Sun, Mar 11, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Sharapova splits with her coach after round-one exit

AFP, INDIAN WELLS, California

Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova has decided to split with her coach, Sven Groeneveld, following her shock first-round exit from the BNP Paribas Open.

After four years of working together, the decision to go their separate ways was a mutual one, Sharapova said on Friday.

“After four successful and challenging years of collaboration together, I would like to thank Sven for his incredible loyalty, work ethic and most importantly the friendship that we have formed that will go beyond this working partnership,” Sharapova said in a news release.

“Although we have mutually agreed to part ways during this time, I have been incredibly fortunate to have a team leader like him in my corner,” she added.

The former world No. 1, and twice a winner in the California desert, on Wednesday suffered a stunning defeat to Japanese No. 1 Naomi Osaka, losing in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4.

Sharapova was one of the tournament’s major attractions after missing the past two.

“Maria has been one of the most hardworking and professional players I have ever worked with. Her strength and fighting spirit will continue to be a force to reckon with and I have the deepest respect for her as a player and person,” Groeneveld said.

For Sharapova, the loss to 20-year-old Osaka was another painful reminder that it is back to the drawing board for the Russian as she makes her way back from a 15-month drug ban.

It was her second first-round loss in a row after she withdrew from the Dubai tournament with a forearm injury.

In her only Grand Slam appearance this year, Sharapova reached the third round of the Australian Open before losing to Angelique Kerber.

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