ROME, Italy – No.16 seed Miriana Lucic-Baroni is through to the third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia after splitting sets against Maria Sharapova, who retired in the final set after incurring a left thigh injury.
"I thought it was pretty good match up until the end, which was obviously weird," she said in her post-match press conference. "You never want to finish a match like that. I wish her a speedy recovery. I hope it's nothing bad."
Lucic-Baroni has enjoyed a glittering start to her season, but narrowly lost to Sharapova just one week ago at the Mutua Madrid Open. The pair seemed to be playing by a similar script in Rome - even as the Russian wildcard appeared to injure herself late in the opening set.
Sharapova recovered to race out to a 5-2 second set lead, ultimately setting up a decider that saw her immediately break serve to start.
"I thought we played well. I thought I played really well first set, just that one game where I made two double faults in a row in the second set to lose my serve. I kind of let it slip away a little bit the match from there.
"That was my bad, but she's a great player. She keeps that pressure on you and sometimes things like that happen.
Following a lengthy medical timeout at deuce in the following game, the three-time Rome winner out the hold and had points for a 3-0 lead before ultimately bowing out three games into the final set.
"I feel like I was really focused to start the third set. And even though I lost the first game, I still felt really positive and I was really ready to fight. I felt like it was going to be a much longer set than it was in Madrid."
Up next for Lucic-Baroni will be either top seed and World No.1 Angelique Kerber or qualifier Anett Kontaveit, who earned her first Top 10 win at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix over reigning French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza.
"She dominated last year like nobody thought that she could or would," she said of Kerber. "And then it's not easy to sustain that, and she had an amazing year last year. The moment she didn't win every match she played, it was, like, 'Oh, my God, she's not playing well.'
"Sometimes your level is very high but you may not be winning that many matches."
As for Sharapova, she released the following statement following the retirement: