TENNIS

Maria Sharapova bets on 'good inner feeling' ahead of French Open return

Sharapova’s win over Australian Daria Gavrilova booked her a quarter-final berth at the Italian Open which should give her a seeding for the French Open.

Former French Open champion Maria Sharapova said Thursday she has a “good inner feeling” as she prepares for her Roland Garros return after a doping ban. Sharapova’s straight sets win over Australian Daria Gavrilova booked her a quarter-final berth at the Italian Open which should give the two-time Roland Garros winner a seeding for the French Open.

“It’s a step in the right direction. It’s obviously a goal to be seeded at events,” said the 31-year-old. “I don’t think that takes away matches. You still have to be ready for tough first rounds and later rounds and whatever comes your way.”

It was a first Masters quarter-final for Sharapova since she won in Rome in 2015. She was denied a wild-card entry last year to Roland Garros after making her comeback from a 15-month doping ban. Sharapova’s serve was broken four times by Gavrilova who had battled until after 2am the previous night, saving two match points against former French Open winner Garbine Muguruza.

But Sharapova broke the Australian’s serve seven times, winning through on her third match point after 1hr and 38min. She next plays reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko for the first time for a place in the final four of a tournament she has won three times. The Latvian fifth seed dropped a set before getting past British number one Johanna Konta 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

“I like the way I’m competing and the way I feel out there. It’s an inner feeling. I like the attitude that I’m playing with,” said five-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova.

And she added she was “going be so excited” to be heading back to Paris after “a tough period” in her life. “I’ve had an incredible amount of memories there, and I don’t rate the amount of, like, happiness you get from winning a Slam. I think that first Roland Garros for me was one of the highlights of my career,” said the 2012 and 2014 winner. Coming to Roland Garros having a few matches behind my back, that’s helpful. Being in that environment, just even the practice and getting there on the first day, practicing on centre court for the first time ... I love it. There’s nothing that can replicate it. As long as I can continue to feel motivated by that moment, I’ll keep loving it and playing there.”

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

Tracing the formation of Al Qaeda and its path to 9/11

A new show looks at some of the crucial moments leading up to the attack.

“The end of the world war had bought America victory but not security” - this quote from Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer-Prize winning book, ‘The Looming Tower’, gives a sense of the growing threat to America from Al Qaeda and the series of events that led to 9/11. Based on extensive interviews, including with Bin Laden’s best friend in college and the former White House counterterrorism chief, ‘The Looming Tower’ provides an intimate perspective of the 9/11 attack.

Lawrence Wright chronicles the formative years of Al Qaeda, giving an insight in to Bin Laden’s war against America. The book covers in detail, the radicalisation of Osama Bin Laden and his association with Ayman Al Zawahri, an Egyptian doctor who preached that only violence could change history. In an interview with Amazon, Wright shared, “I talked to 600-something people, but many of those people I talked to again and again for a period of five years, some of them dozens of times.” Wright’s book was selected by TIME as one of the all-time 100 best nonfiction books for its “thoroughly researched and incisively written” account of the road to 9/11 and is considered an essential read for understanding Islam’s war on the West as it developed in the Middle East.

‘The Looming Tower’ also dwells on the response of key US officials to the rising Al Qaeda threat, particularly exploring the turf wars between the FBI and the CIA. This has now been dramatized in a 10-part mini-series of the same name. Adapted by Dan Futterman (of Foxcatcher fame), the series mainly focuses on the hostilities between the FBI and the CIA. Some major characters are based on real people - such as John O’ Neill (FBI’s foul-mouthed counterterrorism chief played by Jeff Daniels) and Ali Soufan (O’ Neill’s Arabic-speaking mentee who successfully interrogated captured Islamic terrorists after 9/11, played by Tahar Rahim). Some are composite characters, such as Martin Schmidt (O’Neill’s CIA counterpart, played by Peter Sarsgaard).

The series, most crucially, captures just how close US intelligence agencies had come to foiling Al Qaeda’s plans, just to come up short due to internal turf wars. It follows the FBI and the CIA as they independently follow intelligence leads in the crises leading up to 9/11 – the US Embassy bombings in East Africa and the attack on US warship USS Cole in Yemen – but fail to update each other. The most glaring example is of how the CIA withheld critical information – Al Qaeda operatives being hunted by the FBI had entered the United States - under the misguided notion that the CIA was the only government agency authorised to deal with terrorism threats.

The depth of information in the book has translated into a realistic recreation of the pre-9/11 years on screen. The drama is even interspersed with actual footage from the 9/11 conspiracy, attack and the 2004 Commission Hearing, linking together the myriad developments leading up to 9/11 with chilling hindsight. Watch the trailer of this gripping show below.

Play

The Looming Tower is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video, along with a host of Amazon originals and popular movies and TV shows. To enjoy unlimited ad free streaming anytime, anywhere, subscribe to Amazon Prime Video.

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