Maria Sharapova
Siberian Siren
Tennis Champion



Last updated: September 18, 2017 | Open Since: Feb 18, 2008 | Email Us: Here | Get a Free Email Account

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Maria Sharapova
Height: 6-2
Weight: 130
Birth Name: Maria Yuryevna Sharapova
Book (Hardcover): Unstoppable: My Life So Far
Book (Kindle): Unstoppable: My Life So Far
Book (Audio): Unstoppable: My Life So Far
Twitter: @MariaSharapova
Birth Date: Apr 19, 1987
Birth Place: Nyagan, Siberia, Russia
Home: Bradenton, Florida
Nicknames: Masha, Siberian Siren
Parents: Yuri and Yelena
Racquet: Prince O3 White
Clothing: Nike
Shoes: Nike Air Zoom Mystify II
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Trademark: Grunts loudly when striking the ball

2017 At A Glance

Current WTA Rank: 103
WTA Tournaments Played: 5
WTA Record: 11-5
Hardcourt: 4-2
Clay: 5-3
Carpet: 0-0
Grass: 0-0

Tournaments Won in 2017

None

Maria Sharapova
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2017 Tournament Results

Tournament (Seed) Surface Round Opponent W/L Score
Porsche Tennis Grand Prix Clay First Round Roberta Vinci W 7-5, 6-3
Apr. 24 - Apr. 30 Second Round Ekaterina Makarova W 7-5, 6-1
Quarterfinals Anett Kontaveit W 6-3, 6-4
Semifinals Kristina Mladenovic L 3-6, 7-5, 6-4
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Mutua Madrid Open Clay First Round Mirjana Lucic-Baroni W 4-6, 6-4, 6-0
May 6 - May 13 Second Round Eugenie Bouchard L 7-5, 2-6, 6-4
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Internazionali BNL d'Italia Clay First Round Christina McHale W 6-4, 6-2
May 14 - May 21 Second Round Mirjana Lucic-Baroni L 4-6, 6-3, 2-1
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Bank of the West Classic Hard First Round Jennifer Brady W 6-1, 4-6, 6-0
Jul. 31 - Aug. 6 Second Round Lesia Tsurenko L Retired
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
US Open Hard First Round Simona Halep (2) W 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
Aug. 28-Sep. 11 Second Round Timea Babos W 6-7(4) 6-4 6-1
Third Round Sofia Kenin W 7-5 6-2
Fourth Round Anastasija Sevastova (16) L 5-7, 6-4, 6-2

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LAST CALL WITH CARSON DALY

(9/18/17) LAST CALL WITH CARSON DALY - NBC

Wednesday, September 20: Guests include Maria Sharapova with musical guest Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas and guest Ari Shaffir.

Maria Sharapova won’t say she likes Serena, but respects her

(9/16/17) Maria Sharapova, who beat Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2004, writes about their bitter rivalry in new book “Unstoppable: My Life So Far” — and admits she doesn’t like the tennis great, but respects her.

“I respect Serena. I mean how can I say that I like someone that’s beaten me 19 times? That’d be silly,” Sharapova told Katie Couric at the 92nd Street Y, after making a comeback appearance at the US Open following a doping ban.

She added, “To me, respect is a very important word .?.?. That’s why I use the word respect when I talk about Serena. Because I know how much it takes, and I know how much she had to work in her upbringing without coming from any money, with having a tough childhood and making it. Going against diversity and being in a position where she is now, it would be very wrong for me to sit here and say I have no respect for her.”

Williams, meanwhile, just gave birth to her daughter with fiancé Alexis Ohanian, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

Former US Open champ Sharapova entered 2017’s tournament as a wild card and made it to the fourth round.

Maria Sharapova hits out at critics saying they 'don't have the facts' and questions why melodium is banned

(9/14/17) Maria Sharapova has rounded on her critics, saying they "don't have the facts" to be able to comment on her drugs ban and subsequent return.

The former world No 1 made her comeback in April following a 15-month ban for taking the banned substance meldonium.

Sharapova has never apologised and shown little remorse for her actions which in part has led to the outrage from fellow players and pundits within the sport since her comeback. Even now the Russian will only admit to making a "mistake" but is at a loss as to why melodium is now on WADA's prohibited list.

Sharapova, who has released her memoir Unstoppable, My Life So Far, has hit out at those criticising the manner of her comeback by stating she doesn't take their comments on board.

Eugenie Bouchard has been one fierce critic of Sharapova. The Canadian said back in April: "She's a cheater and I don't think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play again."

Sharapova said of Bouchard's reaction: "I think those are comments not based on facts, and therefore I don't take them into consideration."

The 30-year-old also took aim at Andy Murray who had doubted why athletes would take meldonium, which is a prescripted heart drug.

Sharapova said in a BBC news special, The Unstoppable Sharapova: "I don't think it's for them to really have an opinion, because they don't have the facts. So, you know, I think that those are the types of words that make headlines and they will be used as headlines."

She went on to say how she has "admitted my mistake", again without offering an apology for her actions, and indicated that she is keen to move on from the episode.

Sharapova was handed a wildcard for the US Open and was given centre stage by Flushing Meadows organisers throughout her run to the fourth round.

The 20 greatest tennis players of Open era

Her special treatment was questioned by Caroline Wozniacki who was baffled how a drugs cheat could be put on the main show court match after match. And while Sharapova insists she was at fault for taking meldonium, she has questioned whether it should be banned.

"The problem I have with that is there's no proof of what it does, and no one can give you that proof. What is the ban based on?"

Sharapova reflects on Serena rivalry in new autobiography

(9/13/17) Maria Sharapova muses on her long, lopsided rivalry with Serena Williams in a new autobiography released on Tuesday and how she believes a locker room moment fueled the American's drive to dominate her.

The Russian-born Sharapova was 17 when she defeated Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final. Rather than proving the start of a long, close-run rivalry, it was one of just two victories Sharapova can claim against the US great, who has beaten her 19 times.

In her new book, "Unstoppable: My Life So Far," Sharapova says it was not only her victory, but the fact that she overheard Williams weeping afterwards in the locker room that ensured the American would always find a way to elevate her game in their future contests.

"Guttural sobs, the sort that make you heave for air, the sort that scares you," Sharapova writes of the moment, according to excerpts released by The New York Times.

"It went on and on. I got out as quickly as I could, but she knew I was there. People often wonder why I have had so much trouble beating Serena; she's owned me in the past ten years.

"I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds, at Wimbledon," she said.

In the memoir published by Sarah Crichton Books, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Sharapova details her tennis career from the time of her move to Florida at the age of six -- and Williams caught her attention early on.

Sharapova recalls surreptitiously watching Serena and her sister Venus play during a visit to the Florida academy where she trained -- unwilling even then to "put myself in the position of worshiping them, looking up, being a fan."

Tensions between Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion who returned to competition in April after a 15-month doping ban, and 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams -- who gave birth to a daughter this month -- have sometimes spilled over into public spats.

Sharapova ponders the reasons, wondering if the antagonism between them has perhaps driven each to excellence.

"Maybe that's better than being friends," she writes, adding: "Someday, when all this is in our past, maybe we'll become friends. Or not. You never can tell."

Maria Sharapova dines with pals following US Open loss

(9/12/17) Maria Sharapova didn’t sulk about her US Open loss for long.

The disgraced tennis player was spotted dining with two friends, a male and a female, at Estiatorio Milos in New York City Saturday night, a source told Page Six. Sharapova, 30, kept it casual in a camel sweater, black pants, a white collared shirt and white Nike sneakers. The trio arrived around 8 p.m. and sat near the restaurant’s wine cellar.

Later on, two additional friends joined the trio. At the end of their night out, Sharapova treated her friends and styling team by paying the bill for their pricey night at the gourmet restaurant.

Sharapova returned to the US Open earlier this month after a 15-month ban for doping. Latvian tennis pro Anastasija Sevastova, 27, defeated Sharapova in three sets.

