Following a disappointing exit in Stuttgart, where she was a three-time defending champion, Maria Sharapova began her run in Madrid in more promising fashion, as she defeated the in-form Timea Bacsinszky to secure her spot in the second round of the tournament. She will next encounter Mariana Duque-Marino for the first time on the professional tour.
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Sharapova, formerly ranked No. 2 before suffering her surprise exit in Stuttgart, played a solid opening match at the start of the day in Madrid on Sunday, as she beat Bacsinszky in the rubber match to settle the score. Timea had won their first ever meeting last year but now Sharapova has overtaken her with consecutive victories in their most recent meetings on the tour. The latest ended 6-2, 6-3 after Maria struck 28 winners during the contest.
“Facing an opponent I’d lost to previously in Wuhan in two sets, and someone that’s been playing really good tennis this year, I knew this would be a tough match,” Sharapova said. “There’s no doubt about this and I was ready after having a good practice week,”
In a Herculaen effort late in the day, Mariana Duque-Marino rallied back from a bagel set down against Heather Watson to defeat the British No. 1 following a grueling third set tiebreak. She won the match 0-6, 6-3, 7-6(11) after saving several match points and battling beyond expectations. It was an exciting, albeit rollercoaster affair that brought attention to Court 7. The Colombian will now look to follow up on the momentum when she challenges Maria Sharapova in the second round.
This marks the first time that Sharapova and Mariana Duque-Marino will cross paths on the WTA Tour. While the qualifier produced a strong showing in her main draw opener against Watson, Sharapova is an entirely different beast and will be merciless in her dissection of the Colombian qualifier.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova in Straight Sets