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Svitolina off the mark in Rome, Sharapova battles through rain

AFP  |  Rome 

Defending champion eased into the third round of as three-time winner needed a marathon three sets to get past Australian

Svitolina, the fourth seed, received a first round bye and dropped just three games in a dominant 6-1 6-2 victory over 35th-ranked last night.

The 23-year-old Ukrainian won the biggest clay court title of her career last year at the Foro Italico. And she continued where she left off despite the rainy conditions, needing just over an hour to peg back her Croatian rival.

By contrast, Sharapova needed two and a half hours to master 18th-ranked Barty 7-5 3-6 6-2 in their first round match.

"It was tough, tough conditions," said 40th-ranked Sharapova, who reached the quarter-finals in last week. "It felt like I was playing three different matches.

"There was a long wait and the way the court played, the way she played, the shadows, the little bit of a breeze out there. So, a lot going on.

"I think it was a really good way to end the match, to get that win." Sharapova's victory, her 34th on clay in the Italian capital, came in her first meeting with Barty, who was making her debut.

Barty pushed the five-time winner to a third set as she did against Australian champion last week in

The game swung the Russian's direction in the final set when Sharapova held serve in a crucial 1-1 game from 0-40 down after having failed to convert three break points in the previous game.

Barty, ranked 18, saved two match points in the final game against the 2011, 2012 and 2015 winner but two unforced errors in a row handed Sharapova a second round berth.

Sharapova next meets in the second round. The pair have not played each other since the Slovak won in the fourth round of the 2014 Australian on her way to the final.

"It's been a while since I played her, she's always been a tough opponent especially on clay," said the Russian of the Slovak who leads 2-1 in clay court meetings.

Fifth seed of advanced to the third round past China's 6-2 7-5.

made light work of Slovenian Polona Hercog 6-2 6-4 in her first round match as the Russian warms up for which she won in 2009.

But there were uncontrollable tears for France's Kristina Mladenovic as forced her to call it a day while trailing Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova

- Shapovalov shines again -

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In the men's event, Belgian ninth seed was given a scare after leading 5-1 in the first set before losing six games in a row and dropping the first set to home hope

finalist got back on track by winning the next two 6-2 6-2 to advance to the second round.

And Canadian teenager battled past Czech veteran 1-6 6-3 7-6 (7/5), a week after becoming the youngest semi-finalist in

The 19-year-old will become the new Canadian number one next week in place of

"I'm a little bit in shock," he said. "It's crazy that it's come so early." After a sloppy start Shapovalov found his feet in the second set breaking for a 3-1 advantage after Berdych hit a forehand into the net.

The world number 29 clinched the set, on his third set point of a seven-minute game at 5-3, when Berdych netted a crosscourt backhand.

Berdych came within two points of victory in the ninth game, and Shapovalov raced to the first four points of the tie-break, holding on despite Berdych coming back dangerously for 5/5.

Bosnia's Damir Dzumhur took 64 minutes to get past Spain's to meet seven-time winner in the second round.

The rain returned in the evening with the match between Croatian fourth seed and American suspended with the first set tiebreak 6-6 (3/3) after 50 minutes play.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 16 2018. 09:35 IST
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