Maria Sharapova Faced Monica Puig Thursday Night

Sharapova played in an exhibition match on Thursday night from Puerto Rico.

Maria Sharapova and Monica Puig faced off on Thursday night in a match that was played in Puerto Rico, Puig’s home country. That match counted for nothing in regard to WTA ranking points, however each player was looking to stay in touch with tough competition and certainly each player could provide that to the other. When the dust settled in San Juan, Puig was victorious as she defeated Sharapova in three sets 6-3, 1-6, 10-6.

Next up for Puig, who won the Olympic gold medal for women’s singles earlier this season, is the South Pacific swing on the women’s tour. She’s on the players list for WTA Brisbane 2017, a tournament that will run from January 1st to the 8th in the new year. The list does look loaded with talent with Angelique Kerber, Dominika Cibulkova, Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza, and Svetlana Kuznetsova the headliners. Puig, who will add to a deep field of talent, will be using the event to get ready for the 2017 Australian Open, a tournament that starts in about one month’s time.

Sharapova isn’t eligible to play in the South Pacific events in 2017 thanks to her continuing suspension for using a banned substance. While she can contest exhibition events, her return date to women’s tennis isn’t until late April. Sharapova lit up her twitter account with tweets following the match against Puig. The Russian thanked fans that tweeted at her, retweeted the selfies that featured her and other fans, and said that she took more of them with fans on Thursday than she ever did before.

That last point is interested if it can be taken to suggest a new approach to her career. She certainly has never been a snob with fans, however she has not always been the most accessible player either. It could be that she is taking a different approach to public relations at this point in her career following the hit to her reputation over the positive banned-substance test.

Maria Sharapova's twitter account.
Maria Sharapova’s twitter account.

Sharapova may add some more exhibition events to her tournament schedule in the future. In fact, she would probably be smart to so when she returns to tennis in April it doesn’t take her forever to hit her best form.

Photo by Marianne Bevis

Shane Lambert