Maria Sharapova went on the attack today in Rome after beating Venus Williams in straight sets. Sharapova was critical of Victoria Azarenka’s propensity to widthdraw or retire from tournaments with injury.
On Wednesday, after easily beating Shahar Peer, the top-ranked Azarenka curiously withdrew from Rome with a shoulder injury. Via twitter, she explained her situation.
“I was conflicted and disappointed to withdraw from Rome… I tried my hardest but I wasn’t healthy going into the tournament..” she wrote on twitter. “If WTA rules were different then I could have focused on getting healthy, but I could not afford another zero pointer on my ranking. Hopefully in the future there will be more protection for players rights”.
Azarenka’s beef is that she had to risk further shoulder issues just to avoid a zero pointer ranking penalty. Azarenka, however, did win the match!
Speaking today, Sharapova questioned the Belarussian’s motives stating that if you are really injured then don’t play and just pay the fine or do the necessary tournament promotions.
“First of all she is probably injured more than any other player and to be number 1 in the world and be able to play a full schedule,” Sharapova said. “I think last year she had more retirements that anyone but played a full schedule and after 2 days retirement you would see her practicing and so its tough to know what her state is and what she is feeling.
“Personally, if I am injured however big or small the fine is,” she added, “if this is the tournament where you have to participate or get zero points, to be honest I don’t really care about that because but for me the health is the most important thing.
“Sometimes all the top players are not there because some players get injured but sometimes you have to pay a little out of your pocket and not play or you do a little more media for the tournament but if you are not healthy then you are not going to play.”
According to WTA rules, Top 10 players like Azarenka must play in all four Premier level events (Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing), four of five Premier 5 events (Doha, Rome, Canada, Cincinnati, Tokyo; playing each event every other year) and two 700 events (Dubai, Charleston, Stuttgart, etc). Since Azarenka played Rome in 2011 she was not required to play the event this week.
Last season Azarenka retired/withdrew from five WTA matches with an assortment of ailments including hip, elbow, thigh, hand, shoulder and foot problems. This season Victoria has been plagued by a right shoulder and ankle injuries.
Two weeks ago Sharapova blew out Azarenka in the Stuttgart final.
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