Romanian tennis player Monica Niculescu managed a superb victory against Maria Sharapova, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Monday, in the first round of the Qatar Total Open tournament, with total prize money of USD 3.1 million.
Niculescu (30, 92nd WTA) has won a prestigious victory, after two hours and 39 minutes, against the former world leader (30, 41st WTA).
Monica Niculescu displayed all her variety to dispatch five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova in three sets at the Qatar Total Open.
Known for slices that defy the imagination, Monica Niculescu wove a web of incredible shots to pull off a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 upset of former World No.1 Maria Sharapova in the first round of the Qatar Total Open, wtatennis.com informs.
In her first meeting against Sharapova, who was playing in Doha for the first time since 2013, the Romanian veteran twice trailed by a set and a break before turning the tide on the Russian wildcard, breaking at love to level the match and winning 12 of the final 13 points to secure victory after two hours and 38 minutes on court.
Niculescu and Sharapova treated the Doha crowd to some thrilling games and rallies, but it was the 2012 Qatar Total Open quarterfinalist’s consistency that won the day, hitting 12 winners to just 17 unforced errors and converting six of seven break point opportunities. Visibly frustrated by Niculescu’s spins and slices, the 2008 champion was ultimately undone by the 52 unforced errors that cancelled out her 31 winners.
“I thought I did a really good job in the first set and a half, but that’s obviously not enough to win the match,” Sharapova reflected after the match. “I did a good job of winning the longer rallies, even though that’s not really what I wanted to get myself into. So physically I felt good. I just got pretty passive in the end and starting making too many errors. I love playing in three-set matches, and I think I’ve thrived in them my career. So I don’t necessarily shy away from that challenge. I think I have to look at the tape and see why I started going back behind the baseline and not moving forward, not putting the pace on her.”
The 30-year-old has been ranked as high as No.28 in the world but nearly fell out of the Top 100 for the first time in eight years at start of the season, and was forced to play qualifying just to make the Qatar Total Open main draw.
Edging back towards the Top 80, Niculescu will next play No.14 seed and 2018 Wimbledon semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova.
In a previous match, Romanian tennis player Mihaela Buzărnescu has qualified to the second round of the WTA tournament in Doha, Qatar, after defeating Lesia Tsurenko (Ukraine) 7-5, 6-4. Buzarnescu came from behind in the first set, down from 1-5 to win the set 7-5.
In the next round, Buzarnescu will face Jelena Ostapenko .
Buzarnescu (29, 43rd WTA) has previously defeated Tsurenko (28, 40th WTA) early this year, in the semi-finals at Hobart 6-2, 6-2.
For her performance, Buzarnescu will collect 60 WTA points and USD 17,325.
Three other Romanian tennis players will perform at Doha: Simona Halep, Sorana Cirstea and Irina Begu.
Simona Halep will face in the second round Ekaterina Makarova (Russia, 35th WTA), who has defeated in the first round Shuai Zhang (China, 34th WTA) 7-5, 6-0.