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Maria Sharapova’s exclusive defeat leaves bitter taste for LTA and fans | Andy Bull

Sharapova lost 7-5, 6-4 to Maria Sakkari at the Hurlingham Club after opting not to play in Birmingham despite an LTA deal

Maria Sharapova decided not to play in Birmingham this year, even though she signed a two-year deal to appear when the LTA gave her a wildcard for last year’s tournament. She needed the practice back then, when she was just making her comeback from a 15-month ban for using meldonium.

Twelve months later she decided she could do without it. Instead, she chose to play a couple of exhibition games at the Aspall Tennis Classic at the Hurlingham Club, a corporate jolly run by her management group IMG. On Tuesday she lost the first of them, against Maria Sakkari, 7-5, 6-4.

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