Former World No. 1 Maria Sharapova claimed she loves the challenge of competing in a Grand Slam tournament, after surviving a mini-crisis in the opening round of the French Open on Tuesday.
Sharapova had her backs to the wall when she went 3-0 down in the third set against the Dutch qualifier Richel Hogenkamp before making a stunning turnaround to squeeze out a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win in what has been her first Roland Garros match since 2015.
The former two-time champion was denied a wildcard by the tournament organizers last year, which got underway almost immediately after she made her comeback from a 15-month doping ban.
Speaking to reporters after her first round win in Paris, Sharapova said: “Well, I love the challenge of being in a Grand Slam draw and figuring out a way to win. I mean, throughout two weeks, you play against different opponents and different circumstances with weather, with a lot of waiting around like we did, you know, to sunshine.”
“So there is a lot of ups and downs, a lot of different feelings, different matchups. You’ve just got to find a way how to handle your emotions and how you handle the matches physically. I thrive on that. I enjoy that challenge, trying to see how I can bring that out of me, how I can keep my concentration, my focus throughout, you know, using my experience, as well.”
“It also doesn’t hurt to be in one of my favorite cities.”
“Well, no year is the same, and no situation is the same. That’s why I still enjoy competing, is because every week, every tournament brings kind of a new challenge and a new way to face it. Nothing is repetitive in this sport. Although you can use your experience and knowledge on what has helped you before, there are always new things and things that you have to come up against.”
“That’s why I still enjoy playing.”
The Russian also spoke about the much-talked about Serena Williams’ body-hugging black Catwoman suit and she acknowledged that she liked it a lot.
“I just got — I did get a little glimpse, but I haven’t seen too much of the match, but I think that’s expected first Grand Slam back. Nike does a really good job of making statements.”
“Yeah, well, that’s the great thing about tennis is that you can, like, express your individuality and be different. Yeah, I love that about it.”
Erratic Iga Swiatek Struggles Past Lucky Loser To Reach Wimbledon Third Round
In what was a roller-coaster encounter, the top seed was far from her best but still managed to maintain her unbeaten streak.
World No.1 Iga Swiatek heads into the last 32 at Wimbledon with plenty to think about producing a mixed performance during her 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, win over Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove.
The reigning French Open champion endured patchy periods of play throughout her latest match at The All England Club. Prompting her to shake her head and make occasional glares towards her teams in the stands. Her winner count of 31 was almost canceled out by 30 unforced errors as she broke four times in the match.
“I think she used all the advantages that she could. I feel that she was using the wind better than me,” said Swiatek. “She played a really great match.’
“I’m pretty happy that I could fight back and have another chance to play here (at Wimbledon).”
Seeking her 37th win in a row, Swiatek found it tough going ealy on against Kerkhove. A Dutch world No.138 who only managed to enter the main draw with the help of a lucky loser position and was yet to play a top 10 player in his career. The Pole struggled to find her footing on the surface as she leaked a series of costly unforced errors. That resulted in her getting broken twice in a row and falling behind 2-4.
Visibly rattled on the court, Swiatek’s consistency level was far from that which has taken her to winning six consecutive titles within the past four months. Part of that explanation is the fact that she had only ever played nine Tour-level grass-court matches in her career heading into the second round at SW19.
Fortunately for the world No.1 she was let back into the set at the expense of a lackluster service game from her rival which featured two doubles faults. A four-game winning streak saw her turn the match round. On her first set point she prevailed after a Kerkhove backhand crashed into the net.
Swiatek continued to have difficulty pulling away from her rival in the second frame. Kerkhove has only managed to win two Tour-level matches this year with one of those being in the first round of Wimbledon. The underdog continued to exceed expectations by breaking midway through to nudge ahead 4-3. Doing so with a return that brushed the top of the net before landing on the other side. That was enough for Kerkhove to unexpectedly take the match into a decider.
Facing the prospect of losing to a player outside the top 100 for the first time since April 2021, Switek regained some much needed momentum with a clean forehand winner down the line which enabled her to break for a 3-1 lead. Battling her way towards the finish line she sealed victory with a the help of a forehand error from Kerkhove.
“It’s really special to me but what I’m out there I’m not thinking about that. I’m just trying to play my best tennis possible on the grass.,” she said of her winning streak.
“I’m happy it’s 37 and I’m going to do my best to get even more.“
The next test for Swiatek will be a clash with France’s Alize cornet who beat Claire Lu 6-3, 6-3. It is only the second time she has made the last 32 in 12 appearances at the Grand Slam.
“I’m looking forward to it, it’s going to be really exciting,” Swiatek commented. “The third round, the people who are there deserved to be there. I hope it is going to be a really good fight.”
Swiatek is only the second woman to win 37 matches in a row since 1990 after Martina Hingis.
Two-Time Champion Petra Kvitova, Badosa Back Wimbledon’s All-White Policy Amid Concerns
It is one of the most traditional policies in tennis but should the all-white rule be adjusted to take into account issues experienced by female players?
Petra Kvitova has come out in support of Wimbledon’s policy requiring all players to wear white whilst competing at the championships.
