Saturday 25 November 2017

War of words at Wimbledon as Maria Sharapova is accused of 'unsportsmanlike behaviour'

Sharapova and Vandeweghe
Sharapova and Vandeweghe

America's Coco Vandeweghe accused Maria Sharapova of a lack of sportsmanship after she suffered a three-set defeat to the Russian in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

Sharapova sealed her 20th grand slam semi-final appearance with a hard-fought 6-3 6-7 (3/7) 6-2 victory on Centre Court, but after the match Vandeweghe claimed her opponent had tried to put her off while she served.

Coco Vandeweghe of the U.S.A. hits a shot during her match against Maria Sharapova
Coco Vandeweghe of the U.S.A. hits a shot during her match against Maria Sharapova

At one point the 23-year-old, who had never reached a major quarter-final before, made a complaint to the umpire and added she would speak to Sharapova if the official was too "scared" to do so.

"What I experienced, what I felt from her moving around in between my serving motion was not, I don't think, sportsmanlike," Vandeweghe said.

"I try to play as fair as I can. When I felt like it wasn't being reciprocated, that's when I spoke with the umpire for her to deal with."

Vandeweghe added: "She said she didn't believe she was doing it during the motion. I strongly disagreed.

"Towards the later end of the second set, I said if she has a problem speaking to Maria, if she's too scared to do it, I had no problem speaking to her."

Read more: Serena Williams sets up frosty Wimbledon semi-final with Maria Sharapova

Read more: Novak Djokovic survives major scare to Wimbledon title defence against Kevin Anderson

Sharapova, who will now play either Serena Williams or Victoria Azarenka, refused to be drawn on the accusations.

"It is what it is," the 2004 Wimbledon champion said. "What she said, I'm not going to argue against her words."

Sharapova also deflected questions about her grunting, which was at its most piercing and grew louder as the match went on.

"I don't say anything. Do I have to?" Sharapova said. "I have nothing to say. It's nothing new. It's not a new question."

Vandeweghe admitted she was unaffected by her opponent's squeals.

"That didn't bother me whatsoever," Vandeweghe said. "It didn't faze me, nor did I think about it."

Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts to breaking serve during her match against Coco Vandeweghe
Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts to breaking serve during her match against Coco Vandeweghe

Sharapova overpowered Vandeweghe in the first set and then served for the match in the second before her opponent came back to win the tie-break and force a decider.

Vandeweghe insists her nerves in the early stages did not stem from playing Sharapova and, instead, claims she was surprised at how easily she kept pace with the world number four.

"Was I nervous about playing Sharapova? No. I think the nerves were more just from being out there in general," Vandeweghe said.

"I wasn't taken aback by her whatsoever from a game standpoint.

"It was actually a bit surprising how easily I handled her balls sometimes, from what you see on TV, then what you experience live in person."

Joining Sharapova in the last four is Spain's Garbine Muguruza, who beat Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky 7-5 6-3 to reach her first major semi-final.

It is also the first time a Spanish woman has made it through to the last four at Wimbledon since Aranxta Sanchez Vicario achieved the feat in 1997.

World number 20 Muguruza will now play either America's Madison Keys or 2012 finalist Agnieszka Radwanska.

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