x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Partisan wave does not swamp Sharapova

Former Wimbledon champion beats local heartthrob Laura Robson, Caroline Wozniacki not content with Court Two and Vera Zvonareva exits.

Maria Sharapova said she could not blame the Wimbledon crowd for supporting her 17-year-old British opponent in a taut second-round match on Friday on Court One.

Sharapova fought back from a 4-1 deficit to win the first set in a tiebreaker before dismissing Laura Robson 7-6, 6-3.

Sharapova said the cheers for her opponent, Robson, were "completely understandable".

"She's young, she's moving up and playing really good tennis, so there's no reason the crowd shouldn't be behind her," Sharapova said.

The Russian is seeded No 5 here but is the current favourite to win the women's championship. She won here before, in 2004, when she was the same age Robson is now.

She was not satisfied with her own performance. "I didn't play my best," she said. "I felt I made a few more errors than I had to."

Sharapova offered Robson some advice: "She's got to keep learning and keep playing and keep working hard. That's really what it comes down to, is just grinding it out. Like I said, grinding out the matches where you don't necessarily have thousands of people behind you."

Sharapova will meet Klara Zakopalova in the third round.

Robson, the world No 254, will return to the Challenger circuit but her performance against Sharapova pointed to a bright future on the senior tour.

This was the third time Robson had featured in the main draw at Wimbledon as a wild card since she won the junior title as a 14-year-old in 2008.

After plucky first-round defeats to Daniela Hantuchova in 2009 and Jelena Jankovic in 2010, she won her first grand-slam match on Wednesday, defeating Angelique Kerber in three sets.

Caroline Wozniacki, meanwhile, believes that she deserves a bigger stage than Court Two but stopped short of joining Serena Williams in criticising Wimbledon's organisers after winning her second-round match.

The order-of-play committee put the world No 1 on the same court where Williams had appeared on Thursday.

Williams, a four-time champions here, made her displeasure known. Wozniacki beat Virginie Razzano yesterday, dropping just four games inside the 4,000-seat venue where Williams overcame Simona Halep.

While leading men such as Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have all played on Court One so far, none of them have dropped down to the smaller Court Two. Wozniacki, the 20-year-old Dane, is pursuing her first grand-slam championship and said she was happy to play wherever Wimbledon's organisers decide.

"Obviously, I think I deserve to play on one of the bigger courts, and everyone wants to play in there," she said.

"It's up to the tournament to decide where we're going to play. I just go out there and try to win. I'm a competitor so it doesn't really mater. The court is the same and the size is the same. I just go out there and play.

"Hopefully, in my next match I will have the chance to play on one of the bigger ones. We will have to see."

When it was noted that Nadal, her equivalent in the men's rankings, would not be asked to play on Court Two, she said: "Yes, but at the same time Serena played on Court Two and she has won here so many times. So if she can play on Court Two, then I guess I can, too."

Vera Zvonareva became the most prominent player to be ushered out of the tournament when the second-seeded Russian and 2010 runner-up lost to Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 6-2, 6-3.