Maria Sharapova Says Equality In Tennis Is ‘Tough’ To Achieve Following Australian Open Win - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova Says Equality In Tennis Is ‘Tough’ To Achieve Following Australian Open Win

The Russian talks equality, injury and her next opponent following her winning start at Melbourne Park.

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Maria Sharapova (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Visio

After an emphatic start to the Australian Open that didn’t see her lost a single game, Maria Sharapova has called out male players over their attitude towards their female counterparts.

 

The former world No.1 told reporters during her press conference that it has been ‘tough’ to gain respect from the players on the ATP Tour in recent years. Although Sharapova was keen to point out that some players have been more welcoming than others. Her comments coincides with the near retirement of three-time grand slam champion Andy Murray. Murray is known for his vocal support for women’s rights and was one of the few top players on the ATP Tour to have a female coach (Amelie Mauresmo).

“Relatively speaking, I think they (men) have been really tough, especially when it came to equality, as a general point.” Said Sharapova.
“Sitting at a press conference in Wimbledon five, seven years ago, there was not a lot of warmth coming from that side or that perspective. That’s tough.’
“I think there is definitely a few exceptions in the game, and I’m sure that he’s (Murray) been one of them.”

There has long been a debate about gender equality in tennis, which has substantially improved over the past 30 years. Equal prize money has been available at every grand slam since the 2007 Wimbledon Championships. Although, Sharapova believes there is more to needed to be done.

“I hope so. That’s what we aspire to get to.” She replied when asked if the situation will get better in the future.

Murray’s decision to walk away from the sport is related to his troublesome hip, which was operated on 12 months ago. Sharapova herself has also experienced injury setbacks over the years. Ending her 2018 season early due to a shoulder problem. Reflecting on her win over Boulter, the world No.30 said it was a ‘good test’ for both her shoulder and leg.

“I think injuries are just part of the sport.” The five-time grand slam champion explained.
“I can only understand it (Murray’s decision) from the perspective of my shoulder, because that’s something that I have had to deal with since I was 21 years old and really at the peak of my career, kind of came unexpected.’
“And here I am about 10 years later kind of going through very similar struggles, not on the depth that I was then with the tear of a tendon. But you realize that you’re not immortal, you’re never going to play this forever, even though we have done it as long as we can think of.”

While she is currently winning her own battle against injury, Sharapova is eager for a deep run in the Australian Open. She will take on Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson in the second round followed by a potential clash with defending champion Caroline Wozniacki.

“My next one (opponent) is someone I have never played against before. So that’s kind of tricky and a challenge.” She commented about playing Peterson.
“My coach is Swedish. I don’t know if that will maybe help me a little bit more.”

Sharapova has now won 55 main draw matches at the Australian Open.

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Elena Rybakina and Belinda Bencic take hard-fought wins to reach the third round in Doha

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Elena Rybakina saved a match point to beat Alison Van Uytvanck 5-7 6-2 7-6 (10-8) to secure a hard-fought 5-7 6-2 7-6 (10-8) win over Alison Van Uytvanck on his fifth match point after 2 hours and 21 minutes at the Qatar Total Open in Doha.

 

Both players went on serve in the first ten games with no breaks, before Van Uytvank earned her first break in the 11th game to win the first set 7-5.

Rybakina broke twice in the second and eighth games to win the second set 6-2 forcing the match to the third set. Van Uytvanck converted her third break point in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Rybakina broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. Rybakina earned two match points at 5-4. Van Uytvanck saved two match points on her serve in the 10th game. Rybakina did not convert a match point after a double fault. Van Uytvanck failed to convert her own match point, before Rybakina won the final three points to advance to the third round, where she will face 2019 Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty.

Barty beat Rybakina in the third round at last January’s Australian Open.

Belinda Bencic recovered from missing a match point to beat Veronika Kudemertova 6-4 4-6 7-6 (8-6) after 2 hours and 38 minutes. Both players traded breaks in the third and fourth games. Bencic wrapped up the first set with a break in the 10th game.

Kudemertova earned an early break in the second set. Bencic pulled the break back on her third opportunity in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Kudemertova won the final two games with a break in the ninth game to seal the second set 6-4.

Bencic went down a break in the third game of the decider, but she broke back in the eight game to draw level to 4-4 and earned a match point in the 10th game. Kudemertova saved it and earned four break points on Bencic’s serve. Bencic saved them and forced the third set to the tie-break. Bencic won three consecutive points from 3-3 to earn three match points. The Swiss player closed it out on her third match point setting up a third round match against Yulia Putintseva.

