Sharapova Faces Heartbreak as Longtime Rival Snatches Away First Love, Over Two Decades of Defeat Not Forgotten

Maria Sharapova experienced 816 matches in her illustrious tennis career, winning many but also losing many. However, there is one opponent that makes the Russian former world number 1 remember forever.

Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon when she was just 17 years old. The journey from a young tennis player with rich potential to Grand Slam champion of the former Russian No. 1 is a whirlwind of progress. From an early age, “Masha” showed the qualities of a promising sports talent.

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Sharapova (right) hates Barbora Strycova

In her memoir, Maria Sharapova fondly remembers the Australian Open Juniors, the Grand Slam tournament for young players in 2002. In that year’s tournament, the Russian tennis player was only 14 years old. On the way to the final, Sharapova did not lose a single set. Even future Grand Slam champions like Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska became “Masha’s defeats”.

However, Maria Sharapova’s opponent in the women’s singles final of the 2002 Australian Open Juniors was Barbora Strycova, a challenge she herself described as “over the top”. The Czech tennis player is 1 year older than Sharapova, and that advantage helped Strycova completely dominate the final.

In her autobiography “Unstoppable”, Sharapova recalled: “Barbora was like a whirlwind, rushing towards me from all directions. She responded to all my blows, sometimes it was a powerful right hand, sometimes was a dangerous little drop shot. Barbora’s scoring moves became increasingly crazy, and it helped her win more points than me”.

That defeat dealt a strong blow to Maria Sharapova. “Russian Doll” has previously had successful youth tournaments, such as winning the Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Tournament in 2000, or reaching the Orange Bowl final in 2001. For Sharapova, this is the first time The first time she had to endure such great hurt.

The pain was doubled for Sharapova because Barbora Strycova was then dating Philipp Petzschner, “Masha’s first unrequited love”. She said in “Unstoppable”: “Barbora not only beat me, but also dated Philipp Petzschner, the first person in my life I had a crush on. Of course, I didn’t like her at all” .

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The reason is because of this man, Philipp Petzschner, “Masha”‘s first love.

In that final, Sharapova lost in the first set. In the stands, her father scolded her because her daughter was about to lose a lucrative Nike contract. Despite playing hard in the second set and winning 5 games, Maria Sharapova was ultimately defeated by Barbora Strycova.

Winning without being arrogant or losing without being discouraged, losing in the 2002 Australian Open Juniors final and having to watch her opponent date her first love, Maria Sharapova used that as motivation to try harder. Thanks to that, until the day she retired from tennis, Sharapova pocketed 5 Grand Slam titles and many other large and small titles, becoming the world’s number 1 tennis player in August 2005. Meanwhile, Barbora, despite playing hard, only ranked 9th, the highest.

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