Thu | Feb 27, 2020

Sharapova uncertain of future after Australian Open loss

Published:Wednesday | January 22, 2020 | 12:16 AM

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP):

Her Grand Slam losing streak up to four matches, Maria Sharapova surely was aware questions about her future would be coming.

She wasn’t able to provide answers.

Might this have been her last trip to the Australian Open, a tournament she won in 2008 as part of a career Grand Slam?

“I don’t know,” Sharapova said, her head shaking and eyes looking down. “I don’t know ... . It’s tough for me to tell what’s going to happen in 12 months’ time.”

Might she enter low-level tournaments to try to raise a WTA ranking that once was No. 1, all those years ago, already was only 145th entering play at Melbourne Park and now will tumble outside of the top 350 following a 6-3, 6-4 loss to Donna Vekic yesterday?

“I just don’t know,” Sharapova said. “I haven’t thought of my schedule moving forward from here yet.”

After a rainy Day 1 filled up yesterday’s schedule so much that at least eight matches needed to be postponed until the following day, the sun was out and there was plenty of action around the grounds at the first Grand Slam tournament of the decade. Joining Sharapova on the way out were three-time major semi-finalist Johanna Konta, 2019 French Open semi-finalist Amanda Anisimova and the 20th-seeded man, Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Seeded winners included two-time major champion Simona Halep and No. 1 Rafael Nadal, who began his bid to equal Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-0 victory over Hugo Dellien.

The man Nadal beat in last year’s US Open final, No. 4 Daniil Medvedev, eliminated 2019 Australian Open quarter-finalist Frances Tiafoe of the U.S. in four sets. Also advancing: three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka, two-time French Open runner-up Dominic Thiem, No. 12 Fabio Fognini, No. 16 Karen Khachanov and No. 23 Nick Kyrgios, an Australian who spurred tennis players to contribute funds for wildfire relief efforts – and inspired TV analyst John McEnroe to pony up $1,000 per set Kyrgios wins the rest of the way in the tournament.

This is the only time in Sharapova’s long career that the 32-year-old Russian has lost in the first round at three consecutive major tournaments.

“It’s tough to say I’m on the right track right now, 45 minutes after the match,” she said. “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.”