Cornet, Pera cruise through in New York

By Sports Desk August 18, 2019

Alize Cornet and Bernarda Pera cruised into the Bronx Open second round on a rain-hit Sunday in New York City.

Cornet recorded a 6-4 6-2 victory over Kateryna Kozlova at the inaugural edition of the WTA International tournament.

The Frenchwoman made it two wins in as many meetings with Kozlova, converting five of seven break points in a dominant showing.

In the day's only other main-draw match, Pera – a wildcard – breezed past Veronika Kudermetova 6-0 6-2.

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  • Maria Sharapova not planning a farewell tour after retiring from tennis Maria Sharapova not planning a farewell tour after retiring from tennis

    Maria Sharapova insists there will be no farewell tour after she announced her retirement from tennis, with the Russian stating Kobe Bryant's death proved pivotal in her decision to bow out.

    Sharapova – a five-time grand slam champion – confirmed her retirement on Wednesday, having struggled with injuries in recent years, while she also served a 15-month ban for testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

    The 32-year-old, who finishes her career at 373 in the WTA rankings and with 36 singles titles to her name, won her first grand slam at Wimbledon in 2004, aged 17.

    Despite being one of the biggest names in tennis, Sharapova dismissed any idea of prolonging her time on the court, meaning her last appearance will be the defeat to Donna Vekic in the Australian Open in January.

    "I don't feel I need to go on the court for the entire world and every fan to know that this is my last time on the court," Sharapova said in an interview with the New York Times.

    "Even when I was younger, it was not the way I wanted it to end. As I think you've seen throughout my career, my perseverance has been my greatest tool, my greatest strength.

    "But I've started feeling like it was becoming a weakness, because the stubbornness that was keeping me going was keeping me going for wrong reasons."

    Having decided she should soon call it a day while flying from Australia to Los Angeles following her defeat to Vekic, Sharapova added that the death of basketball icon Bryant – who she said had been an "incredible sounding board" for her during her career – on January 26 made her mind up.

    "We were supposed to see each other like three days after the crash," Sharapova said.

    "I think we all seem at times in our journey like larger than life because of what we do, but everyone at the core is incredibly fragile.

    "And if anything it just opens up your eyes to what really matters in life, so that was a moment where I had a really good think about my future as well."

    Sharapova acknowledged it is difficult to leave her tally of grand slam titles at five, yet she has no regrets over calling time on her career.

    "Look, would I have loved to have a sixth, a seventh, an eighth Grand Slam trophy?" she added. "That number sounds better, but I could have had zero, and I got myself to a pretty incredible place."

  • Djokovic inspired by retiring Sharapova's 'mind of a champion' Djokovic inspired by retiring Sharapova's 'mind of a champion'

    Novak Djokovic paid tribute to "inspirational" Maria Sharapova after the five-time grand slam champion retired from tennis on Wednesday.

    Sharapova has struggled with injuries in recent years, while she also served a 15-month ban after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

    The Russian, who was a major winner aged 17 at Wimbledon in 2004, wrote in Vogue and Vanity Fair: "I'm new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis — I'm saying goodbye."

    And ATP Tour great Djokovic, speaking on court after his straight-sets defeat of Philipp Kohlschreiber at the Dubai Tennis Championships, prompted a round of applause in honour of Sharapova after learning of her retirement.

    "I just heard the news right now, and I would like everyone to give her a big round of applause for everything she has done in her career," he said. "She deserves it definitely.

    "She is a great fighter, as dedicated as someone can really be in our sport.

    "The willpower and the willingness to overcome all the obstacles that she had - especially in the last five or six years with the injuries and surgeries, trying to come back to the court and play on her desired level - it's truly inspirational to see. She has the mind of a champion.

    "I'm sorry that it had to end with an injury but, at the same time, she had a fantastic career. She can be proud of herself."

    Djokovic's ATP rival Stefanos Tsitsipas - also victorious in Dubai on Wednesday - even suggested other players had been jealous of Sharapova.

