Serena Stuffs Sharapova in Stanford Blowout; Gulbis Stuns Del Potro in LA
by Sean Randall | July 30th, 2011, 12:01 pm

The much-anticipated clash between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova turned out to be a total mismatch. Serena absolutely destroyed Sharapova 6-1, 6-3 in the quarterfinals last night in Stanford.

I have to say I’m a little surprised not by Serena’s win but by her complete domination. Maria had won 17 of her last 19 matches while the 164th-ranked Serena was playing in just her third tournament in her comeback.

But as she so often does in big matches Serena rose up to the challenge and sent an undeniable statement that in this latest comeback, she’s for real.

“Playing someone in the Top 10 or Top 5, you have to be serious. This tells me I can compete with them,” Serena said. “I’m still climbing though. It’s just one match. It’s not the US Open, it’s not Wimbledon, it’s not a Grand Slam – but it’s still a great win for the hardcourt season and it’s a big event.”

Serena has won six straight over her Russian rival and leads overall 7-2. The last time Maria beat Serena was back in 2004, and after this crushing loss it’s hard to see Sharpie getting back on top over her American counterpart anytime soon.

“It’s sport. You win some, you lose some. You move on,” Sharapova. “It certainly wasn’t my day today. She was serving and returning quite powerfully, and I felt I was extremely late. I didn’t have my timing today at all. Even when I had chances to change things around, I didn’t do it.

“Serena has come back before. She’s experienced enough to come back ready to play. She waited for the right time. When she comes back, she’s ready.”

Serena moves on to play Sabine Liscki and she’ll need to avoid a letdown to beat the big-serving German tonight. It’s easy to find motivation against Maria, so playing Lisicki will be an interesting test for Serena. In the early semifinal Marion Bartoli battles Dominka Cibulova.

Down in LA, we have an Ernests Gulbis sighting. The mercurial Gulbis is suddenly playing some decent tennis again. Last night Gulbis comprehensively took out tournament favorite Juan Martin Del Potro 6-2, 6-4.

Gulbis was on a 5-match losing streak before LA, now he’ll be the favorite in his semifinal tonight against Alex Bogomolov, Jr.

In the afternoon semi, red hot Mardy Fish takes on teen Ryan Harrison in a rematch of their semifinal last week in Atlanta. Fish won that one pretty easily and I think he’ll win this one as well.

The 19-year-old Harrison has enjoyed a promising summer already reaching SFs in Atlanta and now Los Angeles. While he hasn’t exactly been beating the best – his top ranking win was over Malisse – if he upsets Fish today look for the hype machine to really go full throttle.

Tennis Channel has live coverage of Fish v. Harrison at 5pm ET. ESPN2 will likely have a live split broadcast of Serena/Gulbis at 7:30pm ET.


Stadium (from 13.00hrs)
1. Dominika Cibulkova vs. Marion Bartoli
2. Goerges/Zahlavova Strycova vs. Azarenka/Kirilenko
3. Sabine Lisicki vs. Serena Williams (NB 19.00hrs)
4. Huber/Raymond vs. Aoyama/Fujiwara


STRAUS STADIUM start 2:00 pm
[1] M Fish (USA) vs R Harrison (USA)
[3] M Knowles (BAH) / X Malisse (BEL) vs Y Lu (TPE) / F Moser (GER)

Not Before 7:30 PM
A Bogomolov Jr. (USA) vs E Gulbis (LAT)
S Devvarman (IND) / T Huey (PHI) vs [4] J Erlich (ISR) / A Ram (ISR)

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Serena Seeks First Title in a Year; Fish v. Gulbis in LA Final
Angelique Kerber Outlast Karolina Pliskova For Fourth Title Of The Year In Stanford
Scared Bartoli Overcomes Venus Williams for WTA Stanford Title

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41 Comments for Serena Stuffs Sharapova in Stanford Blowout; Gulbis Stuns Del Potro in LA

jane Says:

Verdasco is in the final (I think) in Switzerland, and Cilic is presently ahead in his semi versus Fognini. Dolgo and JCF will follow.

I am kind of rooting for Gulbis to win L.A. now. It would be a shocker and might motivate him to do more – “might” being the operative word. : /

steve-o Says:

Yay Cilic! First tournament final since February. Sad that Fognini melted down a bit, but he does that from time to time. It was very high-level stuff for a few games in the second set though.

jane Says:

Is Cilic defending Umag? He always does well there, seems to me.

steve-o Says:

Cilic isn’t defending champ, this is the first time a Croatian man has made the final in over two decades.

