Sharapova uncertain over Australian Open return after Round 1 loss

Maria Sharapova (AP)
Maria Sharapova (AP)

Melbourne - Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova admitted she does not know if she will be back at the Australian Open next year after suffering a first-round defeat in Melbourne on Tuesday.

The former world number one, playing on a wildcard, is set to drop below 350 in the rankings following her 3-6, 4-6 defeat to Croatia's 19th-seeded Donna Vekic.

It was the 32-year-old Sharapova's third first-round exit in a row at Grand Slam tournaments, and will increase speculation over her future.

Sharapova, banned for 15 months for failing a drugs test at the 2016 Australian Open, was unable to say whether she would return next year.

"I don't know, I don't know," said the Russian, already ranked a lowly 145th, when asked by AFP if she would be back at Melbourne Park in 2021.

"It's tough for me to tell what's going to happen in 12 months' time."

Sharapova, who won the Australian Open in 2008, was similarly vague about the months or even weeks ahead.

"Honestly, I'd give you the answer, I just don't know," she said about what tournaments she will play in the near future.

"I haven't thought of my schedule moving forward from here yet."

Against Vekic there were flashes of the form that helped make Sharapova one of the most marketable women in sport, but she carried a haunted look at times, too.

After missing large chunks of last year with a shoulder injury, she needed a wildcard to compete in Melbourne.

Playing on the centre court, Rod Laver Arena -- a sign of Sharapova's enduring pulling power - she lost the first set in 36 minutes.

She broke to go 4-1 up in the second set, but Vekic struck back and sealed victory on the second match point when Sharapova fired wildly wide.

Sharapova said she was not taking much notice of her plummeting ranking.

"Last year I think I played seven or eight tournaments so I don't know if I can look at the ranking and really think about it in depth," she said, cutting a forlorn figure.

"Just because I really haven't played and I was injured most of the year.

"You know, I certainly have to take that into account."

Sharapova, who last lost in the Melbourne first round in 2010, has struggled for form and fitness since returning from the ban for taking meldonium.

Sharapova, once a rival to Serena Williams at the top of women's tennis, refused to blame her right shoulder problem for her latest early exit.

"I can speak about my struggles and the things that I've gone through with my shoulder, but it's not really in my character to," she said.

"I was there, I put myself out there (playing).

"As tough as it was, I finished the match - it wasn't the way that I wanted."

Vekic plays France's Alize Cornet or qualifier Monica Niculescu of Romania in round two.

Collated results on day two of the Australian Open Grand Slam at Melbourne Park on Tuesday:

Men's singles

1st round

Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) bt Hugo Dellien (BOL) 6-2, 6-3, 6-0

Federico Del Bonis (ARG) bt Joo Sousa (POR) 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3)

Peter Gojowczyk (GER) bt Christopher Eubanks (USA) 7-6 (7/1), 6-3, 4-6, 6-0

Pablo Carreo-Busta (ESP x27) bt Jozef Kovalk (SVK) 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/2)

Nick Kyrgios (AUS x23) bt Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 6-2, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/1)

Gilles Simon (FRA) bt Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-1, 6-3, 6-3

Mikael Ymer (SWE) bt Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) 6-4, 6-1, 6-2

Karen Khachanov (RUS x16) bt Mario Vilella (ESP) 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3

Gael Monfils (FRA x10) bt Lu Yen-Hsun (TPE) 6-1, 6-4, 6-2

Ivo Karlovic (CRO) bt Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 7-5

Aljaz Bedene (SLO) bt James Duckworth (AUS) 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-4

Ernests Gulbis (LAT) bt Flix Auger-Aliassime (CAN x20) 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4

Taylor Fritz (USA x29) bt Tallon Griekspoor (NED) 6-3, 6-3, 6-3

Kevin Anderson (RSA) bt Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-4, 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (10/8)

Alex Bolt (AUS) bt Albert Ramos (ESP) 7-6 (7/1), 1-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-4

Dominic Thiem (AUT x5) bt Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-3, 7-5, 6-2

Daniil Medvedev (RUS x4) bt Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2

Pedro Martnez (ESP) bt Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-3, 6-4, 7-5

Jaume Munar (ESP) bt Hugo Gaston (FRA) 7-5, 5-7, 6-0, 6-3

Alexei Popyrin (AUS) bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x28) 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-1, 0-0 abandon

John Isner (USA x19) bt Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/5)

Alejandro Tabilo (CHI) bt Daniel Galn (COL) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4

Andreas Seppi (ITA) bt Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3)

Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI x15) bt Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-4

David Goffin (BEL x11) bt Jrmy Chardy (FRA) 6-4, 6-3, 6-1

Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) bt Cameron Norrie (GBR) 7-5, 3-6, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4

Yuichi Sugita (JPN) bt Elliot Benchetrit (FRA) 6-2, 6-0, 6-3

Andrey Rublev (RUS x17) bt Christopher O'Connell (AUS) 6-3, 0-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5)

Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO x26) bt Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3

