In a superb display of athleticism and mental tenacity, Maria Sharapova defeated Nadia Petrova in a tantalising second round match on the fourth day of Roland Garros 2009.
The match today saw Nadia Petrova well-posed to cause the first major upset of the French Open this year. Maria made a bright start but started struggling soon after, losing the second set at 1-6. Petrova seemed to be in cruise control of the match after that, while Sharapova’s errors piled on in numbers.
People were already starting to write obituaries about the comeback which was “not meant to be."
But Sharapova never gave up. Even though she trailed Petrova in the final set, she found some of her best tennis when she needed it most. Several aces, break points, double faults, and forehands later; she took the match at 8-6.
On paper it may have seemed a simple second round victory over an adversary who is no longer a potential grand-slam-winning threat, but anyone who saw the match would agree that Maria Sharapova displayed something much more than just tennis on court today.
It’s not easy to make any sort of comeback, and a comeback after a career-threatening injury has got to be the worst kind. But Maria displayed today what all of us already know but stare agape with wonder every time we see it demonstrated on a tennis court.
The victories in tennis are often won in your head. If you believe, you will win. If you fight, you will overcome your fears and insecurities. If you keep your eye on the finish line and your spirits high, glory will be yours.
It was not only a shoulder that was bothering Maria; she was scared of never being able to play her best tennis again. And although her tennis today was not flawless, traces of brilliance were abundant.
And most importantly it was refreshing to see that her year-long injury has not injured her spirit at all. Or her hunger to win.
The queen is back ladies and gentlemen.
And with a vengeance.