Maria Sharapova accused of gamesmanship in grand slam return
30 August, 2017, 01:49 | Author: Nora May
Sharapova, the 2006 US Open victor ranked 146th in the world, took the first set 6-4 as her pace proved too much for Halep's impressive speed around the court.
However, the 30-year-old Russian Federation belied her own self-doubt with an impressive three-set win over the Romanian to thrust the former world number one back into the spotlight as the toast of the Big Apple.
The Russian put any fears that her lengthy suspension would reduce her toughness and edge firmly to rest in the third set, taking it 6-3.
"My reaction was normal, because this year I had very tough draws every time nearly", said Halep, who was on the court practicing when she learned of her first-round matchup. However, the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled on October 4, 2016 to cut her suspension term from 24 to 15 months. "Behind all this glitter, this girl has a lot of grit, and she's going nowhere".
Sharapova will face unseeded Timea Babos in the second round.
"When I found out that I received the wildcard, I was obviously extremely excited", 2006 US Open champion Sharapova told reporters.
Snubbed by the French Open and then injured for Wimbledon, where she would have had to fight her way through qualifying, Sharapova was controversially given a wild card in NY.
Billie Jean King says the emergence of the next generation of WTA stars makes it impossible to call who will win the US Open at Flushing Meadows.
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"The fact that I was able to come out and play that way, beat the number two 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".
The 30-year-old tested Halep's impressive defense with her usual brand of risky tennis.
Adding some heat to contest, Halep was one of several players to express their displeasure over the five-time grand slam victor being granted wild card entries into tournaments instead of having to wade into qualifiers. I'm sad, of course. "I'm sure this first round is going to be interesting". Sharapova took a bathroom break before the third set started, leaving Halep stranded on court practising her serves.
That said-we all know she's risky in any form.
But it was like she had never been away as she took her night-time record on the Arthur Ashe Stadium to 18 wins in 18 matches.
It was the type of all-or-nothing assault that has served her well since she first burst on the scene with a 2004 Wimbledon title. She planned to play the qualifying tournament at Wimbledon but pulled out because of a left thigh injury. But it didn't take long for her to act as the superstar she has been since she won Wimbledon as a teenager.
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