After suffering her first clay court loss to an opponent not named Serena Williams for the first time since 2011, all eyes were on seventh seed Maria Sharapova, as she began her campaign for a second title in Paris. The Russian star may not have played a perfect match on Monday, but she still managed to defeat her fellow Russian native Ksenia Pervak 6-1, 6-2. She hit a balanced 17 winners with 17 unforced errors.
“Going into a first round match at a Grand Slam, you want to be solid and do the things you need to do,” Sharapova said. “It’s never easy, no matter how good you’re feeling or how bad you’re feeling. It’s just a different story once you get on the court. And I thought I did what I had to do very well. There are things I can improve on and do better for the next match, but it’s definitely nice to get through.”
Sharapova is faced with a tough draw, as a potential quarter-final match-up against Serena Williams looms just three matches away.
“It’s tough to think about that match down the line when you have to compete in three more matches before that,” Sharapova said. “Obviously it’s a match that many people always look forward to. But in many ways, it doesn’t matter if it’s fourth round or quarterfinal, semis, final – at a certain point, there’s only one champion at a tournament. So it’s not really about when you face somebody.
“And right now it’s not our concern, because the next match I’m playing against Pironkova.”
- Sharapova has won 48 of her last 52 clay court matches dating back to 2011.
Sharapova’s second round opponent will be Tsvetana Pironkova, who defeated Annika Beck 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2 in her Paris opener on Sunday. The world No. 42 has never been past the second round at Roland Garros, having lost at that stage of the tournament on four separate occasions.
This marks the fifth time these two competitors will cross paths on the professional tour, with Sharapova holding an undefeated 4-0 record in the head-to-head series. Only one of those previous encounters took place on clay and that dates back to their first meeting in 2007. Their closest match was their most recent one at the 2012 Wimbledon Championships, which went to three sets before Sharapova finished with a bagel.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova in Straight Sets