The Russian tennis player must have taken a cue from Roger Federer, who, following his crushing loss at the US Open, had lunch with Bill Gates at Le Bilboquet Friday.

Sharapova felt 'tricked, trapped' by failed drugs test

(9/10/17) Maria Sharapova felt "trapped" and "tricked" after learning she had failed a drugs test for taking the banned substance meldonium.

The former world number one tested positive at the 2016 Australian Open and was initially banned until January 2018.

However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced the two-year suspension to 15 months after ruling that she was taking meldonium – which had only been added to WADA's prohibited list at the start of 2016 – for medical purposes and not to enhance performance.

Sharapova returned to the WTA Tour in April and played at her first major tournament since her ban at the US Open, where she reached the fourth round.

The five-time grand slam champion said she was making plans for her retirement before she received news of her failed test.

Writing in her autobiography 'Unstoppable, by Maria Sharapova', an excerpt of which was published in The Guardian, she wrote: "I was imagining my retirement in the winter of 2015. I'd play through the winter and spring, appear at the Olympics in Rio, then begin my last professional season, with my book published just before the 2017 US Open. I’d tell my story and say goodbye.

"The 2016 season began at the Australian Open. Serena Williams beat me in the quarter-finals. It felt like a decent start to my 12th pro season. But, as sometimes happens in nightmares, what felt like the beginning turned out to be the end.

"A few weeks later, when I was back in LA, training, I got a funny-looking email. It was from the International Tennis Federation. As I read, my heart started to pound.

"It said the urine sample I had given in Australia had come back positive. In other words, and I had to read this again and again to make sure I was not hallucinating, I had failed the drug test. How? What the hell could it be?

"I took nothing new, nothing that was not legal and prescribed by a doctor. It was called meldonium. OK, obviously this was a mistake. Who had ever heard of that? I Googled it, just to make sure.

"Then I understood. I knew meldonium as Mildronate, the brand name. It was a supplement I'd been taking for 10 years. It's an over-the-counter supplement in Russia, so common that you don't think of it as a drug, let alone a performance-enhancing one.

"I'd first been told to take it when I was 18 and getting sick a lot; I had an issue with irregular heartbeats. For seven years, I had written confirmation that all the supplements I was taking, including Mildronate, were permissible.

"As of January 2016, meldonium was included in a catalogue of banned substances that the ITF sent out to players. It was viewable by clicking through a series of links in an email. I never followed those links, and didn't ask any of my team to.

"That was my mistake. But the ITF didn't draw any attention to the fact that they were suddenly banning a supplement that was being legally used by millions of people. That was their mistake.

"I felt trapped, tricked, but I figured all I had to do was explain myself. Meldonium had been banned for four weeks. At worst, I had inadvertently been in violation of the ban for less than 28 days.

"But I soon realised I was running into a brick wall. If I failed to win my case, I could be banned for up to four years. It would be the end of my career."

The View – ABC - Appearance

(9/7/17) The View – ABC

Tuesday, September 12

Maria Sharapova (author, “Unstoppable: My Life So Far”)

The Daily Show - Appearance

(9/6/17) THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH, Comedy Central

Tuesday 9/12: Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova’s U.S. Open run ends in fourth round

(9/3/17) Maybe this was just one three-setter too many for Maria Sharapova.

Sharapova tried a bit of everything, even resorting to switching over her racket to hit a few lefty shots. Still, the five-time major champion could not quite keep her Grand Slam comeback from a doping suspension going, losing in the fourth round of the U.S. Open to 16th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 on Sunday.

"Look, three-set matches are challenging . I love being part of them. There’s an element of concentration, focus, physicality that goes into all of it. And you have to put it all together. Yeah, you just have to get through it," Sharapova said. "There’s no doubt that not playing those matches certainly cost me today. I did feel like I was thinking a little bit too much and not playing by instinct."

This was the third time in her four matches that Sharapova went the distance and she faded down the stretch, while also dealing with a blister on her right hand that was treated and taped by a trainer in the final set. Sharapova’s miscues kept closing exchanges, and she dropped 13 of the first 14 points in that set.

The 30-year-old Russian finished with 51 unforced errors, compared to 14 for Sevastova.

"It’s been a really great ride," Sharapova said.

"Ultimately, I can take a lot from this week," she continued. "It’s great to get that major out of the way. It was an incredible opportunity. I’m very thankful for the opportunity."

Sharapova’s exit leaves Venus Williams as the only past U.S. Open champion in the women’s field . The 37-year-old Williams, who won the title in 2000 and 2001, got to the quarterfinals by beating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Next for Williams will be a showdown against No. 3 Garbine Muguruza or No. 13 Petra Kvitova, who were scheduled to face each other Sunday night. Muguruza beat Williams in the Wimbledon final in July; Kvitova owns two trophies from the All England Club.

Sharapova hadn’t played in a major tournament since the Australian Open in January 2016, when she tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium. She served a 15-month ban for that, returning to the tour this April with a ranking too low to get into Grand Slam events.

The French Open denied her a wild-card invitation, then she planned to try to qualify for Wimbledon before pulling out because of an injured left leg.

But she was able to enter the U.S. Open thanks to a wild card from the U.S. Tennis Association, which then proceeded to put its 2006 champion in Arthur Ashe Stadium every time she played over the past week, drawing strong support from spectators — and criticism from another former No. 1-ranked woman, Caroline Wozniacki.

On Day 1 of the tournament, Sharapova won a three-set thriller under the lights against No. 2 seed Simona Halep.

"Just competing, you know, being in that competitive environment — that’s what I missed," Sharapova said. "You can’t replicate that anywhere, especially at a Grand Slam. So … Monday night was a special night for me. I will always remember it."

This time, Sevastova made Sharapova run a lot by pulling her forward with drop shots or tight angles, then would often deposit follow-up strokes into open spaces. On one point won by Sharapova in the second set, she twice tracked down lobs that she got back over the net by hitting the ball left-handed.

But she could not sustain enough strong play, and Sevastova reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.

"I allowed the match to become physical," Sharapova said about the late-going. "I don’t think I played as aggressive or was stepping in as much as I did in the first set."

Sevastova will face unseeded American Sloane Stephens, who reached her first quarterfinal in New York by eliminating No. 30 Julia Goerges 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Stephens has won 12 of her past 14 matches, a remarkable run for someone who was off the tour for 11 months because of foot surgery in January.

Earlier Sunday, 18-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov’s entertaining stay ended with a 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3) loss to 12th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain. In the quarters, Carreno Busta will play No. 29 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.

Shapovalov was trying to become the youngest male quarterfinalist at Flushing Meadows since Andre Agassi in 1988, but he wasted a 5-2 lead and three set points in the opener, and finished with 55 unforced errors.

"Honestly, it was so much fun to be part of that atmosphere and the match and this whole two weeks," Shapovalov said. "You know, it’s another life-changing event for me."

Women main focus on Arthur Ashe on Sunday

(9/2/17) Women's tennis's biggest names still remaining at the U.S. Open take center stage on Sunday with grand slam winners Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams, Garbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova all appearing on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Even with forecasters predicting rain, the show will go on under the retractable roof with Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov and Spanish 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta providing the opening act before three successive women's matches.

Despite criticism, Sharapova will be back on Arthur Ashe for her fourth successive match where she will face Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova for a spot in the quarter-finals

Playing her first grand slam since returning from a 15-month doping ban, Sharapova has enjoyed wild fan support every time she steps on to the court but not everyone is happy to see the five-time winner back.

Fifth seeded Caroline Wozniacki criticized U.S. Open organizers for putting her on an outside court in her second round loss while Sharapova soaked up the applause on Arthur Ashe.

One of the biggest draws in tennis, Sharapova has played to sellout crowds of 23,771 every match and the Russian wildcard has been unapologetic, delivering Wozniacki a stinging rebuke.

