Bank of the West Classic - Azarenka vs Sharapova

Victoria Azarenka vs Maria Sharapova - Bank of the West Classic final,
Stanford, CA 8/1/10.

With my schedule getting completely out of control, I seriously considered
skipping the Bank of the West Classic final. Catching up on sleep and
editing stock sounded a lot better than shooting tennis in the harsh mid-day
sun. But I'll sleep (and edit) when I'm dead.

I carpooled with Kosta and we got there early enough to get one of the
precious few seats on the court to share. He called the first set, so I headed up
into the stands to get some overhead shots.

Azarenka hits a forehand.
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Sharapova reaches for a shot. Azarenka really mixed it up with a nice
combination of power shots right at Sharapova and angled shots that made
her chase.
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Shooting from the stands was a good look for most of the week, but as the
crowds increased, the ushers started enforcing imaginary rules. One
misconception a lot of people have is that a credential guarantees all-access.
This couldn't be further from the truth. I was shooed out of my perch just
above the baseline, and ended up on a platform behind the main TV
camera. It was high enough to shoot the far court, but not the near court.
So boredom forced a bit of experimentation that led to a couple of pictures
that I'm pretty happy I made.

Sharapova with racket.
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And my favorite, Sharapova without racket.
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After that, I got a text from Kosta that he was ready to give up the courtside
seat at the end of the game, and I was picking up my gear when Azarenka
had a mini-tantrum:< /br>

Azarenka does her version of the riverdance.
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Even after I made it down to the court, Azarenka continued her outburst
after another point.
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Shortly after that, she regained form, and started really striking the ball.
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Which sent Sharapova scrambling once again.
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One thing you can tell shooting so close to your subjects is when they
have nothing left, and it was written all over Sharapova's face after she
lost the first set.
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The exact opposite was happening on the other side of the net.
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After running away with the second set, Azarenka dropped her racket and
walked toward the net. She literally didn't know whether to laugh or cry,
and appears to have done both at the same time.
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Azarenka made it to the net for a shake with Sharapova who was very
gracious in defeat.
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Azarenka then walked over to the stands a couple feet from where I was
sitting and got a hug from her father.
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After a TV timeout, Azarenka addressed the crowd with all the glee you
would expect from a just-turned-21-year-old girl who just beat a former
number 1 player. I couldn't do anything with the background, so I went
for the old big screen echo.
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It was a nice week down in Palo Alto, and now it's back to baseball for
me, four games in the next five days...