He’s entered Umag only three times before and never made it past the second round, but the last time he played there was in ’07.

Hope he can go all the way.

jane Says:

Yeah, thanks steve-o. Just saw that at ATP.

There is a highlight reel of Gulbis/Delpo at ATP’s site. It looks like Gulbis was on song, absorbing Delpo’s power and actually playing patiently, like on the match point he won. So much raw talent there – wow. If he gets it together …. if ….

Sean, on the other thread you said you think that Maria “will want to have kids sooner than later”. I am curious why you think that? I mean, both she and her fiancee are serious about their sporting careers, and they are both very young. They could play another 5 years and still have kids at a relatively youthful age. Did Maria say something in the press or are you going on a hunch. I think she wants to win.

About Maria vs. Serena – Maria correctly assessed that she was “late” and that’s true. I think Serena probably would’ve won either way, but if Maria had got her game going sooner, then it might’ve been a much closer match. Maria can break Serena, and not a lot of people can. She just needs to hold, and to do that, she can’t rely on her serve. She has to rely on her groundstrokes, like Nole had to do when his serve was in the trunk. As Maria said, though, she couldn’t get her “timing” right. Maybe if she was firing from the back court, she could’ve kept the match within reach, maybe even forcing a third set? Dari mentioned that Maria looked nervous; that could surely throw off her timing. And Serena is definitely Maria kryptonite (as is her wobbly serve) so no doubt that was on Maria’s mind.

jane Says:

Bouncing youth vs. elegant experience: Dolgo and Juan Carlos are about to start in the other Umag semi.

funches Says:


You obviously weren’t listening to Darren Cahill on Gulbis last night. The problem with Gulbis is not motivation, but the fact he’s been sick repeatedly this year, making people think he doesn’t care. He really, really does care. As lame excuses go, that one’s near the top of the list. Adidas has to give Cahill a better script to read from in the future.

I guess Gulbis has been sick for his last eight Grand Slam matches, too, when he won a grand total of one set. For a guy with his talent, that’s one of the most incredible stats in tennis history.

Trent Says:

There’s ABSOLUTELY NO Rivarly between Serena and Sharapova, it’s overhyped, Sharapova’s always had her behind whooped only for that breakthru @ Wimby & and @ the WTA Championships when Rena was injured. scoreline might get tight next meeting but or boy!, I don’t expect this beating to end any time soon.

jane Says:

funches, I could follow scores only as there was no streaming and I don’t get Tennis Channel nor espn3 so I missed the “narrative.” All I am saying is that if he wins a few it may spark something. Winning tends to beget winning – not always obviously. But Gulbis has so much talent it is difficult for me not to hope that something will get him to turn it on and dig deep more regularly. Maybe hoisting a trophy would do that? I said last night and I still think it – He wanted to prove himself versus Delpo, his most successful peer. And he did. The question is will he want to do the same versus Bogo, Fish or Harrison? Can he crash the American party in L.A??

dari Says:

The sickness reason applies for the five(?) consecutive first round losses this year, but in general he has not performed up to expectations/talent. Health, maybe this new coach and improved work ethic ( gulbis himself says he does not love to practice) could go a long way for him. LA title won’t hurt either. I like the Americans to tcb at the us tourneys but gulbis really needs this boost. Would this only be title #2?

jane Says:

Dolgo’s taken the first set versus JCF. Might be Dolgo versus Cilic final…

steve-o Says:

Dolgopolov is on fire, but that could change at any time.

They called Ferrero the “Mosquito”. I think that nickname belongs to Dolgopolov now.

steve-o Says:

As I thought, Dolgopolov’s level dropped just a bit and Ferrero smelled it and piled on the pressure.

Dolgopolov has no B game. Only an A+ game and an F game, nothing in between.

grendel Says:

Sharapova naturally puts a good spin on her performance, but in reality, she has to be worried. That contrived little smile she gave at the net, prior to stalking off, told the story much better than the usual postmatch reconstructions. The “smile” was for PR, what ensued in the privacy of her own apartment is left for the imagination.

Everybody knows that Williams is better than Sharapova in every department of the game, so for Sharapova to have any shot at beating Williams, the American has to be a little bit off.

How was Serena today (or last night; I’ve only just seen the match)? Well, definitely better than at Wimbledon, but by no means in vintage form – except for the return of serve, which was exceptional. Her serve was still better than anybody else’s, but inconsistent by her own standards.

