Thu May 26 01:06pm EDT
How was Maria Sharapova down a set and two breaks at the French Open to a 17-year-old wild card ranked No. 188 in the world before pulling out the match in three sets? This abysmal serve sums it fairly well.
In case you can't tell a forehand from a forehead, that ball was supposed to bounce inside the first line. It was about 22 feet longer than it should have been. The service area is only 21 feet deep in the first place!
It was a windy day at Roland Garros, sure. ("Blustery," the announcer says in the clip.) But unless there was a hurricane centralized over Court Philippe Chatrier, wind alone wouldn't account for how long that serve was. It wasn't even close to being inside the baseline, let alone the service line. Her serve was the tennis equivalent of a pitcher throwing into the ninth row, a basketball player shooting a free throw over the basket or Charles Barkley's golf swing. In short, it's one of the worst serves you'll ever see.
Sharapova got her groove back in the second set. After playing like she was frightened of the wind for the first 15 games of the match, the Russian battled back from a 4-1 deficit to win the next 11 games. She relaxed instead of hitting balls and hoping they wouldn't get caught up by a breeze, playing the game that made her a favorite this year at Roland Garros. It didn't hurt that Garcia tightened, nor that the jeering French crowd appeared to shift Sharapova's attention away from the uncontrollable wind gusts.
Her game improved. Not surprisingly, so did her serves.