Wimbledon 2013: Maria Sharapova into second round

Maria Sharapova came through a tough battle with France's Kristina Mladenovic on Monday to make it into the second round at Wimbledon.

Updated: June 24, 2013 21:42 IST
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London: Maria Sharapova shrugged off her public Wimbledon spat with Serena Williams to come through an equally fierce challenge out on court as she battled her way into the second round on Monday.

The 2004 Wimbledon champion was given a stern test by France's up-and-coming Kristina Mladenovic but the Russian third seed eventually triumphed in a 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 win on Centre Court.

"I'm really pleased with this performance," Sharapova said.

"My opponent played extremely well so I'm really happy to be in the second round.

"I knew that my opponent was capable of playing really great tennis. I tried to take my opportunities in the tie-break.

"I was happy with the way I stepped up in the second set. It's always nice when you're not breaking somebody to get ahead and win that tie breaker.

"It was still pretty tough in the end but I'm glad I got it done in two."

With the top 32 players seeded and kept apart until the third round at the earliest, Sharapova could scarcely have had a tougher first round draw.

Mladenovic, the Wimbledon 2009 girls' runner-up, is on a career-high world ranking of 37 and showed why she is tipped as one to watch for the future.

Sharapova was pushed hard by Mladenovic in the first set, who matched her illustrious opponent in both her serves and groundstrokes.

And the French number three had had the set's only break point going into the tie-break.

At 5-5, Sharapova remonstrated at length with the umpire, who gave Mladenovic a let following a correct challenge by the Frenchwoman.

Though the Russian went on to lose the game, she did not let it affect her focus, taking the next game to love to set up the tie-break.

Sharapova held serve to give herself set point and won it with a high backhand at the end of a scrappy point at the net.

Mladenovic held off a string of break points in the first game of the second set but Sharapova's grit eventually saw her through into the second round.

The build-up to Wimbledon was dominated by a very public spat between Sharapova and world number one Williams, who beat the Russian in the French Open final.

Sharapova blasted the defending champion for her controversial comments over a high-profile rape case and a perceived slight against her relationship with Bulgarian player, Grigor Dimitrov.

Laying bare the bitter rivalry between the two, the Siberian dished some back, ripping into the American's colourful private life and telling Williams to keep her opinions to herself.

With Mladenovic seen off, Sharapova faces either Portuguese qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito or Melanie Oudin of the United States in the second round.

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