Better to see her than hear her. Nevertheless it was good to have the Siberian Siren — Maria Sharapova (ranked 102) — among us again, despite her shrieks that cause many to turn off the sound whenever she appears on their TV screens. Noise and all she was welcome as a long-legged gem of the game, who just might slug her way back to No. 1.
All right, am I going overboard after one match — Wednesday’s thriller, an unexpected narrow victory over another heavy artillery babe from Russia, No. 11 Nadia Petrova, 6-2, 1-6, 8-6 in 2:11. Possibly, but Maria’s combative nature and baseline blasts against tough opposition made this a sensational match that rocked the French Open’s Lenglen Court. She lagged 2-4 in the 3rd, had to duck 2 break points in a harrowing 4 deuce game to keep Petrova from serving for it at 5-4.
“I have no expectations,” said Maria, rebounding from shoulder problems and surgery that ruled her off the track for almost a year. But she might have a few now. Depends on how her body feels the day after. She hasn’t pushed like this for a long time. She’s in the 3d round now against a qualifier, so she ought to make the 4th where she was beaten a year ago by the current No. 1, Dinara Safina.
It was a bitter loss for sharp shotmaker Petrova in this Russian intramural, but again she had difficulty closing the door, and she got it slammed in her face. With a T-shaped taping on her right shoulder.
Maria, the slammer, was back. Kids in the gathering of 10,000 were chanting “MAH-REE-AH!” over and over, but her screams drowned them out. Her voice came through the layoff fine, so just touch the TV’s mute button.