Belfast Telegraph

I made too many mistakes, admits Sharapova after shock early exit


By Steve Simpson

Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova suffered a shock defeat in the first round of the Qatar Open yesterday, dumped out in three sets by outsider Monica Niculescu.

The Romanian, ranked 92nd in the world, 51 places behind the Russian, won 4-6 6-4 6-3.

In a match lasting more than two and a half hours, Sharapova hit 52 unforced errors as opposed to just 17 from Niculescu.

And she could also convert only six of 15 break points.

The former World No.1, twice a winner in Doha, had been given a wildcard and was one of the tournament's major attractions.

"I did a good job of winning the longer rallies, even though that's not really what I wanted to get myself into," said Sharapova. "So physically I felt good. I just got passive in the end and starting making too many errors."

Roger Federer, meanwhile, has confirmed he's not ruled out playing the clay season - if his body and mind continue to perform at their current high level.

"The clay season is up in the air," the 20-time Grand Slam champion said of his chances on stepping onto the dirt. "If I'm playing a lot during this part of the season, it would be hard to play a robust clay season.

"It would be light (schedule) if I do play. We'll see how it goes."

In 2017, Federer won the Australian Open on a hard-court surface, skipped the clay season including the French Open, and returned to win Wimbledon.

The Swiss is in Rotterdam on the cusp of overtaking Rafael Nadal as World No.1. Should the wildcard top seed reach the semi-finals, he would replace the Spaniard and become the oldest man to ever lead the rankings.

Belfast Telegraph

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