Sat, Mar 14, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Sharapova return proves brief


Maria Sharapova made her first competitive appearance for seven months on Thursday, losing a doubles match at the BNP Paribas Open.

The former world No. 1 and Russian compatriot Elena Vesnina were beaten 6-2, 4-6, 10-7 by Ekaterina Makarova and Tatiana Poutchek.

Sharapova was forced off the WTA Tour in August by a torn rotator cuff and underwent surgery on her right shoulder two months later.

“It feels very good to be back,” the 24-year-old said. “I just wanted to test [the shoulder] out. I started training a couple of months ago. I just wanted to ... test it out in a match situation and get a little different scenery than the practice court and play in front of the crowd, so that was exciting. The main goal for here was just to get out there and be in that atmosphere again.”

Meanwhile two-time champion Lleyton Hewitt reached the second round of the men’s singles on Thursday, where he’ll meet the man who bounced him from the first round of the Australian Open.

Hewitt beat Czech Jan Hernych 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 to line up the meeting with 17th-seeded Chilean Gonzalez.

In another first round match Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun defeated Michael Lammer of Switzerland, 7-5, 6-2.

In the women’s doubles, Czech pair Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova beat the No. 8 seeds Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan and Sun Tiantian of China 6-2, 4-6, 10-7.


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