Sharapova pulls out of Birmingham despite wildcard
Maria Sharapova dealt British tennis an embarrassing blow last night when she pulled out of next week’s Nature valley Classic in Birmingham.
Following rafael Nadal’s more expected withdrawal from the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s, it was a double disappointment for the LTa’s pre-Wimbledon events.
Last year the governing body announced it had secured a two-year commitment from the russian in return for a controversial wildcard as she came back from a doping ban.
But Sharapova, who had earlier been announced as playing in the pre-Wimbledon exhibition at the hurlingham Club at the end of the month, said: ‘i need to take care of my body and make sure i stay healthy and sometimes that means you have to take tough decisions like this.’
Sharapova won the title in Birmingham in 2004 and 2005.
Nadal’s withdrawal was less of a surprise, especially as this is the third straight year he has given Queen’s a miss. he said that 27 matches on the clay had taken too much of a toll, with his knees often a problem on grass these days.
‘i have spoken to my doctors and i need to listen to what my body is telling me,’ said the 32-year-old Spaniard, who did not suggest his appearance at Wimbledon is under threat.
roger Federer played his first match since March 24 yesterday when, after skipping the clay court season, he defeated Germany’s Mischa Zverev 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the second round of the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart. ‘Three months is a long time, it’s longer than the year-end break, so i’m very happy returning on good terms on to the Tour,’ said the 36-year-old.
‘it was difficult, i missed some chances in the first set. he connected well at the right times. and then i found a way. i found my rhythm. i’m very happy with how i played. i’m super happy to be back on Tour. it’s been a great start.’
Former British No 2 Dan Evans scored yet another grass-court win when he beat Sergiy Stakhovsky, the man who famously knocked Federer out of Wimbledon in 2013, to make the quarter-final of the Nature valley open in Nottingham.
Evans won 7-5, 7-6 and — having started from scratch after a one-year ban for taking cocaine — is now up to a minimum No 468 in the world in what is his third tournament back, piling further pressure on Wimbledon to give him a wildcard.
No show: Sharapova has won the Birmingham title twice