Russia’s Maria Sharapova celebrates winning her second round match of the French Open tennis tournament against Croatia’s Donna Vekic in two sets 7-5, 6-4, at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, Thursday, May 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

2-time French Open champ reminds: ‘There is also Sharapova’

PARIS — The topic was the location of Maria Sharapova’s upcoming third-round match at the French Open, and a reporter noted it likely will be at one of the tournament’s main arenas, given that it involves 2016 U.S. Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova.

“Well,” came the rejoinder, “there is also Sharapova.”

This was delivered with Sharapova’s chin resting on her right hand and was followed by a bit of a staredown, as if to say: Let’s not forget who you’re talking to here. The 31-year-old Russian has, after all, been ranked No. 1. She does, after all, own five major titles. And that total does, after all, include a pair from Roland Garros.

She is playing in the clay-court Grand Slam tournament for the first time since 2015, though, and she advanced Wednesday by beating 50th-ranked Donna Vekic of Croatia 7-5, 6-4 to improve to 13-0 in the second round.

“I don’t think there is ever, like, a perfect way to go into a match. I think you always have to feel that you’re improving and there are things that you’re working on, because that will always make you better,” the 28th-seeded Sharapova said. “There are a lot of things I feel I could have done better (in) the last two matches and I hope I will.”

She missed the 2016 French Open while serving a doping suspension, then was denied a wild-card entry by the French tennis federation last year, when her ranking was too low to earn automatic entry.

When on-target, her strokes are among the best in the game. So is her grit.

Those could both be tested Saturday against Pliskova, who is seeded No. 6 and was a semifinalist in Paris last year.

Her top skill is her serve, which Sharapova knows will provide a test.

“I don’t expect extremely long rallies against an opponent like that. But sometimes (that’s) not what it takes to win a match, and I think you have to kind of take care of your service games, and I have to serve better than I have been,” Sharapova said. “And take care of the return. But that side of the game, I feel, has improved in the last few months.”

Pliskova is on pace to lead the WTA in aces for the fourth consecutive season.

And she wasn’t at all shy about sizing things up against Sharapova, saying: “I believe I have (a) better serve than she (does), so I think that can be the deciding key.”

Then there was this remark: “She can do a lot of mistakes … a lot of free points from double-faults.”

After her 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory over 2015 French Open runner-up Lucie Safarova on Wednesday, Pliskova acknowledged she has been thinking about taking on Sharapova since the draw was done a week ago.

“For me, it was the goal to play her in the third round,” Pliskova said, adding a few moments later: “I believe I have a good chance to win.”

Just Posted

One strong wind leaves years of replanting work for Red Deer parks staff

High visibility boulevards already replanted, neighbourhood work starts next year

Red Deer-area indigenous filmmakers invited to apply for $20,000 grant

Storyhive launches Indigenous Storyteller Edition

Restaurant closed after compliance team patrol

Public Safety Compliance Team checked eight bars and restaurants on Oct. 19

Red Deerians await local cannabis stores

So far 31 stores in Alberta awarded licence to operate

Rimbey RCMP seek missing man with health concerns

Has anyone seen Bill Harris of Ponka County?

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

Montreal Alouettes defensive lineman Woody Baron co-authors children’s book

TORONTO — Woody Baron finds the spectre of tangling with a hulking… Continue reading

Sundin not surprised Leafs asking stars to take less money to stay together

TORONTO — Mats Sundin isn’t surprised the Toronto Maple Leafs are asking… Continue reading

Anywhere but Washington: Why DC stories rarely film in DC

WASHINGTON — It’s a hobby among District of Columbia locals: Picking apart… Continue reading

‘Halloween’ scares up $77.5 million in ticket sales

LOS ANGELES — Forty years after he first appeared in theatres, Michael… Continue reading

iPhone XR makes the right trade-offs for a cheaper price

NEW YORK — Apple offers you a simple trade-off with its new… Continue reading

BMW to recall 1.6 million vehicles worldwide over fire risk

FRANKFURT — Automaker BMW says it is expanding a recall to cover… Continue reading

Calgary awaits federal financing on 2026, Notley suggests IOC could pay more

CALGARY — With the clock ticking towards a Calgary vote on hosting… Continue reading

Toronto Mayor John Tory cruises to victory; tech issues extend voting elsewhere

Toronto Mayor John Tory easily won re-election on Monday after a spirited… Continue reading

Most Read