Sharapova crashes out
Originally published on: 26/02/10 13:01
The all-Russian affair was the first match on the Rod Laver Arena and lasted three hours and 21 minutes before Sharapova, the 2008 winner, finally succumbed 7-6 (7/4) 3-6 6-4 to the world number 58.
It was a disappointing early exit for Sharapova, the 14th seed, and continued a poor recent run in majors after she lost in the second round at Wimbledon and third round at the US Open last year.
The 22-year-old Sharapova said on the weekend that following an extensive off-season training regime she was feeling the best she had since her surgery, but an error-strewn display undermined her performance.
The three-time grand slam winner was her own worst enemy as she made 66 unforced errors while also serving 11 double faults.
In the opening set Sharapova had let slip a break of serve to go to a tie-break, which she had then led 4-2.
But Kirilenko then reeled off the next five points with Sharapova dumping a backhand into the net to hand her opponent the advantage.
Sharapova reduced the number of errors she was making in the second set, she made just 15, and was rewarded by taking it 6-3 to level the match.
Kirilenko’s only win over her close friend in three meetings was when Sharapova retired in their semi-final at Beijing in 2005, but looked determined as she raced out to a 3-0 in the deciding set.
The 22-year-old maintained that break until 5-3 in the set, and while she could not serve out the match, she again broke the Sharapova serve to claim the upset when her rival sent yet another forehand wide.