"I'm in the fourth round. I'm not sure where she (Wozniacki) is," shot back Sharapova, adding she would be happy to play in parking lot if that is where she was scheduled.

The most intriguing clash, however, may be the last of the women's matches with Wimbledon champion and third seed Muguruza facing double Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova.

The 13th seeded Czech is continuing to make her way back from a career-threatening hand injury sustained when she was stabbed in the hand by an intruder in her home last year.

Ninth seeded Williams, a twice U.S. Open champion and a crowd favorite for almost two decades, takes on Spanish veteran Carla Suarez Navarro in the final women's match on the main showcourt.

Sam Querrey, the last American hope in the men's draw, then wraps up singles action on the main court when he plays German 23rd seed Mischa Zverev.

I'd play on a parking lot, says Sharapova

(9/2/17) Maria Sharapova has shrugged off Caroline Wozniacki's criticism of U.S. Open organizers for giving the Russian center court billing in her return to grand slam tennis after a doping ban.

Defeated by Ekaterina Makarova on an outside court in the second round, former world number one Wozniacki lashed organizers for scheduling Sharapova at Arthur Ashe Stadium in her opening matches.

Sharapova, who returned from a 15-month ban in April, was handed a wildcard for the year's final grand slam and made her third consecutive appearance in the main stadium on Friday, beating American teenager Sofia Kenin 7-5 6-2 to reach the fourth round.

"With regards to scheduling, as you know, I don't make the schedule," Sharapova told reporters.

"I'm a pretty big competitor. If you put me out in the parking lot of Queens in New York City, I'm happy to play there.

"That's not what matters to me. All that matters to me is I'm in the fourth round. Yeah, I'm not sure where she is."

The 2006 U.S. Open champion has been warmly embraced at Flushing Meadows, playing to standing ovations and raucous cheers from sellout crowds.

She will play Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova for a place in the quarter-finals.

Sharapova swats away Wozniacki’s U.S. Open court complaint

(9/2/17) Maria Sharapova doesn’t care where she plays at the U.S. Open, only that she’s still playing.

Sharapova responded Friday to comments from Caroline Wozniacki, who complained after she was eliminated that Sharapova was scheduled for Arthur Ashe Stadium while she played on an outer court.

"That’s not what matters to me," Sharapova said following her 7-5, 6-2 victory over American Sofia Kenin. "All that matters to me is I’m in the fourth round. I’m not sure where she is."

Sharapova, given a wild card by the U.S. Tennis Association into her first Grand Slam tournament since a 15-month doping ban, has played all three matches on the main court.

Wozniacki, the No. 5 seed, said she thought that was a poor example following her second-round defeat Wednesday in a match that was scheduled for one outside court and eventually moved to another late in the day.

"When you look on centre court, I understand completely the business side of things and everything, but someone who comes back from a drug sentence and performance-enhancing drugs and then all of a sudden gets to play every single match on centre court, I think that’s a questionable thing to do," Wozniacki told Ekstrabladet TV of Denmark.

Ashe is usually reserved for the top players. Sharapova is a five-time Grand Slam champion, but she is unseeded here with a ranking that has tumbled to No. 146 following her suspension.

"With regards to scheduling, as you know, I don’t make the schedule," Sharapova said. "I’m a pretty big competitor. If you put me out in a parking lot of Queens in New York City, I’m happy to play there."

Sharapova battles past Kenin to reach fourth round in New York

(9/1/17) Maria Sharapova's mix of grit and power were enough to see off American teenager Sofia Kenin 7-5 6-2 in the third round of the U.S. Open on Friday.

Sharapova, who made her competitive comeback in April after a 15-month ban following a positive test for meldonium, battled through the first two rounds and it seemed that she would also struggle against the 18-year-old Kenin.

Hitting winners and unforced errors in almost equal measure in the opening set, the former world number one however, dug deep to take the advantage.

Kenin's tank was empty in the second set and Sharapova, who next faces Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova, opened up a 3-0 lead and ended the contest on the first match point when the American sent a backhand wide.

"We had never faced each other and she came out having nothing to lose and it's always dangerous so I'm happy I went through," said Sharapova, who won her only U.S. Open title in 2006.

Sporting a leather-collared black dress encrusted with crystal, Sharapova made a rock star entrance on a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium to close the night session.

However, she made nine unforced errors in the first three games, which continued throughout the first set but she broke in the 12th game when Kenin could not retrieve a powerful flat forehand and she then raced through the second set.

It was a relief for Sharapova after she had to endure two three-set matches to reach the third round.

"Coming into this match playing two three-setters, I'm just happy I got it done in two. Give my body a little bit of a break," she said.

"I took a day off yesterday just as a prevention.

"I did not see the ball too well at the beginning of the match, I wasn't getting the shots that I wanted ... but got better as the match went on."

American Kenin faces resurgent Sharapova at U.S. Open

(9/1/17) Eighteen-year-old American Sofia Kenin will look to put an end to Russian Maria Sharapova's return to grand slam play when they meet for the first time under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday night.

Sharapova is still looking to shake off the rust that came while serving a 15-month doping ban, but looked solid during the biggest moments of her first two matches.

Kenin will be one of five Americans in action to kick off the Labor Day weekend on Friday, all of who can expect a warm reception from the vocal New York crowd.

Two-time U.S. Open champion Venus Williams will battle Maria Sakkari of Greece in the morning. Her big-serving countryman John Isner will kick off the night session on Arthur Ashe.

Over on Louis Armstrong Stadium, 24-year-old American Sloane Stephens will continue to pursue her first grand slam victory when she faces Ashleigh Barty of Australia.

Sam Querrey will look to end a grand slam drought that dates back to 2003 on the American men's side when he battles Radu Albot of Moldova.

Rising Canadian 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov, who played through qualifiers to enter into the tournament, will attempt to dispatch 22-year-old Brit Kyle Edmund.

Sharapova, Federer embrace New York state of mind

(9/1/17) Roger Federer has conquered virtually everything in his two decades on tour but even the greatest tennis player of all time can't beat New York's notorious traffic snarl-ups.

The US Open, where the Swiss star has been champion on five occasions, is staged in the New York borough of Queen's, across the East River from glamorous Manhattan, where players and media stay for the fortnight.

However, the 10-mile journey can often take an hour or more during the working week.

It's one of the many challenges, on and off the court, which reinforce the city's reputation as no place for shrinking violets.

Federer has found one way of making the tournament come to him by practicing on public courts in Central Park.

"I was like, ‘Yeah, anything that doesn't make me drive very long,'" said Federer.

Fellow superstar Maria Sharapova, never one short of confidence, admits that when she first saw the city of 8.5 million souls, she hated it.

"When I first came to New York I was intimidated by the noise, the traffic, the people. But now I love it," said the Russian star who was 2006 champion at the US Open.

The feeling appears to be mutual.

When Sharapova played her first Grand Slam match since the end of her 15-month doping ban on the 24,000-capacity Arthur Ashe stadium on Monday, she wore a black dress, dotted with Swarovski crystals.

"It's prime time baby!" said Sharapova.

The Ashe stadium, the largest tennis venue in the world, can be a constant cauldron of noise.

At night, the din is ratcheted up with music and commercials thumping out during changeovers while fans chat and fidget, usually on their way back from the bars around the sprawling venue.

"It's intimidating, it's so big, there's so much going on. The screens are working during the points. Yeah, there's a lot of people moving and talking. It's not easy to play in," said Canadian 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov.

Shapovalov even interacted with a spectator who was merrily enjoying his evening out.

"I noticed a couple of guys had a little bit too much to drink. I mean, some of them were standing and, like, just talking to me as if we're buddies.

"I was up a break in one game, I think it was probably 40-15, I just miss a backhand. He's like, 'Ah, no.' I'm like, 'Don't worry, man, I got this.'"

