• US Open

Sharapova and Ivanovic intensify war of words

Michael Beattie at Flushing Meadows
August 27, 2014
Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova are not exactly seeing eye-to-eye © Getty Images

Maria Sharapova bears a grudge - and what better way to bear one than through the medium of the press conference.

There was last year's feud with Serena Williams, who was told at Wimbledon (via interview transcripts) to keep her own affairs in check while she dated her then-married coach Patrick Mouratoglou. Serena had started it by saying Maria was boring and boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov - a Williams ex - had "a black heart".

That now appears to have dissipated slightly:

So instead, Sharapova is waging a new war of words, this time against Ana Ivanovic.

At least this one started on court. The pair met in the semi-finals of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, a 6-2 5-7 7-5 contest that had it all - including Ivanovic's mid-game medical timeout early in the final set that Sharapova rated as dubious at best.

The medical timeout in Cincinnati that started it all © Getty Images

Citing something she ate, Ivanovic lay down to get over some nausea. The medical staff took her blood pressure - it was okay, Ivanovic got up and duly booked her spot in the final. But not before Sharapova snapped.

The Russian had grabbed the lead with a break at 4-3, only to be broken back immediately. After she double-faulted to give the game away, she gestured to the umpire to "check her blood pressure".

Fast forward to the here and now of Flushing Meadows. A reporter has been gathering ideas from players about the one rule they would change in tennis. Sharapova's turn came on Monday night. Her response? Make players pay $2,500 per medical timeout.

Tongue in cheek? Perhaps, but Ivanovic rose to the challenge. Asked what she made of Sharapova's suggestion, the Serbian said: "I think that's a little bit harsh, you know. But I'm sure many players would agree to pay if it's about health, you know. Maybe toilet breaks. That's another story. But medical timeouts, I think players use them when they really need them."

So what would Ivanovic change? "I think some players take way too long between the points."

Who could Ivanovic mean? Perhaps a French Open champion who drove her opponent Simona Halep to distraction with the glacial pace of play at crucial times in this year's final?

Touché, Ana. Touché.

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