Maria Sharapova edged closer to retirement Tuesday at the Australian Open where she couldn’t hold a 4-1 lead in the second to Donna Vekic and lost it 6-3, 6-4.
“I can speak about my struggles and the things that I’ve gone through with my shoulder, but it’s not really in my character to,” Sharapova said. “So, you know, I was there. I put myself out there. As tough as it was, I finished the match and, yeah, it wasn’t the way that I wanted.
“It’s tough to say I’m on the right track right now 45 minutes after the match,” she added. “But, I mean, there is no way to get out of it except to keep believing in yourself, because if you do do all the right things and you don’t believe in yourself, then that’s probably a bad formula.”
The 32-year-old former No. 1 wouldn’t put a timeline on retirement.
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Sharapova said.
“It’s tough for me to tell what’s going to happen in 12 months’ time… I haven’t thought of my schedule moving forward from here yet … I can speak about my struggles and the things that I’ve gone through with my shoulder, but it’s not really in my character to.”
Moving on was No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova who ended Serena’s run last year. This time the Czech knocked out Kristina Mladenovic 6-1, 7-5.
Simona Halep took a hard spill late in the first set, but recovered and overcame Jennifer Brady 7-6(5), 6-1. Brady led with a break at 4-2 in the first served for the opener at 6-5. Halep needed treatment on her wrist she injured at 5-all, but managed to fight back and win it going away.
“Definitely was a tough match,” Halep said. “I knew actually because we played against each other a few months ago, I was prepared to play as much as possible. To be in the second round is a very nice feeling to play here in Australia,” said the fourth seed, who was runner-up in Melbourne in 2018.
“I think the second one I just found the rhythm a bit better, I tried to move her more because in the first set I just stayed in one corner. I was a bit stronger and the serve was better in the second set.”
Also in the evening, 2016 champion Angelique Kerber overwhelmed Italian teen Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-2, 6-2.
Garbine Muguruza won a topsy-turvy match over Shelby Rogers 0-6, 6-1, 6-0. Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens, Belinda Bencic, Madison Keys, Dayana Yastremska and Elena Rybakina all advanced.
Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Ash Barty are back in action in second round play on Wednesday., Also, eight first round women’s matches will conclude.
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