Maria Sharapova hits a backhand coupled with her famous grunt
18 May, 2017, 16:38
Her second-round opponent will be Croatian veteran Mirjana Luci-Baroni who she beat in the Madrid tournament last week before losing a grudge match against Eugenie Bouchard.
The five-time Grand Slam victor went down a quick break in the first set before revving up to claim the opener while playing in her third event since last month's end of a 15-month doping ban.
Although she was able to hold for a 2-0 lead and somehow threatened to earn another break, it was no surprise to see Sharapova retire at the next change of ends.
After being told in her post-match press conference that she will be returning to Wimbledon this summer, Sharapova said:"I don't know how the Wimbledon qualifying works or the rankings".
That was reduced to 15 months on appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) and she made her return to competitive action in April as a wild-card entry at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. She may receive a main draw wild card but many believe that it is more likely that she will be given a wild card into the qualifying draw. "I want to thank the tournament for giving me the opportunity to play in this special event again".
McHale, ranked 58th, faded badly in the second set as Sharapova hit her stride, producing glimpses of the talent that took her to world number one.
Stuttgart champion Laura Siegemund defeated 19-year-old Naomi Osaka, 6-2, 6-4, while Yulia Putintseva defeated Monica Puig, 6-2, 7-5.
Lucic-Baroni, the world number 22, will now face top seed Angelique Kerber or Anett Kontaveit in round three.
But once the second set began, Sharapova was in total control and began to resemble the player who won the trophy at the Foro Italico in 2011, 2012 and 2015. "There is no reason why we should make an exception for Maria Sharapova, there is no reason why we should announce a wild card before the others".
Sharapova came through a hic-cup near the end, losing serve as she prepared to wrap it up while leading 5-1, but recovered in the next game to emerge the victor.
Also, David Goffin rallied past qualifier Thomaz Bellucci 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4, and Tomas Berdych required five set points to close out the opening set in a 7-6 (7), 6-4 win over Australian Open quarterfinalist Mischa Zverev.
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