have been given a seed when she got the wild card. Seeding does not just benefit those who are seeded, it also benefits the other seeds from not having to face a “dangerous floater” too early in the draw. One might argue that it also benefits the fans and the tournament as a whole by avoiding this kind of “one shot” first round excitement only to slip back to the normal hum drum matches to follow now that Sugarpova has become, effectively, the replacement #2 seed.

    I think the tournament directors probably allowed themselves to succumb to a bit of fear that they would be too “politically incorrect” by seeding Sugarpova instead of putting her where she logically belonged. I get that, but sometimes you need to have a backbone and, in this case, I don’t think the USTA did at all.

    As for not moving Federer and Nadal up when Murray withdrew, I don’t understand the reasoning there at all. Yes they may have been working on a schedule and all of that and a last minute change in the seedlings would no doubt make planning somewhat more difficult. I get that too. But not readjusting the seeding to reflect the top two players left in the men’s draw after #1 departed without even hitting a ball seems to be exalting form over substance. And once again, the fans will suffer.


    Marty, right on. thanks, george

  3. A little off point but is it me or are the majors getting better then ever. I can remember when you could pick the two women finalist in the first round and had a good chance of being right on both. The last Wimbledon had great matches in every round and the US Open is promising the same. There were many good matches yesterday and expecting more today.
    Randy Beerman

    Randy, yes, the women’s draw is either “deeper” or “uniformly weaker,” whatever your viewpoint. george

  4. i think it was disgusting to see the interviewer fawning over sharapova.
    i wonder how many championships she won by cheating. i feel for
    the women she beat while on PEDs. she should be allowed to play again,
    but she’s no returning hero. am i the only one feeling this way?

    Joe. Let me guess… you do not care for Ms. Sharapova? I think she is good for the women’s game of tennis; and while not a “returning hero,” has paid a pretty steep price for a questionable usage of doctor prescribed meds. george

  5. It’s downright stupid to have Sasha Zverev all by himself in one side of the draw (pretty easy path to the finals because Cilic is hurt) and have these guys in the other half: Nadal, Federer, Dimitrov, Kyrgios, Agut, Del Potro and Thiem. It’s being blamed on ATP rules, but the TD should have overridden that decision.

    John, it is a prime example of people “following the rules,” rather than logic. Like when the Wimbledon seeders insisted on putting the clay-courters at the top of the seed list, when everyone knew that would be their weakest surface to play on. thanks, george

  6. I don’t have an issue with how they handled Maria…….she’s been out for 15+ months and this summer injury prone. I do feel a bit sorry for Halap but it’s part of the game and purely luck.

    As for the men the ATP system is nuts and once Murray pulled out and since not one ball had been hit the no.3 seed should have slid into the #2 spot. It’s just a bad rule the ATP goes by – in this case the WTA gets it right as if this would have been on the women’s side they would have bumped the #3 seed into the #2 spot.

    ****As for Maria and “cheating” garbage………gonna beat a dead horse here but she was taking a LEGAL drug for almost a decade……..totally LEGAL and not regulated. Her stupid mistake was having it in her system (whether it was residual or she took it after Jan 1???) that got her banned.

    Serena and Venus like many others on tour take medicines but get the medical exemption as needed. Maria’s team should have in retrospect asked for the same years ago. But again that’s easy to say now as the drug was always LEGAL.

    Michel, i agree… what was legal becomes illegal and she and her team should have known better; but not a major crime! thanks, george

  7. Sharapova, it goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway, has Halep’s number. I watched that boring tennis bang-bang-bang unforced error-winner-unforced error…and on and on and on.

    Thumbs down to the USTA for giving Ms Multimillionaire Sharapova a wild card into the tournament. Some girl who is struggling to make it on the WTA Tour EARNED her way into the draw with points, only to be denied because the USTA wants $tar power.

    Is Sharapova a cheater? How would I know? I have no proof. I’ll be rooting against the “Russian” who learned the game, trains, and resides in Bradenton, Florida USA.

    Murray’s late withdrawal has significant impact. The draw should have been re-done seeding/placing Federer at #2 on the bottom half. No question! Would any ATP player have an issue with this?

    Some venting yeah.

    Alan, funny, i enjoyed watching that match. Much better than Isner’s one and done game. george

  8. Sharapova looked elegant walking onto the court with her sparkling black outfit!
    She is good for women’s tennis and not a cheater like the most unsportsmanlike Bouchard says. I think she should have been seeded and not sent in to play the #2 seed. This is a total disruption.
    No class Murray knew he wasn’t playing and should not have entered. However since
    he did the draw should have been done over. Rules are good to have however they
    should always have clauses that have exceptions to the rules. Both situations should
    have been exceptions to the rules for the good of the US Open tournament.
    The match was fun to watch and really was like a semi or final not a first rounder.

    Phil, i agree… know when to enforce rules and when to work around them! thanks, george

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