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Elena Rybakina scores her 20th match of the season in Doha

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Elena Rybakina came back one set down to beat Sorana Cristea 3-6 6-3 6-1 to score her 20th match win of the season at the Qatar Total Open just two days after losing to Simona Halep in Dubai.

 

Rybakina has improved her seasonal record to 20 wins to 4 defeats this season. The Kazakh player won the Hobart International and reached three finals in Shenzhen, St. Petersburg and Dubai.

Rybakina went down a break in the opening game, but she broke straight back to draw level to 2-2. Cristea broke twice in the fifth and ninth games to win the opening set 6-3. Rybakina broke serve in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Cristea broke back in the sixth game at deuce to draw level to 3-3. Cristea broke straight back at deuce to draw level to 3-3. Rybakina won the final three games with two consecutive games to win the second set 6-3. Rybakina won the first nine points of the third set including a break in the second game and got the break with a backhand return in the sixth game before serving out the win to secure her spot in the second round.

“I still have energy. I am just fighting in every match. Hopefully I can can keep making finals and finally win another. It’s my first time here, and it’s a really nice place. Hopefully I will have time to walk around, but I am enjoying Doha so far”, said Rybakina.

US teenager Amanda Anisimova cruised past last year’s semifinalist Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-3 to reach the third round at the Qatar Total Open in Doha.

 

Anisimova hit 27 winners to 31 unforced errors and fended off all three break points she faced.

 

Anisimova scored her top 10 win since last  year’s Roland Garros, where she beat Simona Halep en route to her first Grand Slam semifinal.

 

Anisimova saved two break points in the third game of the first set. The US player earned the only break of the first set and held on her serve to seal the opening set on her second set point.

 

Anisimova converted her fourth break point at deuce to take a 3-2 lead. Svitolina earned two game points as she served to stay in the match, but Anisimova won three consecutive points to clinch the second set with her second break.

 

Anisimova will face either Svetlana Kuznetsova or Polish teenager Iga Swiatek.

 

“I think the most important thing was just staying focused and clearing my head, just not putting too much pressure on myself and just trying to enjoy. I love playing here. I love this stadium and the crowd is great. I am glad I get to see everyone again in the next round”,said Ansimova.

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Epic Dubai Triumph Fuels Belief And Motivation For Simona Halep

The world No.2 reacts to the latest milestone achieved in her career.

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On Saturday Simona Halep survived a marathon encounter at the Dubai Tennis Championships to become only the sixth active player to win 20 on more WTA titles on the tour.

 

The two-time grand slam champion, who was the top seed in the tournament, required almost two-and-a-half hours to see off the in-form Elena Rybakina 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5). A player who has reached the final in four out of her five tournaments played so far in 2020. The clash was far from easy for the Romanian, who trailed 1-3 in the decider and failed to serve the match out when leading 6-5 before eventually prevailing in the tiebreak. Earning her first WTA trophy since lifting the Wimbledon trophy last July.

“It feels great that I could win it,” Halep said. “Actually, it was amazing. She fought till the end. She didn’t give up any balls. It was really tough mentally. The pressure was very high. But I wanted it badly, so that’s why I fought till the end.”

Besides Rybakina, the 28-year-old also scored wins over Jennifer Brady, Aryna Sabalenka and Ons Jabeur in the tournament. Out of those matches, Halep’s only straight sets win was over Brady in the semi-finals.

It is the second time Halep has won the Dubai crown after 2015. She believes her latest triumph reiterates why she still belongs at the top of the women’s game. Prior to this week, she also reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open and quarter-finals in Adelaide.

“I’ve done a lot of results, many results these six, seven years,” said Halep. “I’m staying here in the top 5, top 10, which is not easy. I’m proud of my job. Also, this tournament gives me confidence that I’m still there.”

Whilst she has only won two titles over the past 16 months, it is the consistency of the former world No.1 that has enabled her to be in the world’s top 10 for so long. To date she has spent 317 weeks consecutive weeks in the top 10 since January 2014. The 10th longest streak in the history of the WTA Tour.

“I always had in my mind that I had to be consistent. I didn’t like the way you win a tournament and then don’t do anything for a few months. I like to build my power and consistency every week.” She explained.
“Since I met Darren (Cahill) I was told that we had to look at the big picture and not just this week.’
“This makes me more proud than winning titles because if you’re able to be there means that you have everything power, strong mental, physical also, very strong.” She added.

There will be no Middle East double for Halep this year after she withdrew from the upcoming Doha Open. A Premier 5 event that will feature six top 10 players in the draw this year. Halep was runner-up in the tournament last year to Elise Mertens.

“It’s a decision I took before the match … I started this tournament a little bit injured with my foot.” Halep stated.

The only active players to have won more WTA titles than Halep are Serena and Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova.

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