Friday, 23 June, 2017

Sharapova targeting return to the top

Christina Mc Hale in action at the Mutua Madrid Open Christina Mc Hale in action at the Mutua Madrid Open
Damon Campbell | 17 May, 2017, 13:23

"I know it does seem very convenient timing, but it is actually unrelated, genuinely unrelated, and we know that qualifying needs to continue to be improved, just like we improve facilities here at the Championships", he said.

Giudicelli is understood to have spoken to Sharapova ahead of his decision, with the Russian now playing at the Italian Open in Rome, where she is set to face Croatia's Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

UPDATE: Sharapova retired in the third set of her match on Tuesday against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni with a leg injury.

"I apologize for having to withdraw from my match today with a left thigh injury", Sharapova said in a statement.

"I will be getting all the necessary examinations to make sure this is not serious". "The fact that I'm back and playing three weeks in a row now is a big deal".

Sharapova took to the court less than an hour after it had been confirmed she will not receive a wildcard for Roland Garros, following her return from a 15-month doping ban.

And that is enough to earn Sharapova direct entry into Wimbledon qualifying at Roehampton, while she could still earn a place in the main draw if she reaches the semi-finals in Rome this week.

"Some say she shouldn't get it, others say she served her time", tournament director Guy Forget told the BBC.

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Canada's Eugenie Bouchard also described the Russian as a "cheater" prior to their matchup at the recent Madrid Open.

The 30-year-old made her return to tennis last month at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart after her suspension came to an end.

"She has to go through a tougher way back", Djokovic added. Lucic-Baroni may want to throw in a few drop shots to upset the rhythm of Sharapova's game and try to beat her.

The New York Times quoted a smiling WTA player who said after the announcement of Sharapova's French Open snub: "Ninety-nine percent of players are against her, just afraid to say that".

Also, David Goffin rallied past Fernando Verdasco 3-6, 6-3, 6-2; Tomas Berdych notched his 600th career win by beating qualifier Carlos Berlocq 6-3, 6-4; Jack Sock defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 1-6, 7-5; and Alexander Zverev outlasted Kevin Anderson 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

The mistakes continued to come from Sharapova - a double fault cost her a third break before a timely pep talk from her coach prompted a revival from 4-3 down.

Tournament organisers had previously claimed they could cope with the demands of the former world No. 1 playing in qualifying, although it still remains more than possible that she will earn qualification to the main draw. Also, Sam Querrey eliminated Lucas Pouille, a semifinalist past year, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (8).

After a stunning start to 2017 - one that saw him improbably win the Australian Open after a six-month layoff and then cap it off with victories at the two American springtime hard-court events (Indian Wells and Miami) - Federer was No. 1 in the points race and it wasn't impossible to envision a return to the No. 1 ranking.

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