Sharapova back firing on all cylinders

2015-06-30 08:13
Maria Sharapova (AFP)

London - When Maria Sharapova miserablly exited the French Open four weeks ago it was to a soundtrack of her coughing but the trademark scream was back at full volume on Monday when she blew past Briton Johanna Konta in the first round at Wimbledon.

Having returned to the United States to rest and recover from a virus that contributed to her fourth-round defeat by Czech Lucie Safarova, Sharapova looked revitalised as she triumphed 6-2 6-2 in the sunshine of Centre Court.

Konta, who switched allegiance from Australia three years ago, came into the match on a high after taking a couple of seeded scalps in Eastbourne last week but never looked close to derailing the fourth seed.

Sharapova has spent the last few weeks not overdoing things to ensure she fully recovered and getting back in the grass groove without the pressure of entering any of the warm-up tournaments.

Although her serve was a little shaky, she eased through the first set, giving the home fans little to bite on.

Konta eventually loosened up, started unloading and briefly rallied with a break in the opening game of the second set. But Sharapova, one of the most competitive players on the circuit, immediately pumped up her own power - and the grunt decibels - and broke straight back.

From then on Konta, ranked 126 and facing a top five player for the first time in her career, struggled to deal with the strength and depth of Sharapova's ground strokes and started sending her own short and wide as the matched moved inexorably towards its expected straight-sets conclusion.

It is 11 years since the 17-year-old Sharapova pulled off one of the great Wimbledon shocks when she blew away defending champion Serena Williams in the final and though she has been at or around the top of the game ever since, she has reached one subsequent Wimbledon final, losing to Petra Kvitova in 2011.

"The first match of Wimbledon is never the easiest and especially against an opponent who has had a good few weeks and is a crowd favourite," Sharapova said.

"But I wanted to focus on myself as I haven't played for a couple of weeks.

"I returned really well today - she served pretty hard, and I was able to get a bit of an advantage there."

Read more on:    wimbledon  |  maria sharapova  |  tennis

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