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Is it over for Maria Sharapova?

Kachi Wachuku in Opinion 6 Dec 2018
  • Sharapova hasn't been anywhere near her best for a long time, are there still major titles in the Russian's future?
  • She has won just three titles in the past four years and has consistently struggled with form and injury
Maria Sharapova. (credit: EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Sharap-over! Could Russia's once top women's tennis player have a revival in her career or is the end looming for the struggling starlet? is celebrating the off-season with a Christmas countdown series of articles in which our editors give their take on the burning questions facing tennis in 2019, from the stars to the schedule to the sport’s very structure. You can find the master list of articles here – and feel free to join in the debate via our Twitter and Facebook pages! 

31-year old Maria Sharapova was once one of the most dominant forces in women's tennis, her fighting spirit and aggressive game style was second only to Serena Williams. But in recent years, the Russian has struggled both on and off the tennis court, first testing positive for banned substance meldonium in 2016 to the 15-month ban that followed. More than a few eyebrows have been raised since her return to competitive tennis in April 2017, her form has wavered significantly and she has struggled more with injury and an array of shock upsets. 

Since January 2015, Sharapova has managed only three titles, Brisbane 2015, Rome the same year and her most recent title in Tianjin last year. The former World No.1 had a forgettable 2018 season, with her best performances coming during the clay court season - she made the semifinals in Rome (lost to Halep) and backed it up with a quarter-final showing at the French Open (lost to Muguruza). Outside those results she hardly made a splash at the majors, losing in the third round to Kerber in Australia, suffering a first round upset to then world no.138 Vitalia Diatchenko at Wimbledon and falling to Suarez Navarro in the US Open fourth round (this marked the first time Sharapova had lost in the night session on Arthur Ashe stadium).

Maria Sharapova leaves the court after for first round Wimbledon upset. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Now ranked just inside the top 30 at no.29, the five-time major champion makes the cut to be seeded at the next Grand Slam, but with the current depth of women's tennis, I fear the end is imminent for the former powerhouse. Players have simply figured out how to go toe-to-toe and triumph despite that famed intensity she brings to the court, and with her confidence shaky at best, she's far more prone to unforced errors on big points.

Upon returning to tennis after her drug ban, she expressed that one of her main goals was to add to her five Grand Slam titles. But her recent results have been anything but encouraging, and it doesn't help that younger players who were once in awe of the Serenas and Sharapovas just don't fear them anymore. 

As Kim Clijsters said, "When you're a Serena or a Sharapova the younger players who are now at the WTA level admired them for many, many years, (and) grew up watching them."

“They’re capable of playing them now and they don’t fear them any more. They’re going all out, playing some of their best tennis.” the retired Belgian explained.

Clijsters certainly hit the nail on the head with that statement, and unless Sharapova revamps her game and is able to stay injury free for longer periods of time, she can kiss her hopes of more Grand Slams goodbye.

Check back tomorrow for the next in our Christmas countdown series!

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Is it over for Maria Sharapova?

Russian starlet Maria Sharapova has been anything but great since her 16-month drug ban. She has since won one title in Tianjin and failed to make any major semi-finals, so this begs the question. Is the former World No.1 done for good?

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