Tennis Freaks

“1821: Nadal, I’ve noticed, has a problem with his shorts, in that they keep on getting stuck up his jacksie and he has to pull them out before every point. Not sure why he doesn’t just get a size up, he’s probably loaded.”

Sharapova-Venus as it happened

Wimbledon fourth round result:

M S’POVA (Rus) 2 v V WILLIAMS (US) 23

1-6 3-6

SECOND SET

Sharapova 3-6 Venus
There it is – Venus breaks again and is into the quarter-finals. She destroyed the world number two today, and jumps for joy as Shara’s weak forehand eats net to seal the win. Can sister Serena do the bizzo against Justine Henin in a moment to make the Williams day complete?

Sharapova 3-5 Venus
Easy for Venus, and Maria’s staring down the trickiest of tubes here – holding her own serve is as difficult as eating four Big Macs in a minute, while she can’t get close to a nibble of the Venus burger.

Sharapova 3-4 Venus
Disaster for Shriekapova – she slumps to 0-40 as a Venus backhand clout clips the tape and skips over her outstretched racquet, and then balloons a forehand miles out to concede the break. Now she really has got something to scream about.

Sharapova 3-3 Venus
Business as usual on the Venus serve, rattling through it like the Eurostar through northern France. Hold up – Richard Williams is back in his seat, but Maria’s old man has switched seats – he’s now perched in the press box. Reckon there’s been a bit of chat between those two feisty papas.

Sharapova 3-2 Venus
Shara’s screaming has now officially got my goat. Every time she hits the ball, no matter how much effort goes into it, she screeches like a demented seagull. It’s putting me off my typing, not to mention giving me a headache. She hangs on to her serve by a delicate fingernail again, surviving another deuce-fest by the width of an eyelash. Venus has had 16 break points in this match, but she’s taken just two.

Brief Dave Lee Travis-style shout-out to Cleo, Di, Jo and the Tennis Lord, who clubbed together to send a very sociable text.

Sharapova 2-2 Venus
Now there’s a contrast – Venus holds to love in half a flash. No sign of Richard Williams in the VIP box any more – where’s he gone? He was all over this match earlier – standing up and shouting, waving his fist, tugging away at his Pringle. It can’t be Serena – she’s due on here after this match clears off.

Sharapova 2-1 Venus
A mini-epic – 14 deuces, seven break points saved, seven game points, four aces, 22 minutes, four weddings and a funeral. Finally Sharapova holds as a hopeful lob sees Venus thrash an overhead into the net. She screams in fury through gritted teeth and clenches a meaty fist. Carumba.

1551 BST: Sunshine on Centre, and the players are limbering up. Wake up at the back. Venus has had five break points in this soon-to-be-resumed game already, but Maria’s saved them all, and now stands at advantage.

1537 BST: Well, not literally endless – it has ceased, to be fair. And the cover is towed off. Play? Possibly – in about 10 minutes, if we’re lucky.

1522 BST: Rain. Endless rain.

1434 BST: …to be replaced by a black fug of pessimism. Someone with more powerful ocular equipment than me has spotted another fat shower racing in with its ears pinned back, so we’re waiting for that one to clear off before we crack on.

1420 BST: Right – using my BBC telescope, I can spy with my non-shut eye… a large patch of blue sky, heading straight for Centre Court. Optimism flares unexpectedly in the breast.

Sharapova 1-1 Venus
Gut-rot – with the game see-sawing from advantage to advantage, the clouds take an enormous dump on our heads. Good news for Maria, who at least can’t lose in the next half-hour now.

Sharapova 1-1 Venus
Venus rattles through her service game in the time it takes to type out a few short words on the previous one.

Sharapova 1-0 Venus
I’ll try to give you a sample of the aural battering we’re experiencing here: “EUUUR! Eeee. EUUUR! Eeee. EUUUR! Eeee. EUUUR! Eeee.” If I hadn’t eaten my lunchtime sandwiches at 11.30am, I’d be stuffing them in my ears.

FIRST SET

Sharapova 1-6 Venus
Richard Williams is on his feet and clapping ostentatiously in his fawn Pringle v-neck – his leggiest daughter has pouched the set in rapid-fire time. 12 unforced errors from Maria in that set – no wonder she was screaming on every point.

Sharapova 1-5 Venus
Complete shara for Shockapova – I mean, complete shocker for Sharapova – she collapses to 0-40, just about hangs on for two points and then duffs a backhand into the net. Two breaks gone, and the set about to follow suit.

Sharapova 1-4 Venus
No such problems for Venus, who’s landing 78% of her first serves and winning close to 90% of points on them. Shara, a big fan of the Sherlock Holmes books, doesn’t have a clue how to deal with it.

Sharapova 1-3 Venus
Shara has a shocker, coming up with four double faults to give away the first break of the match. It’s windy out there, and Shara’s ball toss went completely to pot. She looks sulky, and squeaks in angry defiance.

Sharapova 1-2 Venus
Centre Court reaches capacity as Venus comes up with a skidding ace at deuce to hold. There’s a man in the crowd wearing a tricorn, which makes him look a little too dandy highwayman for this hallowed arena.

Sharapova 1-1 Venus
Shara, squeaking like an excited guinea pig, passes Venus on the forehand side to hang on from deuce. She’s wearing a ruffled dress apparently inspired by the ballet Swan Lake. Good job for the ball-boys that she’s not a fan of the Nutcracker.

Sharapova 0-1 Venus
Venus wraps up the remaining two points of her service game in bright sunshine. We’re up and running. There’s three ladies in the stands wearing Irish football shirts, shamrocks and small leprechaun hats. Maybe they’re here to support Sharon O’Pova.

1302 BST Wednesday: Right – let’s try this again. We’ve been moved across to Centre Court from the wastelands of Court Three, and these two stellar clothes-horses look delighted.

1902 BST Tuesday: An announcement crackles over the PA – no more play today on the outside courts. That’s us done until Wednesday, then. We could still be playing this time next month at this rate. Should we settle it with arm-wrestles?

1833 BST: Rain. Umbrellas. Mournful expressions on faces. Tennis? Nope.

1820 BST: We’re meant to be underway again here – they are on the show-courts. But there’s no sign of the players, and every sign of more monstrous evil clouds hoving into eyeline.

Venus 0-0 Sharapova
Zut alors – a mere three points into it, it begins lashing it down once again. With a side order of thunder. And lightning moving in. It’ll be plagues of locusts next.

1702 BST: Quite surreal to see these two glamourpusses out here on Court Three, with a mere smattering of people in the tiddly stands.

1632 BST: The All-England bigwigs have decided to move this rip-snorter of a match to Court Three – but won’t get it underway for another half an hour. Sensible decision – just because it’s sunny now, having been raining all day, why is there any need to hurry?
Story from BBC SPORT

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