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Sharapova made to battle

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:58

Despite an encouraging start from world number 35 Zheng, Sharapova’s power eventually prevailed as the three-time grand slam winner won an entertaining and competitive exhibition 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-2 in just under two and a half hours.

After only fully returning from 10 months on the sidelines last May following shoulder surgery, world number 14 Sharapova is again using the annual exhibition as her only preparation for the Australian Open after beating Venus Williams in two sets in another exhibition in Thailand last week.

Earlier, world number nine Vera Zvonareva saw off the spirited challenge of Japanese teenager Ayumi Morita 6-2 6-2.

Russia’s Zvonareva, a two-time WTA Tour title winner last year, broke 19-year-old Morita twice in each set to win in 73 minutes as the world number 83 was made to pay for 24 unforced errors.

Zvonareva is looking to repeat the phenomenal start she made to last season, which saw the 25-year-old claim her eighth and ninth Tour singles titles at Pattaya City and Indian Wells after reaching a first grand slam semi-final at the Australian Open.

“It is the start of the season but it was a tough game,” said Zvonareva. “Ayumi is a good young player and she played very well.”

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