Shara­pova bat­tles into sec­ond round at Stanford

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Five-time Grand Slam cham­pion Maria Shara­pova made a bat­tling re­turn to US hard­courts on Mon­day with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 vic­tory over Amer­i­can Jen­nifer Brady in Stanford, California. “I feel like I just want to hug ev­ery­one and say thank you,” Shara­pova told fans in a post-match in­ter­view. “It’s my first match in the States in a re­ally long time, and it’s the clos­est thing to home for me.” The for­mer world num­ber one from Rus­sia hadn’t played in the US since March of 2015, be­fore serv­ing a 15-month dop­ing sus­pen­sion for the use of mel­do­nium. She re­turned to com­pe­ti­tion in April, but her come­back has been dis­rupted by a hip in­jury that forced her to with­draw from Wim­ble­don qual­i­fy­ing. Shara­pova, whose rank­ing has fallen to 171 in the world, re­ceived a wild card into the pre­mier level tour­na­ment in Stanford, where she was tested Mon­day by the 80th-ranked Brady.

Shara­pova got off to a brisk start. Al­though she needed to save three break points in the sixth game to take a 5-1 lead in the open­ing set, she broke in the next game to seize the set be­fore Brady won the sec­ond. “I had a bit of a let­down but that’s the way it is,” Shara­pova said. “You fin­ish a set and think you’ve got it, but she came out fir­ing, ca­pa­ble of hit­ting win­ners and big serves.”

Early in the third Shara­pova fought off two break points to con­sol­i­date her lead, and wrapped up the match after two hours and two min­utes. “I feel like I face a lot of things: not com­pet­ing for a long time, an op­po­nent who’s able to play some great ten­nis ... I feel like I’m play­ing catch-up against ev­ery­one who’s had a head start,” Shara­pova said. “All that mat­ters is that I keep play­ing.”

Shara po va, who has also ac­cepted a wildcard into the WTA tour­na­ment in Cincin­nati an­other key warmup for the US Open booked a sec­ond-round meet­ing with sev­enth-seeded Ukrainian Le­sia Tsurenko, a 6-3, 6-3 win­ner over Spain’s Lara Ar­ru­abar­rena.

Wim­ble­don cham­pion Gar­bine Mugu­ruza, who stunned Venus Wil­liams in the fi­nal at the All Eng­land Club, is the top seed. She will open with a sec­ond-round match against Amer­i­can Kayla Day, who de­feated Ja­pan’s Misaki Doi 6-4, 6-2 on Mon­day. — AFP

STANFORD: Maria Shara­pova of Rus­sia com­petes against Jen­nifer Brady of the United States dur­ing day 1 of the Bank of the West Clas­sic at Stanford Univer­sity Taube Fam­ily Ten­nis Sta­dium on Mon­day in Stanford, California. — AFP

LON­DON: This file photo taken on June 25, 2002 shows French Jerome Gol­mard play­ing a fore­hand dur­ing the first round match against Czech Jan Vacek at the Wim­ble­don Ten­nis Cham­pi­onships. Gol­mard died of the Char­cot dis­ease aged 43, the French Fed­er­a­tion of Ten­nis an­nounced yes­ter­day. — AFP

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