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.”

Archive for sharapova

Sharapova v Ivanovic as it happened

Australian Open, Melbourne

Women’s final result:

M SHARAPOVA (Rus) bt A IVANOVIC (Ser)

7-5 6-3

By Piers Newbery

Second set:

0435: That’s your lot, join me tomorrow at 0830 GMT for coverage of the men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. I’m off for a cuppa.

0430: We are treated to shots of fans watching in Sydney and a very cold looking Shanghai before Sharapova takes to the podium and lifts the trophy.

“This is just incredible,” she says. “If someone had told me in the middle of last year I’d be standing here with the big one, I’d have said ‘forget it.’ Last year was pretty difficult for me and my coach, who lost his mother, and I really want to dedicate this to her.”

0428: An emotional Ivanovic thanks everyone she can think of when receiving the runners-up prize before the tears get to her. Don’t worry, she’s laughing and crying at the same time. Poor love.

0417: “Sharapova came out here and got the job done and throughout the tournament played excellently. She got rid of Davenport, Henin, Jankoivc and Ivanovic. Ana didn’t play particularly well and I just think she needs a little more time.”
BBC Sport’s Sam Smith

0417: “Sharapova has deserved this – she didn’t drop a set throughout and it’s thoroughly merited.”
Times correspondent Neil Harman on 5 Live

Sharapova 6-3 Ivanovic
Ivanovic makes a terrible start with a tame double fault and a poor forehand into the net. Sharapova is bouncing around, desperate for the next point, and the Russian crunches a fabulous forehand winner for 0-40 and three championship points. She goes long on the first and wide with a forehand slice on the second, but Ivanovic puts a forehand wide on the third and it’s game over. Sharapova falls to her knees and looks tearful as she gets up and salutes the crowd.

Sharapova 5-3 Ivanovic
Sharapova looks to be sprinting to the finish line now and is getting stronger and stronger from the baseline. Ivanovic hits one great backhand return but she’s already 40-0 down and it’s not enough. An enormous crash disturbs Sharapova at one point, possibly from a loudspeaker. Sounds like someone has knocked over the tea urn in the 5 Live commentary box. Wouldn’t surprise me.

Sharapova 4-3 Ivanovic
After a bit of a lull the match comes alive again when Sharapova fires a superb forehand winner down the line for 0-30. Ivanovic then comes up with a great second serve before Sharapova goes long with a return for 30-30. And then….. yikes! An Ivanovic double fault and a forehand error and Sharapova breaks. That could be it.

Sharapova 3-3 Ivanovic
Ivanovic attempts to attacks a Sharapova second serve on the first point, only to see the ball come fizzing back past her for a winner. Sharapova then crunches away a mid-court forehand and sees out the game easily enough. Scrappy stuff at the moment but Sharapova has the edge.

Sharapova 2-3 Ivanovic
That’s a great service game from Ivanovic, round off with an ace.

Sharapova 2-2 Ivanovic
Sharapova is looking very strong again and, despite one spectacular whipped forehand winner from Ivanvovic, it’s a straightforward hold.

Sharapova 1-2 Ivanovic
That’s more like it from Ivanvovic, who comes up with a couple of winners as she holds easily. Sharapova puts an iced towel around her shoulders at the changeover while Ivanovic puts on a sort of ice jacket. Cool.

Sharapova 1-1 Ivanovic
In contrast to the previous 10-minute service game from Ivanovic – who will be world number two after this tournament whatever the result – Sharapova holds to love.

0343: “Sharapova to win this one. She has much more experience at this level and her returns of serve are that much more threatening.”
From Alex via text

Sharapova 0-1 Ivanovic
Just as her forehand looks on the point of collapse, Ivanovic gets a couple of tasty short balls and despatches them with ease for 40-30. The yips return, though, and another forehand error takes things to deuce. Sharapova dominates the next point with some arrowing backhands but Ivanovic saves the break point with a big serve. On the second deuce Sharapova comes up with a magnificent backhand return on the stretch. Another break point and the rally of the match – Sharapova has a short forehand but Ivanvovic reaches it and throws up a lob that lands on the baseline and she hangs on. Big game.

First set:

0333: “Thoroughly deserved for Sharapova. She had a tricky moment but came through like champions do.”
Times correspondent Neil Harman on 5 Live

Sharapova 7-5 Ivanovic
Well, it wasn’t exactly straightforward but Sharapova finally takes the set. Ivanovic tries something different and heads to the net but without success and Sharapova holds to love. Yuri looks chuffed.

