Former World No. 1 remains positive despite French Open wildcard snub and thigh injury forcing second round retirement in Rome
Russia's Maria Sharapova. Pic/Getty Images
Maria Sharapova vowed to "rise up again" yesterday after she was refused a wildcard for the French Open following her 15-month ban for doping.
The Russian former World No. 1 also earned the backing of the head of women's tennis, a day after the French tennis federation's announcement that it would not grant her a wildcard for the event.
"If this is what it takes to rise up again, then I am in it all the way, everyday," Sharapova wrote on Twitter, in her first remarks on her snub. "No words, games, or actions will ever stop me from reaching my own dreams. And I have many."
The five-time Grand Slam champion, 30, was banned for two years for using meldonium. After the ban expired on April 26 she returned to competition at the Stuttgart Open, reaching the semi-finals, and progressed to the last 32 of the Madrid Open, failing to earn a qualifying spot for Roland Garros which starts later this month.
Sharapova is guaranteed a qualifying spot at Wimbledon in July after winning her opening match at the ongoing Rome Masters, although she missed a chance at direct entrance into the main draw after a second-round exit on Tuesday. She retired against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the final set (4-6, 6-3, 2-1) due to a thigh injury.
French body says sorry
French tennis federation chief Bernard Guidicelli said he was sorry for Sharapova but added "it's my responsibility and mission to respect the high standards of the game to be played without any doping."
WTA chief executive Steve Simon wasn't happy. "What I do not agree with is the basis put forward by the FFT for their decision with respect to Maria Sharapova. There are no grounds for anyone to penalise a player beyond the sanctions set forth in the final decisions resolving doping matters."
Murray admits poor show
Earlier, Andy Murray conceded he is "not playing good tennis" as his concerning run of form continued as the World No. 1 and defending champion was ousted 6-2, 6-4 by Fabio Fognini in his first outing at Rome Masters. It was his seventh loss of a disappointing year, a stat he did not register in 2016 until August, and he looks a far cry from the player that won five successive tournaments at the end of last season to climb to the top of the rankings. "I am just not playing well. I mean, the last couple of weeks, they have been tough and I haven't played well. I am just not playing good tennis and I need to try and work out how to turn that around," said Murray.
Kerber ousted early
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal advanced to the third round as fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro was forced to retire with a left knee injury. In a women's singles match, world number one Angelique Kerber crashed out after losing 6-4, 6-0 in the second round by Anett Kontaveit of Estonia.
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