Muguruza advances, Konta out as Sharapova returns at US Open
Aug 30, 2017, 01:47
Perhaps appropriately dressed in black as it had been 19 months since her last grand slam appearance, Maria Sharapova took NY by storm on the opening night of the US Open ousting second seed Simona Halep in a marathon three-set match.
Only a handful of points separated the pair as Sharapova, into the year's final Grand Slam on a wildcard, overcame a second-set letdown to outhit Halep 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 after the marathon two hours and 44 minutes match.
Sharapova, who served a 15-month ban starting in January of 2016 for testing positive for the newly prohibited drug meldonium at the Australian Open, returned to competitive tennis in April but is ranked 147.
The German has not won a title since the US Open 12 months ago and there are no signs that she is about to spark back into life.
'The fact that I was able to come out and play that way, beat the No. 2 player in the world in the first round of the US Open, it's been a while, I think those are definitely the emotions that I was feeling'. Other big names on Monday's schedule include No. 4 Alexander Zverev, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova against former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, Sloane Stephens of the U.S. against 2015 U.S. Open runner-up Roberta Vinci, No. 7 Johanna Konta, and top American men John Isner, Jack Sock and Sam Querrey.
Pliskova, a French Open semi-finalist and quarter-finalist in Australia this year, reached the top for the first time when Halep lost at Wimbledon, replacing Angelique Kerber.
Muguruza, meantime, has been installed by bookmakers as the favorite to win back-to-back Grand Slam titles after her Wimbledon triumph earlier this summer, but she isn't ready to acknowledge that.
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Last Friday, she was then drawn to play world number two Halep.
"I'll enjoy this for a little bit of time, then I have to move on", she said.
"I don't think any tennis fan in the world is not going to have that match on".
Meanwhile, Sharapova praised the grit of Halep, saying that "she is not going anywhere". Sharapova took a bathroom break before the third set started, leaving Halep stranded on court practising her serves.
The incredible first-round draw added an extra dimension to her return and Sharapova revealed she was getting her nails done when she learnt the news.
'Then when the draw came out, I knew what a hard match-up this would be, how much excitement was behind this matchup and the hype. She was better. She was serving better.
Sharapova has missed three of the past four US Opens, her last visit ending in the 2014 fourth round. Top-ranked Spaniard Nadal, who won his 15th Slam crown and 10th French Open in June, meets Serbia's Dusan Lajovic in an afternoon encounter. "But I think I [gave] everything I had". She wept tears of joy, as well as waved and blew kisses to the crowd as she mouthed "Thank you".
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