Day 3. Round 2. Maria Sharapova

Stadium Announcer Andy Taylor. US Open 2017. Day 3 Maria Sharapova

Sports Host. Andy Taylor. The Voice of the US Open

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Maria Sharapova def Timea Babos 67(4) 64 61

It’s not every day you get the chance to take-down a 5-time Major champion. All you can do is grind, put in the hard-work every day, and prepare yourself for opportunity should it arise. 24-year-old Timea Babos has been doing just that since winning nearly every junior Slam with doubles partner Sloane Stephens seven years ago. On Wednesday, she drew 2006 US Open Champion Maria Sharapova, back from her 19-month WADA suspension. Timea was ready.

Timea’s tough season

2017 didn’t start well for Babos. She lost five consecutive matches and didn’t earn her first win until Budapset in late February. That first win was infectious. She went on to win the title. Unfortunately, Timea couldn’t maintain the mojo. She suffered an even longer losing streak between May and July, losing nine consecutive matches between Istanbul and the US Open Series event in Toronto. She won only one match on clay and was completely blanked during the grass swing. Yet she continued to grind.

Babos took comfort in knowing she’s always played her best tennis on hard courts, and that her best Slam performance to date came last year with her 3rd-Round run here in Flushing. In Wednesday’s third match on Ashe, Babos harnessed years of hard-work and channeled her opponents agression, earning the first set 7-4 in the tie-break.

But Maria…is Maria Sharapova

The scrappiest of fighters since she first screeched her way through forehand drills at Bollettieri’s place in Bradenton over 20-years-ago. Despite all of her success, despite her recent set-back, Sharapova has never lost her own will to grind. In fact, that willingness to put-in the work while no one’s watching, like say…during an extended suspension…ultimately defines her success, past and future. She wins, or loses, on her terms.

That preparation, bathed in determined stubbornness, is Maria’s competitive edge – and it was a lethal weapon in sets 2 and 3 Wednesday after losing a tough first set to a hungry opponent. Welcome back, Maria. Keep fighting, Timea. Grind.