TENNIS

World No 92 Monica Niculescu stuns Maria Sharapova in first round of Qatar Open

The five-time Grand Slam winner hit 52 unforced errors as the Romanian won 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova suffered a shock defeat in the first round of the Qatar Open on Monday, dumped out in three sets by outsider Monica Niculescu. The Romanian, ranked number 92 in the world, 51 places behind the Russian, won 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

In a match lasting more than two and a half hours, Sharapova hit 52 unforced errors as opposed to just 17 from Niculescu. In blustery conditions, Sharapova also struggled to get to grips with the 30-year-old Niculescu’s distinctive style, which relies heavily on a sliced forehand.

The former world number one, twice a winner in Doha, had been given a wildcard into the draw and was one the tournament’s major attractions. “I did a good job of winning the longer rallies, even though that’s not really what I wanted to get myself into,” said Sharapova afterwards. “So, physically I felt good. I just got pretty passive in the end and starting making too many errors.”

It was the 30-year-old’s first appearance in Doha since 2013 and her first match since losing to Angelique Kerber in the third round of the Australian Open last month. Sharapova returned to tennis last April after completing a 15-month ban for failing a drug test.

A jubilant Niculescu described it afterwards as “a very good win” as well as “a tough match”. She added: “I love how I play and I like to be unique and I think my slice forehand is a weapon.”

Her defeat is unlikely to please organisers after the men’s tournament in Qatar last month was decimated of big name stars through injury. The competition could see a repeat of the Australian Open final as the world’s new number one Caroline Wozniacki, and the woman she beat in Melbourne, Simona Halep, are seeded one and two in Doha.

In another Romanian versus Russian clash, Halep will start her tournament on Tuesday, playing against Muscovite, Ekaterina Makarova, a former world number eight.

Also through on Monday was world number 30 Dominika Cibulkova, who beat Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the world number 22, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4, “And when I feel good on the court then I play relaxed, I can be good and can be dangerous.”

Niculescu’s reward is to play either Magdalena Rybarikova or wildcard Fatma Al-Nabhani in the next round. Nine of the top ten women’s players are competing in Doha this week, but arguably Sharapova was the biggest attraction.

(With inputs from AFP)

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Can a colour encourage creativity and innovation?

The story behind the universally favoured colour - blue.

It was sought after by many artists. It was searched for in the skies and deep oceans. It was the colour blue. Found rarely as a pigment in nature, it was once more precious than gold. It was only after the discovery of a semi-precious rock, lapis lazuli, that Egyptians could extract this rare pigment.

For centuries, lapis lazuli was the only source of Ultramarine, a colour whose name translated to ‘beyond the sea’. The challenges associated with importing the stone made it exclusive to the Egyptian kingdom. The colour became commonly available only after the invention of a synthetic alternative known as ‘French Ultramarine’.

It’s no surprise that this rare colour that inspired artists in the 1900s, is still regarded as the as the colour of innovation in the 21st century. The story of discovery and creation of blue symbolizes attaining the unattainable.

It took scientists decades of trying to create the elusive ‘Blue Rose’. And the fascination with blue didn’t end there. When Sir John Herschel, the famous scientist and astronomer, tried to create copies of his notes; he discovered ‘Cyanotype’ or ‘Blueprints’, an invention that revolutionized architecture. The story of how a rugged, indigo fabric called ‘Denim’ became the choice for workmen in newly formed America and then a fashion sensation, is known to all. In each of these instances of breakthrough and innovation, the colour blue has had a significant influence.

In 2009, the University of British Columbia, conducted tests with 600 participants to see how cognitive performance varies when people see red or blue. While the red groups did better on recall and attention to detail, blue groups did better on tests requiring invention and imagination. The study proved that the colour blue boosts our ability to think creatively; reaffirming the notion that blue is the colour of innovation.

When we talk about innovation and exclusivity, the brand that takes us by surprise is NEXA. Since its inception, the brand has left no stone unturned to create excusive experiences for its audience. In the search for a colour that represents its spirit of innovation and communicates its determination to constantly evolve, NEXA created its own signature blue: NEXA Blue. The creation of a signature color was an endeavor to bring something exclusive and innovative to NEXA customers. This is the story of the creation, inspiration and passion behind NEXA:

Play

To know more about NEXA, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of NEXA and not by the Scroll editorial team.