Sharapova 6-5 Ivanovic
Now it is Ivanovic who couldn’t hit a barn door…. More errors from the Serb see Sharapova get two break points and a wayward Ivanovic backhand gives the Russian the game.

Sharapova 5-5 Ivanovic
Ivanovic is screaming and pumping her fist after she smacks a belting forehand and a wrong-footing backhand to get within sight of the set, but a poor drop shot and missed backhands and forehands let Sharapova off the hook.

0320: “Sharapova lost a bit of service rhythm and you can see Ivanovic has been building up the intensity. It will be interesting to see if Sharapova can get her service rhythm going again.”
BBC Sport’s Sam Smith

Sharapova 4-5 Ivanovic
Ivanovic takes control with a hold to 15 after some woeful returning from Sharapova, who has gone completely off the boil.

Sharapova 4-4 Ivanovic
“Come on!” screams Sharapova as she whacks away a forehand volley to level at 30-30, but a double fault follows to give Ivanovic a break-back point. A lengthy rally ensues and it is Ivanovic who falters, shrieking as she falls backwards on a backhand. The sinister looking Yuri Sharapov urges on his daughter from the stands. Sharapova duly double faults twice to give up the break, after a few cold stares at her opponent who is dancing around when receiving.

Sharapova 4-3 Ivanovic
The first Hawkeye moment of the day. Ivanovic smacks a backhand down the line, it’s called out, the umpire overrules, Sharapova challenges – and it was out after all. Oh, the shame for the umpire. Ivanovic does well to come through from 30-30.

Sharapova 4-2 Ivanovic
This is great stuff from Sharapova. She opens with a winnning drive volley – does anyone hit that shot better? – and then throws in a backhand down the line on her way to a third straight love service game.

Sharapova 3-2 Ivanovic
A wild forehand from Ivanovic at 15-15 gives Sharapova another glimpse of a break, and the Serbian then double-faults to slip to 15-40. Sharapova absolutely pounds away from the baseline and Ivanovic eventually cracks.

Sharapova 2-2 Ivanovic
After a slightly low-key start, Sharapova unloads on a couple of thumping winners – one off the backhand and one forehand. Another love game. It’s not getting any cooler out there and the spectators are fanning themselves for dear life. Shepherd’s Bush remains bracing.

Sharapova 1-2 Ivanovic
There are danger signals for Ivanovic when she plays a wayward drop shot and slips 0-30 behind but Sharapova makes a couple of unforced errors, and Ivanovic then fires her first spectacular winner of the day. An excellent second serve gives her the game and the Serbian celebrates a great hold.

Sharapova 1-1 Ivanovic
Sharapova mvoes to the net on the second point and Ivanovic nets with an attempted pass. She follows it up with a beautiful forehand winner down the line and holds to love.

Sharapova 0-1 Ivanovic
A confident start sees Ivanovic race to 40-0 with the help of a first ace and she takes the game to 15. That should settle any nerves.

0241 GMT: “It’s the hottest day of the championships so far and the referee does have the option to bring the roof over if necessary.”
BBC Sport’s Chris Bailey

0237 GMT: “Sharapova is in her ivory dress – is it ivory? I’m not sure. And Ana is in her pale blue outfit.”
5 live’s tennis and fashion correspondent Jonathan Overend

0235 GMT: “Come on maria! I an so nervous right now though.”
From anon via text

0233 GMT: “It’s very, very hot out there.”
5 live’s Jonathan Overend

0232 GMT: The players have to go through the teeth-grinding pre-match interview on their way onto court. Ivanovic expects “a good match”. Sharapova either wasn’t up for it or we missed her.

0230 GMT: Just to remind everyone, you can follow this match on BBC One, Radio 5 Live, via live streaming on this website, or just stick with me. Choices, choices….

0225 GMT: And to deal with the elephant in the room that is the ‘glamour’ brought to the occasion by these two ladies, I think The Sun said it best yesterday when they described this potentially classic encounter as: “Battle of the babes – it’s Ana v Shazza!”

0222 GMT: Aussie hero Pat Rafter arrives on court as part of the pre-match build-up and is described by the announcer as a man who “embodies the national character”. A bronze bust of the man himself is then unveiled – slightly creepy but well deserved. “My ego is slightly inflated now so I’ll go home and let my brothers beat it out of me,” says Pat. Good man.

0220 GMT: We should be in for a cracker as the two best players over the past fortnight have made it through to the final. They have a 2-2 head-to-head record, with Sharapova having won their last meeting in Madrid in November and Ivanovic having won their French Open semi-final last June.

0215 GMT: Good morning everyone, welcome to the women’s final. And happy Australia Day. To celebrate we are being treated to a choir of shiny young Australians singing the national anthem on Rod Laver Arena. They appear to be dressed as chefs, which may not be ideal as it looks pretty hot out there already, if a little windy.