The noise on Ashe is always impossible to ignore, although it wasn't to everyone's taste on Tuesday when the $150 million roof was shut all day as torrential rain washed away most of the programme.

With fans happily chatting away, the sound turned the arena into a giant echo chamber, much to the irritation of Rafael Nadal

"I understand it's a show, but under the roof we need to be a little bit more strict about the noise," said the world number one, a two-time champion at the tournament.

Most players who experience Ashe insist that you have to get the crowd on your side -- otherwise you are doomed.

"It's hard to beat a New York crowd when they're for you -- it's a lot to go against," said CoCo Vandeweghe of the United States.

Shapovalov, Sharapova set to share Arthur Ashe spotlight

(9/1/17) Denis Shapovalov may not be old enough to drink in New York but is quickly becoming the toast of the Big Apple and the 18-year-old Canadian will again have a chance to light up the U.S. Open when he takes on Briton Kyle Edmund.

After knocking off eighth seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the Canadian giant killer returns to the Arthur Ashe Stadium court chasing a place in the fourth round.

Shapovalov's hit list includes back-to-back wins over U.S. Open champions Rafa Nadal and Juan Martin De Potro at the recent Rogers Cup in Montreal, and the Canadian will now try to add the 42nd ranked Edmund to his list of scalps.

Another of the tennis young guns in Croatia's Borna Coric, who took down fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the second round, finds 28th seeded South African Kevin Anderson standing between him and a fourth round berth.

Against some criticism, Maria Sharapova will be back on Arthur Ashe for the third straight match where she will face American wild card Sofia Kenin.

Playing her first grand slam since returning from a 15-month doping ban, Sharapova has enjoyed wild fan support every time she steps on to the court but not everyone is happy to see the five-time winner back in action.

Fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki ripped U.S. Open organizers for putting her on an outside court while Sharapova soaked up the applause on Arthur Ashe.

"When you look at center court, and I understand completely the business side of things, but someone who comes back from a drugs sentence, performance-enhancing drugs, and then all of a

sudden gets to play every single match on center court, I think that's a questionable thing to do," said Wozniacki. "It doesn't set a good example."

There will be no complaints from the home crowd about seeing ninth seed Venus Williams or 10th seed John Isner on the Arthur Ashe stage.

Williams, a twice U.S. Open champion, takes on Greece's Maria Sakkari before turning over the spotlight to the big-hitting Isner, who goes up against Germany's 23rd seed Mischa Zverev.

At the US Open, Sharapova sniping practically a sport itself

(8/31/17) Listen to the crowds, and Maria Sharapova seems as popular as ever.

Listen to the competitors, and it's clear she hasn't been welcomed back with open arms.

Tennis isn't the only game going on at the U.S. Open, where complaining about Sharapova has become practically a sport itself.

''Everyone has their own opinion,'' No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina said Thursday.

And they aren't shy about sharing it.

Some rivals don't like that she keeps getting to play on Arthur Ashe Stadium - and guess where she's headed again Friday night?

''When you look on center court, I understand completely the business side of things and everything, but someone who comes back from a drug sentence and performance-enhancing drugs and then all of a sudden gets to play every single match on center court, I think that's a questionable thing to do,'' No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki told Ekstrabladet TV of Denmark after losing on an outside court Wednesday night.

''I think it doesn't set a good example.''

Others don't like that Sharapova's even here at all.

The Russian required a wild card to get into the tournament because of her low ranking and the U.S. Tennis Association was happy to provide it. That's what the organization has traditionally done for its former champions in need, and Sharapova won the event in 2006.

But this was different. She wasn't an injured veteran, or an up-and-coming youngster. Her ranking fell because she'd been suspended for doping, a cheat in the eyes of some peers.

Give her spot to someone else, they felt.

''Wild cards are appointed by the USTA. I can't say I agree. I wish it was an American instead, selfishly, because it is a USA tournament,'' American CoCo Vandeweghe said.

''I know from receiving a wild card here, it can be a huge platform to kind of progress through maybe a developing junior or someone that's coming back from injury or, you know, just somebody that's on the cusp, next American out that has an opportunity to kind of help their own ranking.''

But there's no young player, American or otherwise, who has Sharapova's box office appeal.

She's a five-time Grand Slam champion who hits with force and dresses with flair. People want to see her from their seats or on their screens, whether she's ranked No. 1 or 100.

''Tournament directors, people around, they would love to watch her play,'' former U.S. Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova said. ''You can see after her first match how the crowd welcomed her back.''

Sharapova beat No. 2 Simona Halep that night in her first Grand Slam match in 16 months and believed that had ended the sniping about her situation.

''I think with the way that I played Monday night, I don't think there are any more questions,'' she said.

Turns out, they were only just beginning.

Asked about Sharapova, Eugenie Bouchard replied that her thoughts were already public. In case anyone forgot what they were, she called Sharapova a ''cheater'' earlier this year when her suspension ended.

Others are more forgiving. The heart drug meldonium had only recently been placed on the banned list when Sharapova tested positive for it at the 2016 Australian Open, and Kuznetsova said Sharapova paid the price for her mistake.

''She did her time. I think now it has to be over, the talk,'' Kuznetsova said.

It probably won't, though.

Despite what she's done in the past, she's just a 146th-ranked wild card now, not the kind of player who gets unlimited access to the most exclusive real estate on the property. Yet she'll be on center court for the third time in three matches Friday when she faces American Sofia Kenin in the second night match on Ashe.

Win that one, and she'll be in another featured match during Labor Day weekend. Then there would be plenty more time to talk about her.

''She's here,'' No. 25 seed Daria Gavrilova said. ''Can't do anything about it.''

Caroline Wozniacki: It's unacceptable that I am on Court 5 while Maria Sharapova gets to play on Centre

(8/31/17) The ill-feeling between two of tennis’s leading women is only likely to deepen after Caroline Wozniacki objected to the way that a doping offender - Maria Sharapova - has been given plum spots on Arthur Ashe Stadium for her first two matches at the US Open.

Fifth seed Wozniacki was originally shunted out to Court 5 for her own second-round match on Wednesday, before a late shift moved her and her opponent Ekaterina Makarova to Court 17. And after losing the match by a 6-2, 6-7, 6-1 margin, Wozniacki complained that Sharapova had been granted preferential treatment.

“Putting out a schedule where the No. 5 is playing on Court 5, fifth match on after 11pm, I think that’s unacceptable,” Wozniacki said afterwards.

“And when you look on Centre Court – I understand completely the business side of things – but someone who comes back from a drugs sentence, performance-enhancing drugs, and all of a sudden gets to play every single match on Centre Court, I think that’s a questionable thing to do.”

Wednesday’s schedule had been an unusually difficult one to compile, because the backlog created by Tuesday’s persistent rain required no fewer than 87 matches to be completed in the day. Sharapova was scheduled third on Arthur Ashe Stadium against Timea Babos, and overcame a slow start to win 6-7, 6-4, 6-1.

Wozniacki was upset at the courts she was given Credit: AP

“I think it doesn’t set a good example,” said Wozniacki, “and I think someone who has fought their way back from injury and is five in the world deserves to play on a bigger court than Court No. 5. I think they should probably look into what they need to do in the future.”

This outburst has not come out of the blue. Wozniacki, who is a close friend of Sharapova’s old rival Serena Williams, has long been critical of the way many tournament directors – and even the bosses of the Women’s Tennis Association itself - have welcomed Sharapova back to the tour.

"I think it's disrespectful to other players and the WTA," she said in March, when news emerged that Sharapova would make her comeback in Stuttgart, at a tournament which started two days before the end of the doping ban. “Obviously the rules are twisted and turned in favour of who wants to do what.”

A few weeks later, Sharapova’s agent Max Eisenbud hit back in an unsolicited email to the American tennis writer Ben Rothenberg in which he called Wozniacki – along with the equally outspoken Agnieszka Radwanska - a “journeyman” and suggested that she wanted to keep Sharapova out of tournaments in order to boost her own chances.

