By Anita Stahl, in Stanford
- Maria Sharapova wins first match back on hard court
- Dismisses questions about potential US Open wild cards
STANFORD, USA – Maria Sharapova won her first match back on hard court following her 15-month suspension and subsequent thigh injury that kept her from the grass courts.
Maria Sharapova [WC] def. Jennifer Brady 6-1 4-6 6-0
Sharapova won the first set handsomely, only giving up the fourth game, in which she served two double faults. In the second set, Brady took an early 0-3 lead. Sharapova equalized to 3-3, but Brady came back strong and took the set 6-4. Sharapova won the final set 6-0, but bagel is deceiving. The third set took almost 45 minutes, with Brady refusing to concede a single point without a fight.
Wildcard for US Open speculation continues
Speaking with press after the match, Sharapova explained her weaknesses: “There’s a lot of things that can take away from a match: I started strong, I started aggressive. No doubt that I had a let-down, a loss of concentration, in focus.”
Now that Sharapova has returned to the US hard courts, the question about her chance to get a wild card into the US Open lingers. Following her wildcard on her return at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in WTA Stuttgart, she was awarded wildcards into the WTA Premier events in Madrid and Rome, but injury set her back, in addition to Roland Garros taking the decision to not award her even a wildcard into qualification. Sharapova took the debate out of Wimbledon’s hands by saying she would compete in the qualifying rounds, but the injury sustained in Rome ruled her out of the entire grass court season.
Sharapova herself dismissed the attention on Grand Slam wild cards as a distraction during her matches in Europe earlier this year.
Given how long she has been away from competitive play with injuries and suspensions, she said: “My focus is solely on the event that I’m playing and for me playing here is just as big [as a Grand Slam].”
Sharapova plays seventh-seed Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine next with the rest of the first round matches completing on Tuesday.
Main Image ©️ Anita Stahl
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