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Wimbledon 2015: I didn't use an unfair strategy, says Maria Sharapova

By John Skilbeck

Published 08/07/2015

Under fire: Maria Sharapova beat Coco Vandeweghe in three sets but was accused of moving during her rival's serve
Under fire: Maria Sharapova beat Coco Vandeweghe in three sets but was accused of moving during her rival's serve

Maria Sharapova has been accused of gamesmanship after moving into her first Wimbledon semi-final since 2011 - and not for her wince-inducing screams.

Sharapova's customary grunts and wails grew louder every time she came under duress from America's Coco Vandeweghe in yesterday's three-set quarter-final.

The Russian 28-year-old prevailed 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 6-2, before coming under fire from her opponent for unsporting behaviour, Vandeweghe claiming Sharapova was moving around in her eye-line as she shaped to serve.

"She was moving around in the middle of my motion on my second serve," said Vandeweghe. "That's why I spoke to the umpire.

"I felt her moving around in between my serving motion was not sportsmanlike. I try to play as fairly as I can.

"When I felt like it wasn't being reciprocated, that's when I spoke with the umpire for her to deal with it."

Sharapova denied the accusation of moving on Vandeweghe's serve, saying: "It is what it is, if she said it I can't argue, those are her words."

Vandeweghe complained to chair umpire Eva Asderaki-Moore about Sharapova's antics, but did not think any action was taken.

"She (the umpire) said she didn't believe she was doing it during the motion: I strongly disagreed," said Vandeweghe.

"Towards the latter end of the second set, I said if she has a problem speaking to Maria, if she's too scared to do it, I had no problem speaking to her."

When asked if she thought the umpire was too scared to talk to Sharapova about the issue, Vandeweghe replied: "Well I didn't hear anything said."

Vandeweghe rallied just when Sharapova was serving for the match, to claim the second set via a tie-break and set up a decider.

The New York native underlined her best-ever Grand Slam showing by refusing to buckle, but in the end was forced to bow to Sharapova's superior Major-tournament nous.

The defeat, however, should put a stop to a lengthy bout of soul-searching for her true persona in professional tennis.

The granddaughter of all-star couple 1952 Miss America Colleen Kay Hutchins and former New York Knick Ernie Vandeweghe is also the daughter of former Olympic swimmer Tauna Vandeweghe.

A maiden Grand Slam quarter-final upholds that legacy, and Vandeweghe was certainly not in the mood to be bossed by her five-time Major champion opponent.

Sharapova's habit of increasing the volume of her grunting every time she faced a pivotal point grated on the audience - but Vandeweghe was unruffled.

"That didn't bother me whatsoever," said Vandeweghe. "It didn't faze me nor did I think about it."

Sharapova believes she is growing with every match at Wimbledon.

"It's been a while since I've been at that stage so I'm really happy with every match," said Sharapova, preparing for her 20th Grand Slam semi-final.

"You have to give everything you have on a special occasion; you're playing to be one of the last four in one of the world's biggest tournaments."

Sharapova served for the match in the second set, only for Vandeweghe to force and then win a tie-break and take the clash the distance.

"I was pretty dominant in the first and beginning of the second set and things slipped away for me in the tie-break," said Sharapova.

"I regrouped and obviously she was playing with a lot of confidence and had nothing to lose.

"Obviously when you're in a position to win it, sometimes it doesn't quite go your way and then you go back to the thing that helped you win that first set."

Belfast Telegraph

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