October 8, 2015

Maria Sharapova Pulls Out of Fed Cup

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

(April 14, 2015) Maria Sharapova is withdrawing from playing for Russia in the Fed Cup semifinals this weekend against Germany with a leg injury. Sharapova posted a message about her withdrawal on her Facebook page:


Maria Sharapova

Athlete · 14,627,224 Likes

· 5 hrs ·

Withdrawing from this weekend’s Fed Cup was no easy decision. You probably haven’t seen me post any pictures on court, that is simply because there haven’t been many. I just started a couple of days ago and going to work myself up to creating a good healthy base.

I will be following the girls on my live stream this weekend, cheering them on, as I try to be ready for next week’s tournament in Stuttgart.

Withdrawing from this weekend’s Fed Cup was no easy decision. You probably haven’t seen me post any pictures on court,…

Posted by Maria Sharapova on Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Maria Sharapova Leads Russian Athletes in Olympic Torch Lighting


(February 7, 2014) Tennis star and former Sochi native Maria Sharapova led a group of six decorated Russian athletes for the torch lighting at Friday’s Opening Ceremony at the Sochi Olympics.

Sharapova brought the flame into the stadium to hand it off to pole-vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva. Also involved in the torch relay, former gymnast Alina Kabaeva, wrestling star Alexander Karelin, with figure-skating legend Irina Rodnina, and former hockey goaltender Vladislav Tretiak lighting the Olympic caldron.


Sharapova will serve as Olympics correspondent for NBC.


Maria Sharapova Returns to Court Where Tennis Career Began


Sharapova Sochi 2

(February 6, 2014) While the world knows Maria Sharapova’s story as champion tennis player, not many know how her career as a tennis star started… or where. Sharapova came back to her hometown back to visit her first court in Sochi where she will tell the story of her early years in tennis and what it means to play. Maria reopened the court for kids Tennis academy after refurbishment that includes a tennis wall telling the story of Sharapova’s career.

Nike recently refurbished the court for the Evgeniy Kafelnikov Tennis Academy and added a mural that illustrates Sharapova’s rise from a young star to one of the world’s elite tennis athletes.

“It’s incredible to travel back to my roots and still see so much joy and passion from kids for the game today,” Sharapova said. “I’m honored to officially re-open the court for play and I hope that these young stars will continue to develop and enhance their technique and see that with dedication and motivation, you can rise to the top.”

On the mural is an message:

This is more than a line on a wall. It’s where a little girl hit her first thousand tennis balls. It’s daring to go further. It’s defying the doubters. It’s deciding what you want. Then doing something about it. This is not just a line on a wall. It’s where legends are made.

As part of a court dedication ceremony in her honor, Sharapova, along with the help of local girls from the academy, reopened the court for play and spoke passionately about her early career, the court’s significance in her life and what it means to be back home.

“I lived here as a girl for five years so my tennis memories all come back to this court and this wall,” said Sharapova.  “It’s such a special occasion to be back here. Both as a part of this global moment and to be able to come back to where it all started for me.”

Sharapova is excited for the competition to start on her own turf, as she has experienced first-hand how incredible it is to compete on a global stage.

Sharapova is serving as an Olympic correspondent for NBC in Sochi.

Photos courtesy of Nike


Ward Rallies Past Tursunov to even tie with Russia 2-2


By Ros Satar

James Ward [GBR] def. Dmitry Tursunov [RUS] 6-4, 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4


(April 7, 2013) COVENTRY, England – After facing the press on Friday in utter desolation, British No. 2, James Ward, rallied against a sometimes agitated Tursunov to bring GB level with Russia.


After starting so impressively against Evgeny Donskoy, only to lose in five sets from being two sets and a break up, there was a lot of pressure on Ward’s thin shoulders.


If any nerves were evident on Ward’s side, he hid them well, banging down two aces a-piece, as the first five games went with serve.


The first sign of frailty appeared on Tursunov’s serve, taken to deuce twice in successive serves.


It paid off for Ward as he needed just one break point to edge ahead 5-4, before topping off the first set with a hold to love.


The games were going tightly with serve in the second set.


At times Tursunov seemed just a little slow and Ward struggled to get into Tursunov’s service games, letting two break points go, at 5-5.


It was Ward’s turn for fraying nerves, starting with a double fault, while serving to stay in the set, and ending with a netted cross-court forehand to hand Russia the second set 7-5.


British hopes were raised with an early break in the first game of the third set, only for Tursunov to break straight back.


A stream of errors from Ward gave Tursunov a second break in the third set, to leave Ward coming out to stay in the set at 2-5.


Ward was rewarded for his tenacity by breaking Tursunov in the next game to put himself back on serve.


Despite that, Ward found himself having to save break points on his next two serves.


Tursunov turned up the pace, aided and abetted with another error-strewn game by Ward, to take the third set 7-5.


Ward started the brighter in the fourth set breaking early, and Tursunov picked up a code violation as he started to get annoyed with the crowd.


