Maria Sharapova says the women’s Brisbane International feels like a “second-hand event” after being forced to start on an outside pitch due to a clash with the men’s ATP Cup.
But it looks like he won’t get too much sympathy from Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt.
Sharapova became the last female star to raise questions about the inaugural men’s team tournament that had a monopoly on the Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane this week after her first defeat in the first round with the American qualification Jennifer Brady on Tuesday night.
The ATP Cup holds the latest round robin games in Brisbane on Wednesday. He guarantees that even the likes of Ashleigh Barty, the number 1 in the Australian world, will not be able to appear in the main arena until Thursday, the fourth day of Brisbane International which will open the women’s season for a week.
Former US Open Sloane Stephens champion labeled him disrespectful of Barty.
“When you’re a number 1 player in the world playing sideways, I don’t think it’s great,” said Stephens.
“It’s kind of respect. We weren’t even considering the conversation. It was what the ATP wanted, they got what they wanted, the girls on the side, it’s kind of like always.”
Double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova also claimed it was not fair, while Sharapova did not hold back.
With Brisbane International Tournament director Mark Handley looking at his post-match press conference, Sharapova said women’s stars deserved to shine in the main arena from the start.
“You definitely recognize it and notice it (starting from the external courts), it seems a bit of a second-hand event,” he said.
“I think the girls return to central court on Thursday. But it’s definitely a strange strategic move.
“I think there are many girls who deserve central place in this draw, I think there are six of the top 10 players (in the world) (in Brisbane).”
Sharapova hoped that the situation would be addressed for future tournaments. “Everyone should have a conversation about it, that’s just my external view,” he said.
But Hewitt said the men had also been affected by the tournament clash. “There are times this week, although we haven’t been able to get the training times we want,” he said.
“I know there should be a certain allocation of courts for men, even for men’s teams, so I think it works both ways.”