NEW YORK—Alright, it’s time to play Tennis Jeopardy!
Answer: If I were a Russian novelist instead of a Russian tennis player, I would have written War and Peace.
Question: “Who is Maria Sharapova?”
Yes, nobody, but nobody, has mastered long-form tennis like Sharapova, who improved her record in her tour-leading 23 three-set matches this season to 17-6 with her latest triumph, a grinding, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Alexandra Dulgheru.
This wasn’t the most coveted match-up for Dulgheru, who underwent surgery on her right wrist in May 2013, and had played just one set in the past five weeks because of inflammation. She knew as well as anyone that putting Sharapova on a tennis court is a lot inviting someone you met backpacking to stay at your apartment in New York—chances are, she’s going to be there for a long, long time.
By the middle of the third set, as Sharapova finished with the preliminaries and began to wind down the show for her fans, Dulgheru was seeking medical help for her right wrist. As a trainer gently bent and twisted it this way and that, Dulgheru stared at it as if she wasn’t quite sure it belonged to her.
At least this time, Sharapova could rest assured that the medical injury timeout called by her opponent was legitimate. But if things keep going this way, tournament officials will have to have an EMS vehicle instead of a mere trainer parked court-side, ready to spring into action as Sharapova breaks down another rival.
So what is it with all of Sharapova’s three-set epics?