Sharapova Welcomed Back By Fans
Maria Sharapova has made an effortless return to the Australian Open. Almost as if she’d never been away. Despite having been received positively at other tournaments since the expiration of the 15-month drug ban suspension, including the very volatile first re-appearance at the April 2017 WTA event in Stuttgart, Germany, there was a general feeling of nervous anticipation ahead of her return to the Australian Open. It was, after all, at the Australian Open that she failed the drug test that ultimately led to the suspension.
Perhaps what aided her in her cause was that she had owned up to her transgression. Despite the fact that she claimed that she had been under the impression that the supplements that she had been taking at the time did not contain any illegal performance-enhancing drugs, she never once took an aggressive stance during the investigation, which is often the case once allegations of this nature are made.
A Strong Return
In addition to having made a come-back into the hearts of fans, Sharapova also reminded us why she holds the honour of being former world no. 1. She took just 23 minutes to absolutely thrash Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova in the first set on Thursday, winning 6-1. Sevastova, just like in past games against Sharapova, did not take the thrashing lying down. She immediately launched into a strong fight during the second set, breaking back during the eighth game.
Sharapova retaliated by putting her on a serve for the win. There was no holding back the Russian from that point onwards as she continued her streak of not having dropped a set for the duration of the tournament so far.
Konta Suffers Knock-Out
It hasn’t been quite the same scene for British no. 1 Johanna Konta. The Brit suffered a knock-out at the hands of world no. 123 Bernarda Pera. Konta obviously has re-assessing to do as the 26 year old has now won just 3 out of 11 matches since having reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in July.
It may very well have been a case of being ill-prepared, perhaps even on a fitness level, as Konta could obviously not keep up with the pace and brute force that was coming at her. She failed to hit a single ace and her serves did not make much of an impact.
The weather conditions admittedly did not help Konta’s cause, with side winds swirling away at her back-hands.
In the end, the 6-4, 7-5 match went to the well-deserving American.
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