The Australian Open took flight this evening (Monday morning in Australia). This is always a great event in January and is a very exciting time for all the tennis junkies that have really lost interest since the conclusion of the US Open in September. All the big names are back and many are arguing that this is the most talented and deepest draw for both the men and women in years. I am not really sure how one can make this statement with evidence to back it up, but I am definitely still very excited.
The first match that I got to witness was a stunning upset of the once top ranked Maria Sharapova. How the mighty have fallen. Sharapova has battled injuries the past couple of years and now is out in the first round at arguably her best tournament. Down Under, Sharapova has exited in the semifinals twice, lost in the finals once, and won the tournament in her last appearance in 2008.
The stunning beauty is just not what she once was. I will not say that it is a lack of focus. I mean obviously she is going to model and be a big time marketing tool for many companies. Her beauty is unquestionable. But I will simply blame her lack of results the past couple of years solely on injuries. This is not the Kournikova effect. Ms. Kournikova blew her career due to a lack of focus. She was blinded by her own beauty and lost the work ethic that got her into the professional ranks. Many do not realize the talent that Anna Kournikova once possessed and threw away.
Sharapova still has a great work ethic. Though I wish she would tone down the grunting at times, she has always put in the time. Injuries have really ruined her chances of becoming a legendary type player on the women’s tour. Maria goes big or goes home every time she steps foot on the court. Whether it is with her style of play, where she is a mean baseliner, to her clothing where she goes all out with her outfits, not to mention her obnoxiously loud grunting, she goes hard all the time.
This at times can hurt her. And in tonight’s match against little known Maria Kirilenko, it did. She made far too many unforced errors to beat a counterpuncher like Kirilenko. Hats off to Kirilenko in staying within herself and grinding out this over 3 hour match.
So unfortunately for Maria, at normally her strongest tournament, she is out on Day 1. I wish Maria the best of luck in her comeback this year as she tries to recover from her many injuries.
Strap in tennis fans and welcome to tennis Down Under.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.