Woman cannot live on Sugarpova alone. The Willy Wonka of the women’s game has been stuffing her face with three-setters; her victory over Marion Bartoli in the quarter-finals of the US Open meant she has now won her last 12 matches which have gone to a decider. There’s a statistic one which confirms – was there ever really any doubt? – that sugar and dollars don’t sustain Maria Sharapova.
The Sugarpova range includes a ‘flirty’ bag, a ‘cheeky’, a ‘silly’, a ‘sour’, a ‘spooky’ and a ‘sassy'; none of those words would describe Sharapova’s performance on the Arthur Ashe Stadium, with the possible exception of ‘sassy’. She won’t mind of course that this victory, taking her through to play Victoria Azarenka in the last four, ought to be good for business. What possible better promotion for sweets than a victory fuelled by hard work, self-belief and (probably) nothing sweeter than a bowl of dry pasta?
Some will point to the fact that Sharapova’s greatest disappointments this season have come quickly, in straight sets, rather than being drawn out over three. Her two biggest defeats this season were lop-sided results which never looked as they were going to go the distance. She won three games against Azarenka in the Australian Open final, and only one against Serena Williams in the gold medal match at the Olympics. On those two occasions, Sharapova’s mind couldn’t help her. But when there has been little between Sharapova and her opponent, it is the Siberian who has prevailed. Not everything has gone smoothly in Sharapova’s world this year – she broke off the relationship with her fiance – but she is plainly able to separate her on-court and off-court lives.