posted on Jan, 2 2005 @ 10:44 AM
Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova stamped her authority over Venus Williams on Sunday, two weeks before the start of the Australian Open, using her
strong baseline strokes to overpower the former world No. 1 in straight sets in a Thai exhibition match.
Sharapova downed Williams 6-4, 6-3 in the TAT Tennis Invitational Exhibition at the 700th Anniversary Stadium in the northern city of Chiang Mai. The
match began with a 30-second tribute to victims of the tsunami that killed more than 123,000 people from Asia to Africa, including nearly 5,000
confirmed dead in Thailand. It ended with the players auctioning off their rackets for $2,560 each to raise funds to help victims.
With her flat powerful deep ground strokes, the Russian world No. 4 did not allow Williams to build any momentum in the match, which lasted just 78
minutes in front of 4,000 fans. Williams' vaunted power game was eclipsed throughout the match, and she added to her problems with a string of
unforced errors, mostly from her forehand.
After several deuces, the ninth-ranked Williams was broken in the first game and dropped to 0-2 before breaking back to draw level at 2-2. But
18-year-old Sharapova broke back immediately and produced a string of winners to lead 4-2 before Williams leveled again at 4-4. But Sharapova broke
again to lead 5-4 and fought off several break points to finally win the first set by blasting two impressive forehands down the line.
The Russian star then reeled off five straight games to build a solid lead at 5-0 before her game fell apart and Williams won three straight games.
However, Williams continued to be plagued by errors and finally served a double fault to lose the match. Williams and Sharapova next head to Hong
Kong for another exhibition match.
[Edited on 2/1/05 by TRD]