Story from BBC SPORT

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Henin v Sharapova as it happened

Australian Open, Melbourne

Women’s quarter-finals result:

J HENIN (Bel) v M SHARAPOVA (Rus)

4-6 0-6

By Tom Fordyce

Henin 0-6 Sharapova
And over it is – a blitzkrieg of a match from Sharapova, battering her way to yet another break adn taking the match with another series of forehand assaults. Henin has been destroyed out there. Remarkable scenes.

Henin 0-5 Sharapova
Henin battles for a break point but is wrong-footed by a cunning Shara drive and is left splay-legged like a stumpy giraffe. She stares back at Shara with those anthracite eyes of hers, and a wave of sympathy sweeps around the Rod Laver Arena. This one looks all over.

Henin 0-4 Sharapova
Henin’s first serve is crumbling under this onslaught as Shara goes at her like an elegant wrecking-ball. A raking forehand sets up another break and a leaning-back drifter of a cross-court forehand seals the deal.

For the sartorially-minded among you, Henin is wearing a cap-sleeve white vest, burgundy skirt with white trim and her usual curved-brim cap. Maria’s gone for the short white strappy dress with matching sun-visor.

Henin 0-3 Sharapova
Another brutal breeze of a service game from Shara. Henin smiles almost ruefully as she trudges to her chair. Maria marches to hers and glugs from an enormous bottle of ruby-red squash – blood orange flavour, from the look of it.

Henin 0-2 Sharapova
Henin’s being tossed around like a rag-doll in an Alsatian’s mouth. Shara sends her scampering desperately around the court and then polishes her off with the dead-eyed aplomb of a assassin.

Henin 0-1 Sharapova
No messing around there from Shara. That forehand’s so brutal it could smash through brick walls. Scream has replaced squeak as her chosen audio accompaniment.

FIRST SET

Henin 4-6 Sharapova
The standard’s suddenly gone through the roof, or at least the gaping hole where the roof can be. Shara forces a break point with a grunt-squeak backhand only to be dragged from side to side by a succession of sizzling forehands to go back to deuce. The best point of the match – a court-covering epic – sets up another, and this time she takes it with a wonder of a dipping backhand cross-courter. What a set. It was so good that I considered using an exclamation-mark on that last sentence. I know.

Henin 4-5 Sharapova
Big game, that one, and at 15-30 Henin has her first glimpse. Shara nets a squeaky backhand to set up the first break point on her serve, only for Henin to lash a lazy forehand into the tramlines – but a duel of drop-shots sets up another nibble, and Shara nets her backhand again. That’s the break-back.

Henin 3-5 Sharapova
Nervy, nervy hold from Henin. With her Belgian back against the wall, she wobbles at 30-30 but conjures up a delight of an overhead backhand smash-volley to keep Shara waiting.

Henin 2-5 Sharapova
No problems at all for Maria – a backhand straight off the centre of the strings polishes off any chance of a Henin break-back. Do butterflies have backbones, or exoskeletons? Disappointing to reach into the mental locker and come up short on that one.

Henin 2-4 Sharapova
Henin’s second double-fault of the battle pegs her back to deuce, and a raking cross-court backhand from Shara sets up a break point. A crunching first serve saves the day before a drop-shot as delicate as a butterfly’s backbone gets her back in front. Shara forces two more deuces before a netted forehand finally give up the game.

Henin 1-4 Sharapova
Howitzer after howitzer from the sizzling racquet of Shara. Henin can’t get a look-in at the moment, and she goes to her chair at the change-round, sinks her chin into a striped towel and peeps out at the world like a frightened dormouse.

Henin 1-3 Sharapova
The world number one is on the board at last, but it’s not without a scare – she goes 0-30 down before starting to land her first serves on the ‘T’. Little fist-pump from Henin as she pockets the game.

Henin 0-3 Sharapova
First signs of stroppiness from Henin – she’s being blown away by a Shara storm out there. Interestingly, she has a strip of black tape wrapped above and below her right knee. When her leg bends it gives the visual effect of a pair of lips opening and closing in soundless, panicked gasps.

Henin 0-2 Sharapova
Shara has come out of the traps like a ravenous greyhound. Two blistering forehands force Henin errors to set up break points, and a netted backhand slice from the Belgian gives away the game.

Henin 0-1 Sharapova
Two crunching first serves get Shara firing before a looper of second serve and thumping Henin forehand draw it level at 30-30. Shara then finds her range again with her boomers to get her nose in front.

