WTA Championships Live Blog Broadcast

1830’s: Louis Daguerre and several others invent the process known as photography. We could now freeze time and hold the portrait of a loved one in our hand.
1844: Samuel Morse sends the first message by telegraph from Annapolis Junction (near Baltimore) to Washington. We could now send a message instantaneously.
1869: The last spike is driven as the Union Pacific tracks joined the Central Pacific Railroad to create the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. We could now travel from east to west in six days instead of three months.
1877: Leland Stanford, one of the four principals in the transcontinental railroad, pays Edweard Muybridge to take images of his celebrated trotter Occident to see if the horse ever lifted all four hooves at once. Muybridge’s system of tripwires and fast shutters gave us the stop motion images that pre-dated the the modern world of movies and television.
1891: Stanford founds Stanford University on the former site of his horse farm. Stanford researchers go on to start a number of pioneering Silicon Valley companies and host part of the ARPANET, the predecessor to the internet.

(Timeline courtesy of Motion Studies: Time, Space and Edward Muybridge, a fantastic investigation into time-shifting and the origins of cinema and the internet by Rebecca Solnit.)

2007: Please join us as we live blog the tape delayed final of the WTA Championships which took place earlier today in Madrid. Join Pat and me as we re-crown the champion in our own good time using our own version of time-shifting, television and the internet. Please join in by leaving comments so we can include you in the broadcast.

Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova are our finalists and one of those is a big surprise. Sharapova has played only 49 matches this year due to recurring shoulder problems. There’s wisdom in resting before the championships. Henin missed the last two months of the season last year’s season with a knee injury then turned up at the championships and won it handily.

Pat: Good afternoon everyone, we are nearly ready to start. I really like Sharapova’s chances today, I think it is important for her to win this match, more so than for Justine. I think Maria has more to prove today. She will be ready. Three sets do you think?

Nina: The way Maria is serving, three sets is a good guess. But I’m going with Justine. Not to be a stathead or anything but Justine is 5-2 lifetime against Maria and Justine played the fall indoor season whereas Maria did not.

Pat: I did not check their head to head, really, Justine is 5-2, eh?

Sharapova 1-1

Nina: Yep, and I agree with Tracy Austin: Justine is much more athletic. Any fashion comments by the way :0)

Henin: 2-1 (Henin breaks)

Pat: So Justine draws first blood with the break. She’s returning well, and I like how Maria moved into net even though she chipped the volley wide for the break.

Sharapova 2-2 (Sharapova breaks back)

Nina: Justine can move Maria around but she can’t win without a strong first serve. As Justine’s serve goes, her chances will follow. Not because she has a big serve, she doesn’t, but she can’t dictate a point with a second serve.

Sharapova 4-3

Nina: I suppose I agree that this event is more grueling than a two week grand slam event because it’s more compressed and you play more top players. But the conditions are much easier. There is nowhere near the pressure because the event has not been a big event on the calendar for some time. Not that many people turn up. Also, it’s round robin. If you lose a match, you’re o.k. You can play another day.

Pat: Somehow this week does not strike me as grueling for the players. The top players had way too easy a time. Maybe they will make up for that today, huh? Wow, how often do we see Justine netting two backhands in a row? That was an intense game 7. This is good stuff, wonder who will blink first?

Henin 4-4

Nina: Justine was the Backhand That Couldn’t for a while there. She almost blinked but the battle continues and I am so happy that this is a tough, competitive match. We’re due. By the way, Michael Joyce is beginning to look like Yuri Sharapov’s brother. They’ve been spending too much time together!

Sharapova 5-4

Pat: Hey, Michael is probably the Second Father Figure by now, you wonder how the guy does it(?!) We need a slam bang match after this week, these two girls have a lot of sins to atone for, if you will.

Sharapova 6-5

Nina: Yep, it’s Maria, Michael and Yuri – a trinity in it’s own right. I don’t understand why they don’t just give Michael his due and call him coach. As for the game, I’ve missed Maria smashing the ball for the past few months, all year long in fact. You can see how hard she hits the ball, Justine barely has time to get halfway to the net. Wow, what a fantastic Maria backhand on the deep corner for game point and another one to win the game.

Pat: Well Nina, she certainly smashed that backhand up the line! You’d have thought Maria had match point on that the way she reacted. Great stuff! Tiriac can come out of the shadows now and feel proud of his brood.

Sharapova 7-5 (breaks Henin, wins first set)

Nina: What was it, four double faults and how many second serves for Justine? Eight set points for Maria and I lost track of the number of deuces – wait, ten deuces. What a game! It was a combination of brilliant shots and ineptitude. If Maria had played the fall indoor season, she’d probably be up a break in the second set by now, she’d never let eight set points go by without putting the game away. I’m wondering if conditioning will be an issue for her in the second and (possibly) third set.

Okay, Pat, so what caused Justine’s problems: the pressure of expectations or ongoing problems with her serve? Love the trophies by the way but that cheap Rubbermaid trophy stand kinda takes away from the beauty and grandeur of the event.

Sharapova 7-5, 2-1

Pat: I think the pressure got to Justine there on her serve, but it got to Maria too, letting all those set points go by!

We’ve got a great one going, and I like Maria’s nerve fighting to hold serve there in the second set first game. Nice work, Justine had chances but Maria was there to slam the door.

