Saturday 21 April 2018

Wimbledon: Tough task for imperious Maria Sharapova in second round clash

Maria Sharapova. Photo: PA
Maria Sharapova. Photo: PA

MARIA Sharapova will take one step closer to her first Wimbledon title in eight years today if she overcomes Tsvetana Pironkova in her second-round clash on Court One.

Sharapova looked in imperious form as she cruised past Anastasia Rodionova on Centre Court on Monday, and has a 3-0 record over Pironkova, but will wary of the tricky Bulgarian who reached the last four here two years ago.

Sharapova, the number one seed, saw two of her main rivals for the Venus Rosewater dish move in to round two yesterday.

Serena Williams, seeking her fifth SW19 title, succeeded where sister Venus failed by making it through with a straight-sets victory against Czech player Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

Serena admits she has been impressed by the way Sharapova has rebuilt her game to move back to the top of the rankings.

"She had a lot of issues and it took her about five years to get back so I am really proud and happy for her," she said.

"I looked up to that because I've had some issues myself. I'm a year back and I'm already in the top 10. I'm trying to do like she does and just keep going."

Defending champion Petra Kvitova overcame a wobble to beat world number 96 Akgul Amanmuradova 6-4 6-4.

Her Uzbek opponent had Kvitova in trouble at 4-2 adrift in the first set, but she then won six successive games before closing out a rain-affected match.

"I was nervous," Kvitova said. "It was the first time for me to play as the defending champion of a grand slam.

"It was huge honour to come to Centre Court and I wanted to make people happy but it's not that easy.

"But I'm happy that I stayed calm inside and did not panic during the important points."

Second seed Victoria Azarenka breezed past American 22-year-old Irina Falconi on Court One and her compatriot Christina McHale won her marathon match against Johanna Konta 6-7 (7/4) 6-2 10-8.

Elsewhere today, Kim Clijsters will hope she can make it in to the third round of her last Wimbledon when she faces Czech Andrea Hlavackova second on Centre Court.

Third seed Agnieszka faces Russia's Elena Vesnina on Court Three while Li Na takes on Romanian Sorana Cirstea on Court 12.

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