0838: Henin wins the toss and elects to receive serve. Maria tucks a brace of balls into her pants and strides off to the baseline to loosen her languid shoulders.

0830: Here we go – a real treat to fire up your Tuesday. Who said this was the worst week of the entire year? The sun is sinking over the Rod Laver Arena as Maria and Justine stroll through the corridors and out onto the court.

In case you needed a nudge, you can also watch the action live on BBC Interactive or listen to commentary on 5 Live Sports Extra.

Story from BBC SPORT

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

Sharapova v Ivanovic as it happened

French Open Semi-final result:

A IVANOVIC (Ser) bt M SHARAPOVA (Rus)

6-2 6-1

GAME-BY-GAME UPDATES

By Piers Newbery

Second set:

Sharapova 1-6 Ivanovic
That’s the way to reach your first Grand Slam final – a love-service game polished off with an ace down the middle. It was certainly a case of form overcoming experience today and Ivanovic will be a match for either Henin or Jankovic in Saturday’s final.

Sharapova 1-5 Ivanovic
The opening point sums up Sharapova’s day as she dumps an attempted drop volley into the net with Ivanovic stranded way behind the baseline. But if there’s one player out there who will not give up on a seemingly lost cause it’s Sharapova and she battles back to avoid the dreaded bagel (love-set). Meanwhile, we get several shots of some bearded types who are presumably big in France.

Sharapova 0-5 Ivanovic
At 30-30, Ivanovic forces Sharapova back with a succession of heavy groundstrokes, approaches the net and thumps away a forehand winner. She enjoys it so much that she repeats the trick on the next point and it’s nearly done and dusted now.

Sharapova 0-4 Ivanovic
Sharapova tries to keep her hopes alive in a hard-fought game but after being taken to three deuces, a double-fault and a forehand error give up another break. At one point an American voice from the crowd shouts out, “Just keep the ball on the court!” Sharapova immediately puts a backhand four feet long.

Sharapova 0-3 Ivanovic
Bearing in mind the current geo-political situation and the wranglings at the G8 I will steer clear of sentences using the words ‘Russian, missiles and targeting’ and simply say that Sharapova’s usually rock-solid groundstrokes are out of synch today. She’s struggling to keep the ball in play and Ivanovic holds with ease.

Sharapova 0-2 Ivanovic
This is really good stuff now from Ivanovic who is winning the battle from the baseline comprehensively. At one point Sharapova tries to change things with a sortie to the net, only to see the ball walloped straight past her. Another break follows and the Serb is on course for the final.

Sharapova 0-1 Ivanovic
No sign of nerves from Ivanovic as she holds serve to love and Maria’s dad Yuri Sharapova looks distinctly unhappy in the stands. Ilie Nastase, meanwhile, looks quite happy chatting away to two pretty ladies. The old devil.

First set:

“It’s confident stuff from Ivanovic and at the moment she looks on the way to her first Grand Slam final.”
Five Live’s Jonathan Overend

Sharapova 2-6 Ivanovic
It’s a false dawn for Sharapova as Ivanovic breaks yet again – this time to 15 – and sprints back to the chair.

Sharapova 2-5 Ivanovic
It’s all going smoothly for Ivanovic until she double-faults at 30-30 and then blazes a forehand into the tramlines. It can only be nerves after such an accomplished start and Sharapova certainly looks buoyed by the break.

Sharapova 1-5 Ivanovic
Things are warming up a bit now – both women hit the ball hard and flat from the back of the court and we should be in for some great rallies. Ivanovic has the upper hand at the moment and gets to break point with a rasping forehand before Sharapova double-faults.

Sharapova 1-4 Ivanovic
Ivanovic does well to come through a tight service game, firing down two service winners from 30-30 and giving it some “C’mon!” Away from the match there’s been a disappointing lack of shots of random stars in the crowd so far but will keep you informed if Antonio Banderas turns up again. I would have thought Banderas would have been up for a bit of Sharapova v Ivanovic.

Sharapova 1-3 Ivanovic
You can be certain that Sharapova will battle all the way whenever she steps on court and she gets off the mark with two blistering backhands down the line. Still not exactly fluent stuff from the Russian but Ivanovic has been warned.

Sharapova 0-3 Ivanovic
So despite what you might just have read, Ivanovic is a break up after a comfortable hold and looks in control. Sharapova may not be moving “like a cow on ice” as she said the other day but she’s all arms and legs at the moment.

Sharapova 0-2 Ivanovic
Sharapova has a chance to level but double-faults at 40-30 and two points later Ivanovic takes advantage with a superb running forehand down the line, followed by a Henmanesque fist pump.

