PARIS - Maria Sharapova blasted the "disrespectful" treatment of fellow French Open champion Rafael Nadal on Friday.
Nadal, the nine-time champion at Roland Garros and who boasts an astonishing record of 66 wins and just one defeat, comes into the 2015 tournament ranked seven in the world, his lowest in a decade.
He is also without a European claycourt title for the first time in 10 years, a run of form which has prompted many in the sport to write off the Spaniard's chances of a 10th Paris title.
But Sharapova leapt to the defence of Nadal, a stablemate of hers at Nike.
"Everyone expects so much of Rafa at this time of year. He loses a few matches but to put so many question marks, I think it's almost disrespectful," said 2012 and 2014 champion Sharapova.
"He's an incredible champion and he has no reason to be here doing it again.
"His will and motivation to keep doing it and to keep proving to himself that he can do it again is pretty remarkable.
"It's actually been a little bit sad because if I was in his shoes I'd be a pretty accomplished and satisfied player.
"He is grinding away and proving everybody wrong."