Halep addresses clothing sponsor situation after Shenzhen win, Sharapova advances

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World No. 1 Simona Halep.

World number one Simona Halep began the year in emphatic style with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Nicole Gibbs as Maria Sharapova also romped through her first-round match at the Shenzhen Open on Monday.

Romania’s Halep, who will be seeking her maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in two weeks’ time, struck 12 winners to blitz the 110th-ranked American in one hour and nine minutes.

“We had a big crowd, which was nice to play in front of,” Halep said after her first-round match in the southern Chinese city, where she won in 2015.

Halep won the first set with the help of an aggressive forehand, and then opened the second set with a crunching backhand winner down the line before running away with the match.

“It’s always nice to play here in Shenzhen,” said Halep, who next faces Duan Ying-Ying in round two. “I won a title here three years ago already. It’s my first victory this year as number one in the world, so I’m just happy and enjoying the time.”

The world No. 1 does not have a clothing sponsor after her partnership with adidas ended on December 31, 2017 and she said she has no news regarding who she plans on signing with.

“With adidas it’s finished. Yesterday was the last day i was wearing adidas clothes. I have nothing now,” said Halep. “My manager is looking after this so I have no idea. It’s just the first day of the year and I’m looking forward to see what the future gives me and I’m okay.”


Meanwhile five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova, making her Shenzhen debut, dispatched Romania’s world number 56 Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-3, 6-0 in an hour and 20 minutes.

The Russian, who is embarking on her first full season since returning from a 15-month doping ban in April, sealed her straight sets win after striking 18 winners to 20 unforced errors.

“It’s quite remarkable to see a full stadium for a first round,” she said. “It’s my first time here, so I didn’t know what to expect.”

Sharapova, currently ranked No. 59 in the world, next plays USA’s Alison Riske in the second round.

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Maria Sharapova discusses filming cameo in Ocean's 8 movie

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Maria Sharapova is not sure the part she filmed will end up appearing in the upcoming heist comedy film Ocean’s 8, but says she enjoyed the experience of shooting her brief cameo.

An all-female reboot of the Ocean’s trilogy will be released in June, starring an A-list cast that includes Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson and Rihanna.

Sharapova, as well as Serena Williams are supposed to make cameo appearances in the film.

Speaking at the Shenzhen Open following her opening round win over Mihaela Buzarnescu, Sharapova said of her experience on the Ocean’s 8 set: “It’s (the role) very small, I don’t even know if I’m in it, but I filmed it.

“I think in the end you don’t know if your part will be actually in the movie. It was a really nice invitation. The director was very nice to work with and I was alongside very talented individuals so it just, it’s a different experience, it’s very different from what I do and I enjoy being part of those things.

“I haven’t seen the trailer yet, and I certainly haven’t seen the movie, I’ll see it probably when you see it, so we’ll see if I even made it. But I’m in the credits, so that’s a good start.”

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Tomas Berdych sees end of 'Big Four' era

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Berdych is getting ready for action in Qatar.

The dominating ‘big four’ era of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray could be coming to an end, former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych said on Sunday.

Speaking ahead of his appearance in the year-opening tournament, the Qatar Open which starts on New Year’s Day, the world number 19 said men’s tennis was set for a “very interesting year”.

Since 2010 28 of 32 Grand Slam titles were won by the quartet.

Asked if the ‘big four era was over, the Czech Republic star responded: ” It’s hard to say right now. But yes, I think it’s very possible.

“I’m not saying that it’s over, but I think it’s the nature of the process of the time and of the sport.”

He added that he expected other players emerging through the year to “be definitely competitive to get a chance to win a Slam”.

The 32-year-old was speaking after the late withdrawal from the tournament of defending champion Djokovic, who has an elbow injury.

Combined with the continued injury concerns of Nadal, still recuperating from a knee problem, Murray recovering from a hip issue, as well as Federer turning 37 in 2018, the door seems open for new stars to stake their claim next year.

And Berdych, 32, once a world number four, says he still harbours hope of winning a Grand Slam.

“I think that’s the beauty of our sport that no matter where you are, you still have a big chance.

It’s about that particular day, and from that one day you can create a great week.

“From one great week, you can make it two and that’s what you are looking for.

“To be honest, that’s the only reason why I’m still around.”

A semi-finalist in the past two years in Doha and seeded three this time round, he begins his quest for the title against Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

The top seed in Doha is Austria’s Dominic Thiem, who begins his campaign against Evgeny Donskoy of Russia.

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