Sharapova 0-1 Ivanovic
Ivanovic opens with a thumping ace and gets Sharapova on the move early on – not the Russian’s favourite style of play and it’s a straightforward hold for the Serb.

1302 BST: The players enter the Philippe Chatrier Court, which is barely a third full – not bad going bearing in mind it’s lunchtime in Paris.

1300 BST: So here we go for the first of the women’s semis in Paris and it’s a hard one to call. Sharapova is the second seed and has won two Grand Slam titles but is far from comfortable on clay and has a dodgy shoulder. Ivanovic is playing in her first Grand Slam semi but is a woman in form, having won the recent German Open.

Sharapova v Garbin gamewatch

Australian Open, Melbourne Park

Third round result:

M Sharapova (Rus) v T Garbin (It)

6-3 6-1

* denotes server

GAME-BY-GAME UPDATES

By Caroline Cheese

Second set

Sharapova 6-3 6-1 Garbin
It took longer than many expected thanks to a determined effort from Garbin – particularly in the first set – but Sharapova is through to face either fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva or Ana Ivanovic.

Sharapova 6-3 5-1 Garbin
Sharapova’s dad Yuri looks to have a relaxed a little bit now – he’s clapping enthusiastically now instead of clenching his fist. Rughtly so for Sharapova is a game away from the last 16.

Sharapova 6-3 4-1 Garbin
Still completely focused on the job still to be done, Sharapova holds to 30. She has hit 24 winner today – compared to Garbin’s five.

Sharapova 6-3 3-1 Garbin
Sharapova breaks when Garbin nets a forehand and surely the Russian is well on her way now.

Sharapova 6-3 2-1 Garbin
A bit of comedy on Rod Laver Arena. First up, Garbin hits a dreadful overhead wide of the tramline then a linesman wakes everyone up with his extremely loud calling. He might quieten down a bit now though as Sharapova rightly challenges one of his calls.

Sharapova 6-3 1-1 Garbin
Garbin keeps herself in it with a hold – but holding off the inevitable, I fear.

Sharapova 6-3 1-0 Garbin
Sharapova’s focus is frightening. She holds serve in the opening game and shouts ‘Come on’ like she’s won Wimbledon. That’ll be why she’s the world number one…

First set

Sharapova 6-3 Garbin
A 12th forehand winner from Sharapova brings up a first set point. Her 13th completes a surprisingly difficult first set for the top seed.

Sharapova 5-3 Garbin
Sharapova may be the number one player in the world but she’s not above a superstition or two. The Russian has a routine when she serves which involves only taking balls from a certain side. At one point, her favoured ballboy doesn’t have any balls to give her and Sharapova gives him a glare. One game from the opening set now and maybe Garbin’s resistance is broken.

Sharapova 4-3 Garbin
Does anyone want to hold serve? Sharapova breaks to love and now the pressure is right back on the Italian – whose best career win was a 2005 upset of Justine Henin-Hardenne at the French Open.

Sharapova 3-3 Garbin
What was I saying? This is great stuff from Garbin. A swinging forehand return winner earns her three break-back points. Sharapova puts a terrible forehand into the bottom of the net and suddenly we’re back all square.

Sharapova 3-2 Garbin
Right then, since she’s not going to be in this tournament much longer, let’s learn a little bit more about Tathiana Garbin before she leaves us. First up, her nickname is Tax although on her fansite they call her Tathy. Tax/Tathy is 40-15 ahead but Sharapova battles back and secures her third game in a row.

Sharapova 2-2 Garbin
It’s raining so the roof’s on Rod Laver Arena but such is the humidity that both players have got ice packs to cool down during the changeovers. Meanwhile, Sharapova has abandoned the idea of attacking the net and is back to smacking groundstrokes from the baseline. She holds to love.

Sharapova 1-2 Garbin
Stung into action, Sharapova breaks straight back, hitting two crunching forehands to get back in it. She and dad Yuri punch the air.

Sharapova 0-2 Garbin
Garbin is happily rallying from the back, waiting for Sharapova to make a mistake, and the Russian is obliging a bit too often at the moment. The top seed saves two break points but she can’t save the third.

Sharapova 0-1 Garbin
Lovely start for Garbin who flicks a forehand past Sharapova at the net to take the first point. It look like Sharapova fancies a bit of volleying practice today because she makes a few approaches. Garbin holds to 30.

  • Not much to be said in the build-up to this match as Sharapova and 30th seed Garbin are about to meet for the first time. The world number one is clearly the favourite. She spent 58 minutes on court in the last round so let’s see if can she beat that today…

    Story from BBC SPORT: