Sharapova storms back to oust Lucic-Baroni in hard-hitting opener — WTA Madrid

Sharapova storms back to oust Lucic-Baroni in hard-hitting opener — WTA Madrid

The Madrid rematch could be a major grudge match.

Maria Sharapova has overcome Mirjana Lucic-Baroni to set up a meeting with Eugenie Bouchard in the second round of the Madrid Open.

However, the German ended that barren run with a degree of comfort, winning 6-4 6-2 on Sunday.

This year, nearly 18 years after that Wimbledon semi-final, she reached the semis of the Australian Open, and did the same in Acapulco and on the clay of Charleston.

The 2014 victor was accused of being a "cheat" by Bouchard ahead of her return to action last month following 15 months out for a breach of anti-doping rules.

If Sharapova manages to extend her unbeaten record over Bouchard to five matches, she will edge closer to qualifying for Wimbledon in June without the need of a wildcard from the All England Club. Yeah, it's not the way I think. "Or else I think it's easy to lose concentration". "My tennis speaks for itself, and that's what I focus on", she said after struggling past Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the opening clash.

Victory for Sharapova would give her another huge boost in her rapid rise up the tennis rankings and if she was to win the tournament in Madrid this week, she would be back in the world's top 50 next Monday.

Bouchard, 23, labelled Sharapova a "cheater" in an interview in April and said the WTA was setting a bad example to youngsters in letting her back into the sport. "Once I step on the court, everything will be to the side". "Inside myself I think I'll have a bit more motivation".

"My goal is to play as many matches as I can right now".

"I've been in the public eye since I was a very young girl", Sharapova said. I've heard a lot of things.

The Czech player has won titles this year at Doha and Brisbane, giving her eight for her career.

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"You can train for as much as you want, but playing the matches and being in that competitive environment is just not the same".

The Russian was broken three times in the first set, but only once the rest of the match at the clay-court tournament. She will learn her French Open fate on May 16.

The US Open champion cracked an ace down the middle to complete an 80-minute victory.

"I'm kind of the driver of that", she said.

The second set was a different story as both players seemed to settle in despite the lack of rhythm, which came as a result of having countless rallies that lasted three shots or fewer. "I'm sure the WTA would be happy to provide you a transcript of that".

Russian eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, a 2015 finalist in Madrid, cruised past compatriot Yaroslava Shvedova 6-4, 6-3.

It was a good day for Americans.

Kerber's form has been inconsistent this season, but she was rarely troubled in wrapping up victory in just over an hour on court.

But while Stosur looked good fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova again had problems on serve and coughed up seven double faults, three of those in the final set, to lose 7-5 5-7 6-2 to American teenager Catherine Bellis.

In an earlier first-round match, British No. 1 Johanna Konta suffered a surprise defeat to Germany's Laura Siegemund 6-3, 5-7, 4-6.

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