Yesterday afternoon, Maria has celebrated her 36th career tournament win in China as she won the Tianjin Open with a hard-fought 7-5, 7-6 victory in the final against the 19-year old Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka. It is Maria’s first WTA title since Rome in 2015. The success means that Mara, who next will play the Kremlin Cup in Moscow for the first time in ten years, will climb to No. 57 in the WTA world rankings. “It is a special title, a special victory,” Maria told the press after the match. “It has been a couple of years since I have held the winner’s trophy. It is a great feeling, a team effort. When you start all the way from the beginning of the tournament, and it was so cold and not as many spectators, and then you end up playing the final in a full stadium with so much enthusiasm and energy and you are the one that wins the last point, just everything falls into place. You have to appreciate those moments, never take them for granted.”
However, there is no time for a huge celebration, as Maria flew immediately to Moscow, where she plays on Tuesday. Her opponent for the first round is a Slovakian player M. Rybarikova.
Today, after the match that was delayed from Tuesday due to the rain, Maria is through to the second round of the Tianjin Open in China beating I. Begu 6-4 6-2 in one hour and 22 minutes. Tomorrow, Maria will face Magda Linette. The match will be the second match on Center Court and the order of play begins at 12.00 PM local time, which means Maria could get on court around 8.00 AM CET, 14.00 AM ET & 11.00 PM PT depending on the previous match. Some photos from Tianjin have been already uploaded to the gallery. The hlghlights from the match can be found on YouTube.
Update: Maria won her second round match as well and she is through to the quarter-finals of Tianjin Open. On Friday, Maria will play Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland. Again, the match will be the second match on Center Court.
It has been almost two month since the last update, and I am very sorry about that (busy life, moving to different country), but the website is definitely not dead and I will try to catch up on everything soon. For now, I have updated the gallery with several photoshoots Maria have done and also the pictures from the movie premiere Battle of The Sexes. During this week, photos from the tournaments and the book tour will follow. As of right now, Maria is in China playing Tianjin Open for the first time. The draw of the tournament is already out and Maria will face Caroline Garcia, who recently won the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, and also the China Open. Maria is 4-0 against Garcia, with their last match coming in 2015 at the Madrid Open, where Maria prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.
Sadly, Maria did not compete yestreday in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic tournament as she was forced to withdrew. In her official statement, Maria said:
Unfortunately, I have to withdraw from today’s match. Toward the end of the Monday night’s match, I felt pain in my left forearm. After yesterday’s scan, the doctor has recommended I don’t risk further injury. Monday night’s crowd was so special and I wish I could continue playing but I have to make a preventative decision.
Update: Not only Stanford, but Maria also withdrew from Rogers Cup which is taking place next week in Toronto due to the injury. Hopefully, it is really a preventive decision and she will be back for the US Open grand slam.
Sadly, yestreday was not a good one for Maria and SharaFamily. Fisrtly, Maria was forced to retire from her match with Lucic-Baroni due to the left thigh injury in the third set. It was really painful to watch her stopping, because the match was going Maria’s way – she lost the first set 4-6, but won the second 6-3 and was leading in the third with a break. Hopefully, it is not a serious injury and Maria will recover quickly. However, the bad news seem to come in pack, don’t they? The second one came from the French Tennis Federation which decided to deny Maria a wildcard into this year’s French Open. This means she won’t be able to play, not even the qualifying of the tournament. The president of FTF Bernard Giudicelli said “I’m very sorry for Maria, very sorry for her fans. They might be disappointed; she might be very disappointed. But it’s my responsibility, it’s my mission, to protect the game and protect the high standards of the game. While there can be a wild card for return from injury, there can’t be a wild card for return from doping.” The WTA CEO Steve Simon said he disagreed with the French federation’s reasoning. “She has complied with the sanction imposed, There are no grounds for any member of the (tennis anti-doping program) to penalize any player beyond the sanctions set forth in the final decision resolving these matters.”
In my opinion, the decision is wrong on many levels, especially considering the CAS report and its conclusion. It clearly stated that Maria was not an intentional doper in any circumstances, yet the federation seems to ignore the court and make their own judgement. Maria served her punishement and this feels like a further penalization, nothing more. And the idea of protecting the game? Well, lets just point out that a French player who is serving a ban for illegal betting received the wildcard. Double standards? It is a rought time for Maria, not just with the decision, but all the comments as well, but I have no doubt she will keep on fighting and won’t give up. There are many fans who stand with Maria and we’ll continue to support her no matter how many obstacles they will throw at Maria.