Maria Sharapova has insisted that she hasn’t faced any tantrums from her oppositions and they have shown enough respect towards her since her comeback. The five-time major winner has also added that she has instilled renewed fear into her rivals and rekindled the love from her fans.
Sharapova, who got the better of second-ranked Simona Halep in her first Grand Slam match after a 15-month doping ban, defeated Hungary’s Timea Babos 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-1 at Flushing Meadows to enter the third round of the competition, where she will face Russian-born US wildcard Sofia Kenin.
The Russian had tested positive for Meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open and suffered a 15-month long ban from the game. She was widely criticized by many tennis players including recently dethroned World No.1 Andy Murray and former women’s World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, who opposed Sharapova’s entry through wildcard.
“I definitely feel the respect from the athletes,” Sharapova was quoted as saying by AFP.
“Certainly when I play against them, in terms of the level they play. That’s important to me. I think from a respect level when you’re able to respect your rivals and compatriots, that’s really important, and I feel that.”
The 30-year-old was expected to be tested by Halep in the first round. However, the Russian secured a comfortable 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over the Romanian. The victory seems to instill the faith in Sharapova that she is back to her best.
“I think with the way that I played Monday night, I don’t think there are any more questions,” said the 30-year-old.
The crowds at Flushing Meadows welcomed their former champion back with open arms and after her remarkable victory on the opening day, the support for Sharapova was overwhelming, which made her a bit emotional.
“I've had an amazing reaction from fans since I’ve been back and that’s been very special. I felt it while I was away. I felt it in a real presence since I’ve been back. It’s a very special feeling.”
Sharapova will face American Sofia Kenin in a bid to enter the last-16 of the competition.
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