Shara­pova more dis­ap­pointed to lose early than to de­trac­tor

Cape Breton Post - - Local Scoreboard - BY TALES AZZONI

To Maria Shara­pova, the most dis­ap­point­ing part of leav­ing the Madrid Open was do­ing so in the sec­ond round.

Not los­ing to arch critic Eu­ge­nie Bouchard.

Shara­pova will more than likely meet Bouchard again, and have an­other shot at beat­ing the Cana­dian who wanted her banned for life for dop­ing last year and openly called her a cheater.

More im­por­tant for Shara­pova for now was tour­na­ment play, win­ning matches, get­ting match fit and her rank­ing up to where it was be­fore her 15-month ban.

Shara­pova’s rank­ing rose from noth­ing to 258 af­ter reach­ing the semi­fi­nals in Stuttgart two weeks ago, in her first tour­na­ment af­ter her ban.

Go­ing only two rounds in Madrid, where she won in 2014, will bump her up into only the low 200s.

Her aim is to quickly lift her rank­ing so it’s good enough

to au­to­mat­i­cally qual­ify for main tour events, to at least 150, which would get her in the French Open this month.

That would mit­i­gate her re­li­a­bil­ity on wild cards that a lot of her fel­low tour play­ers have op­posed. The play­ers be­lieve

Shara­pova, af­ter dop­ing, should have gone through qual­i­fy­ing, worked her way back from the bot­tom in­stead of re­ceiv­ing free passes into main draws.

She has de­clined to en­ter that de­bate.

Like at Stuttgart and Madrid,

where she was a for­mer cham­pion, Shara­pova has a wild card into the Italian Open next week. Rome was the first to of­fer her a wild card while she was sus­pended, and the three-time cham­pion (2011, 2012, 2015) was grate­ful.

Her ef­fort to au­to­mat­i­cally qual­ify for the French Open could be­come moot next week when or­ga­niz­ers an­nounce whether they will give one to Shara­pova, the cham­pion at Roland Gar­ros in 2012 and 2014.

In the mean­time, los­ing in the sec­ond round at Madrid stung.

“I would be wor­ried about my­self if I sat here and said I’m pretty happy with los­ing a ten­nis match, no mat­ter who I face, no mat­ter what round it is, whether it’s the first round or fi­nal of a Grand Slam,” she said on Mon­day af­ter los­ing to Bouchard.

“I’m a big com­peti­tor. What you work for for so many hours ev­ery sin­gle day is to be on the win­ning end of matches. Of course I’m dis­ap­pointed. That’s what’s go­ing to make me a bet­ter player. That’s what’s go­ing to win me more tour­na­ments and more Grand Slams.”

Shara­pova said she still needed to re­gain the con­fi­dence for crit­i­cal points in a match.

“There’s no way to train but be a part of it,” she said. “To find my­self in those sit­u­a­tions, come up with the goods ...”

"1 1)050 '3"/$*4$0 4&$0

Eu­ge­nie Bouchard from Canada, left, shakes hands with Maria Shara­pova from Rus­sia at the end of their Madrid Open ten­nis tour­na­ment match in Madrid, Spain, Mon­day, May 8, 2017. Bouchard won 7-5, 2-6 and 6-4.

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