After beating Jelena Ostapneko Saturday evening, Maria Sharapova is a perfect 23-0 at night at the US Open.
“I don’t remember how old I was when I played my first night match,” Sharapova said. “But I’m sure I was young enough to still be intimidated by the city and the lights and the atmosphere, the noise, as anyone that’s quite young would be.
“But I really turned that around. I think I thrive on that. I love the atmosphere. I love that they know how to cheer hard. Some of the loudest crowds I think was when I played Clijsters. I lost that match, but I remember just coming back and feeling the support from the crowd. I didn’t play my best tennis, but that was, like, one of the matches in my career where I felt how the fans really lifted my level up.”
Even Roger Federer has lost two night matches, Serena Williams eight, Venus six, Andre Agassi five and both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have fallen under the lights in New York (Pete Sampras never did). But not Maria.
“I thrive on playing under the lights for some reason. I love that. I love that challenge,” she said.
Sharapova, who won the US Open 12 years ago in 2006 as a 19-year-old, hasn’t dropped a set in three matches as she heads into a fourth round meeting tomorrow against her next challenge in Carlo Suarez Navarro who turns 30 Monday.
“As long as I’m showing up and I’m putting myself out there and training, putting in the effort, I think that’s all that really matters from my end.”
With Madison Keys also on the schedule tomorrow, the American, who faces Dominika Cibulkova, would be the favorite to end up on Ashe Monday night.
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