US Open 2017: Maria Sharapova Hits Back At Caroline Wozniacki After Win

September 03, 2017

Maria Sharapova said she would "play in the parking lot" if required after winning her third match on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the US Open. The Russian, 30, beat 18-year-old American Sofia Kenin 7-5 6-2 in the third round in New York. Fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki had been critical of the decision to put Sharapova on the stadium court as she needed a wildcard after a doping ban. "I don't make the schedule," said Sharapova, the 2006 champion. "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. "That's not what matters to me. All that matters to me is I'm in the fourth round. Yeah, I'm not sure where she is..." Former world number one Wozniacki was beaten in the second round on Wednesday, having been scheduled on court five and later moved to court 17.

Sharapova has played all three matches on Arthur Ashe Stadium, finding her form in the second set against Kenin to reach the last 16. She is playing her first Grand Slam event for 19 months after receiving a wildcard into the main draw, having returned from a 15-month doping suspension in April. Injuries meant she had played just one match since May before Flushing Meadows, but she looks ready to contend for a sixth major title.

'The goal is to keep winning matches'

Kenin, like Sharapova, was born in Russia and moved to the United States with her family as a child, and the pair had exchanged words in Russian in the locker room. It was Kenin who went into the match as the higher ranked player at 139 in the world, with Sharapova seven places lower as she makes her way back up the rankings. Kenin won the US Open wildcard play-off to earn her spot in the main draw and capitalised with two wins before testing Sharapova. The five-time Grand Slam champion dictated for the most part but was rarely comfortable as a result of too many errors - 25 in the first set alone - and a dogged opponent. Kenin fought back from 4-1 down in the first set to level, only for Sharapova to edge the set with a forehand in game 12 and so avoid a tie-break. Sharapova was pegged back from 3-0 to 3-2 in the second set as well but, more in control of her game now, she made just three errors in seeing out the second set.

The victory means Sharapova should return to the top 100 after the tournament, ending the question around wildcards at the Grand Slams. "The goal is to keep winning matches, obviously to keep improving," she said. "Even when I was young, ranking is just not something that I've focused on or paid attention to. Even when I hadn't been number one in the world, it just wasn't really that big a goal of mine. "The more matches you win, the more chances you have of getting a better ranking. That's my goal."