Sharapova downs battling 39-year-old Schnyder at US Open
NEW YORK – Agence France-Presse
Schnyder, the oldest ever player to make the main draw of a Grand Slam via qualifying, was outgunned by the five-time major champion in the first set and for the majority of the second on Aug. 28.
However, she bravely battled back from 1-5 down to 6-6, showing the sort of ability and court-craft which won her 11 titles and once took her to seven in the world rankings.
She even saved three match points in the tiebreaker before Sharapova’s 23rd winner of the night sealed victory shortly before midnight.
“I knew we’d go out and relive the battles against each other.
“I know what a competitor she is and to come back on the tour is very admirable.”
Left-hander Schnyder made her U.S. Open bow in 1997 -- the year of the deaths of Princess Diana in Paris and Mother Teresa in Kolkata.
It was the year that Mike Tyson infamously nibbled on Evander Holyfield’s ear while Twitter was still nine years away.
Schnyder made the quarterfinals in New York in 1998 and 2008 before retiring in 2011.
“It doesn’t really feel that special,” said Schnyder. “It doesn’t feel like I have been gone for a while as tennis is a passion of my life.”
“Times passes really quickly and it doesn’t seem it’s eight years since I last played Maria.”
Schnyder was watched on Aug. 27 by three-year-old daughter Kim.
“She enjoyed it. She saw herself up on the big screen,” added Schnyder who does not know if her return to the tour will be permanent.
Her focus, she said, will be on her daughter.
“It’s more fun for me to get to know her world rather than her having to get to know my world of tennis.”
In the men’s competition, Roger Federer made light of energy-sapping conditions to brush past Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-2 6-2, 6-4 in his opening match.
Where other players had slogged through long rallies as the temperature hit 32 degrees Celsius, Federer kept his time on court to a minimum with a masterclass of serve-and-volley tennis, pulling the industrious world number 177 from one side of the court to the other at will.
Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, overcame Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0.