The Czech, who won the title in 2011 and 2014, has spoken in favor of the rule despite some other female players expressing their concerns due to health reasons. Unlike other Grand Slams, Wimbledon has one of the strictest policies in the sport when it comes to clothing. All players participating must wear nearly all-white attire or risk facing a fine if they do not. The policy can be traced back to the Victorian era when at the time it was considered that wearing white showed less sweat. Since then, it has become one of the most prestigious traditions which makes Wimbledon unique.
However, there have been calls by some for changes to be made. Especially for the female players who potentially face the awkward situation of wearing white whilst on their period. In a recent interview with The Times, Canadian Player Rebecca Marino said such a situation is her ‘worst fear.’ Heather Watson and former player Renee Stubbs have also spoken out.
“I know it’s not really comfortable for girls playing in white when they have periods,” Kvitova commented following her 6-1, 7-6(5), win over Ana Bogdan.
“On the other hand, I think that we (as players) can manage it somehow, as well. We do have a lot of options about it, as well. It’s very unusual that you get it (your period) during the match. It can happen, of course.”
Spanish fourth seed Paula Badosa, who will play Kvitova in the third round, was another player to speak about the uniform rule following her comprehensive 6-3, 6-2, win over Irina Bara in the second round on Thursday. It is the third major in a row where she has reached the last 32.
“I think it’s nice and it’s traditional. It’s always different. I think grass courts, as well, it’s a different part of the season. It’s nice like that, I think, to play like this. One or two weeks per year, it’s always nice and unique.” She commented.
This year there has been a small adjustment made to the policy with players allowed to wear blue and yellow ribbons in support of Ukraine.
Emma Raducanu’s Wimbledon Dream Ended by Garcia on Day Three
Two days after describing her Center Court debut as ‘amazing,’ the Brit fell in straight sets to Caroline Garcia.
Emma Raducanu’s bid for a second consecutive fairytale run at Wimbledon has ended in disappointment after she was knocked out in the second round.
The reigning US Open champion bowed out 6-3, 6-3, to Carolina Garcia in what is only her fifth Grand Slam main draw appearance. She has now lost in the second round of a major three times in a row and has only won back-to-back matches twice this year.
“It’s tough to lose any match but I think that Caroline played a great match,” said Raducanu. “She is a great player. I struggled to find a way through her today.”
“But it’s okay because coming into this I didn’t really have many expectations of myself.”
After coming through her first round match in straight sets, Rducanu faced a sterner test in the shape of Garcia. A former world No.4 who recently captured her third grass-court title at Bad Homburg in Germany. However, Raducanu has gotten the better of the Frenchwoman before after prevailing in their meeting in Indian Wells.
Playing in front of a packed Center Court crowd for the second time in a row, exchanges of breaks took place early on in the match as both women fought hard on the court. However, it was World No.11 Raducanu who faltered after dropping her serve for a second time as she fell behind 2-5. Handing Garcia enough of a margin to seal the opener.
Exiting the court for a brief break during the change of ends, Raducanu returned fired up and determined to fight. Best illustrated by the heavy-hitting she was producing on the court. Although Garcia was just as stubborn as she continued to implement her dominance. A volley at the new granted the world No.55 a duo of break point chances. She converted with the help of a Raducanu forehand error.
Continuing the roller-coaster theme, the Brit responded by breaking back right away before dropping serve once again. Prompting a variety of cheers and gasps from the animated crowd who didn’t quite know what to make of the match. Ultimately that second blip proved fatal to Raducanu’s 2022 Wimbledon campaign with Garcia charging towards victory with a three-game winning streak as she ended the encounter with a backhand cross-court winner.
“It was first-strike tennis. She served really well today. I didn’t really have any looks, many second serves. Even when I did, they were tricky ones with the wind holding them up.” Raducanu said of her opponent’s performance.
“My ball speed was just lower in general. I don’t know. Maybe it was the conditions. But, I just didn’t have enough ball speed today.” She added.
Heading into the Grand Slam the 19-year-old has experienced her own setback with a side strain forcing her to withdraw from the Nottingham Open. The latest in a series of physical issues to trouble her. She also suffered from back pain and various blisters earlier this year.
“I’ve played seven hours of tennis in a month. To even compete with these girls at this level and win a round I think is a pretty good achievement.” She said.
Despite her Wimbledon campaign coming to an end, the spotlight won’t be off Raducanu for very long with the North American swing of the Tour approaching. It was last year at the US Open where she rewrote the record books by winning 10 matches in a row to claim her maiden major title. Becoming the first qualifier to do so.
So many would assume the youngster will be under a lot of pressure in the coming weeks but she has a very different perspective on the matter.
“There’s no pressure. Why is there any pressure? I’m still 19. It’s a joke. I literally won a slam,” Raducanu stated.
“Going back to New York, it’s going to be cool because I have got a lot of experiences playing on big courts, playing with people in the stadium, playing with the spotlight on you.”
“For me, everything is learning. I’m embracing every single moment that is thrown at me.”
Raducanu’s next tournament is set to be the Washington Open.
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