Caroline Wozniacki seems to be remaining tight-lipped this year about Maria Sharapova and her seemingly privileged scheduling and match times. Segments of social media were used by critics to air grievances about the continuation of Sharapova’s privileged return from her ban.
The Heat was Off, but now Back on Sharapova
The Russian played the backhand queen, Carla Suarrez-Navarro, in the US Open 4th round and people struggled to understand why it was a night match. The Spaniard comfortably saw off the Russian 6-4, 6-3. Questions are being asked about the Russian’s continued top billing. Earlier in the day, in the searing heat, Lesia Tsurenko eventually saw off Marketa Vondrousova, but both players were clearly lagging in the intense conditions.
Critics Preying on Sharapova’s Night-owl Status
This time it surrounds the fact that she played four night matches on the run, never having to face the grueling day-time heat that caused Djokovic to struggle in his first round match.
No one is denying Sharapova’s great pre-ban career and achievements. A career Grand Slam in a Serena-dominated era is an amazing accomplishment. However, Sharapova has been back 16 months and a French Open quarter-final, a solitary end-of-season WTA title, and two US Open 4th round appearances are the only performances worth of any merit. Sharapova, however she is playing: sells, and that is the bottom line.
USTA Open to Accusations of Turning their Back on US Talent like Madison Keys
It’s a nightmare job ensuring that varying requests, criticisms, and feedback are balanced by the USTA when making scheduling decisions. The lure of the TV money and gate receipts ensures that Sharapova is at the forefront of scheduling decisions. The decision to elevate Sharapova to the prime-time slot for her 4th round match meant subjecting American Madison Keys to the searing heat.
This will rile a number of spectators and fans. Keys did a great job at keeping audiences entertained in her run to the final last year. Arguably, Keys is one of the boldest players to watch on tour. She has not said as much, but this must have riled her.
In Sharapova’s absence, Keys still gets the night match against Suarez-Navarro in the quarterfinals. It will be interesting to see how the TV and live audiences compare to the last Sharapova match.
Pressure Grows on Sharapova to draw the Line on her Career
Commentators have increasingly been questioning the merit in Sharapova’s decision to keep plugging on. The increasing number of unforced errors that creep into her game suggest a concentration issue. Sharapova is an inspirational business-woman now. She doesn’t need to be on tour for the money. Her book has been out a while now so her presence on tour won’t increase sales that much, anymore.
There is an increasing risk that Sharapova will begin to erase memories of a great career. This is if she continues to use her privilege to enter tournaments, but not do herself justice. Some Sharapova soul-searching is required as her season draws to a close.