With the latest loss to Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova is still struggling with her form since coming back from shoulder surgery four months ago. The match didn’t quite live up to the hype, with the two frosty barely-rivals concluding the match in just about an hour, 6-1, 6-1.
It was the 23rd meeting between the two, and the 20th win for the American over her Russian competitor (although Serena withdrew from their potential encounter at last year’s French Open), including 19 straight victories prior to last year’s Roland Garros.
The lopsided loss caps up off a terrible season for the five-time slam winner, who hasn’t reached past a second round since the beginning of the year at the Australian Open. "You can write me off. There are many people that can write me off, especially after going down 6-1, 6-1.
As long as it's not the person that's inside of you, you'll be OK," Sharapova said. Since her performance-enhancement drug ban in 2016, Sharapova embarked on a successful comeback that translated into her first—and since, only—WTA title in 2017, impressively defeating top player Aryna Sabalenka, in Tianjin.
She followed up that year by remarkably progressing to the quarters and semis on what’s become her favorite surface as of late, clay, in 2018. She made the quarters at the 2018 French Open and in Madrid, as well as the semis at Rome.
She also made the semis on the hard-court tournament in Shenzhen at the outset of that year. It looked like this year would follow suit, with a quarterfinals appearance again in Shenzhen and getting to the fourth round in Melbourne, but the rest of year has turned into disappointment after disappointment, with consistent first and second round losses.
She’s cracked the Top 30, rising to No. 21 last year, but now sits outside the Top 80 at No. 87. At age 32, one imagine that the losses weigh more heavily on the WTA player, still trying to prove herself with an elusive grand slam win since her ban.
The Florida resident insists that the shoulder injury contributed to her drop in performance this year. She also believes that she will bounce back from this latest setback. "Bottom line is I believe in my ability."
“I went through a shoulder procedure about four months ago,” explained Sharapova in her press conference after the loss to Serena Williams. “To find myself playing at a night match at the U.S. Open with people excited about the matchup, it’s a pretty big deal.
I’m fortunate to be a part of that”. It’s easy to be discouraged after a match like this. But if I’m personally discouraged, I wake up tomorrow, I don’t feel like I want to go out, train, be better, that’s more discouraging than the result”.
Time will tell if Maria Sharapova will be able to rally from this latest humbling loss. We all know she’s a fighter. But how much fight does she have left?