Sharapova wins Tianjin opening match

BEIJING: Maria Sharapova made up for lost time due to rain this week, powering into the second round of the Tianjin Open 6-4, 6-2 over Romanian Irina Begu on Wednesday.
The five-time Grand Slam champion, playing on a wild card, overcame seven double-faults to advance in the city 110 kilometres south of Beijing.
Sharapova improved to 3-0 in the series with the Romanian, who became the Russian’s opening opponent when Caroline Garcia withdrew injured after winning the Beijing title over new world number one Simona Halep last week.
After reaching the third round in Beijing, Sharapova maintained her record of never losing a set to Begu, the ninth seed ranked 57th to her opponent’s 86th.
“It’s been a long wait for everyone, it hasn’t been easy,” Sharapova said of two days of delays. “I had a first practice outdoors, and then I think it rained for 70 hours straight, unfortunately for the players.
“The good thing about this tournament is it has indoors, it’s pretty state-of-the-art. I trained at the National Tennis Centre as well,which was very impressive. I was still able to maintain good practice sessions.”
Sharapova played hit-or-miss with her forehand, dropping serve on a break point in the opening set but getting it straight back for 4-4 before taking the set two games later.
The 30-year-old Russian began with a break in the second set and had to fight through a pair of double-faults to take a 3-0 lead as she moved to the win.
Sharapova next plays Poland’s Magda Linette, a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 winner over Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine as the event struggles to catchup the schedule after two rainy days. — dpa