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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sharapova starts with a bang at Wimbledon

Former champion Maria Sharapova made a fluent start to her Wimbledon campaign with a 6-2 6-1 win over fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze in the first round on Tuesday.

The fifth seed and former world number one again showed the form which brought her this year's Italian Open title, fuelling the belief that she can repeat her stunning grasscourt run of 2004 when she beat Serena Williams in the final.

Still only 24, Sharapova is enjoying a new lease of life after the shoulder problems that played havoc with her once potent serve and sent her tumbling down the rankings
While she admits she does not lay awake at night wondering if she will add to her three grand slam titles, she says knowing what it feels like to win at Wimbledon keeps the desire burning.

"Of course it's important," Sharapova, one of only three women in the draw to have lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish, told reporters. "It would be a wonderful achievement.

"But I'm really happy to be playing something that I really love. I don't look ahead and think how amazing it would be to hold the trophy.

"Obviously I'm very fortunate to have had that feeling before and knowing how good that feeling is. That's what drives you deep down inside."

Sharapova never allowed former world number five Chakvetadze to settle and used her booming groundstrokes to devastating effect throughout a 68-minute contest that was a late addition to the Centre Court programme.

Chakvetadze, a quarter-finalist at three of the four grand slams, has managed just three main draw wins all year as she battled health problems and her fragile confidence seeped away after Sharapova broke serve in the third game.

From then on it was one-way traffic as Sharapova booked a second round match against either British wildcard Laura Robson or Germany's Angelique Kerber.

Their first round encounter was one of several postponed on Tuesday as organisers cleared a backlog caused by Monday's rain.

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