Maria Sharapova’s Australian Open hopes dealt big blow

Sharapova is now a doubt for the year's first Grand Slam. (AFP)
Updated 04 January 2019

Maria Sharapova’s Australian Open hopes dealt big blow

  • Russian suffers thigh injury at Shenzhen Open.
  • Sharapova last won Australian Open in 2008.

SHENZHEN: Former world No.1 Maria Sharapova’s Australian Open preparations suffered a blow after a thigh injury forced her to retire from the Shenzhen Open quarter-final clash against Aryna Sabalenka.
Sharapova struggled to move on court and conceded the opening set 6-1, with coach Thomas Hogstedt urging the Russian to take her game to the next level or call for a medical timeout.
“If you feel more like you did on the first point, then you just stop. Or you take a medical now,” he said. “But the shots are there ... you have to get it up to another gear.”
After receiving treatment off-court between sets, Sharapova sprinted out of the blocks to record a service hold and then pushed Sabalenka in the next game, creating three break point opportunities.
Sabalenka, however, turned things around to move 4-2 ahead before her Russian opponent found herself unable to continue and retired from the match.
Sharapova, who won the Australian Open in 2008, tasted Tianjin Open success in 2017 after a 15-month doping suspension but has endured a difficult run at the Grand Slams.
A quarterfinal appearance at the French Open last year gave reasons for optimism but early exits at Wimbledon and the US Open showed her game lacked the sharpness to compete at the highest level.
The Australian Open begins in Melbourne on Jan. 14.


NBA star Durant rules himself out for rest of season

Updated 06 June 2020

NBA star Durant rules himself out for rest of season

  • NBA star ruptured his right Achilles tendon in last June’s NBA Finals
  • Kevin Durant among a dozen NBA players who tested positive for coronavirus in the spring

LOS ANGELES: NBA superstar Kevin Durant, who has not played since he tore his Achilles tendon a year ago, said he would not make his debut with the Brooklyn Nets when the season resumes late July in Orlando.
“My season is over. I don’t plan on playing at all,” in the 2019-2020 season, Durant said in an interview Friday with The Undefeated.
“We decided last summer when it first happened that I was just going to wait until the following season. I had no plans of playing at all this season.”
The NBA suspended its season on March 11 as the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, leaving professional sport in North America at a standstill.
The league’s board of governors on Thursday gave the green light to a plan to restart the season at Disney World in Orlando, Florida on July 31, without spectators.
The news was followed by speculation over whether Durant would appear.
Durant, who was the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player for the Golden State Warriors in their 2017 and 2018 championship runs, ruptured his right Achilles tendon in last June’s NBA Finals.
He then left California to join Brooklyn, where fans were hoping he would form a formidable duet with Kyrie Irving, who also arrived last summer.
“It’s just best for me to wait. I don’t think I’m ready to play that type of intensity right now in the next month,” said Durant.
He said however that his rehab was going well.
“I’m doing well. Working out every day. I’m moving. I’m feeling like a normal player again,” he told The Undefeated.
Plans to restart the league received the approval of the players’ union on Friday, although some details remain to be ironed out.
Durant, who is among a dozen NBA players who tested positive for coronavirus in the spring, has not said whether he will accompany his teammates to Florida.