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MaSha edges battle of the grunts

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:36

Following the whooping and hollering on the new No.2 Court, it was a quick dash to grab a spot on No.1 Court as Maria Sharapova made her return to the All England Club, and survived a stern test from Viktoriya Kutuzova before prevailing 7-5 6-4.

The qualifier hits the ball nearly as hard and as flat as her illustrious opponent, which made for some spectacular winners throughout, but her error count and double faults proved costly.

After the quiet on-court demeanours of Laura Robson and Daniela Hantuchova, the noise from the Russian and Ukrainian was unbelievable – so much so that it was a shock to the system when the grunting stopped, momentarily, in game nine.

Both women had ended up at the net, and with some grunt-free delicate touches the crowd were louder than the players.

After recovering from 3-5 down to win the first set 7-5, former champion Sharapova took the second set 6-4 to wrap up the match in as much time as Federer had taken next door on Centre Court – and admitted she had faced a tough workout from the qualifier.

“She was a really solid opponent who went for many shots and whos just being really aggressive, said Sharapova, who also said that her opponents game suits grass pretty well. But she pulled back the two breaks in the first set, and just hung in there in the second.

I always feel like I move pretty good on grass she continued, but admitted that her shoulder injury still plays on her mind.

The Russian appeared on court without strapping on the joint for the first time since her return. Its funny because sometimes Ill be in the middle of the match and Ill find myself thinking like the progression of the shoulder, how its feeling. I think its just a matter of forgetting about it and just playing.” It certainly didn’t affect her pace – her fastest serve was 112mph.

MaSha now plays Gisela Dulko in the second round – if I was a member of the All England Club Id be packing the ear plugs. Sharapova is ahead in the head to heads by 2-0 but they havent played since 2005 and Dulko has reached the third round of the Aussie Open and Roland Garros this year, so she wont want to go home on Wednesday either.

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