Thu, Jul 05, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Sharapova, Kvitova ousted; Nadal, Djokovic advance

AFP, LONDON

Russia’s Vitalia Diatchenko returns to Maria Sharapova of Russia in their Wimbledon women’s singles first-round match in London on Tuesday.

Photo: EPA

Maria Sharapova on Tuesday suffered her first opening round Wimbledon defeat and earliest Grand Slam exit in eight years when she was shocked by fellow Russian Vitalia Diatchenko, the world No. 132.

Sharapova, the 2004 champion, was joined at the exit by 2011 and 2014 winner Petra Kvitova, who was stunned by Belarusian world No. 50 Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

However, two-time men’s champion Rafael Nadal and three-time winner Novak Djokovic eased into the second round.

Sharapova was cruising to victory at one stage on Court Two with a set and 5-2 lead before qualifier Diatchenko shrugged off a back injury to win 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 after more than three hours of tense action.

Sharapova, playing Wimbledon for the first time in three years after missing 2016 through a drug ban and last year due to injury, gave up the match on her 11th double fault.

It was her earliest exit at a Grand Slam since a first-round defeat at the 2010 Australian Open.

“It’s always tough to assess your motivation levels after a first-round loss, but I won’t shy away from learning from my errors,” 31-year-old Sharapova said.

World No. 1 Nadal breezed into the second round with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 win over Israel’s Dudi Sela, as the Spaniard returned to action for the first time since claiming his 11th French Open title.

Nadal, the Wimbledon champion in 2008 and 2010, also managed to avoid falling victim to a player ranked outside the world top 100 for what would have been the fifth time in his past six visits to the All England Club.

“I’m just happy to be through of course — and yes, this match gives me positive feelings,” said Nadal after seeing off world No. 127 Sela.

Nadal, the 17-time major winner, has not got past the fourth round since finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic in 2011.

Djokovic reached the second round with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 win over American Tennys Sandgren.

Djokovic, seeded 12, was back at the tournament where last year he was forced to retire from his quarter-final against Tomas Berdych with an elbow injury.

“I thought it was overall quite a solid match. I think he made a lot of errors,” Djokovic said.

World No. 1 Simona Halep started her challenge for a first Wimbledon title with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Japan’s Kurumi Nara.

Halep has arrived at the All England Club on a high after finally winning her maiden Grand Slam crown at the French Open last month.

Spain’s Garbine Muguruza opened her title defense with a 6-2, 7-5 win over British wild-card Naomi Broady.

Taiwanese world No. 155 Jason Jung, who replaced Andy Murray in the draw when the Briton withdrew at the weekend, fell to a 7-5, 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 defeat to world No. 47 Benoit Paire of France in 2 hours, 8 minutes.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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