Rome - Maria
Sharapova solidified her comeback to tennis on Monday as the former
number one overcame a slow start to win her opening match at the Rome
Masters, beating Christina McHale 6-4, 6-2.
The five-time Grand Slam winner went down a quick break in the first
set before revving up to claim the opener while playing in her third
event since last month's end of a 15-month doping ban.
“It felt slow and the conditions are quite different to Madrid,” the
three-time Italian Open champion.
“It certainly took a few more games
than I would have liked to get used to. But once I did, I felt like I
took care of the second set quite well.”
The former number one advanced to the second round at the
sun-drenched Foro Italico as she beat McHale for a fifth time without
The former No 1'a ranking has recovered into the 200s and a
semi-final this week would put her into the main draw for Wimbledon.
Sharapova came through a hic-cup near the end, losing serve as she
prepared to wrap it up while leading 5-1, but recovered in the next game
to emerge the winner.
Sharapova is still waiting to hear if she will receive a wild card
entry into Roland Garros starting a week from Sunday; that news will
come on Tuesday, when she is otherwise engaged laying her second-round
"I'll focused on my match, I'm playing tomorrow," Sharapova said;
"But nothing is a disappointment after being away from the game for 15
"Winning matches will get me places, so if that's where it got me
today, then I will take it. The fact that I'm back and playing three
weeks in a row now and three events in a row for me is a big deal.
That's my focus."
The match began unsteadily, with three breaks of serve in the first
17 minutes, McHale took an early 3-1 lead. But the rhythm steadied as
the experienced Sharapova pegged back her opponent and got to work to
sweep the first set from the back foot.
Sharapova is playing Rome for the ninth time, winning the title in
2011, 2012 and two years ago; the 30-year-old owns 11 WTA tour-level
titles on clay.
"At this point it's week to week. I certainly have expectations of
myself just because when you have accomplished things and when you have
won big events and you have been number one, you know that feeling.
"That feeling ultimately stays inside of you and you know how good it feels and you know what you work for.
"I would love to experience those feelings again. Of course, that is
my goal. Every week is important, and I treat every match - you know, I
might have not played my best tennis, but I set up an opportunity to
play another match and to hopefully improve in that match, and that's
what I need."
In the ATP Tour's men's first round, ninth seed David Goffin beat Thomaz Bellucci 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-4 and American
Sam Querrey upset French 11th seed Lucas Pouille 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (10/8).
Tomas Berdych, the number 12, defeated German Mischa Zverev 7-6
(9-7), 6-4; Jan-Lennard Struff put out Australian Bernard Tomic 6-7
(6-8), 6-1, 6-4.
Former US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro staged a comeback to oust
Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, winning with seven aces after more than
Results on the second day of the Rome Masters on Tuesday (x denotes seeding):
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO x16) bt Lucie Safarova (CZE) 7-5, 4-6, 6-3
Barbora Strycova (CZE x14) bt Darya Kasatkina (RUS) bt 4-6, 4-3 - Kasatkina withdrew
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) bt Zhang Shuai (CHN) 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (8/6)
Maria Sharapova (RUS) bt Christina McHale (USA) 6-4, 6-2
Laura Siegemund (GER) bt Naomi Osaka (JPN) 6-2, 6-4
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) bt Monica Puig (PUR) 6-2, 7-5
Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) bt Deborah Chiesa (ITA) 7-5, 6-2
Mona Barthel (GER) bt Peng Shuai (CHN) 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
Caroline Garcia (FRA) bt Donna Vekic (CRO) 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 7-6 (8/6)
Tomas Berdych (CZE x12) bt Mischa Zverev (GER) 7-6 (9/7), 6-4
David Goffin (BEL x9) bt Thomaz Belluci (BRA) 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-4
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) bt Bernard Tomic (AUS) 6-7 (8/10), 6-1, 6-4
Sam Querrey (USA) bt Lucas Pouille (FRA x11) 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (10/8)
Aljaz Bedene (GBR) bt Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 3-0 retired