Maria Sharapova said she feels vindicated by the reduction of her doping suspension, adding that she “fought hard for the truth” as she prepares to return to tennis after a 15-month ban.
Russia’s former world No1 was initially barred for two years after testing positive at the 2016 Australian Open for meldonium, a medication she had been taking for 10 years within the rules, but that was reclassified as a banned drug. She will return at April’s Porsche Grand Prix thanks to a wildcard entry and says she feels she has got her “day job back”.
Sharapova fought to overturn the ban, saying she had not been properly advised of the official change, and the court of arbitration for sport cut the ban to 15 months and said in its ruling it did not believe she was “an intentional doper”.
Sharapova’s ban will end two days after the event starts on 24 April but organisers have scheduled her first match for 26 April to allow her to compete. Some players have bristled at what they feel is preferential treatment for Sharapova, who was the highest earning female athlete in the world for 11 years in a row, according to Forbes.
“For me it’s not OK and I spoke to some other players and nobody is OK with it, but it’s not up to us,” said the world No4 Dominika Cibulkova. “It’s not about her, but everyone who was doping should start from zero.”
Sharapova said she is not worried about the reception she will receive and is confident in her integrity. “When you love what you do, and do it with passion and integrity and you work hard, and you work on court No28 when no one is watching … then you know what you stand for and you know who you are.”
She added: “I’ve got my day job back. It’s great. I’ve been training quite hard for the past four months. Will it be difficult? Absolutely.
“I’ve got my day job back. It’s great.”
Djokovic ‘avenger’ sails through as Krejcikova stung by Tsitsipas rule – Aus Open round-up
Barbora Krejcikova was one of the former Grand Slam champions on the women’s side to win overnight but was hit by the new bathroom break. Meanwhile, Miomir Kecmanovic continued to “avenge” Novak Djokovic with another victory.
Emma Raducanu, Andy Murray and Nick Kyrgios are all out of the Australian Open but the action – and the controversies – are carrying on.
One Grand Slam champion was hit with a time violation for a long toilet break – and then claimed she had broken her necklace. And another brought her five-year-son into her post-match press conference.
Home favourite Ash Barty, Naomi Osaka and Rafa Nadal are all in action later.
Barbora Krejcikova is the first player hit by the Tsitsipas rule
Andy Murray complained about the Greek player taking a long toilet break during their clash at the US Open last year.
And since then a new rule has been introduced to stop players leaving the court for too long between sets.
In a battle between French Open champions, she lost the first set to Jelena Ostapenko – and then disappeared for eight minutes. On her return, she claimed she had broken her necklace.
After her 2-6 6-4 6-4 win, the Czech said: “Today’s match was very tough, I had to dig deep to get this win, so I’m very happy and proud of myself. I’m never going to leave without a fight and I’m happy to show that on the court.”
Garbine Muguruza branded Krejcikova “unprofessional” for taking a taking a medical timeout at a crucial time during their fourth round match at the US Open
She took a nine-minute toilet break against Garbine Muguruza at the US Open
Meet Leo Azarenka
The two-time Australian Open champion destroyed No.15 seed Elina Svitolina 6-0 6-2 in only 67 minutes – and gave her press conference with her son on her knee.
And the first question was to five-year-old Leo. How did mummy play today?
He replied: “Awesome”.
The former world No.1 said: “It’s definitely not a distraction, I will never say that. Being a parent is not easy. He’s full of personality. I don’t know where he gets it from obviously.
“But I always feel privileged that I’m able to have him here. These kind of moments are really priceless for me. To be able to share that with my son is pretty incredible.”
Britain’s last singles player is back on a familiar court.
Andy Murray played both his matches in the John Cain Arena – the stadium where he also lost his first-round match in 2019.
And Nick Kyrgios describes the 10,500-seat arena – which is capped at 50% capacity – his favourite in the world because of the atmosphere generated by ground ticketholders.
And British No.2 Dan Evans will face No.9 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last match there tomorrow not before 5pm local time.
Miomir Kecmanovic was supposed to play his fellow Serb Novak Djokovic in the first round – but instead got to play and beat lucky loser and world No.146. Salvatore Caruso.
Today the World No.77 beat another Italian – No.25 seed Lorenzo Sonego 6-4 6-7 6-2 7-5 – for the biggest win of his career. He will now face No.17 seed Gael Monfils.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Kecmanovic. “A week ago I was supposed to play the world No. 1 and didn’t have much of a chance there, but now I’m in the last 16, so I’m happy that I was able to use this chance and that I’ve been playing some really good tennis.”
Royal Family LIVE: Horror as Meghan Markle ‘actively targeted’ by millions in £2.8m attack
MEGHAN MARKLE has been “actively targeted” by a £2.8million “hate-for-profit enterprise” viewed by millions online, according to new data.
Research compiled by data analytics service Bot Sentinel found the Duchess was a victim of three anti-Meghan YouTube channels. The report found together the channels had accumulated a total of 497 million views and an estimated £2.8million in revenue.
Bot Sentinel said: “It’s our opinion that several of the most well-known and active hate accounts were actively targeting journalists and royal commentators to boost their visibility and amplify their hate campaign; in some cases, they were successful.” In 2019 Meghan claimed she learned she had been one of the “most trolled people” in the world.
Taro Daniel SWEARS in hilarious on-court interview after beating Andy Murray at Aus Open
Taro Daniel had the Australian Open crowd inside the John Cain Arena in stitches during his on-court interview after beating Andy Murray for his honest assessment of the shock win. Murray rolled back the years on Monday when he defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili in a five-set thriller.
In 2019, Murray looked as though he was bowing out of the sport in a tearful press conference.
But three years later, he bounced back with a strong win against the No 21 seed.
An easier test was expected against Japan’s Daniel, who had never gone past the second round of a major in his career.
The 28-year-old had built up some momentum after coming through the qualifiers without dropping a set and defeated Chile’s Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera in the first round.
Murray was expected to provide a tougher test for Daniel, but the three-time major champion was far from his best.
While Murray was guilty of making a host of unforced errors, Daniel’s workrate and movement across the baseline was causing his opponent all sorts of problems.
Murray’s head dropped after going 2-0 down as he failed to take advantage of a few great opportunities.
And the former world No 1 even uncharacteristically smashed his racket to the floor before Daniel served for the match.
The Japanese tennis star was elated after winning the match with a serve-and-volley with the crowd jumping out their seats.
“It’s amazing,” Daniel said.
“Winning a match like this hear with a lot of people, especially after Covid playing without crowds and suddenly I’m able to play this big match. It’s unbelievable.