Aggressive Sharapova eliminates holder Wozniacki in Melbourne

first_imgBy Sudipto GangulyMELBOURNE, Jan 18 (Reuters) – Maria Sharapova scorched the Rod Laver Arena with her aggressive tennis to eliminate defending Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-4 4-6 6-3 in the third round on Friday.Five-times Grand Slam champion Sharapova, who won her last major at the 2014 French Open, hit 37 winners against 10 from her opponent and converted her second matchpoint to set up a fourth round clash against Australia number one Ashleigh Barty.Sharapova, who won the Australian Open in 2008, headed into the match with a 6-4 lead in their previous meetings and went for her shots from the first point making it difficult for the third-ranked Dane with a game built on defence.“I thought the level was quite high. She is the defending champion of this event and it’s no secret she loves this arena,” Sharapova said in a courtside interview.“These are the types of matches I train for so it’s really rewarding to win that last point. I’m definitely not walking around thinking I have experience and think they’re just going to give it to me.”Wozniacki had the first break but handed the advantage back with a double fault before the Russian 30th seed, who was suspended for 15 months for taking banned drug meldonium in 2016, won three consecutive games to take the set.After a trade of breaks, Wozniacki took the match into a deciding set after a double fault from former world number one Sharapova gave her a set point which she converted to level the entertaining encounter on Rod Laver Arena at 1-1.Sharapova shrieked in delight with her fists clenched after converting her third breakpoint in the seventh game with a scorching forehand and broke Wozniacki again to seal the victory in two hours and 24 minutes.The 31-year-old Russian said she had decided to be aggressive against Wozniacki and aim for shorter points.That plan, however, took her unforced errors to 46, more than double than from Wozniacki.“It was definitely, you know, a match that I looked forward to and when the draw came out obviously I had to get there first and so did she,” said Sharapova, who wore a black crop top to her news conference.“But, yeah, I thought it was, as usual, as expected, a physical match. Didn’t have to be in some ways, but I felt like even in the longer rallies I did a great job of winning those. Put a lot of pressure on her.”Sharapova will brace for a hostile crowd in the fourth round when she takes on local hope Barty, who beat Greek Maria Sakkari 7-5 6-1.“I think her story is phenomenal, she loves playing here,” Sharapova said of her next opponent. “I know it’s going to be a tough crowd but I go out here to perform and play tennis.”Amanda Anisimova – Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 6-2American teenager Amanda Anisimova upstaged 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-3 6-2 to storm into the fourth round of the Australian Open and signal the arrival of a new force in women’s tennis on Friday.The fearless 17-year-old bullied her much higher ranked opponent who looked shell-shocked by the power being generated at the other end of the court.It was Anisimova’s third consecutive straight sets win, which included a 6-0 6-2 destruction of 24th seed Lesia Tsurenko. She will play the winner of Petra Kvitova and Belinda Bencic in the fourth round.The youngest player in the draw said she wouldn’t mind being a teenage Grand Slam winner like one of the players she most looks up to, Maria Sharapova.“I want to win this tournament right now,” the Miami teen said, when asked what she longed for.Anisimova showed no nerves despite playing in only her third Grand Slam main draw, and not having previously gone past the first round.She broke Sabalenka’s opening service game, and by the third game of the match the usually dominant Belarusian was glancing skywards as if wondering how her slightly-built opponent could punch like a heavyweight.“Definitely, I was trying to be really aggressive today because she plays really aggressive too and we are both really big hitters,” the American said.With youthful disregard for the consequences, Anisimova refused to take a backward step, half-volleying her opponent’s powerful shots when required.Anisimova, ranked 87, might have a strong first serve and forehand, but it will be her double-fisted backhand that, should she fulfil her obvious potential, stood out.On the backhand wing, she took the ball as early as anyone else on tour, yet always appeared balanced, and never rushed.She treated Sabalenka’s strong first serve with disdain, by going for outright winners off the return.Although that particular tactic had modest success – the American seemed unperturbed even after making several errors – it sent a not-too-subtle message that she was the one in control.The eleventh seed’s muffled frustration became increasingly audible, and after getting out-hit on match point she whacked the ball into the stadium roof in angst, after missing out on an opportunity to advance to the last 16.The victor blew kisses to the crowd.last_img read more

