I think we can all agree that Serena's playing out of her mind so far. Her serving has been off the hook. So all credit to Masha for bringing it on Monday, when they had to, unfortunately, class in the round of 16. It was a 16R match that seemed unfair from the draw gods, but thankfully they played a match that would have been worth of a final.
From Masha's perspective, my takeaway was this: You're not there yet. But you're not that far off, either. Had Masha been on the opposite side of the draw, her current form could have seen her in the final. She served well, was smacking the cover off the ball, and, in a great sight, looked to get to the net. During the tournament she said that playing with the intent of getting to the net helped her hit the ball with more conviction and added an overall aggressive mindset to her game. I thought that was really evident in her play here.
So credit to both Maria and Serena for giving us a great match. Because for all the drama that we've seen on the WTA side of the draw, I can't say that we've seen that high of quality tennis.
Loved this from Masha before her match with Serena:
Q. Could you talk about a big rivalry match like this and how it compares to a standard or regular match? When you know you're going up against a big rival, do you like it? Do you find yourself more engaged? Does it change your preparation in any way?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, you know, I'd call it a rivalry when I win a few more against her (laughter). I mean, I've lost the last few.
Do your part, Mash. Make it happen. Tennis needs it.