Ward just needed the one set point as Tursunov netted forehand return to even the match and take the rubber into a deciding set.


Ward got a break to lead 3-2, courtesy of a Tursunov double fault on break point, after a long rally where the Russian sent a forehand flying long.


Just keeping his nose ahead, the Brit was only taken to deuce once on his serve, before coming out to serve for the match at 5-4.


To the watching crowd’s delight, Ward held his final serve to 15, finishing with an ace to go from zero to hero.


Ward said: “It would have been very tough to take 2 5-set losses in a weekend.


“If anything it’s even more pleasing beating Tursunov, who I’ve lost to twice in the past”


Team captain, Leon Smith had been reiterating the same advice, to serve out wide to the Russian unless he started to read the serve.


And Ward was happy to acknowledge the captain’s belief in him.


He said: “I’m grateful to him for the opportunity to play again and show heart and desire and everything that he wanted this weekend, and I think I showed it.”


Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.


Great Britain Wins Doubles Rubber Over Russia in Davis Cup


Fleming/Marray [GBR] def. Baluda/Kunitsyn [RUS] 6-1, 6-4, 6-2

By Ros Satar

(April 6, 2013) COVENTRY, England – The British team were always the favorites to win this doubles rubber, and Jonny Marray and Colin Fleming did not disappoint.


The British pair, ranked 16th and 28th respectively, were counting on a win, to give the British team any hope at all of salvaging the second round Europe /Africa zone Group 1 tie, after two crushing 5-set defeats on the first day.


Victor Baluda (doubles ranking of 440) and Igor Kunitsyn (439) would be facing the British team, although there had been some speculation that Dmitry Tursunov would replace Baluda.


After some tentative serves into the lights, Marray kicked off his Davis Cup debut with a strong hold.


The Russians may be ranked some 400 places below the Brits, but were already exhibiting some good tagging shots, especially coming from Kunitsyn.


First blood went to the Brits, breaking Kunitsyn to take an early lead.


With another break, this time against Baluda on the third break point, the Brits took the first set, in just under half an hour.


The first break of the second set came even earlier, again on Kunitsyn’s serve, but the Russians stayed in contention, when Kunitsyn held for the first time since the match began, as the Brits maintained a single break margin.


Fleming came out to hold, with an overhead smash from Marray sealing the second set 6-4.


The final set could not have started worse for Russian pair, with Baluda being broken in the first game, followed by Kunitsyn in the next service game.


The crispness that they had started to display in the second set deserted them, and although they got two games on the board, they never took the British pair to deuce on any serve.


Fleming came out to serve for the match, and although the Russian pair saved one of the match points, an ace nailed the win.


After the match, Marray described how he’d felt his debut had gone:

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to be a part of, to get the opportunity to represent your country, it’s fantastic.”


For Fleming, it was his eighth Davis Cup win in a row.

“It’s something to be proud of, but in tennis and life you’ve got to keep pushing forward,” he said.


“It’s all about focusing on what the team needs to do and my aim when it comes to DC, is to play one of those matches in the World group.

“It would be a special occasion and I’ve not managed to do that.”


There was a nice touch on the on-court interview, as Colin Fleming dedicated the win to Davis Cup team-mate Ross Hutchins, who is undergoing treatment for cancer.


He is over half way through his chemotherapy and the initial results show the treatment is working.


Later in press, Leon Smith and Colin Fleming described how Ross had spent hours watching and analyzing the Russian team.


Fleming said: “It’s great that he’s still involved in the team.

“I know Ross has got big plans to play again, and I’m sure he’ll be part of the team again in the future.”


Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.

Day 2 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Euro/Africa Zone Group 1 second round results:

Russia leads Great Britain 2-1

Rubber 1 – D. Tursunov (RUS) d. D. Evans (GBR) 64 67(5) 64 57 64

Rubber 2 – E. Donskoy (RUS) d. J. Ward (GBR) 46 46 75 64 86

Rubber 3 – C.Fleming/J.Marray (GBR) d. V.Baluda/I.Kunitsyn (RUS) 61 64 62


Donskoy Rallies from Two Sets Down to Give Russia 2-0 Lead Over Great Britain in Davis Cup


By Ros Satar


Evgeny Donskoy [RUS] def. James Ward [GBR] 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 8-6


(April 5, 2013) COVENTRY, ENGLAND – Evgeny Donskoy delivered a real heartbreaker in another five-set thriller on the first day of the Davis Cup tie between Great Britain and Russia in  the Euro/Africa zone second round Group 1 play.


Donskoy came from two sets down to give Russia a 2-0 lead at the end of the first day.


At the start of the match, though, the outcome looked far from certain.


In press, Dan Evans regretted not starting fast enough, James Ward more than made up for it.


The British No. 2 came out swinging solidly with very few unforced errors, and an early break secured him the first set.


A similar fast start to the second set meant it would be a long way back for the Russian, Evgeny Donskoy, who impressed many with his performance against Andy Murray at Indian Wells.


