BEIJING • Maria Sharapova opened up on the despair she feels in defeat after she was ruthlessly knocked out of the China Open in the third round by Romania's Simona Halep yesterday.
Women's tennis' world No. 2 was an emphatic 6-2, 6-2 winner to leave five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova still searching for her first title since returning from a doping ban in April. It was the 26-year-old's first victory over the Russian in eight meetings.
Sharapova, a former No. 1 now at No. 104 in the world rankings following her 15-month suspension for taking meldonium, gave an insight into the roller coaster of emotions in top-level tennis.
"Hard work is not good enough any more, maybe it was - I don't know how many years ago - but that's just not a factor any more," said the 30-year-old, asked about comments in a book she recently released. "The reason I say that is there are some incredible moments, very high moments, and there are very low moments.
"There have been times where I get off the court and you think, I don't wish this on my future child. The feeling is so tough and disappointing."
Halep, the second seed on Beijing's outdoor hard courts, was the first woman into the tournament's quarter-finals, where she will play either title holder Agnieszka Radwanska or Daria Kasatkina of Russia.
With world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza exiting in the first round with a virus, Halep is now the favourite.
Sharapova said it was the best Halep had played against her - and the Romanian agreed. The two met in the first round at the US Open a few weeks ago and Halep said she was delighted to finally taste victory against Sharapova.
"I'm really happy that I could do this," she said. "It's my first victory against her and I just want to enjoy the moment."
Earlier, Nick Kyrgios said he wanted to make up for his notorious meltdown in Shanghai last year as he beat Mischa Zverev in the second round of the men's tournament.
A year ago, the supremely talented but combustible Australian was suspended for his petulant behaviour at the Shanghai Masters, where he argued with the crowd and appeared to give away points in caving in to the German.
The enigmatic player, seeded eighth in Beijing, smashed his racket on the floor in anger, bending the head in half, when he lost the opening set yesterday.
That earned the world No. 19 a warning from the umpire and raised the spectre of the incident in China one year ago. But the 22-year-old returned for the second set with renewed determination and coasted into the quarter-finals 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
He said facing Zverev - older brother of rising star Alexander - a year after Shanghai, and again in China, was the perfect opportunity to show how far he has come.
"I just wanted to go out there today and kind of redeem myself a little bit from last year," he said. "I just wanted to prove to myself how much I have improved."
He fired 11 aces in the match and he pledged US$50 (S$68) for every one of them to help victims of hurricane-hit Puerto Rico. He also said he would donate US$10 for every ace he hit until the end of the year.
He was lending support to Olympic champion Monica Puig, who initiated fund-raising efforts on social media after Hurricane Maria devastated her native Puerto Rico.
In another second-round match yesterday, third-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov beat Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro 7-6 (8-6), 7-5.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
ATP CHINA OPEN
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