Meanwhile, whilst Sharapova was hitting lights out – connecting well sometimes – Serena was by and large playing a containing game. Apart from the return, there was little of the ferocious hitting we expect (that largely came from Sharapova)- Serena had taken her opponent’s measure. She did enough to consistently draw the error. You don’t think of Serena as being the wily old veteran, but to some degree that’s how she came across in this match.

The worrying thing for Sharapova is that she has had a good season, and is on a good run. Williams, on the other hand, is building up – gradually by her standards, quickly by anyone elses’ – and one assumes that by the time of US Open she is going to be in prime form. A frightening prospect, certainly for Sharapova but maybe all the women.

I do, however, look forward to a Kvitova-Williams match up. That could be explosive – rather than the sort of stuttering affair that Serena/Sharapova matches invariably turn out to be.

steve-o Says:

It will be Cilic vs. Dolgopolov for the title in Umag. That is really an impossible match to pick; both players are extremely talented and have a lot of firepower, but are inconsistent mentally. It could either be a beautiful match of high-quality tennis or a comedy of errors.

I would have to say that if Dolgopolov is playing as well as he did today, he’ll probably win, being faster and more mobile.

jane Says:

Agree steve-o.

jane Says:

Fish is trouncing Harrison so far. Looks like it really is his tournament to lose.

jane Says:

Fish feeds Harrison a bagel.

jane Says:

At least Harrison bounced back from the first set washout.

Kimberly Says:

still rooting for Mardy. Harrison has a nasty temper. Nice racket smash there.

jane Says:

Getting down to the wire with Harrison serving first. Third set tiebreak looming?

Kimberly Says:

good for Mardy. Now I hope Gulbis wins. Would be a nice final if Gulbis plays well.

Dan Martin Says:

Fish is really doing well to back up the summer he had last year. He was the last US man standing in Paris and London. Now, Atlanta and a final at worst in LA.

Humble Rafa Says:

Late in his career, Fish developed a new forehand. His forehand 5 years ago was horrible. Good for him.

I like most things about him, except the girly socks.

Kimberly Says:

Serena picking up where she left off last night so far. First set blowout. Maybe lisicki will find a little game in the second.

jane Says:

Serena is beating up on Lisicki now. : / I hope someone in the WTA can stand up and at least go toe to toe with her. We know Kim can and has. Maybe Kvitova too?

Kimberly Says:

Another total blowout by Serena.

Kimberly Says:

If she keeps playing like this the rest better watch out. She is just much better than everyone else. And she seems so calm.

funches Says:

Gulbis will kill Fish in the final.

Actually, I don’t really believe that, but I like his chances to win. Should be a very close match.

dari Says:

Gulbis wis

dari Says:

Oops, WINS!

Marine Says:

Expected result. Maria needed another wake-up call one being defeat to Kvitova.

Kimberly Says:

my picks for todays final
Serena in 3.
Fish in 2.

My hopes
Serena in 2 60 60 (dont like Bartoli)
Fish v. Gublis, torn like them both, just a nice 3 setter with a third set tb.

dari Says:

“gulbis wins” was a pick for today’s match, not an exclamation about last night’s win, btw ;)
i think serena is on a mission, i will take her in two, getting back at bartoli for wimbledon .
like you said, kimberly, she seems RELAXED, but oh so focused.
add that to low errors, good movement and clutch serving- best in the biz right now.

contador Says:

funches says: “Gulbis will kill Fish in the final.”


go bartloli! allez!


serena in 2
fish in 2

jane Says:

Go Gulbis Go!! Please win!

Between Cilic & Dolgo I am torn. Never has Umag had a Croation champ though, so that would make it extra special for Cilic.

Not really a fan of either Bartolli or Serena, so whichever one wins, meh. I hope Kvitova can carry her form from Wimbledon to the USO.

dari Says:

Hello, Ms. Idaho!

contador Says:

hello dari from the potato stater :D

umag will be a repeat of the practice match i watched at IW…maybe!

i don’t care who wins, uh too much. yeah right.

go dolgo!!

contador Says:

i must be the only bartoli fan on this forum.

dari Says:

i like that crazy, sweaty pony-tailed bartoli.
i just like serena more

Margaret C Says:

Is it crazy to become a Fish fan right now? I don’t normally have to cheer for the American but for some reason it feels good right now. Go Serena and Mardy!!

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