Maria’s Nightmare

It’s a remarkable loss that caps a remarkably discouraging year for Maria Sharapova.

“I’m disappointed for Maria,” said no. 3 ranked Jelena Jankovic, who was stretching before a practice today. “She was a defending champion, so losing in the third round she could never have dreamed about it. It’s a nightmare.”

In one of the biggest meltdowns of her career, Sharapova lost six consecutive games in the final set to a Polish teenager who has never made it past the fourth round of a Grand Slam. The serve Sharapova was so conscious in improving, fell to pieces today. She committed 12 double faults and won only 23 percent of the points off her second serve. I asked her what happened to that shot.

“What happened to all my shots today?” she said back. “I could sit here and try to think ‘What happened?’ I could blame the wind and blame my opponent. But I’m not going to find reasons why one shot didn’t work today and her shots did.”

“Clearly it hasn’t been my best year,” she said. “Just hasn’t been my year.”

After being dismantled by Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic and Venus Williams in straight sets in the year’s other three Grand Slams, she lost to a 30th ranked player who was playing mistake-free tennis and forcing Sharapova to win the match. Sharapova did not. She committed 49 unforced errors, 20 of which came in the brief final set. It was enough to make her father and coach, Yuri Sharapova, retreat from CBS’ camera lens to the back row of the player’s box.

“I don’t feel like I had that belief that I usually do,” she said. “I don’t know whether I put a lot of pressure on myself coming into this event because I felt like I was starting to play a lot better.”

Maybe not.

Maria’s Nightmare