Maria Sharapova consoled Wang Xinyu after the Chinese teenager was forced to retire from their second-round match at the Shenzhen Open due to cramp.
Wang, the youngest player in the tournament at 17 years old, led 6-7(4) 5-2 when she withdrew on medical grounds with a bandage wrapped around her left thigh.
Before limping from the court, she was comforted by Sharapova as she received treatment, with the five-time grand slam winner declaring “cramps suck!”
Sharapova added: “You played unbelievable, OK? Unbelievable. Take care of yourself. If you play like that you’re going to be number one, I promise.”
Once the match had finished, the 31-year-old Russian had more encouraging words.
“Obviously it’s a tough situation. It’s not the way either of us want to finish the match, win or lose,” Sharapova said.
“I thought Wang was absolutely the dominant player in this match and had all the opportunities to win it, even though I felt like I was finding my stride and getting a little bit closer to the line and being more aggressive.
“She has all the tools to play well and she showcased that. It’s obviously a very unfortunate way to end the match.”
Sharapova has received plenty of stick - some of it deservedly so - over the last few years but it is refreshing to see she hasn't forgotten that she was once in Wang's position as an extremely promising teenager.
Remember the Russian was just 17 when she was crowned Wimbledon champion back in 2004.
Although some may argue she never quite went on to dominate the sport the way some expected her to, the now 31-year-old has still had a career most can only dream of.
Wang's loss is Sharapova's gain, however, and she progresses to face either Aryna Sabalenka or Ekaterina Alexandrova in the quarter-finals.
Elsewhere, Serena Williams stepped up her preparation for the upcoming Australian Open by competing in the Hopman Cup.News Now - Sport News