If I hadn’t won a tennis match for over 7 weeks on the tour the last un-seeded player at the US Open I would like to face is Daria Gavrilova who has taken her game up a number of levels this year as she began the year ranked at 231 and is now at 37 in the world and that is what Maria Sharapova faces!
Maria Sharapova hasn’t played or won a match since the 7th of July when she beat Coco Vandeweghe in the quarter finals of Wimbledon. Maria has been struggling badly with this leg injury which has caused her problems over the last few weeks hence why we haven’t seen her playing which is why I don’t think it is possible to play a Grand Slam and be a contender without any match time on a hard court.
This won’t be the first time these two have met with the head to head currently at 1-1 with Gavrilova putting in one of the performances of the year to beat Maria in Miami but Maria got her revenge a month or so later in Rome.
If you haven’t seen Gavrilova play then you must! She shows a lot of emotion on court but always gets the crowd going and is solid whether she is defending or attacking.
I like watching players who make opponents think during rallies and the ability of Gavrilova when defending 3,4,5 metres behind the baseline is incredible! There were a number of times during their meeting in Miami where Gavrilova forced Sharapova to hit another shot and in a way throw a bit of uncertainty onto the court and ended up winning points off errors.
What impressed me the most about Gavrilova’s performance against Sharapova was that transition between defending and attacking which I thought she got spot on and controlled the rallies.
When I think of the best defenders on the tour who can make that transition from a defensive position to attacking position look so easy like Novak, Serena, Andy, Halep and Wozniacki do and it was like watching a performance like that.
Throughout the match Sharapova just didn’t look in charge at all and no matter what shot she played it couldn’t get the better of Gavrilova who simply was exceptional in turning defence into attack. There were a few times during the match when it was like watching a player paint a picture of what was going to happen.
This one below was at 7-6 3-1 on the Gavrilova serve and after just one backhand to backhand exchange Gavrilova thought I’m going to change this up and from 3 metres behind the baseline I will get Sharapova (who’s sat comfortably on the baseline) on the move and she did it a number of times.
The black ball shows where the ball dropped and Gavrilova runs round the backhand to play a forehand and saw the space to attack Sharapova. She got her on the move and ended up forcing the forehand error even though a few seconds before Sharapova looked in control on the baseline.
Sharapova has to settle quickly into the match and look to get that power and depth on the court to force errors from opponents. Something else she should look at doing is probably bring Gavrilova to the net as she was a bit lose on some of the shots she made at the net making a lot of mistakes in their last meeting.
If I were Gavrilova I would be looking to get Sharapova on the move especially with this recent leg problem. There is no way that Sharapova will be 100% match fit for this one, you can do so much training pre-match but getting into the match rhythm again can be very tough for players!
I do believe we are set for a round one upset and Gavrilova has the game to beat Sharapova who hasn’t won the US Open since 2006 and has only made it past the fourth round once since then.