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Monday, May 08, 2006

Sharapova Keeps Up the Bad Work

As of mid-May, Russia had four female tennis players ranked in the world’s top ten: Maria Sharapova at #3, Nadia Petrova at #4, Elena Dementieva at #8 and Svetlana Kuznetsova at #10. Note that "Russia’s number one player," Sharapova, does not in fact actually reside in Russia, but rather lives in America and spends virtually no time in so-called home country.

As of mid-May, these four players had entered 29 tournaments between them and emerged victorious in only six (in other words, these "top ten" players were eliminated from nearly 80% of the tournaments they played). Petrova alone racked up three of those six wins (she is now just 309 points from taking over Sharapova's #3 spot), while each of the other three had only one win apiece. Despite having so many "top-ten" players, as La Russophobe has previously reported Russia was uncerimoniously and decisively booted from the Fed Cup tournament in the quarter finals by tiny Belgium, completing a hat trick.

By contrast, in 11 of 29 final matches the members of the quartet were eliminated by lower-ranked players; Sharapova, supposedly Russia’s best player, was ejected from three out of the four tournaments she played by a lower-ranked player. Only twice did a member (Petrova, Kuznetsova) defeat a higher-ranked player in a final match; four of the group's six tournament wins came against lower-ranked players and two of the six came against fellow Russians.

How about in 2005? Last year Sharapova played in 15 tournaments and lost 11 out of 15 final matches (three-quarters of the time) to a lower-ranked player. Maria hasn’t beaten a higher-ranked player in a final match since February 2005 when she beat world #1 Lindsey Davenport at Tokyo – well over a year ago – and she hasn’t reached a grand slam final since Wimbledon 2004, nearly two years ago. She needed three sets to beat Davenport at Tokyo, and then one month later promptly dropped the infamous double bagel against the same Davenport at Indian Wells, failing to win a single game in an 0-6, 0-6 drubbing. Of her two other tournament final match wins in 2005, one came over a player not even ranked in the world’s top 15 and the other against the world #9.

In other words, in her last 19 tournaments Sharapova has been ejected by a lower-ranked player 14 times and in four tournament wins out of 19 tries has beaten a higher-ranked player to take the title only once. In other words, in any given tournament in the past year and a half, there has only been a one-in-four chance that “Russia’s best” will not lose to an inferior opponent. To show the oft-noticed oddness of the rankings system, in the throes of this wretched season Sharapova actually assumed the world #1 ranking, on August 22, 2005 as several of the game's top players were hobbled by injuries. The week before she became "number one" in the world she was ejected from a tournament in the quarterfinals by a player not even ranked in the world's top 20. She then proceeded to lose all three tournaments she played while "number one," two out of three times getting bounced again by a player not ranked in the top 20. After that debacle she lost the top spot and hasn't come close to regaining it, slipping ever since.

Perhaps it's not surprising to learn, then, as La Russophobe has previously reported, that Maria played her semi-final match at the so-called "fifth major" (the Nasdaq-100 in Miami) to half-empty stadium that booed her off the court several times, or that she would focus a good deal of her energy not on tennis but on a cheesecake spread in Sports Illustrated even though she had sworn up and down she would never do such things, would never follow in the mold of the pathetic Anna Kournikova (who never won a single singles title in her entire career). But then, Russians are not known for their reliability or their truth-telling.

Isn't the irony compelling? Just as Russia ignores its real economy, preferring to dwell on the illusion of oil revenues, Sharapova ignores her real tennis game, preferring to dwell on the illusion of T&A. Isn't this Russia in a nutshell, always preferring the tasty illusion over the bitter medicine of truth? Do we need any other explanation for why the species Russiacan Russicanus is soon to be extinct?


Anonymous said...

The Russians are going to go extinct because some woman who lives in America is losing some tennis matches. Interesting theory.

La Russophobe said...

They're going to go extinct because, like you, they can't accept the need to ACTUALLY be good, but prefer to live in a world of dreams and IMAGINE they are good. More than anything else, that is what is destroying Russia, and Sharapova is the poster child for it.

Anonymous said...

Sharapova is the poster child for playing tennis, being pretty and making tons of money for it. No more, no less. You might even say it's the American Dream.
Any attempt to draw something kind of corollary about the fate of the Russian people from her lifestyle and sporting abilities is pure hogwash.

La Russophobe said...

She's the poster child for playing tennis BADLY, alientating droves of fans, and setting the example that young Russian women should sell their bodies even if they don't really need the money. She's the worst possible role model for Russia and she's ruining the sport of women's tennis.

Any attempt to praise her game is pure hogwash, belied by the facts carefully set forth in this post, none of which you dispute. Any attempt to call her "pretty" is meaningless -- she's only pretty in the context of tennis, and tennis is supposed to be about sport, not looks.

She was chosen to represent Russia's bid for the Olympics which FAILED miserably even though she has never played for the national team, overlooking many real Russian athletes who had done so.

Sharapova is the poster child for the elevation of form over substance, and anyone who doesn't understand that is what is destroying Russia utterly has the brain of a hog.