French Open: Maria Sharapova’s At It Again - UBITENNIS
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French Open: Maria Sharapova’s At It Again

Could her best tennis be yet to come?



By Cheryl Jones

There’s always been something I liked about Maria Sharapova. She was just a teen when we first met and it wasn’t near a tennis court. (A friend’s daughter was a friend of hers.) There was something special about her that had nothing to do with tennis. It was just a few years later that she actually joined the professional tennis world that now is a huge part of her life.

Actually, she is a very savvy businesswoman, too. She has successfully promoted her own business – Sugarpova, a chocolate and candy business that fits the name. She has a line of clothing through Nike and a specialty connection with German automaker, Porsche. Beside all that she’s model beautiful and statuesque. One of her early coaches, Robert Landsdorp assured her that if the tennis didn’t work out, she could step right into runway modeling.

The tennis worked out and now that she has sat out a lengthy suspension, she is thirty years old and still swinging her racquet with the fervor that has buoyed her feisty spirit and thrilled tennis fans around the world. (The suspension was due to a misunderstanding about the use of a medication she had utilized for ten years, but her agent missed informing her of the recent ban of the substance, and when she tested positive for the medication, she was immediately disqualified from further competition for two years. That time was later adjusted to 15 months.)

As Roland Garros began, she was ranked thirty in the WTA rankings. That ranking should rise with her win today, and if she wins again on Saturday, it will escalate a bit more, depending on how other players perform. She faced Donna Vekic, a twenty-one year old from Croatia who is presently ranked fifty.

It wasn’t a PDQ match, but it didn’t drag on either. In an hour and forty-four minutes, she sent the Croatian woman home with a flourish. The score was 7-5, 6-4, but the women who were both clad in blue Nike duds thrilled onlookers on Court One (often referred to as the Bull Ring because of it’s resemblance to the structure). After the match, Sharapova offered her observations on the match and the court. (It’s scheduled to be razed in the near future.) She said, “I quite like that court. I like the intimate atmosphere. I mean, sometimes you have a lot of room on the court and visually from a perception point of view, it makes you back up a little. But, I think I still did that today, even though it is more intimate.”

When asked if she found a significant difference in the game when she returned to competition about a year ago, she said, “Yeah, I think maybe you see it from the younger generation.” She went on to talk about the chances that some of the younger players more are more ready take. “Coming into a tournament and just thinking that you might get a few rounds in to warm up is no longer the case.” The competition has definitely gotten stiffer.

She made her fourteenth main draw appearance at Roland Garros today. It was her first since 2015. When she won here in 2012, it was the last piece she needed to complete her Career Grand Slam puzzle. (Wimbledon 2004; 2006 US Open; and 2008 Australian Open)

Her win/loss tally here at Roland Garros now stands at 55-11, with her Grand Slam record at 190 to 46. That is the third most wins among active players. She appears to be extremely happy that she is an active player once again. There is something that looks a bit like magic in her outlook.

She was asked her about her own perception of professional tennis as a career. She thought for a moment and said, “But it’s a very special career, and I think when — you know, there is a lot of repetition, but there is also a lot of amazing moments, walking through tunnels of Grand Slams and the camera is in front of you, there is a reason they’re there, the anticipation. I love those feelings. I love finding a way to win.”

She’ll have to find a way to win just a few more matches to make that happen here again, but next up will be Karolina Pliskova a Czech player who is seeded number 6. Pliskova defeated her countrywoman, Lucie Safarova today, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Sharapova will have to dig deep to find a way to defeat Pliskova who has been competing very well of late. Their match on Saturday will be a “must see” affair and it likely won’t be in the Bull Ring, but perhaps Philippe Chatrier. Sharapova is four years older than the Czech woman, but Sharapova’s fitness appears as good as it ever has been, and the age difference shouldn’t have much to do with their match-up. Walking through the tunnel will give Maria a pep talk that should propel her to new heights at this year’s Roland Garros. After all, she surely cannot feel that she moves on clay like a cow on ice ever again. She took care of that, years ago.

She can move with the grace that has always iterated just who she is. It could be that the best is yet to come.

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing



Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Russian World No.78 Elina Avanesyan To Switch Nationalities



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A week after losing her fourth round match at the French Open, a government minister has confirmed that Elina Avanesyan is in the process of changing the nationality of who she plays for. 

The 21-year-old is switching her aligence from Russia to Armenia, according to Armenia’s deputy Minister of International Affairs and communication. Karen Giloyan has told the news agency Armenpress that Avanesyan will soon be representing his country. However, the tennis player has yet to comment on the matter.  Avanesyan was born in Russia but has Armenian parents.

“Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag, but there is nothing official yet. We are waiting for her to get the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia so that everything will be official,” Giloyan told Armenpress.

Such a development would be a massive coup for the Armenian tennis federation which currently doesn’t have a player ranked inside the top 500 on either the men’s or women’s Tour. The country has a population of less than 3M. Perhaps their best-known player is Sargis Sargsian who reached the top 40 back in 2004. Others on the Tour also have Armenian heritage but don’t represent the country such as Karen Khachanov.  

Avanesyan is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is 18 places below her career high. This season, she has scored high-profile wins over Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open, Ons Jabeur in Charleston and Qinwen Zhang at the French Open. 

She has yet to play in the final of a WTA tournament.

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Iga Looks To Be In A league All to Herself At Paris

Iga Swiatek claimed her fourth Roland Garros title in Paris.



(@Eurosport - Twitter)

Just call her Iga. No other identification is needed.

As the years go by, Iga’s notoriety is sure to grow.

She’s probably already earned a spot in tennis’ Hall of Fame.

Yes, Iga Swiatek is a name to remember. A hero in her native Poland, a superstar in the world of sports.


Iga just added to her stardom Saturday with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory over little-known Italian Jasmine Paolini to win her third straight French Open title. This was Paolini’s chance to make a name for herself, but she didn’t have the game to make it happen.

Iga was just too good. She made it look too easy.

Paolini could hit some great ground strokes, but when she looked up a bigger shot was on its way back. Iga doesn’t look like a power hitter, but she is.


The 23-year-old Polish Wonder finished the first set winning five straight games, then started the second set winning five more games in succession. The 28-year-old Paolini didn’t seem to have a clue on how to upend Swiatek.

It took just 78 minutes for Iga to win her fifth Grand Slam title.

She’s a lot like her French Open hero, Rafa Nadal.

She takes every match seriously.


No wonder Iga owns a 35-2 record at Roland Garos. Or that she has won 21 straight matches. Or that she owns a 5-0 record in Grand Slam finals.

She only dominated opponents, except for Naomi Osaka in the second round. Swiatek escaped a match point in that one and didn’t look back.

Iga’s game should be just as superb on the green grass of upcoming Wimbledon.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at

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