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Monday, May 15, 2006

Petrova Knocks Sharapova Out of the Top 3

Eat your heart out, Maria Sharapova. As the Moscow Times reports (via Reuters), not only did Nadia Petrova knock you out of the of Top 3 in the rankings with her win at Berlin, she did it grand style, showing the world what a truly watchable tennis match looks like and making as all remember how truly lame you are even when you win:

BERLIN -- World No. 4 Nadia Petrova beat French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in a thrilling German Open final on Sunday. The powerful Moscow native dug deep in the deciding set and gained revenge for her defeat by the feisty Belgian in last year's final on the clay at the Steffi Graf stadium. The 23-year-old went into the final with a 14-match winning streak on clay but had never beaten the Belgian on the surface in four previous attempts. "The decisive thing was my fighting spirit," Petrova said. "I don't think I made the best start today, but I really put my heart into this match." Henin-Hardenne had looked in blistering form in Saturday's semifinals, humbling world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo 6-1, 6-2, and made the better start on Sunday in overcast conditions punctuated by the occasional burst of sunshine. Petrova briefly left the court after the first set and reappeared with strapping on her right thigh but did not seem to be hindered in her movement on her return to action. The Russian called for the doctor again after the second set and took a time out to receive shoulder treatment. But she shrugged off the distraction to close out the match when Henin-Hardenne went wide on a forehand in the 12th game of the deciding set.

La Russophobe dares to wonder what would have happened to Russia's Olympic bid if Petrova, a real Russian, had been the spokesperson for the bid rather than Sharapova. Petrova actually now stands second in the race to the Tour Championship rankings, where Sharapova is only 100 points from being bounced down to fifth, where she could then be bounced further down by returning journeyman player Martina Hingus, who has had a far better year than Sharapova. Given the fact that Petrova actually lives in Russia, it's hard to say why she doesn't deserve the honor of representing her country's bid far more than Sharapova, whose selection could easily have appeared to the OC to represent everything that is bad, shallow, superficial and unreliable, about Russia.

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