Sharapova feels the love at the U.S. Open

(8/31/17) Maria Sharapova has been inspired by the reaction from fans, and felt the respect from other players, since coming back from her 15-month doping ban, the Russian told reporters following her second-round victory at the U.S. Open on Wednesday.

"I've had an amazing reaction from fans since I've been back and that's been very special. I mean, I felt it while I was away. I felt it in a real presence since I've been back," she said.

"It's a very special feeling."

Sharapova won an electric three-setter against world number two Simona Halep on Monday to get the tournament off to a thrilling start.

Asked if she was at peace with fellow players and fans who were disappointed that she was found to be using meldonium after it had been added to the list of banned substances, she was blunt.

"With the way that I played Monday night, I don't think there are any more questions," she said.

Sharapova has maintained that she was unaware of the policy change regarding the drug, which she had been taking for years before it was moved to the banned list in 2016.

In addition to fan support, Sharapova said she feels the respect of other players.

"I definitely feel the respect from the athletes. Certainly when I play against them, in terms of the level they play with," she said.

"That's important to me. I think from a respect level, when you're able to respect your rivals and compatriots, that's really important, and I feel that."

The 30-year-old followed up Monday's big win with a come-from-behind victory over Hungarian Timea Babos 6-7(4) 6-4 6-1 on Wednesday.

Next up for Sharapova is a third-round meeting with American Sofia Kenin on Friday.

Mats Point: Never-say-die Sharapova is a rock star

(8/31/17) Maria Sharapova did not just reach the third round of the U.S. Open on Wednesday, she also showed that she is a rock star who never disappoints her fans, according to former world number one Mats Wilander.

The Russian, back on the grand slam scene for the first time since she returned from a 15-month doping ban in April, beat Hungary's Timea Babos 6-7(4) 6-4 6-1 on Arthur Ashe Stadium despite playing below her best.

"The saying 'the heart of a champion' was invented for her," Wilander, who is at the U.S. as an analyst for Eurosport, said in a daily chat with Reuters.

"She does not have a mental meltdown, it's amazing. She keeps hanging in, hanging in even if she's not playing well and expectations are through the roof for the rest of the people.

"She could easily have let go in the second set but as soon as she turns the second set around it's over."

Sharapova saved two break points to hold for 3-3 in the second set and after that won nine of the 11 remaining games and Wilander said her drive was key to her success.

"It's not enough to be a good competitor. Good competitors, they want to win. But with her you have the feeling she needs to win," he said.

"Today was another typical Maria Sharapova performance. She's been like that throughout her career. The great champions are not always those who have won the most, the great champions become great champions when people have expectations.

"Great champions always deliver. What people come to see, they give it to them.

"They don't come to see Sharapova win, they come to see Sharapova because they know they're going to get their absolute best fight.

"She delivers every single time. That's talent. She's a rock star."

Maria Sharapova versus Timea Babos: match stats

(8/31/17) The following are the key statistics from Russian Maria Sharapova's 6-7(4) 6-4 6-1 second-round victory over Hungarian Timea Babos at the U.S. Open on Wednesday.

Sharapova Babos

Aces 12 0

Double faults 6 1

Break points won 8/13 4/10

Winners 39 13

Net points won 7/10 6/9

Unforced errors 36 24

Total points won 108 84

Match time: Two hours and 19 minutes

Sharapova sees off Babos to extend New York stay

(8/31/17) Maria Sharapova showed she was willing to extend her grand slam comeback when the former world number one defeated Hungary's Timea Babos 6-7(4) 6-4 6-1 on Wednesday to advance to the U.S. Open third round.

The Russian, in her first appearance at a major since she returned from a 15-month doping ban in April, did not have the same inspiration that helped her beat world number two Simona Halep in the opening round but her willpower was enough.

Sharapova, who was granted a wildcard entry to the tournament, made too many unforced errors in a scrappy first set that featured six breaks of serve.

Once she found her groove midway through the second set, however, the 30-year-old, sporting a pale peach pink crystal-encrusted dress, was too strong for Babos, who bowed out on the second match point when she sailed a backhand long, triggering a huge roar on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Maria Sharapova - Unstoppable: My Life So Far

(8/30/17) (Hardcover, Kindle, Audio) From Maria Sharapova, one of our fiercest female athletes, the captivating?and candid?story of her rise from nowhere to tennis stardom, and the unending fight to stay on top.

In 2004, in a stunning upset against the two-time defending champion Serena Williams, seventeen-year-old Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon, becoming an overnight sensation. Out of virtual anonymity, she launched herself onto the international stage. “Maria Mania” was born. Sharapova became a name and face recognizable worldwide. Her success would last: she went on to hold the number-one WTA ranking multiple times, to win four more Grand Slam tournaments, and to become one of the highest-grossing female athletes in the world.

And then?at perhaps the peak of her career?Sharapova came up against the toughest challenge yet: during the 2016 Australian Open, she was charged by the ITF with taking the banned substance meldonium, only recently added to the ITF’s list. The resulting suspension would keep her off the professional courts for fifteen months?a frighteningly long time for any athlete. The media suggested it might be fateful.

But Sharapova’s career has always been driven by her determination and by her dedication to hard work. Her story doesn’t begin with the 2004 Wimbledon championship, but years before, in a small Russian town, where as a five-year-old she played on drab neighborhood courts with precocious concentration. It begins when her father, convinced his daughter could be a star, risked everything to get them to Florida, that sacred land of tennis academies. It begins when the two arrived with only seven hundred dollars and knowing only a few words of English. From that, Sharapova scraped together one of the most influential sports careers in history.

Here, for the first time, is the whole story, and in her own words. Sharapova’s is an unforgettable saga of dedication and fortune. She brings us inside her pivotal matches and illuminates the relationships that have shaped her?with coaches, best friends, boyfriends, and Yuri, her coach, manager, father, and most dedicated fan, describing with honesty and affection their oft-scrutinized relationship. She writes frankly about the suspension. As Sharapova returns to the professional circuit, one thing is clear: the ambition to win that drove her from the public courts of Russia to the manicured lawns of Wimbledon has not diminished.

Sharapova’s Unstoppable is a powerful memoir, resonant in its depiction of the will to win?whatever the odds.

US Open glance: Sharapova, Venus, del Potro in action

(8/29/17) A quick look at the U.S. Open:

LOOKAHEAD TO WEDNESDAY

Maria Sharapova plays in the second round in Arthur Ashe Stadium against Timea Babos, trying to follow up on her upset of No. 2 seeded Simona Halep on Day 1.

Sharapova is a five-time major champion, including at the 2006 U.S. Open, and a former No. 1 who needed a wild card from the U.S. Tennis Association to get into the field after a 15-month doping suspension caused her ranking to plummet.

Babos, meanwhile, is ranked 59th and has only once made it as far as the third round at a Grand Slam tournament, getting to that stage at Flushing Meadows a year ago. She lost in the first round at the other three majors this year.

Other past major champions in action Wednesday include Venus Williams (against Oceane Dodin of France) and Juan Martin del Potro (against Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland).

The night's final match in Ashe is intriguing: No. 8 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, the runner-up at the 2008 Australian Open, against 18-year-old qualifier Denis Shapovalov of Canada. Shapovalov became the youngest man to reach a Masters semifinal, doing so this month at a hard-court tournament in Montreal.

WEDNESDAY'S FORECAST

Sunny. High of 81 degrees (27 Celsius).

TUESDAY'S WEATHER

Rain. High of 68 degrees (20 Celsius). All but nine matches were postponed to Wednesday.

TUESDAY'S WINNERS

Seeded winners in the men's first round: No. 1 Rafael Nadal.

Seeded winners in the women's first round: No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, No. 12 Jelena Ostapenko, No. 15 Madison Keys, No. 23 Barbora Strycova.

