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TENNIS > Sharapova battles into Wimbledon 3rd round

LONDON - Agence France-Presse

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Russian star Maria Sharapova had to battle her way into the third round in Wimbledon when playing against a solid opponent, Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova. REUTERS photo

Russian star Maria Sharapova had to battle her way into the third round in Wimbledon when playing against a solid opponent, Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova. REUTERS photo

World number one Maria Sharapova was forced to dig deep before securing her place in the Wimbledon third round with a 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (3/7), 6-0 victory over Tsvetana Pironkova yesterday.

Sharapova had crushed Anastasia Rodionova in the first round in her first match since winning the French Open earlier this month, but Pironkova made the Russian fight far harder to keep her title bid on course.
The 25-year-old, who won Wimbledon in 2004, had recovered from 5-2 down to take the first set and had just broken to move 3-1 ahead when the tie was suspended due to bad light on June 27 evening.

Sharapova asked for play to be called off for several minutes before finally getting her wish, but her pleas looked to have backfired when Pironkova hit back to take the second set when play resumed on yesterday.

“I started slow today, but I guess it’s more important how you finish,” Sharapova said. “She came out firing. I was a bit tentative and just couldn’t get much rhythm. But I tried to focus on my game and I’m happy I really stepped it up in that third set.”

Sharapova earned a last 32 clash with Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei.

When the match started again yesterday, Sharapova struggled to find any rhythm.

Pironkova broke back in the first game of the day and there was no sign of improvement from Sharapova in the breaker, which the Bulgarian took after three double-faults from her opponent.

Faced with the growing possibility of a shock exit, Sharapova suddenly snapped into top gear and blew Pironkova off court, breaking three times to seal the win.

June/29/2012

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