Maria Shara­pova hands Dart dou­ble bagel

The Korea Times - - SPORTS -

— Five-time Grand Slam win­ner Maria Shara­pova warned she can­not be writ­ten off at this year’s Aus­tralian Open after serv­ing a 6-0, 6-0 “dou­ble bagel” to Bri­tain’s Har­riet Dart in the first round Mon­day. The Rus­sian ar­rived at Mel­bourne Park as the 30th seed after fail­ing to im­press at Grand Slam level since re­turn­ing from a dop­ing ban in 2017.

But the 31-year-old shrugged off her ad­vanc­ing years and the scorch­ing Aus­tralian con­di­tions to pre­vent Dart win­ning a game in their 63 minute en­counter.

Shara­pova, a win­ner at Mel­bourne Park in 2008, said she was feel­ing pos­i­tive after “tough times” in her ca­reer “I love what I do, I love com­pet­ing and chal­leng­ing my­self to get bet­ter,” she said. “The young­sters are com­ing up and they’ll even­tu­ally take our place but not just yet, we want a lit­tle more time.”

The for­mer world num­ber one was far from per­fect, com­mit­ting three dou­ble faults and eight un­forced er­rors.

But she was never threat­ened by 22-year-old Lon­doner Dart, who made a he­si­tant start against her child­hood idol. Shara­pova pounced on the Bri­ton’s weak sec­ond serve to re­peat­edly break her op­po­nent, bring­ing up the first set bagel after 31 min­utes.

The sec­ond set fol­lowed the same pat­tern, with Dart fi­nally put out of her mis­ery try­ing to save match point when she hit a re­turn wide de­spite hav­ing an open court be­fore her.

“De­spite my op­po­nent not hav­ing the best day, you still have to get the job done,” Shara­pova said.

Shara­pova has served up dou­ble bagels at least five times on tour, in­clud­ing two in a row at the 2013 Aus­tralian Open against fel­low Rus­sian Olga Puchkova and Misaki Doi of Ja­pan in the first two rounds of the tour­na­ment.

Maria Shara­pova

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