Saturday September 1, 2012
US prodigy Mallory flips script on Sharapova
MARIA Sharapova is accustomed to being the crowd’s darling at Arthur Ashe Stadium, but she finds herself pitted against a US prodigy likely to enjoy strong support in the third round of the US Open.
The 25-year-old Russian third seed, who completed a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open title in June, will face 21-year-old American college student Mallory Burdette to decide a berth in the last 16.
“This is her first US Open main draw. She’s going to get a lot of home support, which is absolutely normal,” Sharapova said. “I’ve lived in this country since I was seven-years-old. I consider this to be my home. But I understand on the other side if the crowd does cheer for her as she’s coming in as the underdog.”
Burdette, an amateur wildcard ranked 252nd in the world, has only a handful of top-level matches to her name while Sharapova has four Grand Slam titles and experience at dealing with being both the crowd favorite and unfancied.
“It’s a different type of emotion,” Sharapova said. “I’m usually in my own little bubble when I play. You can certainly hear the crowd, the emotion, the energy, but I try to stay pretty levelheaded about the energy swings.
“I try not to focus too much on that and let that affect me.”
That’s a good idea, says Burdette, a psychology major who appreciates how well Sharapova keeps control of herself and a match.
“She plays on a big stage almost every day because she’s so good,” Burdette said. “It’s hard out there sometimes. You get outside of yourself and you’re worrying about things you can’t control. — AFP