Former world No.1 Maria Sharapova will miss the entire clay court swing of 2019 after officially withdrawing from the French Open later this month.
The five-time grand slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match since withdrawing from the second round of the St Petersburg Open on January 30th. Sharapova has been absent from the tour due to an ongoing shoulder injury. Earlier this year she underwent a ‘minor’ surgical procedure to help ease the pain in the area. The pain was caused by a fraying tendon and small labrum tear.
“Withdrawing from the French Open today. Sometimes the right decisions aren’t always the easy ones.” Sharapova wrote in her Instagram story.
“In better news, I have returned to the practice court, and slowly building the strength back in my shoulder.” She added.
Sharapova reached the quarter-finals of the French Open last year is what is her best grand slam result since returning from a doping ban. At the tournament she scored wins over Donna Vekic and Karolina Pliskova before falling to Garbine Muguruza. Due to her upcoming absence from Roland Garros, she will drop 430 ranking points.
Prior to her injury woes, the 32-year-old has managed to play in three tournaments during the first month of this season. Reaching the quarter-finals in Shenzhen followed by the fourth round at the Australian Open. Overall, she has won six out of eight matches played.
It is unclear as to when Sharapova will return to the tour. The Daily Mail has reported that the Russian was not on the list of player’s participating in the upcoming Nature Valley Classic at Edgbaston Priory. A grass-court event that will start on June 15th. It is understood that in return for her receiving a wildcard into the 2017 tournament, she has a two-year commitment to play there in the future. Meaning that she should be playing this year if fit.
Sharapova has won 36 WTA titles during her career and has spent 21 weeks as world No.1.
Maria Sharapova withdraws from French Open. Will have played it just once in the last four years. Has played only 8 matches all year & has not reached a final in any tournament since 2017. Dropping to around 50 in rankings Monday & French Open QF from 2018 will come off soon
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) May 15, 2019
Tomas Berdych to Miss French Open For The First Time Since 2003
It will be the third grand slam the former top 10 player has missed within the past 12 months.
Former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych will not play any clay court tournaments in 2019 after withdrawing from the upcoming French Open.
The 33-year-old has been absent from the tour since his first round loss to Feliciano Lopez in Indian Wells. Berdych has been hampered by issues within his back in recent weeks. He has been hoping to be fit in time for Roland Garros, but made a decision to withdraw from the event on Wednesday.
“I am not 100% ready to play the way I want and need to be competitive on the courts I love so much,” Berdych wrote on social media.
“I came to Paris and I had to take a tough decision and want another few days to fully recover and be ready for the grass season.”
“I love this tournament so much but I have to make sure not to further injure myself,” he added.
The Czech had played at the tournament every year since making his debut back in 2004. However, the French Open is his worst performing grand slam in terms of wins. So far in his career, Berdych has won 25 out of 40 matches played at the French Open. His stand out performance occurred in 2010 when he reached the semi-finals before losing to Sweden’s Robin Soderling.
It is not the first time back issues have forced Berdych out of action. In 2017 he was advised by doctors to end his season early due to persistent ‘back pain.’ He was also forced to skip both Wimbledon and the US Open due to the same problem.
Berdych, who last won a title at the 2016 Shenzhen Open, has played six tournaments so far this year. His best result occurred in January with a run to the final of the Qatar Open. He also reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and was a semi-finalist in Montpellier.
As a result of his absence, Berdych is currently ranked 100th in the world rankings. He will be replaced in the French Open draw by a lucky loser.
Simona Halep Dismisses Favourite Tag Ahead Of French Open
The Romanian looks ahead to the grand slam after her exit from Rome.
Former world No.1 Simona Halep has played down her title chances in the upcoming French Open by saying ‘anyone can win’ the title next month.
The 27-year-old is the reigning champion at the tournament after claiming her maiden grand slam title there is 2018. Halep has featured in the final of the tournament three times since 2014. The world No.2 is one of the favourites to claim the trophy at Roland Garros, however, she hasn’t won a title on the WTA Tour since August at the Rogers Cup.
“I don’t know what is going to happen at the French Open.” Halep told reporters on Thursday. “I always said in the last few months that tennis is very open now. The top (of the women’s game) is open. Anyone can win. Kiki Bertens has a chance, in my opinion. Stephens again. Many players are playing well on clay.’
“We will see. I’m very curious.” She added.