TUESDAY'S LOSERS

Seeded losers in the women's first round: No. 6 Angelique Kerber, No. 28 Lesia Tsurenko.

STAT OF THE DAY

2 - Number of defending women's champions at the U.S. Open who have lost in the first round in the professional era, which began in 1968: Angelique Kerber on Tuesday and Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2005.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

''All the noise stays inside and this is difficult.'' - Rafael Nadal, complaining about how loud it is in Arthur Ashe Stadium with the roof closed.

Maria Sharapova Podcast

(8/29/17) Mental Performance, Work-Life Balance, and the Rise to the Top – Maria Sharapova: Listen.

Sharapova gets down to business at US Open

(8/29/17) Maria Sharapova begins to explore just how well she can finish at the US Open on Wednesday after a successful and emotional Grand Slam comeback following a 15-month doping ban.

The 30-year-old Russian, who ousted second seed Simona Halep in her opener, faces Hungary's Timea Babos for the first time in the second round of the year's final Grand Slam tournament.

And with Halep and British seventh seed Johanna Konta both ousted already, Sharapova would not see another top-10 foe until potentially 10th-ranked Dominika Cibulkova in the quarter-finals even as three top-10 foes lurk as possible semi-final rivals.

The draw is wide open for a deep run by Sharapova despite her relative lack of matches and nagging injuries that allowed her only one hardcourt tuneup to the Open.

"From the moment that I've been here, I've really understood what this means to me, to be back and to be playing," Sharapova said.

"Not playing a lot of matches coming into this, it almost seemed like I had no right to (beat Halep). And I somehow did. I think that is what I'm most proud of."

Sharapova served a 15-month doping ban after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, returning in April to fanfare and controversy.

She missed Wimbledon with a thigh injury after being snubbed for a French Open wildcard but was given a wildcard into the US Open and wants to make the most of it.

"I was obviously extremely excited. I realized how long it had been since I played at the US Open," said Sharapova, who missed three of the prior four New York showdowns.

"Since I've come back, I feel like I'm on a team. I'm not just winning for myself, but I'm winning for everyone that has stood behind me. That is a very special feeling to have."

Applause and support from the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium bolstered her confidence and enthusiasm against Halep as she improved to 18-0 in night matches on the main court.

"So much. So special. I felt the support in the States," Sharapova said. "This is obviously a different scale, completely different caliber to anywhere you play in the world. It's electric."

Spanish third-seed Garbine Muguruza, the reigning Wimbledon champion, can reach the US Open third round for the first time by beating China's Duan Ying-Ying.

US ninth seed Venus Williams, this year's Wimbledon and Australian Open runner-up, meets France's Oceane Dodin while Danish fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki faces Russian Ekaterina Makarova.

On the men's side, German 20-year-old fourth seed Alexander Zverev, the top ranked player in his half of the draw, meets Croatian Borna Coric in the second round as he tries to crack the final eight at a major for the first time.

"You have to improve everything a little bit," Zverev said. "Obviously you can't be satisfied after a first-round win. I want to go deeper."

Sharapova sparkles on return to grand slam stage

(8/28/17) Maria Sharapova proved she will be someone to contend with for the U.S. Open crown after the Russian wild card outlasted second seed Simona Halep 6-4 4-6 6-3 on Monday, to get the year's final grand slam off to an electrifying start.

Still shaking off the rust from a 15-month doping ban and a string of nagging injuries, the 30-year-old Sharapova needed all her skill, determination and two hours and 44 minutes to snatch victory in front of a packed Arthur Ashe stadium.

The victory becomes the highlight of what has been a torturous comeback for the former world number one, who returned to tennis in April after being banned after testing positive for metabolic modulator meldonium at last year's Australian Open.

Her progress has been slowed by a thigh injury that forced her out of the Italian Open in May and more recently left arm issues in that took her out of the second round at Stanford earlier this month.

However, there was no hint of distress against an in-form Halep as she improved her record to 7-0 against the feisty Romanian in an opening round clash that was played with the intensity more befitting of a final.

Factbox: Maria Sharapova v Simona Halep - match stats

(8/28/17) Double faults 7 4

Break points won 5/22 4/10

Winners 60 15

Net points won 4/5 4/6

Unforced errors 64 14

Total points won 113 108

Match time: Two hours and 42 minutes

Sharapova edges No. 2 Halep at US Open in Grand Slam return

(8/28/17) So much about Maria Sharapova was the same as it ever was during her first Grand Slam match since a 15-month doping suspension: the shot-punctuating shrieks, the aggressive baseline style, the terrific returning, the sometimes-shaky serving.

Another familiar sight: The five-time major champion gutted out a victory.

Sharapova recovered after faltering midway through the match and emerged to beat No. 2-seeded Simona Halep 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 at the U.S. Open on Monday night to reach the second round.

''This girl has a lot of grit and she's not going anywhere,'' Sharapova told the crowd in an on-court interview.

After leading by a set and 4-1 in the second, Sharapova showed some fatigue and rust, dropping five games in a row. But in the third, Sharapova regained control by going ahead 3-0, using her power to keep two-time French Open runner-up Halep under pressure.

Sharapova had not played at a Grand Slam tournament since January 2016, when she tested positive for the newly banned heart drug meldonium during the Australian Open. It was as if every one of Sharapova's winners - and she compiled 60, 45 more than Halep - was her way of declaring, ''I'm back!''

When a Halep shot sailed long to end the match after more than 2 1/2 hours, Sharapova dropped to her knees on court, then covered her face as her eyes welled with tears.

''I just thought that was another day, another opportunity, another match,'' Sharapova said. ''But this was so much more. I tried not to think about it.''

The 30-year-old Russian was allowed back on the tour this April, but she was denied a wild-card invitation for the French Open the next month. The U.S. Tennis Association did grant a wild card to Sharapova, who was once ranked No. 1 but is currently 146th.

That is 144 spots below Halep, who is among eight women that entered the U.S. Open with a chance to top the WTA rankings by tournament's end. The draw at Flushing Meadows randomly paired the two players, providing a buzz-generating matchup that managed to live up to the hype on Day 1 at the year's last Grand Slam tournament.

It was a tremendously entertaining and high-quality contest, more befitting a final than a first-rounder.

These two women have, indeed, faced off with a Grand Slam title at stake: Sharapova beat Halep in the 2014 French Open final, part of what is now her 7-0 head-to-head record in the matchup.

On Monday, they traded stinging shots, often with Sharapova - dressed in all black, from her visor to her dress that sparkled under the lights, to her socks and shoes - aiming to end exchanges and Halep hustling into place to extend them.

Points would last 10 or 12 strokes, or more, repeatedly leaving a sellout crowd of 23,771 in Arthur Ashe Stadium clapping and yelling and high-fiving, no matter which player won them. The chair umpire repeatedly admonished spectators to hush.

Halep blinked at the end of the hour-long first set, double-faulting to face a break point, then watching Sharapova punish a 71 mph second serve with a forehand return winner. That was Sharapova's sixth return winner; she would finish with 14, more than enough to counter her seven double-faults.

It was quickly 4-1 for Sharapova in the second set and she held a break point there to allow her to go up 5-1 and serve for the victory. But she couldn't convert it. Then, only then, did Sharapova struggle for a bit. Her footwork was a bit off. Her forehand lost its way. She would end up losing that game and the next four, too, as Halep managed to force a third set.

But with the outcome in the balance, Sharapova once again looked as if she had never been away. She raced ahead 3-0 in the third, then 5-2. And this time, she did not let Halep back in, improving to 11-0 in first-round matches in New York.

This was by far the day's most significant match, no matter happened later in the men's encounter in Ashe between No. 4 Alexander Zverev and qualifier Darian King of Barbados.

Earlier Monday, seven-time major champion Venus Williams picked up a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 victory against Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia, a 19-year-old qualifier who is ranked 135th, joining past Wimbledon winners Garbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova in the second round.

