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Sharapova survives tricky opener

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:35

Sharapova, plagued by shoulder problems over the last year, looked out of sorts as she held on to win 7-5 6-4.

Relieved by victory, she said: “It’s so wonderful after not playing tennis for such a long time.”

The former Wimbledon champion added: “To be on Court One at Wimbledon is unbelievable and I am so glad I pulled it out against a good opponent.

“She is a very aggressive player and I was just trying to hold on. The shoulder is really good. This is my fourth tournament back and my body has responded really well.”

Sharapova had her serve broken in the third game by her Ukrainian opponent, and then again in the fifth.

Kutuzova, an unseeded 20-year-old, has never been beyond the second round at SW19 and she squandered the chance to go 5-1 ahead when Sharapova broke in the sixth game.

Sharapova steadily began to take charge from that stage onwards and scrambled back to 5-5, before holding serve to move in front. A superb passing forehand drive gave her three set points, and although her opponent managed to save two of them, Sharapova sent a superb backhand passing shot beyond Kutuzova to move ahead.

An awkward fall by Sharapova did not affect her confidence and the 22-year-old took full advantage of the wavering Ukrainian who double-faulted for the fifth time in the match to trail by 5-3.

Sharapova served for the match but once again the plucky Kutuzova would not give in and broke her service to reduce the arrears once more. But Sharapova forced the Ukrainian into more errors on serve and when she sent her final return into the net, the Russian clinched victory.

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