Sharapovas stock rising as Open approaches
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:40
Maria Sharapovas successful return to the game gathered pace on Monday as she dumped out 10th seed Nadia Petrova in the first round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
The 22-year-old Russian, playing her seventh event since returning to the tour after nine months out with shoulder problems, produced a polished 6-3, 6-4 victory at the $2 million hard court event.
When the three-time Grand Slam champion lined up at her first tournament after her enforced break the Warsaw Open in May she was ranked 126 in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour list.
Since those tentative first steps back, Sharapova has risen slowly but surely to her current ranking of No.49, but one gets the feeling she could be holding back her best form for the final Grand Slam of the year, the US Open, which gets under way in just under two weeks.
Sharapova was a picture of concentration during her straight-sets victory over her fellow Russian on Monday, rattling off four games in a row during a dominant period in the second set.
Afterwards, Sharapova said that far from letting herself get carried away with the ifs and buts of the next few months, she is sticking to the old adage of one outing at a time.
“It’s tough to think about the winner’s circle because you have to take it one match at a time,” she said.
“Coming back trying to get used to the situation again and the match you just hope you move forward and get better and better every match. That’s my goal right now.
“Obviously when I come into a tournament I want to win it but the mindset is to focus on every match.”
Sharapova, who goes on to play Sybille Bammer in round two before a potential meeting with seventh seed Vera Zvonareva in the third round, was one of 12 first round winners on Monday.
Among those that tasted success were Alona Bondarenko who beat 13th seed Marion Bartoli and Francesca Schiavone who took out 15th seed Amelie Mauresmo.
Tuesdays order of play witnesses the next chapter of Kim Clijsters return to the tour. She takes on British qualifier Elena Baltacha in the night match on the main show court.
Realistically, its going to be very difficult but I have got to believe I can win, said Baltacha, who beat Germans Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kristina Barrois to make the main draw.
The good thing is that I qualified, beating two high-ranked players, so that is huge for my confidence.