Reigning Roland Garros champion Maria Sharapova advanced to the second round of Wimbledon with a no-nonsense win over Britain’s Samantha Murray in a whisker under an hour.
The No.5 seed, who won Wimbledon a decade ago, suffered first serve jitters in the opening set but it didn’t matter one jot as she powered her way to a 6-1, 6-0 victory under glorious sunshine on No.1 Court.
Playing in front of a patriotic crowd, the meeting was always going to be an exciting but nerve trembling prospect for the wild card, who as a child used to visit Wimbledon on school trips.
The fact she was playing an opponent who holds five Grand Slam titles did not help the nerves of the world No.247 either and as she prepared to duel with the Russian on the hallowed turf, it was clear she was a tad on edge.
Barely able to maintain a rally, Murray sprayed balls long and wide much to the surprise of the spectators who whispered, tutted and placed their hands to their mouths. Would this be the quickest match of the tournament? How many points would the lady from Altrincham muster?
There was distinct sense of relief when the umpire finally called play and the sun decided to shine; even more so when Sharapova hit three double faults while opening proceedings.
One of those brought up a break point opportunity for the Briton who squandered it with a wide backhand and the Russian would eventually hold.
Despite the blistering pace of the world No.5’s groundstrokes, Murray made frequent forays to the net, serving and volleying occasionally. When she served an ace to hold, deafening applause rang out.
The celebrations would, however, be short-lived. Despite break point opportunities in the third game, Murray could not convert. Sharapova held again and promptly capitalised on the double-faulting bug that had now begun to haunt her opponent in the next game.
From there she simply outclassed her opponent, peppering the court with penetrating drives. Sharapova admitted the start had been a little shaky - she served five double faults in total. “There's always a bit more tension coming into the first round of a Grand Slam,” she said.
“It was such a quick turnaround. Just a couple weeks ago you're on the clay, coming onto the grass, with the new grass and new surface, it's a different feeling. It was obviously a bit slower start than I wanted, but I’m happy overall with how I progressed through the match.”
Sharapova also pointed out that playing on the turf requires a lot of speed, reaction and footwork. "That combination is never quite easy. That adjustment always takes a little bit of time. That's why I'm happy that I settled in as the match went on today."
Murray, who has an uncle called Andy, described the contest as a great opportunity. "There were definitely some good points in there. I tried to play my game and be aggressive. I think I managed to play my game. I just didn't execute it well enough."
The Briton will now take solace in the fact that Maria is the highest-ranked competitor she has played. "It was really good just to experience what that's like, playing someone of her standard who really comes at you to just see how I deal with it," she added.
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