08 January 2020

Maria Sharapova attacks Brisbane International organisers for 'second-hand event' after men's ATP Cup forces Russian onto outside court

Maria Sharapova has criticised organisers of the Brisbane International after her first round match with Jennifer Brady was forced onto an outside court to make way for a men's ATP Cup tie.

Women players, including world No 1 and home favourite Ashleigh Barty, will not feature on the main court, the Pat Rafter Arena, until the fourth day of the week-long tournament due to men's matches.

And speaking after her defeat to Brady in Australia, Sharapova spoke about the message this sends out with regards to the importance of the event.

She said: “You definitely recognise it and notice it [starting on outside courts], it feels like a little bit of a second-hand event,” she said. “I think on Thursday the girls go back on centre court. But it’s definitely a bit of a strange strategic move.

“I think there’s a lot of girls that are deserving of that centre court spot in this draw. I think there are six out of [the world’s] top 10 players [in Brisbane].”

However, Australian tennis legend and former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt disagreed with  Sharapova, claiming the men have also been affected by the schedule clash.

He said: “There’s times this week though where we certainly haven’t been able to get the practice times that we want.

“I know there’s meant to be certain allocation of courts for men, the men’s teams as well, so I think it works both ways.”

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