Coachless Sharapova preps for Rogers Cup (video)

TORONTO – It is indeed true that Thomas Hogstedt is no longer working with Maria Sharapova.

In the end, given how rarely the former No. 1 has been healthy enough to compete, there isn’t much call for a full-time coach.

And so Hogstedt is now working with fellow Swede Rebecca Peterson, who upset top seed Sloane Stephens at the Citi Open in D.C. before losing to finalist Camila Giorgi of Italy.

Sharapova has played just five tournaments since last year’s US Open.

And in her most recent one, she retired down 0-5 in the third set to Pauline Parmentier in the first round of Wimbledon.

The shoulder, and the right forearm – won’t let her play. Which is a shame at just 32. Because when she does play, she’s hitting the ball as well as she always has.

Sharapova has never really been the same since a 15-month break mandated by the positive doping test for meldonium at the 2017 Australian Open.

She returned very, very motivated to make up for lost time. But her body has had different ideas.

Here’s how she looked on the stadium court at the Rogers Cup Saturday, with hitting partner Alex Kuznetsov.

The “former champions” section

This is the first time Sharapova has made it to Toronto since 2011. And it’s only the third time she has made it to Canada overall since then. The other two occasions in 2014 and a year ago, were in Montreal. (There was that other time in Montreal where she did make it to town, practiced, and then pulled out on site).

She first played the tournament in 2003, and made the final in Toronto in 2009.

Currently ranked No. 82, Sharapova needed a wild card to get into the draw. She will face No. 16 seed Anett Kontaveit in the first round.

If she can get through that, she would play either Carla Suárez Navarro or … Venus Williams.

Williams also had been the beneficiary of what’s called a “top 20” wild card, available for former champions who need them. But after a couple of withdrawals, the 39-year-old Williams squeezed in on her own ranking (which is No. 50 this week). And that wild card went to Svetlana Kuznetsova instead.

 

Maria Sharapova out of Rogers Cup

WASHINGTON – It’s not the first time Maria Sharapova has been a last-minute no-show at the Rogers Cup.

But this time, it was to be expected as the 30-year-old pulled out of the Stanford WTA Tour event Wednesday before even getting on the court to play her second-round match against Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine.

Sharapova suffered pain in her left forearm, hence the walkover in Stanford. And so she has had to forfeit her wild-card spot in the Rogers Cup main draw.

“I am so sorry to be missing Rogers Cup this year,” Sharapova said in a press release. “I am so appreciative to the tournament for the wild card and my fans in Toronto for their support. I am disappointed that injury is keeping me from the tennis court once again, and I will work as hard as I can to return to the game I love as soon as possible.”

Sharapova also received a wild card into the tournament in Cincinnati the following week. So that one likely is up in the air.

The withdrawal is great news for 17-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu, who is competing in her first career WTA Tour main draw in Washington D.C. this week.

The teenager upset Camila Giorgi of Italy in the first round of singles. She also is in the quarter-finals of the doubles.

Andreescu will get the wild card in Sharapova’s stead. As it happens, she’s also a Toronto native. That means there will be at least three Canadian women in the main draw: Genie Bouchard, Françoise Abanda and Andreescu.

Andreescu originally had a wild card into the qualifying. That now will go to Carol Zhao. There is one wild-card spot left in the qualifying, and that will be awarded to either 18-year-old Charlotte Robillard-Millette or new Canadian Carson Branstine, who is 16. The two will play the final in a pre-qualifying tournament Thursday in Toronto.

Sharapova and the Rogers: casual acquaintances

Sharapova’s track record with the Rogers Cup is not great, mostly through no fault of her own. 

She played it a couple of times in the first blush of her career, but didn’t return until the 2008 Olympic year. At that point, she was struggling with the shoulder issues that eventually would require surgery. She won her first match in three sets against Marta Domachowska, but gave Ai Sugiyama a walkover.

Sharapova didn’t play the rest of the year, and missed the Olympics. 

She did come back the next year in Toronto, down to No. 49 in the rankings, and lost in the final to Elena Dementieva.

Sharapova was a last-minute no-show in Montreal in 2010, and lost her second match to Galina Voskoboeva in Toronto in 2011. She didn’t come back until 2014 in Montreal, where she lost her second match to Carla Suárez Navarro. 

That was her last visit to Canada. Fans will have to wait until at least 2018 in Toronto to see her again.