Maria Sharapova opened up on the despair she feels in defeat after she was ruthlessly knocked out of the China Open in the third round by Romania’s Simona Halep on Wednesday.
The world number two was an emphatic 6-2, 6-2 winner in 72 minutes to leave five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova still searching for her first title since returning from a doping ban in April.
The Russian Sharapova, a former number one now languishing at 104 in the world rankings following her 15-month suspension for taking meldonium, gave an insight into the rollercoaster of emotions in top-level tennis.
“Hard work is not good enough any more, maybe it was — I don’t know how many years ago — but that’s just not a factor any more,” said the 30-year-old, asked about comments in a book she recently released.
“The reason I say that is there’s some incredible moments, very high moments, and there are very low moments.
“There have been times where I get off the court and you think, I don’t wish this on my future child. The feeling is so tough and disappointing.
“You work so much, you dedicate so much of your time, you have so many people around you, and sometimes it doesn’t work according to plan, so you start asking questions.
“But then once you work, you keep going, keep fighting through it, the rewards are very incredible and special.
“They have nothing to do with finance, they have nothing to do with trophies, it’s really internal.”
Halep, the second seed on Beijing’s outdoor hard courts, is the first woman into the China Open quarter-finals.
Having turfed out Sharapova and with world number one Garbine Muguruza exiting in the first round with a virus, the 26-year-old Halep is now favourite in the Chinese capital.
– Redemption for Kyrgios? –
Nick Kyrgios said he wanted to make up for his notorious meltdown in Shanghai last year as he beat Mischa Zverev in the second round in Beijing.
A year ago the supremely talented but combustible Kyrgios was suspended for his petulant behaviour at the Shanghai Masters, where he swore and argued with the crowd and appeared to give away points in caving in to the German.
The enigmatic Australian, seeded eighth in the Chinese capital, smashed his racquet on the floor in anger, bending the head in half, when he conceded the opening set on Wednesday.
That earned the world number 19 a warning from the umpire and raised the spectre of one year ago.
But the 22-year-old returned for the second set with renewed determination and errors began creeping into Zverev’s game.
Zverev, ranked 27 in the world and the older brother of rising star Alexander, surrendered his first service game of the second set and Kyrgios was never in trouble after that, surging into the quarter-finals 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Kyrgios said facing Zverev a year after Shanghai, and again in China, was the perfect opportunity to show how far he has come.
“I just wanted to go out there today and kind of redeem myself a little bit from last year,” he said, adding: “I just wanted to prove to myself how much I have improved.”
During one changeover the Australian appeared so relaxed that he sat back on his chair, arms behind his head, and sang along with a pop hit being played over the stadium loudspeakers.
“Nothing really, just chilling out,” Kyrgios said afterwards, asked about his behaviour.
He plays the Belgian qualifier Steve Darcis in the last eight.