    "I come from a Russian background, so I kind of understand the way she approached tennis, the attitude and all of that," the Greek said. "I watched her play when I was young.

    "I remember her winning the Wimbledon title, I don't know how old she was – 20, 17, unbelievable. She had a really good career, I can tell you.

    "I think many people are jealous of the career she had. Obviously she was behind Serena, another great athlete, so I would say after Serena, she's probably the best.

    "She had a really good career with great victories, great achievements in tennis. I think she added a lot to our sport."

  • Maria Sharapova retires from tennis Maria Sharapova retires from tennis

    Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement from professional tennis at the age of 32.

    A five-time grand slam champion, Sharapova has struggled with injuries in recent years while she also served a 15-month ban after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

    Announcing her decision to step away from the game in Vogue and Vanity Fair, she wrote: "How do you leave behind the only life you’ve ever known? 

    "How do you walk away from the courts you’ve trained on since you were a little girl, the game that you love — one which brought you untold tears and unspeakable joys — a sport where you found a family, along with fans who rallied behind you for more than 28 years?

    "I'm new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis — I'm saying goodbye."

    Sharapova finishes her career at 373 in the WTA rankings but spent much of her time on the circuit challenging for the game's biggest prizes.

    Having moved from Russia to Florida aged six to pursue a tennis career, Sharapova's star continued to rise and, having turned pro in 2001, she made her first appearance at a Tour level event in 2002.

    A year later she won her first WTA title at the Japan Open and her first grand slam success arrived aged 17 at Wimbledon in 2004.

    By then she was well established as the pin-up girl of women's tennis and one of the most marketable athletes in the world.

    Four more grand slam successes followed.

    Sharapova, who ends her career with 36 WTA titles, wrote: "Wimbledon seemed like a good place to start. I was a naive 17-year-old, still collecting stamps, and didn’t understand the magnitude of my victory until I was older —and I'm glad I didn't.

    "My edge, though, was never about feeling superior to other players. It was about feeling like I was on the verge of falling off a cliff — which is why I constantly returned to the court to figure out how to keep climbing.

    "The US Open showed me how to overcome distractions and expectations. If you couldn't handle the commotion of New York - well, the airport was almost next door.

    "The Australian Open took me to a place that had never been a part of me before - to an extreme confidence that some people call being 'in the zone'. I really can’t explain it - but it was a good place to be.

    "The clay at the French Open exposed virtually all my weaknesses - for starters, my inability to slide on it - and forced me to overcome them. Twice. That felt good."

    Her second success at Roland Garros came in 2014 but, by then, injuries were starting to take their toll and the last of her 10 appearances in a grand slam final ended in defeat to Serena Williams at the 2015 Australian Open.

    The announcement she had failed the test for meldonium – a drug developed for heart patients that Sharapova claimed she took due to a magnesium deficiency and a family history of diabetes - not only did irreparable damage to her image but also ended her status as a serious contender.

    Sharapova protested her innocence and saw the initial two-year suspension reduced on appeal but her results since returning have been largely underwhelming.

    She did reach the semi-finals of her comeback event, the Stuttgart Grand Prix, in April 2017 but her sole success was in a minor WTA International tournament in Tianjin. 

    Her final match was at the 2020 Australian Open, a 6-3 6-4 first-round defeat to Donna Vekic.

    Reports suggest she has earned over $30million in endorsements over the course of her career while she owns her own sweet brand – Sugarpova.

    And it is those business interests she will now focus her time on.

    She concluded: "In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life. I'll miss it every day.

    "I'll miss the training and my daily routine: Waking up at dawn, lacing my left shoe before my right, and closing the court's gate before I hit my first ball of the day.

    "I'll miss my team, my coaches. I'll miss the moments sitting with my father on the practice court bench. The handshakes — win or lose — and the athletes, whether they knew it or not, who pushed me to be my best.

    "Tennis showed me the world — and it showed me what I was made of. It’s how I tested myself and how I measured my growth.

    "And so in whatever I might choose for my next chapter, my next mountain, I’ll still be pushing. I’ll still be climbing. I'll still be growing."

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