Green Season book excerpt Who Watches the Guachimán

first_imgRelated posts:‘Green Season’ book excerpt: Car Trouble ‘Green Season’ book excerpt: Moving Pictures ‘Green Season’ book excerpt: Day of the Devils ‘Paradise Imperfect’ a competent expat memoir Santos isn’t exactly aguachimán. He’s more like a security guard, although he serves roughly the same purpose. Santos is charmingly overweight, with a cherubic face and bright eyes. He is almost always smiling, like a giant toddler. He is oppressively pleasant, and because I am also oppressively pleasant, we greet each other each morning with the enthusiasm of cokeheads.“¿Hace calor, verdad?” I say, pointing to the sky. It’s warm out, isn’t it?“¡Oh, sí! ¡Muy bonito! ¡Pura vida!” Santos sings back. Oh, yes! Very nice! Pure life!Santos hails from León, a city in northern Nicaragua, and like almost every Nicaraguan I’ve met in Costa Rica, he’s unbelievably friendly. When he’s not working or chilling out at home, Santos is an eager fisherman, and he loves to cast reels in Puntarenas on his rare weekends off. With his cappuccino skin and ill-fitting uniform, Santos could easily cameo on a prime-time sitcom—the wacky neighbor, or the gawky relative with a heart of gold. He’s also refreshingly honest: Before I visited Nicaragua, I asked Santos whether I should visit Managua, the capital.“Oh, Managua!” he said, furrowing his brow. “It’s very dangerous. At night, someone may rob you with a gun. I wouldn’t go to Managua. You should just go to Granada.” And then he closed his eyes and nodded, as if to seal the agreement.What’s funny about Santos is that he isn’t much of a guard. He has no weapons, not even a whistle. He never checks drivers for ID or asks visitors’ business in our urbanización. The security booth is a kind of placebo—when burglars see Santos, they assume our block is a gated community, even though it’s not. Santos is about as effective as a scarecrow; he keeps criminals away, but he probably couldn’t prevent an actual crime. Given his girth, I wonder if Santos could chase a fleeing mugger for more than a block before collapsing.This is how many guachimanes are—I have no idea who hires them or how they earn their money. Do they have to train in something? Do they always ask for money, or just sometimes? Is there a standard rate, or is it negotiated on the spot? Does the guachimán have a union, or a club, or even the loosest social network, or do they all fly solo? Is the job even legal, or do shopkeepers just hand out undocumented cash at the end of the day?The irony is that most guachimanes get hired in upper-class neighborhoods, including mine. My street would seem fairly typical in Miami or Los Angeles, but in Costa Rica, our neighbors live in the equivalent of mansions. We live near a long row of U.S. chains, like Pizza Hut and Taco Bell and Quiznos, and all of their parking lots have private security guards. Indeed, the sentry in front of our local supermarket shoulders a full-fledged shotgun—which will be handy, if a paramilitary group ever storms the organic coffee aisle.As a full-time pedestrian, I pass my neighborhood’s guachimanes every day, and we have a strangely warm relationship. A leathery 61-year-old named Juan often sees my wife running, and he has invited us to join him on his own jogs around town. Mikhail, who is Santos’ nocturnal counterpart, is a shy Romanian with an estranged wife and child in Germany; on late nights, I often chat with Mikhail for a few minutes in German, and we trade anecdotes about our bizarre expatriate lives. Where drivers see an adversary—a crooked authority figure, a street urchin posing as a sentinel—I see fellow pedestrians. They remind me of the old men back in Pittsburgh, who spend their summers sitting on park benches and watching the traffic go by. They are fixtures of the neighborhood. In a world as cliquey and guarded as Tico culture, a nod and a wave go a long way.“¡Hola, Robert! ¡Robert de los Estados Unidos!” Santos calls, like a game show host, as I return from work. The sun has melted over the rooftops and power lines, and the sky is a muddy mix of orange and storm clouds. “¿Pura vida?” he asks.“Pura vida,” I say.“¡Oh, muy bien! ¡Excelente!”After living in Costa Rica for only a few months, I couldn’t imagine Santos not there. Useful or not, he adds a human element to an otherwise impersonal suburb. If Santos were ever fired or replaced, the place would change entirely. The street would be nothing more than a street.*****Want to read more? You can order “The Green Season” by Robert Isenberg from The Tico Times Store and Amazon. In Costa Rica it’s also available in Britt Shops and Librería Internacional stores in Mulitplaza Escazú and Avenida Central in San José. Read a review of the book here. Facebook Commentslast_img read more