But No. 7 seed Johanna Konta, a Wimbledon semifinalist just last month, was bounced by 78th-ranked Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

''I don't take anything for granted,'' Konta said. ''I think it would be quite obnoxious of me to come in here expecting I have a right to be in second week.''

And in another surprise, 13th-seeded Jack Sock of the United States was eliminated 6-2, 7-6 (12), 1-6, 5-7, 6-4 by 73rd-ranked Jordan Thompson of Australia.

Sharapova-Halep match headlines Day one at the U.S. Open

(8/28/17) The 2017 U.S. Open is set to begin with near-perfect weather and a much-anticipated match.

That comes Monday night when No. 2-seeded Simona Halep takes on former No. 1 and five-time major champion Maria Sharapova, who was given a wild-card entry to the U.S. Open after returning from a 15-month doping ban. Halep is winless against Sharapova in six previous meetings.

Play begins in the day session in Arthur Ashe Stadium with Wimbledon champ Garbine Muguruza against American Varvara Lepchenko. The 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic is next up against aptly named Tennys Sandrgen of the U.S. And seven-time major champion Venus Williams plays Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia.

Other big names on Monday’s schedule include No. 4 Alexander Zverev, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and top American John Isner.

Sharapova vs. Halep at U.S. Open; Federer-Nadal could meet in semi

(8/25/17) Maria Sharapova’s first Grand Slam match in more than 1 1/2 years will come against No. 2-seeded Simona Halep at the U.S. Open.

Sharapova’s first-round matchup with two-time French Open runner-up Halep was set up by Friday’s draw, which also put Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the same side of the men’s bracket, meaning they could meet only in the semifinals.

The U.S. Tennis Association awarded a wild-card invitation to Sharapova, who is ranked only 147th after returning from a 15-month doping suspension in April, so she could have been randomly placed to face any other player.

Sharapova was kicked off the tour after testing positive for the newly banned drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

Her five major championships include the 2006 U.S. Open.

The year’s last Grand Slam tournament starts Monday.

Nadal is seeded No. 1 at Flushing Meadows for the first time since 2010 after returning to the ATP’s top ranking this week. Federer is seeded No. 3. They have played 37 head-to-head matches, including 12 at major tournaments — at least twice in a final — but never at Flushing Meadows in any round.

Federer beat Nadal in the Australian Open final in January. Nadal then won his 10th French Open trophy in June, and Federer won his eighth Wimbledon title in July.

Federer owns a record 19 Grand Slam championships. Nadal ranks second among men with 15.

The bottom half’s semifinal could be No. 2 Andy Murray vs. No. 4 Alexander Zverev.

The potential men’s quarterfinals could be Nadal against No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov, Federer against No. 6 Dominic Thiem, Murray against No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Zverev against No. 5 Marin Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion.

Possible women’s quarterfinal matchups on the draw’s bottom half include Halep or Sharapova against No. 7 Johanna Konta of Britain, a semifinalist at Wimbledon; and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza against No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki or No. 9 Venus Williams, a seven-time major champion and the runner-up at the All England Club last month at age 37.

Williams’ sister, 23-time major champion Serena, is not playing in the U.S. Open because she is pregnant and expecting to give birth in September.

On the top half of the bracket, the quarterfinals could be No. 1 Karolina Pliskova against 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova; and defending champion Angelique Kerber or French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko against No. 4 Elina Svitolina or No. 15 Madison Keys of the United States.

Kerber beat Pliskova in last year’s final in New York and moved up to No. 1 in the rankings for the first time. But Kerber’s 2017 has been rough, including a first-round loss at the French Open, and she is seeded No. 6 at the U.S. Open.

The 30-year-old Sharapova was eligible to make her return to Grand Slam action at the French Open in May, but that country’s tennis federation declined to offer her a wild card. Sharapova then was going to try to qualify for Wimbledon in June, but she ended up skipping the grass-court portion of the season because of an injured left thigh.

Sharapova has been participating in tournaments via wild-card invitations, beginning on red clay at Stuttgart, Germany, in April.

Sharapova was 19 when she won her U.S. Open trophy. Two years before that, at 17, Sharapova won her first major title at Wimbledon. She has since completed a career Grand Slam.

John McEnroe on Maria

(8/25/17) Maria Sharapova got a wild-card entry into the U.S. Open main draw despite a ranking of No. 147 as a result of a 15-month doping ban that ended in April. She tested positive for a newly banned heart drug at the 2016 Australian Open. The French Open chose not to give her a wild card and she skipped Wimbledon because of a thigh injury.

''Her suspension ... was a lot harsher than almost any other suspension that I've been aware of in any other sports,'' he said. ''If (NFL players) get caught red-handed taking steroids, they're suspended for four games the first time.''

McEnroe says the 2006 U.S. Open champion is one to watch.

''She's someone who knows how to win,'' he said. ''I don't know where she is fitness-wise and emotionally. She's been through a lot, and obviously, a lot of it was self-imposed. But on a given day, she could beat anyone out there. No question.''

Questions abound as Sharapova returns to U.S. Open

(8/25/17) Maria Sharapova can expect a warm reception from fans in New York when she makes her grand slam return at the U.S. Open next week following a 15-month doping ban, but just how competitive she will be is hard to say, ESPN analyst Chris Evert said.

The former world number one, who returned to action in April after a 15-month ban, was awarded a main-draw wildcard for the tournament she won in 2006 after French officials denied her that same courtesy for the French Open earlier this year.

"The American crowd is going to be very respectful of Maria and I would think she will get a warm reception coming back," Evert, a winner of 18 majors during her career, said on a conference call this week.

"Most people think that she has paid her dues and it's time to get back on the circuit."

Sharapova tested positive for the drug meldonium in 2016, which had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned substances list in January of that year.

The 30-year-old Russian, a winner of five grand slam titles, said she was unaware of the change.

The bigger question is how her game will match up against a competitive women's field and whether the injuries that kept her out of the grasscourt season and parts of the hardcourt season have healed.

"She really had a great start this summer but was injury prone," Evert said.

Sharapova's U.S. Open preparations were disrupted by an arm injury suffered during a first-round win at the Stanford Classic earlier this month. She then withdrew from events in Toronto and Cincinnati as a precautionary measure before the final grand slam of the year.

"Lack of tournament play really wreaks havoc on your body. Not only physical but I'm sure mental and emotional as well," Evert said.

"So if it's a healthy Maria Sharapova, you can't put anything past her. She looked good two months ago so with a good draw, it's possible she gets to the second week."

American tennis great John McEnroe said the reaction from the notoriously vocal U.S. Open crowd to Sharapova will be "somewhat mixed," but said interest in her performance will be at an all-time high.

"She's obviously the biggest name in the draw so that's going to provide some interest. A lot of us are interested to see how she does, there's no question."

One-on-one with @MariaSharapova

(8/24/17) #USOpen Exclusive: one-on-one with @MariaSharapova at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center: Video.

Maria Sharapova Reveals What’s On Her Phone

(8/24/17) (wsj.com) Number of contacts in phone: 439.

Number of unread emails: 0. My mind would be cluttered otherwise.

Most-liked photo in your Instagram feed: It’s probably a bikini picture if I had to guess. But I’m hoping it’s a tennis action shot!

Most-listened-to track on iTunes or Spotify: Right now it’s Kings of Leon’s “Muchacho.”

Strangest autocorrect mishap: When I type in my last name, it changes it to “Sugarpova,” which is actually [the name of] my candy company.

Craziest place you’ve ever lost your phone: I have never lost it. But the amount of screens I’ve cracked makes up for that.

Alarm settings: Don’t use the alarm. Early riser.

Biggest time-wasting app: GarageBand.

When do you feel compelled to charge your phone? [It’s always] 100%. Yes, that’s right: 100%. I consistently wear a battery case.

