Sunday, May 9, 2010

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?

I decree this week the Week We Do Not Speak of Estoril. This tournament will be like the last rugby world cup - never, ever to be spoken of again. Roger, I am choosing to forget this ever happened. I hope the rest of the world will be as kind. Montanes? Really?

But I'm not talking about that.

Instead, let's talk about Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who came through the whole of the shenanigans in Rome with the Serbians and the Williamses and took the whole thing. As late bloomers go, she is a late bloomer - a late bloomer even among late bloomers. But the flower that blooms last blooms brightest (or something). Anyway, Maria J rocks my socks. Serve and volley? Love it stupid.

I was fortunate enough to see Maria play live this year - sure, I was cheering against her, because it was Hopman Cup and she was playing Stosur - but I think I may just have been lucky enough to witness something very special. Her excellent run of form this year really began at the Hopman Cup, where she teamed up with Tommy Robredo to win the whole thing. The series of wins she had there, over players like Stosur - well, they have really set her up with a whole lot of confidence. (She also lost to Laura Robson, but... well, Estoril.)

She's been on a roll ever since. I said yesterday that Jelena Jankovic could be a genuine Roland Garros contender. If Maria Jose can take her down, well... that's not just special, that elevates her to the role of genuine contender. I can't say I see Maria winning Roland Garros - I think I'm more cautious in my predictions - but she could certainly be a massive mover and shaker if she keeps playing like this.

...she'll be a problem for the other players, that's for sure. And how do you solve a problem like Maria?

(Yes, I went there. Yes, I know I did it poorly and inelegantly. Deal.)

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