Tired and weary Maria Sharapova was defeated by Svetlana Kuznetsova in NASDAQ 100 Open 2006 final.
Maria Sharapova failed to join the elite club of two, Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters, who have won the Indian Wells and Miami events back-to-back.
The crowd was more supportive towards Kuznetsova.
Maria Sharapova, tournaments hot favorite and fourth seeded was beaten by 12th seeded Kuznetsova in 90 minutes final in straight sets 6-4, 6-3. The shocking defeat at the hands of the lower ranked fellow Russian tennis player prevents Sharapova from NASDAQ 100 Open title for the second year in row.
Maria Sharapova was driven to corners repeatedly by Kuznetsova and then she slapped the winner in the open court.
The 12th seed faced break points in the third game, but she was first to score a service break, which she did a game later with a forehand that kissed the baseline. Sharapova glared at where the ball bounced and for a second mulled over whether to challenge it on the instant replay. She realized there was no point, as the ball was in.
Maria Sharapova could have won the first set, had she played a better game. She lost an opportunity to break in the third game and a forehand from Kuznetsova touched the baseline in fourth. Maria was skeptical to call for instant replay as the ball was in evidently.
Next two games were broken by each player, Kuznetsova dropped her serve while serving for the set 5-3. Maria Sharapova hit an acutely angled backhand to win the ninth game.
Maria Sharapova’s sloppy game at this point didn’t helped her to level the the set, from where she surrendered the set in 49 minutes to a more confident opponent 3-6.
The fourth game of second set, Kuznetsova broke with a sensational forehand winner down the line. Maria Sharapova was unable to get a break point as the former US Open Champion kept the pressure up with deep and powerful returns.
The remaining games in the second set were mere ritual to Kuznetsova as the whole show took 90 minutes as once Maria Sharapova screamed “Ai-yi-yi” in desperation.