On January 18, 2013, Daniel Sanford of the BBC breathlessly tweeted: “In-form Maria Sharapova wipes Venus Williams off the court at Australian Open 6-1, 6-3.”
Six days later, still on the Sharapova band wagon, he gushed: “Maria Sharapova beats fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova to reach Australian Open semi-finals.”
But he was strangely silent on January 24th. That’s when Sharapova met her very first tough, serious opponent in draw, one Na Li from China. And though ranked well below Sharapova, the Chinese opponent blew Sharapova off the court in easy straight sets, breaking Sharapova’s serve five times and allowing her to win only four of 16 games played.
In form? Sharapova tossed in a whopping 32 unforced errors and added a revolting six double faults. The much more diminutive Chinese player, who had won only four of twelve prior contests with the Russian, decisively whipped Shamapova in every aspect of the game, exposing the Russian’s route to the semi-finals for the fraud it was.
Two of the three Russians who reached the quarter finals at the Aussie this year turned in disgraceful performances there, and the only reason one reached the semi finals was that two met each other in the quarters. Sharapova, surely one of the luckiest humans who ever lived, faced the second-lowest seeded player to reach the quarters, and in the fourth round was lucky enough to be one of only four players in the round of 16 to face an unseeded opponent. Each and every opponent she met before the semi-finals simply collapsed and handed her the match. When she finally met someone not quite so obliging, she herself collapsed like a house of cards.
Sharapova isn’t even a real Russian. She left her country when a young child and chooses to live in the USA, though her massive wealth would allow her to live anywhere. To the extent she can play tennis at all, it’s because of American teachers, and she virtually never goes home for a visit. She’s married to a non-Russian. As if to confirm this, and add insult to injury, she was booted off the Russian national tennis team.
To be fair, Sanford wasn’t the only one to totally miss the boat on Shamapova, plenty of other journalists did too: Check out this idiot for example claiming that “champagne Sharapova” had “plenty left in the tank.” But Sanford is one of those reporters we watched breathlessly misreport the Russian opposition movement, claiming it was changing Russia forever when in fact it was doing no such thing. So it’s particularly important to point out he’s still ranging far from the path of truth.
There simply aren’t that many places you can read the truth about Russia from folks who actually understand the place. Fortunately for you, this is one of them. If you had been following our coverage of Maria’s misadventures, you wouldn’t have been the least surprised by what happened in the semis at this year’s Aussie Open.