2012 French Open: Sharapova gallops through

By IndepthAfrica
In Sports
May 29th, 2012
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Generally speaking, it’s an uphill battle to carve out victory in tennis if you produce no outright winners at all during a match. Such was the bleak state of affairs for Alexandra Cadantu on Suzanne Lenglen court today, and given that her opponent was Maria Sharapova, it all added up to a very bad day at the office. The Russian required a meagre 48 minutes to complete the first “double bagel” whitewash victory of Roland Garros 2012, beating Cadantu 6-0, 6-0.

It wasn’t as if the 22-year-old Romanian had no opportunities of her own, as mysteriously she amassed three break points in the first set. Look no further than the statistics for an explanation. It comes to something when you are making more unforced errors than your opponent, as Sharapova was, and win a set 6-0. Nor was she exactly serving like a dream, what with just 57% of first serves in – but 90% of those yielded the point in her favour. It was also something of a killer stat that throughout the match Cadantu won 9% – yes, nine – of points on her second serve.

At 0-5 Cadantu got as far as 30-0, and might have harboured aspirations to get her name on the scoreboard. Sharapova was having none of it. When it counted most, she sent down a drive volley which Cadantu hit long, and the set was done in 23 minutes.

The statistical story improved marginally for Cadantu in the second set, but the scoreline did not. At the death Sharapova broke to love to seal the Romanian’s humiliation, although Cadantu still managed a cheery smile at the handshake. More might have been expected of the world no.78, but it may be that she has found her level with that ranking – this was her sixth match against a player in the top 60, and the sixth occasion on which she has drawn a blank.

The chief subject of conversation courtside on Suzanne Lenglen court was Sharapova’s choice of little black dress, echoing – or “channeling”, as the fashion mavens have it – the garb of local heroine Mary Pierce, as worn here in 1996.

“No matter how good or bad they’re playing, you still have to win that match,” the second seed said. “That was just my goal today… I think everyone has a good chance [to win the tournament]. It’s always about who takes their chances. Of course I’m really happy with the way my preparation has been coming into this tournament. I feel like with every year I have improved and I enjoy it much more. I think I learned a lot more about the game and the point construction.”

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