So far this season, only two women have managed to win multiple titles on the WTA Tour. Petra Kvitova in Sydney and Stuttgart, as well as Kiki Bertens in St Petersburg and Madrid. Overall, there has been 21 different winners so far in 2019. Six of which are currently ranked in the world’s top 10.
Halep’s preparation for the upcoming major has hit a setback this week. At the Italian Open, she crashed out of her opening match to Czech player Markéta Vondroušová. Suffering her earliest exit from the tournament since 2016. During that match, she sought medical treatment on her leg after feeling pain during the second set.
“I started to feel a little bit (of pain) from sliding.” Said Halep.
“I had two days off, so it was a little bit tough to get back to this rhythm, very high rhythm.
But it is nothing, like, tight or something broken. Is just a little bit of injury, which in a few days is going to be okay, I’m sure.” She added.
Whilst the 27-year-old is staying grounded about her chances of success at the French Open, she has been labelled as the favourite for the title by some former champions. Earlier this month Justine Henin backed the Romanian by saying she is ‘the most complete player.’ Meanwhile, another high profile backer is three-time champion Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.
“It is wide open at this moment to see who is going to win. If I want to pick one player, who is more able and resourceful, I must say it is Simona Halep. She stands a good chance, but depends on how she would control the pressure. However, I do not count out other women contenders,” Vicario told the Press Trust of India.
The French Open will get underway on May 26th.
After Madrid Triumph, Novak Djokovic Talks French Open Chances
The world No.1 looks ahead to the next grand slam.
MADRID: Novak Djokovic’s bid to conquer the French open for only the second time in his career is gaining momentum, but there are also calls for caution at the same time.
The world No.1 rallied to his 74th ATP title at the Caja Magica without dropping a single set all week. In the final against Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Serbian was in a different class compared to his weary opponent. Who was suffering from the aftereffects of his late-night semi-final clash with Rafael Nadal the day prior. The victory was Djokovic’s first on the clay since 2016.
“My goal was to start off well to try to make a break as soon as possible, which was the case right away, and I felt I was always ahead in the game.” Said Djokovic. “I felt I was dictating the play and played my best tennis so far this week.”
“This gives me a lot of confidence prior to Rome and, of course, Roland Garros where I definitely want to play my best.” He added.
Amid the triumph, comes greater expectation. In a couple of weeks time, Djokovic will be bidding to win a fourth consecutive grand slam title at the French Open. The only major he is yet to win multiple trophies at.
In the race for the title, one of Djokovic’s biggest threats comes in the form of Nadal. Who has won the major a record 11 times. The Spaniard is yet to win a title this season but displayed glimmers of his best tennis during his Madrid campaign. However, consistency continues to be an issue.
“He’s always an ultimate challenge on clay, especially in Paris. He has lost like two times in his entire career.” The world No.1 said of Nadal. “That says enough about his quality and the kind of a challenge that he is in Paris.”
20-year-old Tsitsipas is more level-headed when it comes to picking a favorite for Roland Garros. The Greek player points out that Madrid is not like any other tournaments. The city is located 667 meters above sea level. Meaning the ball travels quicker than it does at other European events on Dirt.
“I think Novak is in pretty good form right now.” Said Tsitsipas.
“The conditions here are so different. There’s the altitude. I think Federer said it in his previous interviews, tennis at sea-level is going to be different in the next couple of weeks, nothing compared to this tournament.”
Taking those words into consideration, it can be argued that Madrid is an inaccurate indicator of who may prevail in the upcoming grand slam. However, six out of the last 11 champions in Madrid has gone on to win the French Open within the same year since 2008. The year the surface moved from hard to clay.
Djokovic himself is also under no illusion when it comes to the challenges he faces in the change of conditions. Admitting that he needs to put in ‘quality hours’ in order to peak on the clay elsewhere. Both mentally and emotionally.
“I think because of the difference in conditions I’m going to have to obviously try to get as many quality hours on the court training and also competing because it’s going to be different.” He said
“Probably the rallies will be longer and it’s going to require more of physical and emotional endurance and resilience, but I’m ready for it.”
The French Open was where Djokovic recorded his first main draw win in a grand slam back in 2005. Defeating Robby Ginepri in the first round. Overall, he has won 63 out of 76 matches, which is an 83% winning rate.
Prior to this week, the last time Djokovic won the Madrid Open was in 2016. The same year he won the French Open.
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