In Stuttgart, Muguruza & Kerber retire

Photo: Mal Taam/MALTphoto

There have been good matches in Stuttgart, and there are some big pullouts. Over the past three-and-a-half months, there have been the vast majority top women who have played — and competed. The great Williams sisters have been able to play, as has Simona Halep, Caro Wozniacki, Elina Svitolina, Jelena Ostapenkp, Caroline Garcia, Sloane Stephens and Daria Kasatkina, among others. That is a very good thing because over the past 25 years, many of the players have been hurt way too frequently. But now, they are getting smarter, playing less.

However, yesterday in Stuttgart, three major players pulled out: the two-time champion Garbine Muguruza, another two-time champion Angie Kerber, and the up and coming 18-year-old, Marketa Vondrousova. In the same day? That is somewhat brutal. That just started playing on the clay, which is actually better for your knees. Maybe it is just bad luck, or maybe they should have pulled out before they came to Stuttgart. Last weekend, many players played in the Fed Cup. Someone won, some lost, but either way, the Fed Cup is one of the most entertaining events of the year. So, after Sunday, and some players were very tired, with messed-up bodies. The answer: pull out before the tournament and don’t get on the plane. What is the point when you are going to lose so quickly? Just don’t come. It is not worth it, for everyone.

At least there are two very good players who are still in: Karolina Pliskova and CoCo Vandeweghe. Both of them don’t love clay, but they can both of them literally crush the ball.

There is a good piece on WTA’s website about the former five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova. She lost a tough match against Garcia 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-4. Is Sharapova struggling? Yes, a bit, because over the past year, she has been so-so. Frequent injuries could be the cause.

Sharapova is close to becoming more consistent, more patient, more emotionally stable on court. To succeed, she needs to be happy and mentally locked in.

Sharapova decided to let go of her longtime coach, Sven Groeneveld, last month, and now she is reunited with Thomas Hogstedt, another long-time coach. Will they stick? Who knows. In a sense, when you are older, the 30-year-old Sharapova really doesn’t need to have a full-time coach. What you really need is to think hard, all the time, focus, whack it, change it up, be super consistent — just breathe. I can be wrong, but one thing I do know is: It’s all in your own head, and no one else can change it. It is all about you, especially on court.

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