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Tennis round-up: Sharapova to face Kerber in Mallorca

June 19, 2019 11:24 IST

'First match in a few months. First win on grass since 15’. I don’t usually get my phone out until I’m finished with my cool down ( only to write to mama) but this deserves a selfie', Maria Sharapova tweeted with this picture after her match on Tuesday

IMAGE: 'First match in a few months. First win on grass since 15’. I don’t usually get my phone out until I’m finished with my cool down ( only to write to mama) but this deserves a selfie', Maria Sharapova tweeted with this picture after her match on Tuesday. Photograph: Maria Sharapova/Twitter

After two weeks enjoying the delights of Mallorca it was time for business for Maria Sharapova on Tuesday as she launched her comeback from a six-month injury lay-off in style.

The Russian five-times Grand Slam champion struggled for rhythm initially on the low-bouncing grasscourt at the Mallorca Open but picked up the pace to beat Viktoria Kuzmova 7-6(8), 6-0.

 

It was a small step for the 32-year-old who will face reigning Wimbledon champion and top seed Angelique Kerber in a standout second-round match at the Santa Ponsa Tennis Club.

Kerber, who suffered an ankle injury during the claycourt season and lost in the first round at the French Open, beat Belgian qualifier Ysaline Bonaventure 7-5, 4-6, 6-2.

Former world number one Sharapova admitted there is still much to work on but was encouraged by her display in negotiating a tricky opening round -- her first competitive match since the St Petersburg Open in January.

There were a few double faults in the first set but the right shoulder that has caused her so much trouble in the past and needed minor surgery in February appeared to hold up.

She saved two set points in the opener but allowed her opponent, ranked 39 places higher than her at 46, only six points in the second as a large crowd, which included tournament referee Toni Nadal, watched under a blazing sun.

It was the 2004 Wimbledon champion's first win on grass for four years in only her second match on the surface in that time.

"It was nice to get a victory," she told reporters.

"It's been a while since I've been out there so it felt really good to go through a few things I've worked on and get the arm into action again. There's a lot to work on but I had to start somewhere."

Wildcard Sharapova said she felt "optimistic" about the shoulder that needed minor surgery in February and did not feel anything "too sharp" during the match.

With rain falling elsewhere in Europe, Mallorca appeared a wise choice as a starting point for a suspect shoulder but it was not all smooth for wildcard Sharapova against Kuzmova.

The Slovak broke to lead 6-5 in the first set as Sharapova served three double-faults. Sharapova broke back immediately to force a tiebreak but had to fend off a set point at 6-7 and another at 7-8 before sealing the set when Kuzmova missed a forehand.

A confident Sharapova romped through the second set.

Victoria Azerenka, the third former world number one in action on the day, was beaten 1-6, 6-4, 7-5 by Caroline Garcia.

Federer begins grasscourt season with win

Roger Federer began his preparations for next month's Wimbledon Championships with a 7-6(1), 6-3 victory over unseeded Australian John Millman in the opening round of the Halle Open on Tuesday.

Competing in his first match since being beaten by eventual champion Rafael Nadal in the French Open semi-finals, the Swiss proved too strong for Millman in the grasscourt tournament.

World number 57 Millman, who had beaten Federer in four sets in their previous encounter at last year's US Open, put up a strong fight in the opening set but was no match for his opponent at the contest wore on.

Up next for the 20-times Grand Slam champion is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who has won the last two matches of their 17 career meetings.

Earlier, world number 14 Borna Coric began his title defence with a 7-6(2), 6-3 victory over Spain's Jaume Munar to move into the second round where he will face Joao Sousa.

David Goffin fired nine aces and won 86% of points on his first serve in a comfortable 6-1, 6-1 win over Argentine Guido Pella in 50 minutes. Up next for the Belgian is Radu Albot.

Wildcard Tsonga defeated fellow Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-4, 7-5 but not before the duo delighted the crowd with an impromptu game of foot tennis https://twitter.com/ATP_Tour/status/1140985403299770368 in the second set after Paire's racket slipped from his hand following a serve.

Seventh seed Roberto Bautista Agut overcame Taylor Fritz 7-6(10), 6-0 while local hope Jan-Lennard Struff got past Laslo Djere 6-4, 6-4 to set up a meeting with Karen Khachanov.

The Halle Open is a warm-up tournament for Wimbledon which begins on July 1.

Osaka outlasts Sakkari to advance in rain-hit Birmingham Classic

World No 1 Naomi Osaka was tested by Maria Sakkari in her first-round match at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham but eventually went through to the last-16 of the grasscourt tournament with a hard-fought 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win on Tuesday.

In her first match since her third-round exit at Roland Garros earlier this month, 21-year-old Osaka struggled with her first serve against the world number 33 and took two hours to dispatch her Greek opponent.

However, the Japanese, who lost to Sakkari prior to her US Open title run last year, did manage to fire seven aces and won five break points to clinch victory on a surface she had previously admitted was not her strongest.

Elsewhere, former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko stormed into the next round with a 6-0, 6-2 demolition of Iga Swiatek while Petra Martic saw off the challenge of Ekaterina Alexandrova with a 6-3, 7-5 win.

However, rain led organisers to bring an early end to the day's play.

Venus Williams's match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich and French Open champion and second seed Ashleigh Barty's encounter against Donna Vekic were both pushed back to Wednesday.

Rain washes out second day's play at Queen's Club

Rain forced the cancellation of the second day's play at the Queen's Club Championships on Tuesday, with matches involving the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Juan Martin del Potro rescheduled for Wednesday.

As many as 10 singles matches and two doubles contests were set to be played on Tuesday but spells of rain led to a number of false starts before the organisers were forced to cancel the day's play after 1700 local time (1600GMT).

The washout meant Britain's former world number one Andy Murray's comeback was pushed back by 24 hours to Thursday, five months after what he has described as "life-changing" hip resurfacing surgery following his first round exit at the Australian Open.

The 32-year-old Scot will partner Spain's Feliciano Lopez in the doubles competition.

The Queen's Club tournament is a traditional warm-up event for the Wimbledon Championships which start on July 1. 

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