Maria Sharapova downfall: Does Australian Open defeat mark the end?

Novak Djokovic matches Maria Sharapova's $17,400 donation to Australia's bushfire relief

The previous world No. 1 was granted wildcard entry to the Australian Open however went down 6-Three 6-Four to Croatia’s Donna Vekic off the again of an injury-ravaged 2019.

Sharapova will fall out of the highest 350 when the newest world rankings are launched after the match, admitting she wasn’t positive whether or not she would play in Melbourne once more.

“It is powerful for me to inform what is going on to occur in 12 months’ time,” mentioned Sharapova, who received her solely Australian Open title in 2008.

“I used to be lucky to get myself to be right here and grateful to (Tennis Australia boss) Craig (Tiley) and the group for permitting me to be a part of this occasion.”

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Maria Sharapova leaves the court following defeat in the first round of the Australian Open.

By way of her 2020 schedule, the 32-year-old stays uncertain.

“I haven’t got a crystal ball to inform you if I can or if I’ll (play the variety of tournaments I would like), however I’d like to, yeah,” she added.

“It is powerful to say I am heading in the right direction proper now 45 minutes after the match. However there is no such thing as a option to get out of it besides to maintain believing in your self, as a result of if you happen to do all the suitable issues and you do not consider in your self, then that is most likely a nasty system.”

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In a topsy-turvy encounter, Sharapova slipped to an early 5-1 deficit within the first set towards Vekic. She recovered with a break of serve, earlier than ceding 6-3.

Sharapova held a 4-1 lead within the second however misplaced the remaining 5 video games of match. She ended with 31 unforced errors to Vekic’s 17.

Donna Vekic celebrates victory over Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open.

The Russian hasn’t received back-to-back matches since final yr’s Australian Open, the place she reached the fourth spherical.

A shoulder damage pressured her to withdraw from the French Open, whereas a forearm damage noticed her retire within the first spherical at Wimbledon, regardless of main Pauline Parmentier by a set and a break.

On the US Open, she was bettered by longtime rival Serena Williams within the first spherical and fell to a year-end rating of 136, her lowest since 2002.

In 2016, Sharapova examined constructive for banned substance meldonium on the Australian Open. She was initially banned for 2 years, earlier than an enchantment noticed the ban diminished to 15 months. Returning to motion in April the next yr, she has since been unable to hit the heights from the beginning of her profession.
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Her finest exhibiting at a grand slam over the previous two years has been reaching the French Open quarterfinals in 2018, the place she fell to Garbine Muguruza.

Sharapova’s standing as a grand slam champion means she will settle for an infinite variety of wildcard entries to tournaments, however what number of occasions we see her at this yr stays unclear.

For now, probabilities of lifting a primary grand slam title in six years seem distant.

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