Maria off to sizzling start

Maria Sharapova Venus Williams

Maria Sharapova Venus Williams

The Nation Hua Hin – Russian glamour girl Maria Sharapova enjoyed a stylish start to the season, subduing Venus Williams 63 64 in the Hua Hin Centennial Invitational at the Centennial Park on Saturday.

Around 4,000 fans defied the scorching heat to witness the two Titans of women’s tennis clash but the match was a bit below expectaฌtions. Among the spectators was Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban.

While Sharapova was sharp and blasted her trademark heavy groundฌstrokes from everywhere on the court, Williams was a step slower and errors kept coming from her racquet.

The Russian broke Venus three times in the first set. Although Williams elevated the level of her game in the second set, she could not find answers to Sharapova’s flat and explosive shots especially from the backhand side.

“I’m happy to play against her in the first match of the season. You never know what’s going to happen but I’m happy that I won,” said Sharapova, who also beat Venus in their previous exhibition match in Chiang Mai five years ago.

“I still remember when I first came here [in 2005]. I was still young and had a great match with Venus.”

She later teamed up with Danai Udomchoke and lost to Paradorn Srichaphan and Williams 68 in an entertaining mixed doubles. Sharapova was a bit surprised by Paradorn’s mohawk hairdo with which he is appearing in the upcomฌing Bangrajan II movie.

“It looks like a mohawk to me. But it’s nothing new to me because we also have this in my country,” said Sharapova who will give alms to monks this morning on the beach and train before leaving for another exhibition game in Hong Kong on January 4.

“I will practice tomorrow and use this beautiful hot weather to prepare for Australian Open. As for the plans for the season, I want to be healthy, get stronger and enjoy my matches,” said the world No 14, who was impressed by the local hospitality.

“People greet you from the first step off the aeroplane. It makes you feel like you’re part of the people and part of the culture. I also love the food, “Khao” [rice] with different spices,” said Sharapova. Williams took her defeat in a philosophical way and added that she had difficulty finding momentum.

“Maria played so well,” Williams said. “I was slow in my first match of the season. It’s good to be here hitting the ball.”

She said she will put the loss behind and get ready to go for shopฌping. She still remembers a few Thai phrases for bargaining.

“I can say “Lod Noi” [Please reduce the price] and “Paeng Pai” [Too expensive],” said a friendly and relaxed Williams, who was astonished to know that Paradorn plays a warฌrior in a new film.

“[His hair] is cool. I should have been invited to play in the movie too,” said Williams who will also play in Hong Kong where she will meet Paradorn again. Like Sharapova, the exhibition will be her final warmup for the Australian Open.

Source : The Nation