After six years away from the French-Canadian city of Montreal, Maria Sharapova has once again had her stay unceremoniously cut short.
The Rogers Cup fourth seed was coming off a gruelling battle against Spanish youngster Garbine Muguzura, where she was forced to contest three sets before securing the victory. That certainly did no favours for the Russian superstar, who was out on court less than 24 hours later for her third round encounter against Carla Suarez Navarro.
It was clear this was going to be another long clash.
Apart from the rain delays that continued to plague the tournament, Sharapova found herself down a set early in the match and faced with another daunting task of winning the next two consecutive sets.
Known for her exceptional mental fortitude and her unceasing will to win, Sharapova proceeded to fire back to snatch the second set 6-4 and force a decider. Yet that did not shift the momentum back in her direction and she would lose the third set 6-2 on a handful of surprising unforced errors.
“It was a tough match,” said Sharapova. “I thought my opponent played a really good match. I couldn’t find my rhythm from the beginning of the match. Always had my back against the wall throughout the whole match. Always came back from behind.
“Even though I felt like I started feeling a little bit better, it wasn’t enough in the end.”
The conditions certainly did not favour Sharapova, who had to warm up repeatedly after several frustrating rain delays, but she insisted that that was not the case.
“I’ve never been a player to think about ‘what if’ because that did not happen. I have to face what’s in front of me. I know what to expect and know that anything can be thrown at you, whether it’s another delay, weather, or something else.”
When reflecting on her first loss in the US Open Series, Sharapova believes she has quite a bit to work on ahead of the season’s final Grand Slam tournament.
“I really feel I have a lot more work to do. There’s quite a bit of time until then. Yeah, so that would be the goal, not just for myself.”