Fancy dancer Petkovic has the moves on Sharapova

In one of the most surprising results of her long Grand Slam career, Maria Sharapova was taken down by Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 6-3 in the fourth round of Australian Open 2011. While Petkovic has been a rising player for the past year and was given a real chance at an upset coming into the match, the way she thoroughly dismantled the 2008 Australian Open champion was shocking, as she took the ball early and consistently backed up the three-time Grand Slam champion.

Petkovic played a very clean match, smoking 13 winners and committing only nine unforced errors ,while Sharapova committed 30 unforced errors and hit only 14 winners.
"It's probably the best match I played on such a big stage," said the 23-year-old German, who reached the quarterfinals of a major for the first time. "I tried to mix it up a little bit. Normally my game is to play very flat and aggressively, but I tried to give it some spin on the forehand and play some slice and mix up my serve. I tried to keep up the percentage of my first serve and tried to return very aggressively. I think I played very well tactically‑wise."

Sharapova rarely was able to cut loose on her serve, couldn't find a way top penetrate the German's service game with her vaunted return and was beaten off the ball time and time again from the backcourt.  

"There are many things that didn't work today," Sharapova said. "I didn't get my first breakpoint until it was a set and 5‑1. That's not the type of tennis I want to be playing, especially on the return. I mean, I didn't put any pressure on her serve whatsoever. I wasn't up Love‑30 or anything on her service games. That's not the way to play a match."
One of the tour's most entertaining players, after winning the contest, the German broke into her patented hip shaking "Petko" dance to the delight of the crowd.

"It started off as a bet with my coach," said Petkovic, who credited her improved play to her fitness and mental strength. "He had an idea after I played a terrible summer season in the U.S. and I got Nadia Petrova in the first round of the US Open, which was a tough draw for me back then. So he said, 'If you win, you have to do something special because it's a special match for us.' I won 7‑6 in the third, so I got the inspiration of doing a dance, and ever since it's there. I'm very superstitious, so since I'm doing the dance I'm playing much better. I try to keep it up: the playing better and the dance."


While Sharapova has had some good results outside of the majors since she underwent shoulder surgery in October of 2008, she has yet to make another strong run at a Slam.
Just before the Australian Open, she made a big move in at least temporarily parting ways with her coach and friend of six and half years, Michael Joyce, and now is working exclusively with Swede Thomas Hogstedt. While the paring may work in the long term, in the short term, it hasn't lead to positive results.
"I think it was the right thing to do. I don't regret it. I think my whole team knew that it was the right thing to do," she said.
While Sharapova wasn't pleased with her play she was philosophical abut the defeat and still thinks there are good things to come.
"I think bring a little bit more consistency to the table," she said. "I was happy that I was down the last two matches and able to find the level again and do the right things to win the match and pick it up. I wasn't able to bring that today. I didn't build on what I gained in the last two matches."