Maria Sharapova Addresses Retirement Speculation - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova Addresses Retirement Speculation

The five-time grand slam champion has discussed her future in the sport.

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Former world No.1 Maria Sharapova has ruled out the possibility that she may retire from the sport next year amid recent speculation surrounding her future.

 

Sharapova hasn’t played a competitive match since the US Open due to a shoulder injury and is currently ranked 29th in the world. During what has been a mixed season for the Russian, her best results were reaching the semi-finals of tournaments in Shenzhen and Rome. Sharapova also reached the quarter-finals of the French Open before losing to Garbine Muguruza.

Since returning from a 15-month doping ban in 2017, Sharapova has only managed to win one title. Triumphing at the Tianjin Open last year. In September former top 10 player Andrei Chesnokov claimed that he had ‘strong hints’ from Sharapova’s agent, Max Eisenbud, that she may quit the sport in 2019. A rumour that has now been quashed the 31-year-old.

“It’s a nice feeling to know you’re really good at something,” Sharapova said during an interview with sport24.co.za.
“I don’t know. It’s a good self-esteem booster because I’m not good at any other sports. I’m worthless at many other things, but I go out on the court and I feel like I’m really good at this. I’ve accomplished a lot, and why wouldn’t I continue? Why wouldn’t I want to get better and improve? It’s something that I’ve done for a very long time and something that I feel, you know, there’s still so many opportunities for me and things to achieve.”

The five-time grand slam champion is yet to regain the form she has prior to her suspension. Overall, Sharapova has recorded 97 wins over top 10 opposition throughout her career. Although only four of those have occurred over the past two years. The most recent being against Jelena Ostapenko at the US Open.

“Motivation has never really been an issue. Obviously the shoulder has been a big part of my career and something that I’ve had to get through.” Sharapova explained.
“I’m very privileged to do what I do, and I love it.’

Besides addressing her future in the sport, Sharapova has also said that she has been ‘very fortunate’ to have a ‘consistent team’ on the tour. In March she ended her collaboration with Sven Groeneveld, who had worked with her since 2014. More recently, she has sought guidance from Thomas Hogstedt. Hogstedt also coached Sharapova between 2010-2013.

“I’ve been fortunate. I have had a fairly consistent team in my career. I have changed coaches a couple of times, a couple of physios but have been on the tour for many years. Some have families, and they come and go.” She said.
“But I have been very lucky with the people I have had on my team.”

Sharapova is set to return to action in the first week of January at the Shenzhen Open in China.

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Anett Kontaveit Set To Battle For WTA Finals Spot After Lifting Moscow Crown

It is the third time Kontaveit has won a tournament within the past six months but will she be able to qualify for the season-ending championships?

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Anett Kontaveit (image via https://twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN)

Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit has continued her recent surge in form on the Tour by fighting back from a set down to win her fourth career title at the Kremlin Cup on Sunday.

 

The world No.20 was on the verge of losing to home favourite Ekaterina Alexandrova before battling to a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, victory. At one stage in the match Kontaveit was trailing by a set and 0-4. Then in the decider she was broken at 4-4 before going on to win three games in a row to clinch the title. Overall, she won 69% of her first service points and broke her opponent five times.

“Of course, I am very happy, the match was extremely difficult, I feel relief and joy,” she said afterwards. “I got lucky at match-point, but during the match there were moments when she (Alexandrova) got lucky too. It always takes a little luck to win. She took the lead, controlled the match, it was very difficult for me, I tried to fight for all the points and this helped me to win.”

Kontaveit, who defeated former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza and Markéta Vondroušová earlier in the tournament, has now won 14 out of the last 15 matches she has played on the Tour. Her only loss was to Ons Jabeur in the quarter-finals at Indian Wells. She has played in five finals this year which is the second-highest on the WTA Tour after world No.1 Ash Barty who has played in six.

The 25-year-old is now on the verge of qualifying for the WTA Finals for the first time in her career. However, the prospect of her playing in the season-ending event depends on the results of next week’s tournaments. Kontaveit is playing in Romania and she needs to win the tournament and for rival Jabeur to lose before the semi-finals to qualify.

