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Sharapova loses set for Breakers

July 15, 2004

Rick Devereux

Nicole Vaidisova did what Serena Williams could not do -- beat Maria

Sharapova in a singles set.

Sharapova, who swept Williams in straight sets at the Wimbledon

finals, lost to Vaidisova, 5-3, Wednesday night at the Palisades

Tennis Club in World Team Tennis action. Sharapova and her Newport

Beach Breakers' teammates did, however, prevail over the Sacramento

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Capitols, 23-16. The win avenges Tuesday night's 24-15 loss at

Sacramento.

For Sharapova, it was her first return to the court since her

Wimbledon victory on July 3.

"It was fun to get back on the court in front of such an

enthusiastic crowd," Sharapova said. "I was excited to play in

Newport Beach again."

Sharapova finished the match for Newport (5-2) teamed with Ellis

Ferriera in mixed doubles, beating Anastasia Rodionova and Mark

Knowles, 5-4.

"I played against Maria last year," Ferriera said, referring to

when he played for the New York Sportimes. "She strikes the ball

well. It was a lot of fun to play with her tonight." Sharapova aced

her two serves in the tiebreaker to give the Breakers the set and

match wins.

The result was a reversal from the Tuesday match, with every set

that lost in Sacramento winning in Newport.

"Absolutely the fact that we played less than 24 hours ago against

them factored into our win," Ferriera said. "We knew who to serve to

and where. We knew who had a strong backhand or forehand."

The sellout crowd of 2,076 was excited to see the Wimbledon

champion, with several outbursts of, "I love you, Maria," "Marry me,

Maria," and a group of fans chanting, "Share-a-pova!"

"It was phenomenal to play in this kind of atmosphere," Ferriera

said. "This is what team tennis is all about."

Sharapova looked a step slow, but that was to be expected said

Robert Van't Hof, acting as the Breakers' coach with Rick Leach

unable to attend due to illness.

"That is normal since she hasn't played in 10 days," he said. "But

I still think she played fine. She's a great player." Vaidisova broke

Sharapova's serve in the last game of the women's singles set, but

her serves the rest of the night were working. Sharapova, who was

singing along to the songs played over the loud speakers throughout

the night, had 19 aces on the night including eight against Vaidisova

in the women's singles.

The Capitols broke Sharapova's serve at the beginning of the

women's doubles set, Sharapova's first set of the night, but she and

Nana Miyagi went on to capture a 5-3 win. The Breakers won the first

three sets, men's singles, men's doubles and women's doubles, to race

out to a 15-7 lead.

"The crowd was fired up," Van't Hof said. "Maria's presence fired

up the whole team, too." Ramon Delgado smoked past Dmitry Tursunov in

men's singles, 5-1, to avenge a 5-4 beating the night before. Delgado

won the 12 points in the set and 15 of the last 16.

Delgado and Ferriera took a 3-1 lead in the men's doubles set,

promoting Tursunov to break his racket in disgust. The new racket

didn't help, as the Capitols were unable to break Newport's serve.

But the night was all about Sharapova making her first return to

the court since Wimbledon, and her lone warm-up before the Acura

Classic in La Costa on July 26. Still, she was happy to be back

playing for the Breakers, the team she played for last year in WTT.

"I'm excited to get the victory," she said. "Hopefully I'll be

able to play for the Breakers in World team Tennis next year as

well."

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