Henin 5-7, 2-2

Nina: As close as the match is and as close as I think it will be, I predict that if and when Justine gets some firs serves in and Maria wilts just the slightest bit, Justine will pull it out. This match does make me wonder, though, how Maria has lost so many matches to Justine. Also, I wonder if her shoulder really is healed. And, while I’m at it, one more question: how much havoc can Lindsay Davenport wreak at the Australian Open. I am so looking forward to the Australian Open for lots of reasons

Sharapova 7-5, 3-2

Pat: That’s a big if, Nina, and also Justine has made a very high number of errors for her. So if her serve isn’t working right, and the errors are too many, I think her chances of winning are slight. I don’t think Maria will wilt, she took care of things when she had to so far.

Henin 5-7, 3-3

Nina: Right about now, Pat, you are definitely looking prophetic. Notice that little bit of star power there? Sharapova threw up her arms and started to move to the service line as if to say that Henin’s serve was an obvious fault and that moved the chair umpire to overrule a good serve and make it a fault. I don’t think that would have happened if the 100th ranked player on tour pulled that. That serve could have won Justine the game a few points earlier.

Pat: I did not notice that, but I get caught between typing/watching, which is why I am recording the TV also so I can see the match later.

Sharapova 5-7, 4-5 (Henin breaks Sharapova)

Pat: Ooohh, maybe I spoke too soon Nina, Justine just got her break. Let’s see how Maria responds, if she can.

Nina: Yeah, I can’t wait for infallible voice recognition software so I don’t have to type. Whoa, that inside out forehand return by Henin was over the top. The woman has, um, cojones. It’s the only way she’s gonna get anywhere today because Sharapova is not losing her serve easily. And that could be the shot of the second set because Sharapova followed it up with a double fault. Those small things can make a huge difference. Henin breaks Sharapova to go up 5-4.

Sharapova 5-7, 5-6 (Henin breaks Sharapova)

Nina: Can we say turning point :0) Three games and three breaks but Justine is starting to get some first serves in and Sharapova has played about as well as she can. I could, of course, be very wrong but either way, I love these marathon games. Three break points for Justine before she finally got the break. Definitely one of the best matches of the year. I’m scratching my head to think of another one. Pat, help me out – other good matches this year?

Henin 5-7, 7-5

Pat: Well, my tape is filled! This is going to be a very looonnnnggg match, since Justine is about to hold at luv it looks like, and off we go into a third set.

These two are going to interfere with our Shanghai men, who are about to come on Tennis Channel at 5 p.m. west coast time. Quel horreur! I think we should stay with the women though, what do you say? Can they make a match of it? lol

Henin 5-7, 7-5, 1-1

Nina: Time to get a DVR Pat. A match longer than three hours for a women’s championship, how cool is that? We haven’t had a competitive grand slam final all year. Marion Bartoli got five games off Venus Williams at Wimbledon at that was the most competitive slam final of the year.

Sharapova 7-5, 5-7. 1-2 (Henin breaks Sharapova)

Nina: Hi Maria, thanks for joining us but you know the results already :0) (Maria lives in Madrid). You even know the results of the men’s matches! Keep commenting though, we’ll patch you in. In this part of the world, Maria (Sharapova) is indeed looking just the smallest bit tired and that was enough for Henin to break her. What do you think Pat, does Maria come back?

Pat: OK, Justine with the early break in the third. She really wailed on that backhand crosscourt, seems like she’s hitting the ball harder now than in the beginning.

Tracy Austin just uttered the “T” word about Maria, as in “tired.” We shall see.

Where’s that banana??

Sharapova 7-5, 5-7, 3-2

Nina: Maria is hanging in there but it’s sheer will on her part and now she’s called for the trainer. She’s having trouble breathing. It’s something to remember that Madrid is at altitude, all the more amazing that Sharapova has come this far. On the other hand, my guess is that this is a “convenient” time out to get her breath.

Pat: I am feeling whipped, I know how Maria feels. Uhoh, the trainer is out there, we may need more than a banana, huh? (I have a cocktail, nah nah ne nah nah).

You see what these women do? They lead me to drink!

Hi Maria, looks like you guys all got your money’s worth in Madrid today(!)

Sharapova 7-5, 5-7, 3-4 (Henin breaks Sharapova)

Nina: Wow, what a difference a break makes. Maria breaks Justine to get even then give the break right back. Maria doesn’t seem to have quite enough energy to keep up the good serving and that’s critical.(Don’t worry Pat, it’s the men’s doubles from Shanghai, not the singles)

Pat: That was a tired looking double fault from Maria, I don’t know if she can come back Nina. But then she broke Henin in the last game, so who knows?

This is nervewracking. Tennis waterboarding, anyone?

Henin breaks Sharapova to win the title, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3

Nina: Wow, good to the very last drop. A marathon game at the end of the first set and another one here. Five match points and tons of grit from Maria and Justine finally does it. That Justine, she’s a killer and Maria is not far behind. Join us for the Shanghai event and see if it can be anywhere near as exciting as this.

Pat: It really did not turn out to be a battle of “One Serves, the Other Doesn’t.” It really came down to the superior athleticism of Henin, her conditioning and nerves. But Maria is no loser here either, she had a great week, it was a great match for her, considering how little prep/match play she had coming in.

Now the ball is in the men’s court: can they deliver a final as good as this? Whew!

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