Are there times when you try to stay off your phone entirely? Always during practice or training.

Favorite fitness app: Nike+ Training Club App is the only one I’ve ever tried.

Cities listed in weather app: Sochi, Russia; New York City; Longboat Key, Florida; Manhattan Beach, California; Tokyo; Indian Wells, California.

Most recent Uber ride: Laurel Canyon to Manhattan Beach ($78).

Favorite podcasts: Lewis Howes’s School of Greatness; TED Radio Hour; The Tim Ferriss Show.

People you FaceTime most often: My mom and my best friend, Estelle.

App you wish someone would invent: Please don’t invent any more.

Sharapova determined to prove point on Slam return

(8/23/17) Former world number one Maria Sharapova makes her first Grand Slam appearance next week since serving a 15-month doping suspension, bringing renewed passion and resolve to the US Open.

The 30-year-old Russian was given a wildcard into the tournament by the US Tennis Association (USTA), a move critics complained about earlier in the season but another key step in the road back for the five-time Grand Slam winner.

"When it comes to tennis, good or bad -- there's really only one thing that I know for certain -- I've missed it," Sharapova wrote on the Players' Tribune website.

"Though these last two years have been tougher -— so much tougher -— than I ever could have anticipated... my passion for the game has never wavered. If anything, it has only grown stronger."

Sharapova was issued a two-year suspension after testing positive for the banned heart and blood boosting drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced the ban on appeal.

She said that she had taken it for several years and did not know it had been placed on the banned list at the start of 2016.

Sharapova made her return in April at Stuttgart, reaching the semi-finals as a wildcard, but such invitations sparked criticism from some WTA rivals, saying she should have to work her way back without such benefits, some suggesting a life ban.

"I'm aware of what many of my peers have said about me and how critical of me some of them have been," she wrote.

"If you're a human being with a normal, beating heart... I don't think that sort of thing will ever fully be possible to ignore."

Sharapova was refused a wildcard by French Open organizers and missed Wimbledon with a thigh injury, so the US Open will be her first Grand Slam event since last year's Australian Open.

Shaking off criticism after the French Open snub, Sharapova tweeted, "If this is what it takes to rise up again, then I am in it all the way, everyday. No words, games or actions will ever stop me from reaching my own dreams. And I have many."

Sharapova has missed three of the past four US Opens, her last visit ending in the 2014 fourth round.

The USTA defended its wildcard offer, saying, "Her suspension under the terms of the tennis anti-doping program was completed and therefore was not one of the factors weighed in our wildcard selection process."

"Consistent with past practice, a wildcard was provided to a past US champion who needed the wildcard for entry into the main draw."

Former world number one Sharapova won the 2006 US Open as well as Wimbledon in 2004, the 2008 Australian Open and the 2012 and 2014 French Opens.

"I'm sure this is a great moment for her to have an opportunity to be back to a place where she has done so well," seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams said.

- Sharapova plays catch-up -

Sharapova was bolstered by fans with "Welcome back Maria" signs in Germany and cheering support last month in Stanford, her first US match in more than two years.

"I feel like I just want to hug everyone and say thank you," Sharapova said.

Sharapova defeated American Jennifer Brady 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 in her Stanford opener but suffered a left forearm injury and has not played competitively since.

"I feel like I'm playing catch-up against everyone who has had a head start," she said of being hurt during US Open tuneup events.

Sharapova granted wild-card entry into US Open

(8/15/17) Maria Sharapova has been granted a wild-card invitation for the U.S. Open's main draw.

Sharapova is among eight women who were given entry into the 128-player field by the U.S. Tennis Association on Tuesday — and by far the most noteworthy.

The former No. 1-ranked player and owner of five major titles, including at the 2006 U.S. Open, will be participating in her first Grand Slam tournament in more than 1 1/2 years. Sharapova has not entered a major tournament since the Australian Open in January 2016, when she tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium.

That led to a 15-month doping ban, which expired in April.

The U.S. Open starts in Flushing Meadows on Aug. 28.

Sharapova pulls out of Western and Southern Open

(8/12/17) An ongoing left arm injury has forced former world number one Maria Sharapova to withdraw from the Western and Southern Open.

With her eyes on the upcoming US Open at Flushing Meadows later this month, Sharapova announced her decision to pull out of the WTA Premier Five event in Cincinnati on Saturday.

Sharapova – back on Tour since April after serving a 15-month ban for doping – was handed a wildcard for the tournament and was due to face French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the opening round.

However, the five-time grand slam champion will skip Cincinnati, having sat out the Rogers Cup in Toronto following her withdrawal at the Bank of the West Classic.

"I arrived in Cincinnati yesterday eager to play. However, following the doctor’s advice on-site, as a precaution for the US Open, I am unfortunately withdrawing from the tournament with the left forearm injury I sustained in Stanford," Sharapova said.

"I want to thank the tournament for the wildcard opportunity and really look forward to competing here next year."

Sharapova made a comeback from an eight-week absence with a leg problem in her first-round win over Jennifer Brady in Stanford.

But an arm injury forced the Russian to pull out ahead of her scheduled round-two clash against Lesia Tsurenko, and she has not returned since.

Maria Sharapova out of Rogers Cup, Canada’s Andreescu in main draw

(8/3/17) Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova will miss next week’s Rogers Cup in Toronto due to an injury.

Organizers say she is suffering from "pain in her left forearm."

Toronto’s Bianca Andreescu will take Sharapova’s wild-card spot in the draw.

Sharapova is making a comeback following a 15-month doping ban.

Several players, including Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, have been critical of Sharapova and tournament organizers for giving her wild card entries. Due to her suspension, she is no longer ranked high enough to automatically qualify for main draws.

She is currently ranked 173rd in the world.

"I am so sorry to be missing Rogers Cup this year," Sharapova said in a statement. "I am so appreciative to the tournament for the wild card and my fans in Toronto for their support. I am disappointed that injury is keeping me from the tennis court once again, and I will work as hard as I can to return to the game I love as soon as possible."

The 30-year-old’s best result at the Rogers Cup came in 2009, when she advanced to the final.

Sharapova initially was given a two-year suspension after testing positive for the banned heart drug meldonium at last year’s Australian Open.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced the ban on appeal, ruling she bore "less than significant fault" in the case and she could not "be considered to be an intentional doper."

Sharapova had been taking meldonium for many years, but overlooked announcements by WADA that it added the drug to its banned list on Jan. 1, 2016.

Canadian Carol Zhao will take Andreescu’s spot in the qualifying tournament.

Sharapova withdraws from Stanford with left arm injury

(8/2/17) Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova withdrew from the WTA Bank of the West Classic just before her scheduled second-round match Wednesday with a left arm injury, tournament officials announced.

"We're sad to announce that @mariasharapova has withdrawn after doctor's advice regarding her left arm," a post on the tournament's Twitter feed said.

Sharapova played her first US match in more than two years on Monday, defeating American Jennifer Brady 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 in an opening-round match at the hardcourt event in Stanford, California.

The former world number one from Russia hadn't played in the US since March of 2015, before serving a 15-month doping suspension for the use of meldonium.

"I feel like I just want to hug everyone and say thank you," Sharapova told fans in a post-match interview. "It's my first match in the States in a really long time, and it's the closest thing to home for me."

Seventh-seeded Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko advanced by walkover as a result of wildcard entrant Sharapova's early exit.

The latest injury brings into question whether or not Sharapova will be fit in time for the US Open, which starts August 28, as well as for another key tuneup event in Cincinnati in two weeks for which Sharapova has also accepted a wildcard.

Sharapova, 30, returned to competition in April, but her comeback was disrupted by a hip injury that forced her to withdraw from Wimbledon qualifying.

Sharapova's ranking has fallen to 171 in the world.

"I feel like I'm playing catch-up against everyone who has had a head start," Sharapova said after her Monday match. "All that matters is that I keep playing."

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