Thursday 29 July 2004
Last Update 29 July 2004 12:00 am
SAN DIEGO, California. 29 July 2004 — Maria Sharapova, in her first match since winning Wimbledon earlier this month, powered past American qualifier Lilia Osterloh 6-3, 6-3 in the second round of the $1.3 million Acura Classic on Tuesday.
“I really feel this is where I belong,” the 17-year-old Russian told reporters. “The competitive spirit comes back again.
“I knew it wouldn’t be easy and I just tried to be consistent. I think I did well for not playing for a while and coming off such a big win.”
Top seed Serena Williams struggled to progress and needed more than two hours to down Jelena Jankovic of Serbia and Montenegro 6-7, 6-3, 6-2. Serena’s sister, Venus, pulled out of the tournament earlier in the day with a sprained wrist. Playing in front of a sellout crowd of 6,500, sixth seed Sharapova served well and returned aggressively but often failed to find her range with her big groundstrokes.
Serena, beaten in Sunday’s final at nearby Carson by Lindsay Davenport, was erratic against Jankovic, unable to control her groundstrokes and doing little with her return of serve. The two players received simultaneous medical timeouts with Williams leading 3-2 in the third set, Jankovic for a stiff back and Serena for blisters on her left foot. After a 10-minute break, Jankovic was unable to get her rhythm back while Williams played more consistently and ended the match with two booming aces.
French Open champion Anastasia Myskina, the third seed from Russia, advanced with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Austria’s Barbara Schett.
In the day’s only upset, Russian Elena Likhovtseva put out compatriot and 10th seed Nadia Petrova 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in a first-round tussle.
Federer Looks Good in
In Toronto, Roger Federer managed 34 minutes of winning tennis to collect the first set 6-3 against Hicham Arazi Tuesday before a dismal day ended in yet more drizzle at the $2.56-million Masters Series.
The Swiss top seed finally took the court after rain postponed play for more than nine hours on a day in which 18 first-round singles matches had been scheduled.
Federer overcame two double-faults in the opening game with three quick aces, then grabbed a 3-0 margin before the Moroccan managed a love game for 1-3. Federer saved the only break point he faced in the fifth game.
With time a factor and more rain threatening, double Wimbledon winner Federer, winner of a startling seven titles already this season, reached a set point, which Arazi saved. Twice more the challenger staved off the inevitable before sending a forehand long.
At that point light rain intervened, and tournament supervisor Gayle Bradshaw sent the players off court after 10 minutes under umbrellas on the sidelines.