Sharapova wins her 600th match and asks am ‘I getting old?’


MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Maria Sharapova reached a career milestone on Friday, which came as a nice surprise after a tough match.

“Oh, wow. I’ve won 600 matches?” Sharapova said, when an on-court interviewer congratulated her for the achievement earned by winning her third-round match Friday at the Australian Open.The No. 5-seeded player then thought a moment, and laughed nervously.

“Oh boy,” she said. “Is this friendly reminder that I’m getting old?”

Sharapova is 28, which in tennis years means she’s starting to wonder how much time is left in her career, and how much longer her body will allow her to compete in a sport filled with power-hitting youngsters.

The five-time Grand Slam winner hadn’t dropped a set into the third round but struggled a bit before beating 22-year-old Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-0. After racing through the first set in just 26 minutes, Sharapova was broken twice in the second set, which lasted 77 minutes. She returned with more composure in the final set, making just five unforced errors and breaking Davis three times.

In the fourth round, Sharapova faces up-and-coming Swiss teen Belinda Bencic, who won her first two WTA titles in 2015 including at Toronto where she beat No. 1 Serena Williams in the semis followed by No. 2 Simona Halep in the final.

If anyone has proven that age is just a number it’s Williams, who is 34 and has one of the greatest late career runs in sports history. She has won 21 Grand Slam titles, including six Australian Opens, and is still going strong.

Sharapova could face Williams in the quarterfinals, which would be the latest in their long-running rivalry. Sharpova hasn’t beaten Williams since 2004, losing their last 17 meetings including last year’s Australian Open final.

But after Friday’s milestone, Sharapova took a moment to pause and reflect on her 600 career wins.

“I think it’s a proud number,” she said at her post-match news conference. “I’ve been doing it a long time. That’s a fact.”

Sharapova was 9 when she moved from Russia to Florida with her father, Yuri, to train at the famed Nick Bollettieri tennis academy. Three years earlier, when she was 6, Sharapova was spotted at a Moscow exhibition by Martina Navratilova, who told her father that America was the best place to cultivate the young player’s talent.

It meant a two-year separation from her mother, Yelena, who stayed in Russia because of financial reasons and the wait to obtain a visa.

Asked Friday how she navigated the world of professional tennis as a young player, Sharapova credited her parents.

“You know, my father paved this career for me, that I just keep following,” she said. “He just really opened the door to my dream. I’m just kind of living it.”

“My mother opened up the world to me culturally, educationally. So I got very different things from both of them,” Sharapova said.

When she was younger, Sharapova never would have imagined she would still be playing tennis now. But age and experience – and the injuries that have derailed her career at times – have made her realize what she appreciates.

“I really love what I do. Although I’d love to sit on the beach and read a book and drink margaritas, after a few days I get bored,” Sharapova said. “At 28 years old, I’m healthy and look forward to playing for many years.”

Elena Rybakina hits 10 aces in Miami for 12th straight win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina extended her winning streak to 12 matches by delivering 10 aces – her fourth consecutive outing with at least that many – in a 6-3, 6-0 victory over 25th-seeded Martina Trevisan in the Miami Open quarterfinals.

Rybakina has 46 aces through four matches at the hard-court tournament in Florida and a WTA-leading 201 this season.

The 23-year-old, who represents Kazakhstan, improved to 20-4 in 2023, including a run to the Australian Open final in January and a title at Indian Wells, California, last week.

She is trying to become only the fifth player to win the women’s trophies at Indian Wells and Miami in the same season. Top-ranked Iga Swiatek did it a year ago; she withdrew from Miami this time because of a rib injury.

“Of course it would be amazing to achieve something like that,” the 10th-seeded Rybakina said about the prospect of completing what’s known as the Sunshine Double, “but it’s still far away.”

So far in Rybakina’s career, 13 of her 18 semifinal appearances have come on hard courts. She will face No. 3 Jessica Pegula for a berth in the final after the American fought off two match points and outlasted No. 27 Anastasia Potapova 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2) in a match that ended just before 1:30 a.m. after play had been delayed by rain.

“I haven’t been that physically tired in just a really long time,” Pegula said. “Just the humidity was taking so much out of me, and I haven’t been able to play in humidity like that in a while. It was just really tough, so really, it was just pure will.”

Trevisan reached the French Open semifinals in 2022.

In fourth-round men’s action Tuesday, No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was beaten 7-6 (4), 6-4 by No. 14 Karen Khachanov, while defending champion Carlos Alcaraz, Taylor Fritz and Jannik Sinner all beat seeded opponents in straight sets.

Alcaraz, who returned to No. 1 in the ATP rankings last week, got past Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-4 to set up a meeting against Fritz, the top-ranked American man and seeded ninth in Miami.

Fritz compiled twice as many winners, 22, as unforced errors, 11, and only dropped serve once during a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 7 Holger Rune. That put Fritz into his first quarterfinal in seven appearances in Miami – and his first matchup against Alcaraz, a 19-year-old from Spain who won the U.S. Open in September for his first Grand Slam title.

“I’m really excited for it,” Fritz said. “I think that a lot of people are really excited for that, too.”

No. 10 Sinner eliminated No. 6 Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-4 and has yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Sinner’s next opponent will be unseeded Emil Ruusuvuori, a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 winner against No. 26 Botic van de Zandschulp.

No. 4 Daniil Medvedev, forced to start late and off his scheduled court after the rain, beat Quentin Halys 6-4, 6-2. He will face American Christopher Eubanks, who edged Adrian Mannarino in a pair of tiebreakers.

Khachanov will play Francisco Cerundolo, a semifinalist in Miami last year, in the other men’s quarterfinal.

Fritz, Sinner reach Miami Open quarterfinals with 2-set wins

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Taylor Fritz and Jannik Sinner beat seeded opponents in straight sets at the Miami Open to move into the quarterfinals.

No. 9 Fritz compiled twice as many winners, 22, as unforced errors, 11, and only dropped serve once during a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 7 Holger Rune.

That put Fritz, the highest-ranked American man, into his first quarterfinal in seven appearances at the hard-court tournament.

He will face either No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz or Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul next. Alcaraz is the defending champion in Miami.

No. 10 Sinner eliminated No. 6 Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-4 and has yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Sinner’s next opponent will be No. 26 Botic van de Zandschulp or unseeded Emil Ruusuvuori.