Thursday, August 30, 2012


By the time Maria Sharapova took the court on Arthur Ashe on Wednesday night, much of the air had already been let out of the stadium. Many of the fans who’d gathered for the night session had watched on the South Plaza’s Jumbotron as sentimental favorite Kim Clijsters unexpectedly played the final match of her career, losing in an upset to British teen Laura Robson.

There wasn’t much in Robson’s young career to indicate she might be the one to end Clijster’s career, thoughshe was coming off a career high, winning the silver medal in mixed doubles at the Olympics with Andy Murray. Coincidentally, the Scot played the men’s night match after Sharapova.

Sharapova was clearly not having sentimental thoughts about Clijsters or entertaining thoughts of being the next upset victim. She annihilated the 31 year-old Spanish journeywoman, Lourdes Domingues Lino, 6-0, 6-1, in just 54 minutes.
The match was as overwhelmingly one-sided as the score would indicate: Sharapova won 54 of 78 points played (69 percent) and cracked 30 winners. Sharapova, who plays the upstart American Mallory Burdette (ranked just 252 in the world) in the third round, is seeking to repeat as US Open champion six years after her first title in Flushing Meadows. “She’s obviously going to get a lot of home support, which is absolutely normal,” Sharapova said of Burdette, who is playing her first US Open. “I understand on the other side if the crowd does cheer for her as she’s coming in as the underdog.”
Murray was nearly as ruthlessly efficient in his second-round match, impressively dispatching the 118th-ranked Croat Ivan Dodig, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3. Murray was smacked 10 aces and won 16 of 21 points at net.

The third seed demonstrated the new and improved all-court game – now as aggressive as it is wily – that led him to crush Roger Federer in the gold-medal match at Wimbledon. He showed no signs of the let-down he appeared to have after a walkover with a knee injury at Toronto and a disappointing third-round lost at Cincinatti.

Asked about his newfound popularity after his Olympic triumph, Murray said, “Yeah, it’s been a bit weird, with people hanging out in front of my hotel room, taking pictures. Some ask strange questions: What did I think of Prince Harry’s hotel photos? What do I think about the Crown Jewels?”

“I said, no comment. It’s a little different than what I’m used to, but it’s fun.”

Murray is the first man to advance to the third Round. And the Scot, in the past known for being occasionally irascible on court, is having fun.

Courtesy: USOPEN.ORG

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