Meanwhile, runner-up Alexandrova exits Moscow frustrated with her missed opportunities in the match. It was the first time she has played in a final this season and only the third time in her career. Prior to Kontaveit, she scored back-to-back wins over Aryna Sabalenka and Maria Sakkari.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to win, I’m very sorry. But I will work on it and I hope next time I will be able to get a better result,” Alexandrova said during the trophy ceremony.
“I want to congratulate Anett, she played great, it was hard for me to do something.” She added.

Kontaveit, who has won three WTA titles since August, is the first Estonian player to win the Moscow trophy. Compatriot Kaia Kanepi reached the final of the tournament back in 2011.

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Simona Halep, Emma Raducanu Heads The Field in Cluj Napoca

On Saturday the draw was revealed for the 32 players playing in Cluj this week at the Transylvania Open.

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Simona Halep (image via https://twitter.com/Simona_Halep)

Despite the fact seven main draw players have pulled out, including Garbine Muguruza and Paula Badosa, the field is pretty deep with a lot of interesting matchups featuring no fewer than six Romanians. 

 

Let’s start at the top with the number one seed Simona Halep who will play her first match against the up-and-coming fellow Romanian Gabriela Elena Ruse. Halep and Ruse most recently teamed up in doubles and made it to the final in Indian Wells.

The number two seed is the Estonian Anett Kontaveit who will play for a title on Sunday in Moscow. She has drawn a qualifier in the first round. Emma Raducanu, the number three seed, will start her tournament against Polona Hercog.

The fourth seed is the Swiss Jil Teichmann who will also face a qualifier in her first-round match. Meanwhile Australia’s Alja Tomljanovic will face Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan who comes in as a late replacement for Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Marta Kostyuk from Ukraine is the number six seed and she will face the American Bernarda Pera. It will be the third meeting between the two players with the Ukrainian winning both of their previous matches.

Irina Camelia Begu from Romania and she will face another Romanian in Maria Irina Bara while the number eight seed is Anhelina Kalinna who faces a qualifier in the first round.

If the seeds hold up the tournament could potentially see quarterfinal matches featuring Halep vs Tomljanovic, Raducanu vs Kostyuk, Begu vs Teichmann and Kalinna vs Konteveitt.

There are indeed some dark horses in the draw that could cause some upsets. Look out for Maria Camelia Osorio who has been playing some amazing tennis this year and it seems to be her breakout year.

Andrea Petkovic is always a dangerous opponent and she actually won the first event in Romania, the Winners Open, back in the first week of August. Anastasia Potapova from Russia is no easy task, and many expect a good week from her.

Main draw action begins on Monday with what is expected to be a great week in Cluj-Napoca.

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Transylvania Open Suffers Major Blow As Seven Players Pull Out

A two-time Grand Slam Winner and the Reigning Indian Wells Champion are among those to withdraw from the tournament at the last minute.

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image via https://twitter.com/TransylvaniaOpn

The inaugural Transylvania Open will feature just one top 20 player in the draw after two pulled out of the competition on Saturday.

 

The Spanish duo of Garbine Muguruza and Paula Badosa were set to headline the new WTA 250 event in Cluj Napoca. Tournament organisers confirmed their withdrawal along with that of Ekaterina Alexandrova, Viktoria Golubic, Veronika Kudermetova, Kaia Kanepi, and Mayar Sherif. Furthermore, Mihaela Buzarnescu was also scheduled to play in the qualifying draw but pulled out.

Andreea Prisacariu and Anna-Lena Freidsam will take spots that were attributed to Muguruza and Badosa. The others will be replaced with Ana Bogdan, Alison Van Uytvanck, Ivana Jorovic, and Kaja Juvan.

Muguruza most recently played yesterday in VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow, reaching the quarterfinals where she was thoroughly beaten by the Estonian Anett Kontaveitt 6-1, 6-1.

Badosa is fresh off winning the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California while Alexandrova has officially reached the final in Moscow after Sakkari was forced to retire 4-1.

Kontaveit, who is scheduled to play this week in Romania, will face Alexandrova in that final on Sunday after beating the Czech Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets 6-3, 6-4.

Simona Halep is set to be the highest ranked player in the tournament. US Open champion Emma Raducanu is also participation in what will be only her second event since winning her maiden major title at the age of 18.

The main draw action begins on Monday.

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