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U.S. Open: Maria Sharapova won’t back down from criticism

Maria Sharapova serves to Sofia Kenin during a

Maria Sharapova serves to Sofia Kenin during a women's singles third round match on day five of the U.S. Open tennis tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

After her late Friday night win over Sofia Kenin on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Maria Sharapova took a little dig at Carolina Wozniacki, who had been critical of Open officials for scheduling Sharapova on Ashe when she was coming back from a drug suspension.

“With regards to scheduling, as you know, I don’t make the schedule. I’m a pretty big competitor. If you put me out in the parking lot of Queens in New York City, I’m happy to play there.”

After an early Thursday morning loss to Ekaterina Makarova in a second- round match on the Grandstand, Wozniacki, the fifth seed, said: “I think putting out a schedule where the No. 5 in the world is playing . . . fifth match on after 11 , I think that is unacceptable. When you look at center court, I understand completely the business side of things and everything, but someone who comes back from a drug sentence, and you know, performance enhancing drugs, and then all of the sudden gets to play every single match on center court, I think that’s a questionable thing to do.”

Then came Sharapova’s dig in the wee hours of Saturday morning. “All that matters to me is I’m in the fourth round,” said Sharapova. “Yeah, I’m not sure where she is.”

Sharapova’s match against Anastasija Sevastova in the fourth round is scheduled as the second match on Ashe Sunday, to be followed by Venus Williams versus Carla Suarez Navarro.

“The answer to that is to look at the larger scheduling philosophy,” said David Brewer, the Open’s tournament director, when asked about scheduling Sharapova for Ashe Stadium. “General fairness, even playing field for all players. Making sure we are putting the matches where we need to for our ticket holders as well as our broadcast audience. Given the days she was playing, she certainly fit those criteria.”

He said that it did not make a difference that Sharapova, the 2006 champion, is playing on a wild card here.

Fognini suspended

Grand Slam board director Bill Babcock announced the provisional suspension of Italian player Fabio Fognini from the Open. The suspension stems from his behavior during a first-round loss to Stefano Travaglia. According to Italian tennis journalist Ubaldo Scanagatta, Fognini directed vulgar and sexist remarks toward chair umpire Louise Engzell.

Fognini is still alive in doubles with partner Simone Bolelli. He faces a fine and perhaps the loss of any earnings at the Open.

Comaneci, Moses in town

Former Olympic champions Nadia Comaneci (gymnastics) and Edwin Moses (track and field) are in town during the Open promoting a new documentary, “Winning” that has its premier in New York City on Friday. The film chronicles the athletic exploits of Comaneci, Moses, tennis’ Martina Navratilova, golf’s Jack Nicklaus and Dutch Paralympian Esther Vergeer. Comaneci often attends the matches of Romanian compatriot Simona Halep and was here for Halep’s loss to Sharapova.

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