Madrid — Eugenie Bouchard claims that many other players on the WTA Tour share her outspoken views on Maria Sharapova’s return from an 15-month doping ban, but are too "scared" to speak out.
Bouchard beat Sharapova for the first time in five meetings in the second round of the Madrid Open on Monday 7-5 2-6 6-4 a week after labelling the Russian "a cheater".
The Canadian also claimed Sharapova should have been banned for life after testing positive for Meldonium at the 2015 Australian Open rather than welcomed back with a series of wildcards for big events.
"I definitely had some extra motivation going into today. I was actually quite inspired before the match because I had a lot of players coming up to me privately wishing me good luck," said Bouchard.
"Players I don’t normally speak to, getting a lot of texts from people in the tennis world that were just rooting for me.
I definitely had some extra motivation going into today. I was actually quite inspired before the match because I had a lot of players coming up to me privately wishing me good luck
"I wanted to do it for myself, but also all these people.
"It showed me that most people have my opinion and they were just maybe scared to speak out, but privately I’ve gotten a lot of support, so I was inspired and motivated to play."
The two exchanged a frosty handshake at the end of a thrilling nearly three-hour long encounter as Bouchard registered just her second WTA Tour win since the Australian Open
"I think she’s been playing really well in her so-called comeback, if you want to call it that," Bouchard said.
Sharapova said that she
was "above" responding to Bouchard’s jibes when reaching the semifinals in her first tournament since her ban expired amid a media circus in Stuttgart last week.
And she claimed the extra attention caused by the bad blood between her and Bouchard had not affected
"I’ve been part of this game for many years," said Sharapova. "I know what the drill is. I know the excitement. I know there’s always a lot of talk and buzz, match-ups, rivalries. It’s all part of the game."
Sharapova insisted there was no extra disappointment on her part for having lost to Bouchard despite vowing to let her tennis do the talking before the match.
And she believes she will once again rise to the top of the tennis world to add to her five Grand Slam titles.
"I’m a big competitor. What you work for is to be on the
winning end of matches."