Maria Sharapova’s exit from the U.S. Open was rather ungraceful on Monday night.
Her 6-4, 6-3 loss to Carla Suarez Navarro at Ashe Stadium was error filled and ended her perfect night match record in the U.S. Open at 23 straight.
But she handled the loss with typical grace and vowed to keep chugging along at age 31 to extend what has been a superb career, interrupted by a 15-month doping suspension that expired in the spring of 2017.
“If I didn’t have the belief to keep doing this and to keep having the motivation and the grind of doing this every day in order to get myself in these positions, I don’t think I would be here,” Sharapova said. “I think I’ve done plenty in my career, established a lot for myself personally, professionally.
“The belief is not something that I’m eager to show everybody else. The belief matters most when it’s internal and when you have a passion for something. If you don’t, it’s your choice to not continue that, not for anyone else to tell you so.”
The match against Suarez Navarro, which put her into the quarterfinals, was riddled with errors and very poor serving from Sharapova. She made 38 errors over the two sets and her serve was broken six times. She double faulted eight times.
Suarez Navarro wasn’t all that convincing herself, but she finished off the match with a classic one-handed backhand winner.
“I thought she played a great match,” Sharapova said. “She did many things well. She was consistent when she had to be. She forced me to make mistakes.”
Asked as if this was a challenging point in her career, Sharapova, who has won $38 million in her career with 36 tournament victories, including five Grand Slam titles, responded:
“What’s challenging is when you’re a teenager and you have a few hundred dollars and you’ve got no sense of the future, you don’t know where you’re going to end up,” said Sharapova, who was just that after her father brought her to the United States from Russia. “You just have a dream. I think that’s a lot tougher than being 31 years old and having the opportunity to do whatever I want in my life.”
Osaka reaches quarters
After Naomi Osaka beat Aryna Sabalenka, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, she sat in her chair, covered her face with a towel, and wept.
The 20-year-old felt the weight of expectations lift and at the same time she felt the satisfaction of reaching a goal on Monday.
“I think it’s mainly because I’ve had, like, there’s people that call it a bad memory here,” said Osaka, who in 2017 took out defending champion Angelique Kerber before losing in the third round. “Every time I play a Grand Slam, people ask me am I going to go farther than the third round. Then in Australia I went to the fourth round, then people were like, ‘Are you going to go farther than that or is that where you’re going to stop?’
“I don’t know, I’ve always dreamed of playing here and going to the quarterfinals and further. So I’m just glad I could do one of my goals.”
Madison Keys reached the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Dominika Cibulkova.
Unseeded Lesia Tsurenko overcame dizziness to beat Marketa Vondrousova, 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-2, on the Grandstand in stifling conditions that put the Open’s extreme heat policy in play.
“I was asking God to move the shade faster,” Tsurenko said. “I was down 2 love in second set, I said I need another five minutes for the shade. After that I was better.”