It was almost as though, with the pressure reversed, Donskoy was left floundering, at times his feet just not catching up with the rest of him.


That is not to say that he did not have some chances of his own, breaking back to make sure that Ward would not take this match for granted.


Into the third set and there was a distinct feeling that Donskoy was feeling his way back into the match.


Nerves seemed to overtake Ward, as he scrambled to save three set points, capitulating on the fourth.


After such a blistering start, suddenly it was Ward’s turn to look ill at ease, going down a break quickly in the fourth set.


Ward exhibited some of that earlier confidence, holding to love to stay in the set as the Russian was taken to deuce on his serve, for the fourth set.


Ward saved two set points but a lazy squash shot sailed just long past the corner of the court, to take the second rubber into a deciding fifth set.


It was beginning to look a little like last man standing out there, as the fifth set progressed with serve, particularly grueling on Ward’s service game, saving the first break points against is serve in the decider.


Donskoy was coming up with the goods both times he was serving to stay in the set.


As Ward came out to serve at 6-6 there was a sense that he had made his last stand, as the Russian broke.


There was a brief glimmer of hope as the Russian went 0-30 down, serving for the match, and then again as Ward saved the first match point against him.


Suddenly it was Donskoy’s turn to feel under the hammer, as Ward wrestled a break point back, and then had to save a second match point.


The third time was the charm for Donskoy as Russia took the second rubber, 8-6 in the final set.


It was an interesting contrast in press, with an equally dejected Ward hoping to work harder to improve, whereas Evans understood that he was struggling with that desire to improve.


Leon Smith concluded the conference, believing that the tie could be turned around, starting with the doubles tomorrow, with the top British pairing of Fleming and Marray favorites to put a rubber on the board for Britain.

Despite trailing 0-2 in the tie, Captain Leon Smith said, “I am so proud of both Dan and James today. It was excellent international tennis, very high level, more than eight hours and great value for money. The team spirit was great today and we have it still all to play for tomorrow in the doubles and in Sunday’s singles.”


Then on Sunday, can two players who have proved they can punch above their weight, turn things around?


Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.

Related Article:

Tursunov’s Five-Set Win Over Evans Gives Russia 1-0 Lead Over Great Britain in Davis Cup



Tursunov’s Five-Set Win Over Evans Gives Russia 1-0 Lead Over Great Britain in Davis Cup


By Ros Satar

Dmitry Tursunov [RUS] def Dan Evans [GBR] 6-4, 6-7(5),6-4, 5-7, 6-4

(April 5, 2013) COVENTRY, ENGLAND -It was a great gamble, that almost, but did not quite pay off.

Great Britain’s Davis Cup Captain Leon Smith replaced first choice, Jamie Baker, at pretty much the eleventh hour, in favor of Dan Evans.

Evans’ heroics in last year’s ties and perhaps more of a familiarity with faster courts that Baker, meant the pressure was on the shoulders of a player ranked 325 in the world.

Coming out, Evans seemed relaxed enough, but first blood went to Dmitry Tursunov, breaking Evans to love to lead 4-2.

Evans broke back, but it wasn’t enough to keep the first set from going to the Russian 6-4.

Evans seemed to want to go for crowd pleasing forehand winners, that soon became his undoing, and Tursunov was looking sharp at the net.

In the second set, Evans showed that he was made of sterner stuff, breaking the Russian to lead 4-3, but again consistency seemed to desert him, just when he needed it most.

Coming out to serve for the set, he saved one break point but a double-fault on another handed a reprieve to Tursunov.

Forcing the second set into a tiebreak, Evans kept his nose ahead just enough to level the match.

A lapse in concentration at the start of the third set, left Evans looking a little flat at times, again losing out by a single break margin.

A change of top and a change of fortunes in the fourth set as it was Tursunov’s time to look a little tired, as Evans broke to take the fourth set 7-5.

Was the faith Smith had showed in Evans about to pay off in another heroic win?

Sadly not, as Evans lost the opening game of the final set, and although the men traded a couple of breaks, it was not enough to keep Tursunov at bay.

In press, Evans had to face the inevitable questions about why he cannot translate his level of play to the events week in, week out?

He said: “I don’t train hard enough and I don’t work hard enough day in day out.”

He acknowledged that in the past, he had just been enjoying life.
“It’s not that I don’t want to do it, I obviously want to do it, but for whatever reasons, there are distractions.“

“Hopefully now, I’ve been working pretty hard since the start of the year.”

Tursunov acknowledged it had been a tough match.

“I was really very impressed with his returning.

“At times he definitely played made some shots I wasn’t expecting him to, and there were also a few shots that also a few opportunities I didn’t capitalize on.”

When asked about whether Evans could achieve that potential if he worked harder, the Russian acknowledged that sometimes Davis Cup brings out the best in people.

“I think the first step for him is to realize what he’s doing wrong.
“That also comes a little bit with experience.”

Time (or maybe Sunday) will tell whether Evans can build on this experience.

Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.