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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Serena breezes past Maria Sharapova - to play Garbine Muguruza in finals

Those of us not following the game regularly, may not easily recognise her !

It is all happening at Wimbledon – as many as 39,000 spectators at a time crowd into the All England Club for Wimbledon, the largest annual sports catering operation in Europe. Over the two weeks of the tournament, the crowd is expected to consume more than 60,000 pounds of strawberries, complemented by nearly 2,000 gallons of cream. Visitors will drink 28,000 bottles of champagne, 100,000 pints of beer, 230,000 glasses of Pimm’s, 250,000 bottles of water, and 350,000 cups of tea and coffee, accompanied by nearly 8,000 gallons of milk.

Tomorrow is the day of Men’s Semi-finals – finals is on Sunday – even as the light was fading, Richard Gasquet and Stan Wawrinka kept pumping their graceful one-handed backhands at each other on Court 1.  Without the benefit of a tiebreaker in the deciding set, the two men played on until the 20th game, when Gasquet finally broke Wawrinka’s serve to win, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 11-9, in the only thriller of the day. Both came through their quarterfinals with a degree of comfort on Wednesday, but Roger Federer and Andy Murray know they can expect a much sterner test when going head-to-head in Wimbledon’s final four.   Gasquet will meet Novak Djokovic who  looked dominant in beating ninth-seeded Marin Cilic, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, in 1:48 to continue his drive to defend his title. It will be Djokovic’s sixth consecutive Wimbledon semifinal and his 27th Grand Slam semifinal over all, and he looked far better than he had in his two-day, five-set scare against Kevin Anderson.

In an era when Spanish men have been staples of top-tier tennis, Wimbledon sees the country’s flag carried on by a woman: Garbiñe Muguruza, whose photo you saw at the start and she  has outlasted all the men by reaching the finals. Muguruza, a 21-year-old seeded 20th, beat 15th-seeded Timea Bacsinszky, 7-5, 6-3, to secure a spot in the final four of a Grand Slam event for the first time.  Though Muguruza was surprised by the location of her breakthrough, Serena Williams was not. Muguruza stunned Williams, 6-2, 6-2, in the second round of the French Open last year, a loss Williams avenged in the fourth round of the Australian Open this year.

Muguruza completely dominated for a set and a half, winning more than half of the points on Radwanska's serve and hitting three times as many winners as she built a 6-2 3-1 lead. It took 55 minutes for Radwanska to earn a break point but, when Muguruza found the net, it heralded a dramatic shift in momentum.  The other match was touted to be a great rivalry in women’s tennis — a feud which flows as powerfully off the court as on it. Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova,  played  in a highly-charged semi-final at Wimbledon today.  Serena Williams stormed in to the Wimbledon ladies' singles final in a noisy match on Centre Court as two of tennis's loudest grunters went head-to-head. The 20-time Grand Slam champion, 30, beat arch rival Maria Sharapova in straight sets as her powerful serve proved too much for the 28-year-old Russian, with Williams winning 6-2, 6-4.

And with the pair known for being two of the loudest players thanks to their on-court grunting, meaning fans in the stands for this afternoon's Wimbledon semi-final were in for a noisy afternoon, regardless of the result.   Grunting became topical again at Wimbledon when Belarusian Victoria Azarenka was forced to defend her on-court noises following a quarter-final loss to Serena Williams - and another 'shrieker', Maria Sharapova,  played and lost  semi-final action against Williams.   

The definition of grunting is to "make a low inarticulate sound, typically to express effort or indicate assent".   BBC reports that former world number one Jimmy Connors was among the early male grunters, while eight-time Grand Slam winner and Andy Murray's former coach, Ivan Lendl, complained about Andre Agassi during the 1988 US Open.  Williams, 33, is the more physically powerful, with a ferocious temper who keeps beating Sharapova – yet she cannot compete with Sharapova’s media-friendly combination of blonde Siberian beauty and sponsor-friendly image control — which has meant Sharapova, 28, has waltzed away with a fortune of £125 million and counting.  Serena Williams has beaten Maria Sharapova on clay, on grass, indoors and outdoors, year in and year out. Of their 19 meetings before this match,  during their 11-year rivalry, Serena has won 17 times.  They first played each other in 2004 in Miami — when Williams won. However, that was the year Sharapova went on to beat Williams and win Wimbledon. Since then she has only beaten her on one other occasion.  Legendary tennis writer Matt Cronin commented: ‘It’s Connors v McEnroe all over again, but this time in skirts.’

The world No 1 and arguably the greatest-ever woman player, Serena Williams has also won more money than any other female tennis player. Her total prize money to date comes to £44.6 million, with another £11.7 million on top from endorsements, her fashion line and a stake in the Miami Dolphins American football team (pictured), taking her total earnings to £56.3 million.  However, Forbes magazine says Sharapova’s massive endorsement haul puts her at the top of their list of the world’s highest-paid female athletes.

Consummate athletes both may be, but each is prey to peculiar superstitions. Sharapova hates standing on court lines, and will hop over them between points. She also has a serving routine which involves brushing her hair from her face and then bouncing the ball twice, slowly. Serena Williams always ties her shoelaces in the same way, uses the same shower at Wimbledon before each match, and bounces the ball five times before her first serve and twice before the second. It is also said that she will wear the same pair of socks throughout a winning run.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
9th July 2015

Inputs taken from Daily Mail & BBC

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