Fernando Verdasco (ESP) bt Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) 7-5, 6-2, 6-1

Egor Gerasimov (BLR) bt Casper Ruud (NOR) 6-3, 7-6 (8/6), 1-6, 4-6, 7-6 (10/6)

Alexander Zverev (GER x7) bt Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3

Tennys Sandgren (USA) bt Marco Trungelliti (ARG) 6-1, 6-4, 7-5

Jordan Thompson (AUS) bt Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-4, 6-3, 6-2

Fabio Fognini (ITA x12) bt Reilly Opelka (USA) 3-6, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (10/5)

Jannik Sinner (ITA) bt Max Purcell (AUS) 7-6 (7/2), 6-2, 6-4

Tommy Paul (USA) bt Leonardo Mayer (ARG) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4

Hubert Hurkacz (POL x31) bt Dennis Novak (AUT) 6-7 (4/7), 1-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4

John Millman (AUS) bt Ugo Humbert (FRA) 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 1-6, 7-5

Filip Krajinovic (SRB) bt Quentin Halys (FRA) 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 4-6, 7-5

Christian Garn (CHI) bt Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 6-4, 6-3, 6-4

Milos Raonic (CAN x32) bt Lorenzo Giustino (ITA) 6-2, 6-1, 6-3

Benot Paire (FRA x21) bt Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (GER) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-0

Marin Cilic (CRO) bt Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4

Michael Mmoh (USA) bt Pablo Andjar (ESP) 6-1, 6-4, 6-4

Roberto Bautista (ESP x9) bt Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-2, 6-2, 7-5

Diego Schwartzman (ARG x14) bt Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-4, 6-2, 6-2

Alejandro Davidovich (ESP) bt Norbert Gombos (SVK) 4-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2

Marc Polmans (AUS) bt Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (8/10), 6-4

Dusan Lajovic (SRB x24) bt Kyle Edmund (GBR) 7-6 (9/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/4)

Tatsuma Ito (JPN) bt Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) 6-4, 6-2, 7-5

Women's singles

1st round

Polona Hercog (SLO) bt Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 6-3, 6-3

Greet Minnen (BEL) bt Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 7-5

Elena Rybakina (KAZ x29) bt Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-3, 6-2

Alison Riske (USA x18) bt Wang Yafan (CHN) 7-6 (7/5), 2-6, 6-3

Madison Keys (USA x10) bt Darya Kasatkina (RUS) 6-3, 6-1

Arantxa Rus (NED) bt Magda Linette (POL) 1-6, 6-3, 6-4

Nao Hibino (JPN) bt Shuai Peng (CHN) 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3

Maria Sakkari (GRE x22) bt Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) 6-2, 6-2

Ons Jabeur (TUN) bt Johanna Konta (GBR x12) 6-4, 6-2

Caroline Garcia (FRA) bt Madison Brengle (USA) 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-2

Dayana Yastremska (UKR x23) bt Kaja Juvan (SLO) 6-1, 6-1

Wang Qiang (CHN x27) bt Pauline Parmentier (FRA) 7-6 (7/2), 6-3

Fiona Ferro (FRA) bt Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-2, 6-1

Belinda Bencic (SUI x6) bt Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-3, 7-5

Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) bt Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 6-1, 6-4

Donna Vekic (CRO x19) bt Maria Sharapova (RUS) 6-3, 6-4

Alize Cornet (FRA) bt Monica Niculescu (ROU) 5-7, 6-1, 6-0

Catherine Bellis (USA) bt Tatjana Maria (GER) 6-0, 6-2

Karolina Muchova (CZE x20) bt Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (10/7)

Danielle Collins (USA x26) bt Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS) 6-1, 3-6, 6-4

Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) bt Hsieh Su-wei (TPE) 6-1, 6-3

Harriet Dart (GBR) bt Misaki Doi (JPN) 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (10/6)

Simona Halep (ROU x4) bt Jennifer Brady (USA) 7-6 (7/5), 6-1

Elina Svitolina (UKR x5) bt Katie Boulter (GBR) 6-4, 7-5

Lauren Davis (USA) bt Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-4, 6-2

Garbine Muguruza (ESP) bt Shelby Rogers (USA) 0-6, 6-1, 6-0

Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) bt Anastasija Sevastova (LAT x31) 6-1, 6-1

Zarina Diyas (KAZ) bt Amanda Anisimova (USA x21) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3

Anna Blinkova (RUS) bt Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 7-5, 6-4

Arina Rodionova (AUS) bt Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-0

Kiki Bertens (NED x9) bt Irina Begu (ROU) 6-1, 6-4

Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) bt Marketa Vondrousova (CZE x15) 6-2, 4-6, 6-4

Camila Giorgi (ITA) bt Antonia Lottner (GER) 6-3, 6-3

Priscilla Hon (AUS) bt Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 6-3, 6-4

Angelique Kerber (GER x17) bt Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) 6-2, 6-2

Laura Siegemund (GER) bt Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 6-1, 6-4

Karolina Pliskova (CZE x2) bt Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-1, 7-5


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