September 2, 2017 / 5:49 AM / a year ago

I'd play on a parking lot, says Sharapova

Sept 1, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Maria Sharapova of Russia hits to Sofia Kenin of the USA in Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova has shrugged off Caroline Wozniacki’s criticism of U.S. Open organizers for giving the Russian center court billing in her return to grand slam tennis after a doping ban.

Defeated by Ekaterina Makarova on an outside court in the second round, former world number one Wozniacki lashed organizers for scheduling Sharapova at Arthur Ashe Stadium in her opening matches.

Sharapova, who returned from a 15-month ban in April, was handed a wildcard for the year’s final grand slam and made her third consecutive appearance in the main stadium on Friday, beating American teenager Sofia Kenin 7-5 6-2 to reach the fourth round.

“With regards to scheduling, as you know, I don’t make the schedule,” Sharapova told reporters.

“I’m a pretty big competitor. If you put me out in the parking lot of Queens in New York City, I’m happy to play there.

“That’s not what matters to me. All that matters to me is I’m in the fourth round. Yeah, I’m not sure where she is.”

The 2006 U.S. Open champion has been warmly embraced at Flushing Meadows, playing to standing ovations and raucous cheers from sellout crowds.

She will play Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova for a place in the quarter-finals.

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ian Ransom

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