Maria Sharapova is aware of tips on how to stick an enormous serve, however she additionally is aware of a factor or two about hitting a nerve.
She demonstrated that once more the opposite day on the Italian Open the place, after a quick hit with Rafael Nadal on a observe courtroom, she posted on Twitter, “Had two minutes on the court with the GOAT, was so nervous.”
The tweet predictably ignited a social media flame battle between followers of Roger Federer and Nadal, whose followers are about as antagonistic towards one another because the fellas themselves are companionable.
So what did Federer do to deserve that refined diss?
Sharapova has by no means been one to blurt out issues she may remorse afterward the spur of the second. She likes to manage her message, her model, all that advertising and marketing baloney. Maybe she’s nonetheless miffed about the best way Federer reacted to her suspension for doping again in 2016.
Federer known as for “zero tolerance” and advised reporters on the Stuttgart match: “It doesn’t matter if they did it on purpose or not — I don’t really see the difference. You need to know what goes into your body, you have to be 100 percent sure of what’s going on, if you’re not, you’re going to be damned.”
Nadal’s preliminary response, whereas robust, was later tempered.
However it’s straightforward to see another excuse Sharapova may facet with the minority within the nice GOAT debate. Like Nadal, she has a particular place in her coronary heart for the French Open.
Nadal has loved an astonishing, considerably disproportionate diploma of his success on the crimson clay at Roland Garros. He is received the title a mind-boggling 10 occasions there, incomes the nickname King of Clay. It is an awesome honor, highlighting that clay is a singular floor. There’s by no means been an equal King of Grass, a King of Laborious Courts or a King of Carpet, besides maybe in an promoting marketing campaign for some house furnishings kingpin.
Clay additionally occurs to be the floor on which Sharapova now excels. She’s received the French Open twice as many occasions as another Grand Slam, though these two titles qualify her extra as a Princess than Queen of Clay. However she underwent an sudden and triumphant transformation that earned her the singles title in 2012 and 2014. She cherishes these titles, and why not? She hasn’t received another main in additional than a decade.
It has been a great distance again for Sharapova following the 15-month doping suspension that ended final April. She’s received only one occasion, a minor one in Asia (Tianjin) the place her highest ranked sufferer was No. 25 Peng Shuai. She’s needed to battle accidents whereas shaking off the rust and making an attempt to handle the post-suspension challenges. She’s a decent 21-10 through the previous 52 weeks. Her official WTA rating of No. 52 is comparatively low, however she’s No. 12 within the extra of-the-moment UTR scores.
That is the candy spot of the tennis yr for the 31-year-old Russian. As an added bonus, her nemesis, Serena Williams, a particular perhaps for the French Open, could enter the demanding occasion with out having performed a single match match since March. Williams is 19-2 in opposition to Sharapova, with these losses relationship again to 2004. If Williams finally ends up enjoying, it is going to give Sharapova her greatest alternative in additional than a decade to scratch out a face-saving win.
Sharapova is again within the care of Thomas Hogstedt, with whom she break up in 2013, shortly after he supervised her transformation right into a clay-court Grand Slam champ. However she’s been tormented by inconsistency. In figuring out with Nadal, she could also be hoping that his capacity to carry out at his peak throughout lengthy durations rubs off on her. It could be the following step in turning into the Queen of Clay.