By HOWARD FENDRICH, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Forget about Maria Sharapova's tennis, which is going quite well at the moment. She dropped a bit of off-court news at the U.S. Open on Friday, saying she's no longer engaged to professional basketball player Sasha Vujacic.
At her postmatch news conference following a 6-1, 6-1 victory over NCAA runner-up Mallory Burdette to reach the fourth round, four-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova said her relationship with Vujacic has been over "since the end of spring, actually."
"I was waiting for someone to actually ask me that question, but nobody did, directly," Sharapova said.
She added: "It was obviously a challenging decision, you know, from both of our ends."
Word of their engagement came in October 2010, when Vujacic said he had proposed on the one-year anniversary of their first meeting at a friend's barbecue.
Vujacic was there to support Sharapova at Wimbledon last year during her run to the final, even standing and screaming and pumping his fists in her guest box.
"We have a tremendous amount of respect for each other. Still would love to call him a friend," Sharapova said. "We spent really great years together."
The Slovenian guard was a first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004, and played for them until being traded to the New Jersey Nets in the 2010-11 season, then left the NBA to play in Turkey.
"It was a really nice period of time for both of us, but, you know, our career schedules just made it extremely difficult to see each other with the traveling, and especially his career move to Turkey. ... He wasn't able to travel much. He wasn't home one time during the 10 months that he was in Turkey, so that made it extremely difficult," Sharapova said.
There hasn't been much to talk about this week when it comes to her matches. The third-seeded Russian has yet to be tested, losing a total of seven games through three matches so far.
Against Burdette, who will be a senior at Stanford this year, Sharapova reeled off 12 of the last 13 points and needed only 58 minutes to wrap up the victory. It's only the second time Sharapova has reached the fourth round at the U.S. Open since winning the title in 2006.
She completed a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open in early June.
"Took a little bit of a break after Wimbledon and went home. I think I kind of recharged a little bit," said Sharapova, who will face No. 19 Nadia Petrova next. "Certainly feel a lot more energy than I did maybe after the French."
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