Next week, the most titled Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova will perform at her 13th US Open. As usual, the fans will pay special attention to her. In whatever form the 32-year-old athlete is in, victories are still expected from her, and defeats cause a mixed reaction from tennis fans.
This season is worse for Sharapova than all previous ones. After reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open, she suffered a shoulder injury and recovered for a long time, sacrificing a series of important tournaments, including Roland Garros. Returning to the WTA tour was also unsuccessful. The only victory over Victoria Kuzhmova in Mallorca was followed by another injury at Wimbledon, received in a meeting with Pauline Parmentier. From the beginning of the season, Sharapova has come a long way from the Top 30 ranking to the end of the first hundred.
Hardcore North American tournaments that precede the US Open are often a good excuse to revive a difficult season. Sharapova also took this chance. After Wimbledon, she decided to change the coach. The tennis player broke up with Thomas Hogstedt, with whom she worked for a little more than a year, and went on to Riccardo Piatti.
This specialist has a solid list of former students, which includes Novak Djokovic, Richard Gasquet, Milos Raonic, Stan Wawrinka and many other tennis players. Now the Italian is training the Croatian Bornu Choric, but in July he took under his wing Sharapova, organizing a two-week training camp for her in Tuscany.
Due to the low rating, Sharapova is again forced to wait for an invitation from the organizers to speak at major tournaments without qualifications. Therefore, she had a chance to prove herself only in Toronto and Cincinnati. In Canada, the Russian woman started from a meeting with the 19th racket of the world Anette Contaveit and lost in three sets, managing to take the debut game.
However, Sharapova in that game looked decent and, in terms of physical form, passed the two-hour test. In Toronto, she performed without Piatti, her team was only sparring partner Alex Kuznetsov and a physiotherapist. The Russian woman was pleased with the cooperation that had begun and announced that the Italian specialist would be her coach at the US Open.
“I have always watched Riccardo, and I appreciate his experience, as well as the experience of his entire team. It was like a return to the basics. In Italy, I was with my family, with my parents. Worked in the morning, worked in the evening. It was fun. I do not know how else to describe it. Of course, it is important for me whether I win or lose, but I remained very proud of the efforts that we all made, and I did not expect any success. It happens that you have worked, and you want to see the result right away, ”said Sharapova after losing to Contaveit.
The next stop was Cincinnati, in which the former first racket of the world had not played for five years. By that time, she had fallen to 97th place in the WTA ranking, and she needed to perform successfully in order to confidently get into the US Open.
This time, Sharapova managed to start with a victory. She beat Alison Risk with a score of 6: 3, 7: 6, having recouped from two breaks in the second set. The Russian woman took five setballs and four matchballs to finish the game in her favor. After the first match won in two months, she admitted that she was no longer worried about her state of health.
“I am repeating the exercises, and I feel a little better now in terms of speed and strength in my hand. In general, the process of recovering from everything that I have done with my shoulder is simply to repeat the exercises and believe in my shoulder - an hour, two, three, if necessary, ”said the athlete.
It was not possible to stay in Cincinnati Sharapova for a long time. The draw immediately brought her to the second racket of the world, Ashley Barty, whom she lost at the Australian Open this year. The current champion “Roland Garros” quickly beat the former after having recouped a break in the first set. After the score was 3: 3, Barty gave Sharapova only two games for the rest of the match. The Russian woman was not much behind in the number of actively won draws, but made 10 unforced errors more.
. @ ashbar96 is next into the @CincyTennis third round!
She knocks out Sharapova, 6-4, 6-1 👊 pic.twitter.com/W8On8AIwTu
Performances in Cincinnati had Sharapova enough to climb ten places and begin preparations for the US Open, which can be called her most successful Grand Slam tournament after being disqualified. She won a total of six matches and twice reached the fourth round. By the way, even before a break in her career, Sharapova had never left New York after the first game.
The draw of the main draw will take place on August 22, and the 2006 champion will recognize her first rival. Without seeding, which rely 32 best tennis players, Sharapova can meet with anyone. So far, she has been training on the Flushing Madous courts and has held the 16th racket of the world by Johanna Contoy.
First sighting of @MariaSharapova today ❤️ # usopenpic.twitter.com / AwpntBVKgG- Matthew (@ MRisingStar18) August 20, 2019
Sharapova’s plans after the US Open are already known. Instead of starting the Asian tour right away, she will remain in the United States and take part in the Greenbrier Exhibition Tournament, where she will play in the mixed with one of the Brian brothers against Caroline Wozniacki, and then will meet with the Danish in a single match.