Channel Nine commentator Sam Smith believes that Maria Sharapova should have not been given a 15-month doping ban. The Russian player stopped competing in a very important moment of her career, as she took Meldonium. “It was an emotional reaction not based on the facts," Smith said ahead of the Sharapova's three-set loss to Ashleigh Barty on Sunday.
"The judgment of the Court of Arbitration was that the doping was unintentional and that was a pretty important feature to have the ban reduced, I think it was a very heavy ban. So the players' reaction was based on personal dislike.
It was emotional because she doesn't speak in the locker room. That's it. They had an opportunity to have a go at her and they took it. And it was very hard. They're within their rights, if they don't like her that's fine, but I don't think they judged her on the facts, so it was a pretty awful time”.
Smith also praised Sharapova's fitness. The Russian defeated Caroline Wozniacki in an intense three-set match and she got close to win against Barty too. “I will tell you, when she played Wozniacki, I don't know what she did in the off-season, I know she had a lot of problems with her shoulder, but she's trained so hard she's the fittest I've ever seen her.
I make her the favourite going out there against Barty, particularly if she plays like she did against Wozniacki." ALSO READ: Rafael Nadal: Worse players than David Ferrer won a Grand Slam title