Former US Open champion Maria Sharapova returns to Grand Slam action in a couple of weeks after being awarded a wildcard for the 2017 US Open. The final Slam of the year is the first to do so, after Roland Garros denied her a wildcard into qualification, and Sharapova had to withdraw from the Wimbledon qualification rounds.
Many had thought she would back up her come-back in Stuttgart with at least a wildcard into the French Open qualification rounds, but in a fanfare on Facebook live the announcement was made of who had been awarded wildcards shortly before Sharapova was due to play her second round in Rome. There was no place for her in the qualification rounds, coupled with a lecture on the error of her ways.
She took the decision out of Wimbledon’s hands by declaring she would play in qualifying. Since then though injuries have set back the five-time Grand Slam champion, with the latest being her withdrawal from the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
The former World No. 1 is currently ranked No. 146 in the world, and has accepted a wildcard into Beijing and some injury free results over the closing part of the year might be enough to get her over the finish line to qualify for next year’s Australian Open.
A false sense of security
Sharapova made no secret of the fact she did not want her career to be ended by her 15-month suspension, but her opening run in Stuttgart to the semi-finals perhaps lulled everyone, including Sharapova into a false sense of security. She admitted, after the media circus of her come-back, that the quick turnaround of matches had taken some time to get used to. Her body would seem to agree with thigh, arm and shoulder injuries all making an appearance since then.
It will therefore be interesting to see how many rounds she can go, under a Slam schedule – where at least players get a day off between rounds.
US Open Wildcards
The US Open women’s wildcards are:
One to be determined via agreement with Tennis Australia.
US Open men’s wildcards:.
Alex de Minaur
The US Open takes place between 28 August – 10 September.
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