Maria Sharapova simply had a shite day on Tuesday at the Italian Open — and in general.
On a day she learned that the French Open would not be offering her a main draw wildcard, or even a qualifying wildcard, Sharapova lost in the second round at Rome when she was forced to retire at 6-4, 3-6, 1-2 against Croat No. 16 seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
“I apologize for having to withdraw from my match today with a left thigh injury,” Sharapova said in a statement. “I will be getting all the necessary examinations to make sure it is not serious. I want to thank the tournament for giving me the opportunity to play in this special event again.”
Lucic-Baroni has been one of several vocal players critical of the number of wildcards Sharapova has received, including at Rome to the detriment of Italy’s Francesca Schiavone who is in her last year on tour, since her return from a doping suspension where she hid supplements she was taking from the WTA and ITF.
“I’m very sorry for Maria, very sorry for her fans,” said French Federation President Giudicelli Ferrandini, as reported by the BBC. “They might be very disappointed, she might be very disappointed, but it’s my responsibility, my mission, to protect the high standards of the game played without any doubt on the result.”
The lone Top 10 upset on the day came when Aussie qualifier Daria Gavrilova sent Madison Keys to her third WTA opening-round loss in a row, defeating the No. 10 seed 2-6, 7-5, 7-5.
“I think the last 10 minutes…I started playing really well,” Gavrilova said after the upset. “I was moving around, looking for my forehand. That’s also what my coaches said, they’re like, ‘Oh, after two hours, you started playing really well,’ so I think all our practices are going to last two hours!…First set, I was a bit slow, just running around giving her easy balls, and then I stepped up my game in the second set.”
Keys was the Rome runner-up last year to Serena Williams, but this year has struggled since returning from wrist surgery in March.
“A lot of moments where I could have played better,” Keys said. “I don’t think I served very well today. She’s a tough opponent. She was getting that extra ball back and doing something really well with it. It was a tough match. I fought as hard as I could. Kind of left it all out there. You know, just wasn’t my day.”
Gavrilova, ranked No. 33, had to play the qualifying after forgetting to enter Rome.
Top 10 winners on the day were No. 5 Johanna Konta rolling Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-0, and No. 7 Svetlana Kuznetsova who defeated Czech Katerina Siniakova 6-1, 7-6(3). Konta is awaiting a potential third-round match against No. 9 seed Venus Williams.
“I’m happy to have come through that,” said Konta, who had previously won only three claycourt matches prior during her career. “I think I battled quite well, and I competed well. I needed to stay mentally quite tough against someone like Yulia, as well.”
In other seeded play No. 15 Kiki Bertens came from a set down to defeat Monica Niculescu 2-6, 6-2, 6-1, and German Julia Goerges defeated No. 13 Kristina Mladenovic, who two days ago suffered through a back injury in the Madrid final, 7-6(6), 7-5. Goerges hit 23 forehand winners over the two sets.
Wednesday highlights in Rome include (6) Simona Halep vs. Laura Siegemund, (15) Kiki Bertens vs. CiCi Bellis, (2) Karolina Pliskova vs. Lauren Davis, (9) Venus Williams vs. Lesia Tsurenko, and (1) Angie Kerber vs. Anett Kontaveit.
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