Maria Sharapova Fuels Retirement Speculation After Australian Open Exit - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova Fuels Retirement Speculation After Australian Open Exit

Is this the biggest hint yet that the Russian will be walking away from the sport this year?

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Maria Sharapova has admitted that she is unsure if she will play in the Australian Open again following her first round loss in Melbourne Park on Tuesday.

 

Sharapova, who received a wild card into the main draw, fell 6-3, 6-4, to Croatian world No.20 Donna Vekic. Still on the comeback from a shoulder injury that hampered her 2019 season, the former world No.1 failed to capitalise on a 4-1 lead in the second set after dropping six consecutive games to crash out. Furthermore, Sharapova also produced almost twice as many errors compared to Vekic with 31 against 17.

“If I’m looking at that part of the match, it’s a combination of she definitely stepped up on those points, played well, played big, deep, and a little bit of making the wrong choices.” Sharapova reflected during her press conference.

Losing in the first round of Melbourne for the first time since 2010, speculation is mounting about Sharapova’s future in the world of tennis. When questioned by reporters, she said she ‘doesn’t know’ what will happen in 12 months time when asked if she will be returning to Australia. It was at the Australian Open where she played her first grand slam main draw match back in 2003 at the age of 15.

“I don’t know. I was fortunate to get myself to be here and thankfully to Craig (Tiley) and the team allowing me to be part of this event.” She said.
“It’s tough for me to tell what’s going to happen in 12 months’ time.”

The comment comes after what was a troublesome 2019 season. Due to injury issues, Sharapova only managed to play in eight tournaments in which she won eight matches. The five-time grand slam champion has now dropped to 144th in the world rankings. Her lowest position since starting her return from a doping ban back in 2017.

Whilst there is no immediate indication of a retirement from the sport, it is unclear as to what Sharapova’s plans are over the coming months. She is currently trained on the tour by prestigious Italian coach Riccardo Piatti. A partnership she intends to continue. Although she is unsure if she will be able to get in shape to play the tournaments she wants to.

“I would like to. I don’t know, I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you if I can or if I will, but I would love to.” Sharapova told reporters.

Should this year’s Australian Open be the last one for Sharapova, she exits with 15 main draw appearances. The 2008 champion has won 58 matches in what is her most successful grand slam tournament in terms of match wins to date.

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Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini reach the quarter finals in Madrid

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Alexander Zverev beats Dan Evans 6-3 7-6 (7-3) to reach the quarter final at the Madrid Mutua Open. Matteo Berrettini moved into the quarter final with straight-set win over Federico Delbonis

 

Evans earned an early break to take a 1-0 lead. Zverev broke twice in the second and fourth games to open up a 4-1 lead and closed out the first set 6-3 with an ace. 

Evans saved the only break point of the second set at 4-4. Both players went on serve en route to the tie-break. Zverev got three mini-breaks to win the breaker 7-3. 

Matteo Berrettini has reached the third Masters 1000 quarter final of his career with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-4. 

The first set went on serve until the eighth game, when Delbonis saved the only break point. Delbonis went up a 4-1 lead, but Berrettini fought back by winning six consecutive games to take the first set 7-4. 

Berrettini went up an early break to take a 2-0 lead, but Delbonis broke straight back to draw level to 2-2, when Berrettini made two forehand unforced errors. The next games went on serve until the 10th game, when Berrettini earned the break to win the second set 6-4. 

Berrettini will face a quarter final against Christian Garin, who upset Danil Medvedev. Berrettini ties 1-1 in his two head-to-head matches against Garin. Garin beat Berrettini in the 2019 BMW Open final in Munich. Berrettini avenged this defeat against his South American player in Shanghai later that year. 

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Casper Ruud stuns Stefanos Tsitsipas to take the biggest win of his career

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Casper Ruud scored his first win over a top five player, beating this year’s Monte-Carlo champion and Barcelona finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 after 1 hour and 34 minutes without facing a break point. 

 

The Norwegian player has reached his third consecutive clay-court Masters 1000 quarter final following the semifinals in Rome in 2020 and in Monte-Carlo last month. 

The first set went on serve with no break points. Ruud won the tie-break 7-4 with two mini-breaks before earning the only break in the seventh game to close out the second set 6-4. 

Tsitsipas won his first Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo and lost the Barcelona final after holding a championship point against Rafael Nadal. 

“Stefanos is one of the best players this year on the Tour, one of the ones who has the most matches. He has won his first Masters 1000 in Monte-Carlo. He was very close to getting the title there, as well, but the conditiions are a bit different here than other clay courts with there, as well, but the conditions are a bit different here than other clay courts with the fast shots, the ball travelling faster through the air because of the altitude. You get a lot of free points with the serve that you don’t usually get on the clay courts. I think that also today went a bit in my advantage. I felt like he was doing some mistakes that he doesn’t always do. I was just trying t take care of the chance that I got”, said Ruud.Ruud set up a quarter final against Alexander Bublik, who beat Aslan Karatsev 6-4 6-3. Ruud beat Bublik in their only previous head-to-head match against Bublik in three sets in St. Petersburg.

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Ash Barty Eases Into Madrid Final

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Number 1 seed Ashleigh Barty beat Paula Badosa 6-4 6-3 to reach her fourth final of the 2021 season at the Madrid Mutua Open after winning three titles at the Yarra Valley Classic, Miami and Stuttgart.

 

The first set went on serve in the first nine games. Barty earned two break points in the 10th game with a lob and loose forehands from Badosa. Badosa saved two set points with winners, but Barty converted her third chance after a double fault from Badosa to close out the first set 6-4. 

After an early trade of breaks, Barty earned her second break after a double fault from Badosa in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead. The Aussie star saved three break points in the fifth game and held serve for 4-1 with a dropshot. Barty dropped just two more points on serve to close out the second set 6-3. 

Barty has extended her red clay winning streak to 16 consecutive matches and her win-loss record to 25-3 this season. 

Barty has clinched her 16th consecutive win on red clay. The Australian player avenged her recent defeat against Badosa in the quarter finals in Charleston. 

“It was important for me to get that early break back in the second set and keep my nose in front, almost force her to come up with something that was going to be a really high level to be at a high level to be able to get back into the match. I have learnt a lot about clay, without a doubt. I promise you, I am still counting down to the grass court season. It’s one of the my favourite times of the year. I think the memories and the learnings now that we are getting from the red clay has been really cool, to be able to challenge myself in different ways”, said Barty.

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