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How Maria Sharapova Ended Up Hitting With Rafael Nadal

The five-time grand slam champion explains how she managed to practice against the king of clay in Rome.

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Maria Sharapova (zimbio.com)

Earlier this week a video surfaced of former world No.1s Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal practising together at the Italian Open.

The two players have a combined grand slam tally of 21 titles and have earned millions in prize money. Sharapova currently has $37,389,452 in earnings compared to Nadal’s $96,884,842. Hitting a lengthy rally on a court at the Foro Italico, some are wondering how the session came about.

On Tuesday Sharapova spoke about how it occurred following her first round win. The Russian world No.40 dismissed 16th seed Ashleigh Barty 7-5, 3-6, 6-2. Setting up a showdown with former Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova. A player she hasn’t faced on the tour since 2014.

“I saw he was practising on the court right before me,” Sharapova said during her press conference.
“And I said to my team ‘wouldn’t it be amazing if I just came up to Rafa and said ‘would you hit a couple balls with me?’
“And they’re like, yeah, what’s wrong with that? And I was like, a lot of things. There’s a lot of things wrong with just coming up to Rafa.
“They’re like, no, you should. It’s not like you’re asking him to go on a date. And so I did.
“He probably thought I was really weird. I think he still thinks I’m really weird.”

The video of the two has since exploded on Twitter. As of Wednesday morning, it has been retweeted more than 6300 times and has have received over 729,000 views. According to socialbearing.com, it is the most successful tweet of all-time (in terms of favourites and retweets) created on Sharapova’s Twitter account.

Now her session with Nadal has been ticked off on her bucket list, does Sharapova have any other players in mind that she want to hit with? One potential name mentioned is 20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer. The Swiss player is currently absent from the clay season as he prepares for the grass.

“I don’t know. Who knows? I don’t know whether I’ll get the confidence to do it or I’ll just be shy.” She replied when asked if she would ask Federer to hit with her in the future.

In the past Sharapova has been on the same court as Federer, but playing with him and not against him. In 2011 the pair teamed up to play in the Nike Clash of The Champions. Taking on Nadal and Victoria Azarenka.

Sharapova will play her second round match at the Italian Open on Wednesday afternoon. Her head-to-head record against Cibulkova stands at 3-3.

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Lucie Hradecka and Ekaterina Makarova lift their maiden WTA doubles title as a team in Cincinnati

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Lucie Hradecka and Ekaterina Makarova lifted their maiden WTA doubles title as a team with a 6-2 7-5 win over Elise Mertens and Demi Schuurs in the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

Two of the most successful doubles specialists on the circuit Hradecka and Makarova lifted 34 doubles titles between them, but they clinched their first title as a team. They played together once before in 2011, when they reached the final in Luxembourg before finishing runners-up to Iveta Benesova and Barbora Strycova. Makarova has won their first title of the year, but the first with a player other than Elena Vesnina, who is currently injured. Hradecka has won her first double title since Moscow 2016.

Hradecka and Makarova broke Mertens and Schuurs three times to win the opening set in 25 minutes. Mertens and Schuurs broke serve in the second set to take a 4-2 lead in the second set, but Hradecka and Makarova reeled off five of the last six games to seal the second set.

“It was a very tough match today and our opponents played a great game. I want to thank my team, my coach, my physio. We have had a great week and look forward to the future”, said Makarova.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to be back on court, I want to thank Ekaterina for partnering me this week”, said Hradecka.

 

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Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares reach the doubles final in Cincinnati

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Fourth seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares will face Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the men’s double final of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

Murray and Soares won eight of the final nine points of the Match Tie-break to beat sixth seeds Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau 6-7 (7-9) 6-2 10-6.

Both teams went on serve until 5-5 in the opening set. Murray and Soares earned a break point chance at deuce at 5-5 30-40, when Rojer missed a half-volley return. Rojer hit an ace at 5-6 to send the first set to to the tie-break. Rojer and Tejau, who had not dropped a set in their previous two matches this week, clinched the first set on their third set point.

The second set started with three holds of serve. Murray and Soares earned three break points, as Rojer made a double fault at 15-30. Soares broke serve to take a 3-1 lead with his overhead. Rojer earned two break-back points with his return. Murray and Soares fended off both break points to open up a 4-1 lead. Rojer and Tecau served to stay in the second set at 5-2. Soares hit a forehand volley to close out the second set with a break after 1 hour and 17 minutes.

Rojer and Tecau earned the first mini-break in the first point of the match tie-break. Murray and Soares pulled the break back a point later to take a 1-3 lead. Both teams went on serve as Rojer and Tecau led 4-5. Soares broke back with a backhand winner to draw level to 5-5. Tecau dropped serve on the 11th point to go down 5-6. Soares won two points to take a 8-5 lead for his team. Murray hit a forehand winner to earn three match points at 9-6. The Brazilian and British players closed out the match 10-6 on their first opportunity to secure their spot in the Cincinnati final.

The British and Brazilian team set up a final against Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, who beat Phillip Kohlschreiber and Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

Murray clinched eight ATP doubles titles in their career including two tournaments in Acapulco and Washington. Cabal and Farah won their maiden Masters 1000 title in Rome after beating Murray and Soares in the semifinal.

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David Goffin Upbeat Over US Open Presence Despite Injury Setback

The Belgian speaks out about his latest problem after retiring during his clash with Roger Federer.

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David Goffin has said that he ‘doesn’t think’ his retirement from the Western and Southern Open will have any impact on his campaign at the US Open.

Goffin was taking on world No.2 Roger Federer is the semi-finals on Saturday before retiring early on in the second set due to a shoulder injury. An anti-climatic end to what has been a stellar week for the 27-year-old. In Cincinnati, he has scored wins over Rogers Cup finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, Benoit Paire, Kevin Anderson and Juan Martin del Potro. A run that has moved him back into the world’s top 10 when the rankings are updated on Monday.

“I’ve felt it for many days, but yesterday (Friday) at the end of the second match, against Delpo, I started to feel really my arm, and then it went from the shoulder to the elbow.” Goffin commented about his injury on Saturday.
“During the warmup I felt like I couldn’t serve 100%, so I started the match and I just wanted to see how it goes. I didn’t lose my serve, but I guess it was a little bit too dangerous because I start to feel it (the pain) a little bit more, so I decided to stop.”

It is far from ideal timing for Goffin to be hit be this problem. In eight days time the US Open will get underway at Flushing Meadows. Last year he achieved his best performance at the tournament by reaching the fourth round before crashing out to Andrey Rublev. In the grand slams, Goffin has reached the quarter-final stage twice in 24 attempts.

“I don’t think so. But we will see with my staff, with my doctor, my physio.” He replied when asked if the injury could impact on his US Open campaign.
“I think it was a tough week, and I need to rest my arm and rest my shoulder a little bit.” Goffin added.

Goffin will be the top seed at next week’s Winston-Salem Open. There has been no formal word on if he will play in the tournament. As it currently stands, he is set to face either Paolo Lorenzi or Marton Fucsovics in his first match.

On Monday, Goffin will rise to 10th in the ATP World Tour rankings.

UPDATE: Since this article was published, Goffin has withdrawn from Winston-Salem

https://twitter.com/WSOpen/status/1031188161152667648

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