US Open: Maria Sharapova's show court stint riles rival Caroline Wozniacki

Story highlights

  • Court scheduling contoversy simmers at US Open
  • Sharapova's matches scheduled for Arthur Ashe Stadium
  • Wozniacki complained after losing on Court 17

(CNN)It's never easy keeping everyone happy, particularly when you have to decide which star player gets which tennis court at major tournaments.

Those tensions were laid bare Thursday when Maria Sharapova's rival Caroline Wozniacki was riled by US Open officials putting the Dane on court 17 where she lost in the second round to Ekaterina Makarova.
Feeling despondent after losing 6-2, 6-7, 6-1 to the unseeded Russian, Wozniacki tipped her hat to her opponent before turning her ire on Sharapova who won her first two matches on the US Open's main stage -- the prestigious Arthur Ashe Stadium.
    "I understand completely the business side of things, but someone who comes back from a drugs sentence -- performance-enhancing drugs -- and all of a sudden gets to play every single match on Center Court, I think that's a questionable thing to do," fifth-seeded Wozniacki told Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet.

    Bright lights

    In March 2016, Sharapova announced that she had tested positive for meldonium. She said she failed to realize the heart drug she had taken for more than a decade for various health issues had been added to the prohibited list of the World Anti-Doping Agency from January 1, 2016.
    Initially, she was given a two-year ban by the International Tennis Federation, but it was reduced on appeal to 15 months.
    Sharapova was granted a wild card entry to the US Open after serving the 15-month ban and the five-time grand slam winner quickly made her mark by dropping No. 2 seed Simona Halep in the first round.
    Sharapova is set to play 18-year-old American Sofia Kenin in the third round on Friday -- again under the Arthur Ashe Stadium's bright lights.

    Icy past reignited

    "I think it is disrespectful to other players and the WTA," Wozniacki said in March. "I think it's questionable allowing -- no matter who it is -- a player that is still banned to play a tournament that week."
    Canadian Eugenie Bouchard also let rip at a tournament in Istanbul in April where Sharapova was given another wild card.
    "She's a cheater," said the former Wimbledon finalist, "so to me, I don't think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play that sport again.
    "(It's) unfair to all these players who do it the right way and are true," she added.


    Wozniacki was given extra ammunition after her loss at Flushing Meadows, given that her match was originally slated for a late start on court five but was moved to court 17 after a backlog created by Tuesday's rain.
    Sharapova has not reacted publicly to Wozniacki's comments, but after her first-round win on Monday the Russian said her ban was now in "the past."
    "Putting out a schedule where the No. 5 in the world is on court five, fifth match on, that's unacceptable," added Wozniacki.
    "I think someone who has fought their way back from injury and is five in the world deserves to play on a bigger court than court five.
    "Finally, they moved us to court 17, which is a really nice court, actually, and we had a great atmosphere out there. But they should look into what they need to do in the future."
    "When you see the stress on the scheduling system because of the sheer number of matches that had to be played, it would be tough for it to be perfect for everyone," said Widmaier.
    "We understand Caroline's point of view, we've heard her. We always want to do the best we can. We're sorry she's disappointed."
    The USTA didn't immediately respond to CNN's request for an explanation of the US Open's court scheduling decisions.