Maria Sharapova Sizzles, Serena Williams Fizzles
By Anton Lagani, Lawn Tennis Correspondent, Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 5:30pm CST USA
Photos by Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty and Ezra Shaw/Getty
Melbourne--(lawntennismag.com) Like a race horse running for her life, 5th seeded Maria Sharapova of Russia quickly
posted a 3-0 set one lead versus world number one Justine Henin of Belgium in Tuesday's women's
quarterfinal play. Sharapova would close set two out even more quickly for a 6-4, 6-0 win.
Not to be outdone 3rd
seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia took advantage of an injured Serena Williams of America in the previous quarterfinal,
battling through for a 6-3, 6-4 victory and afterwards referring to herself as a "wounded animal."
"Knowing that I'm injured they think that I cannot play, but I'm like a wounded animal, I still keep going," Jankovic said.
Serena Williams, the defending Australian Open women's singles champion, appeared to move and serve slowly in
Tuesday's quarterfinal. Williams turned in first serves of 87 miles per hour, less than desirable footwork,
and a bundle of errors to drop set one 6-3.
In set two both players received medical treatment, Williams
for a blister on her toe and Jankovic for a sore thigh. Williams missing more first serves than ever, resorted
to dropshots or other first hit winner attempts on a regular basis to try to end points quickly and found herself down
3-5. After breaking Jankovic's serve to draw to 4-5, Williams delivered an uncharacteristic doublefault and a wild
forehand to lose the match.
"I think that I went crazy, maybe, and I made a lot of mistakes. I didn't really play the game I wanted to
play," Williams said.
Maria Sharapova; however, was pleased with her play Tuesday. Displaying a much improved serve and flawless,
powerful groundstrokes, Sharapova produced her best tennis since winning Wimbledon in 2004 as a 17 year old.
Sharapova's defeat of Henin snapped her 32 match winning streak and announced Sharapova as once again a factor.
Henin, who revealed her sore knee was partly to blame for the shocking result, refused to blame it entirely.
"I was really concerned about my knee for a few days," Henin said. "So I was a bit anxious, because I knew
I wasn't really 100 percent. Even if it's not an excuse about what happened on the court, because she was much
better than me."