Maria Sharapova has paid the time she had to pay for doping offence: Arantxa Sanchez to India Today

first_imgAt 45, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario still looks as fit as a rookie 17-year-old girl hustling around at Roland Garros, where she inflicted one of the biggest tennis upsets back in 1989.Steffi Graf, who could do nothing wrong those days, was on a roll and was unbeaten in the last four Grand Slams, before she ran into Sanchez. Rest, as they say, is history as the Barcelona girl became the youngest women’s singles player to lift the French Open title, defeating Graf in a hard-fought final.That day, Sanchez fought hard for a dream, which still remains the closest thing to her heart, and that is what she preaches to youngsters as well.It was a healthy rivalry those days with players like Graf, Sanchez, Monica Seles and even Martina Navratilova battling around against each other. Even today, there’s no dearth of talent in the women’s tennis, but American Serena Williams has made a place of her own.Maria Sharapova, probably, comes closest to Serena, but the doping ban she endured, took her away from the game for a 15 months. Sharapova will make her first appearance at the Stuttgart Open next week where she has been handed a wild card. That move has rubbed some big names in the women’s tennis the wrong way. Many feel Sharapova should go through the qualifiers and shouldn’t get an automatic entry into the main draw.But Sanchez has backed the former Russian World No.1 and says Sharapova has served the punishment for her anti-doping rule violation.advertisement”There will be a difference of opinion on this issue. But I think she has already paid the time she had to pay for the doping offence. She will be playing her first tournament at the Stuttgart Open after serving her doping ban. It will be interesting to see how she comes back, so that’s what we need to look at,” Sanchez, who is in the Capital to promote the Rendezvous Roland Garros wild-card tournament, told India Today.Sancehz, nicknamed ‘Barcelona Bumblebee’, always relished the opportunity to play at the clay courts of Roland Garros. Three of her four Major titles came at the French Open, which has been ruled by another Spaniard, Rafael Nadal, over the years. But lately, Rafa has been losing his grip.Sanchez also had a game very similar to Rafa as both relied on their ability to retrieve virtually everything from the baseline. So can Rafa win one more at the French Open?”I think both of us had one common thing. It was and is our determination and ability to never give up, whatever the situation may be. We always fight till the end and have the ability to turn things around. Rafa has been playing well and he came early to play at clay this season. He is looking good and surely, to win his 10th French Open title. Definitely, great signs for him,” reckons Sanchez.  Sanchez also feels in the coming days, Czech Karolina Pliskova will be the player to beat in the women’s tennis, although the Spaniard still believes a fit Serena will be a difficult nut to crack.”Serena has been very dominant and has the motivation to keep winning these Grand Slams. When she is playing, she is always the favourite but when she is not, it opens the door for others. As long as she is healthy she will play. Last year it was Angelique Kerber, and this year, it could well be Karolina Pliskova. she is very good and could well be the next World No. 1 after these two.”last_img