x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Wimbledon: Maria Sharapova slips out against Portuguese qualifier

Russian succumbs to surface issues that plagued others in falling 6-3, 6-4 to Michelle Larcher de Brito.

Michelle Larcher De Brito of Portugal had little trouble dispatching Maria Sharapova of Russia in the second round.
Michelle Larcher De Brito of Portugal had little trouble dispatching Maria Sharapova of Russia in the second round.

LONDON // Former Wimbledon champion and third seed Maria Sharapova slid to a shock second-round loss Wednesday when she was beaten 6-3, 6-4 by Portuguese qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito.

The tall Russian, who won the grass-court grand slam in 2004 age 17, slipped over a couple of times during the match and received lengthy treatment after a particularly nasty fall in the seventh game of the second set.

Even before the tumble, which was very similar to the one that ended up forcing second seed Victoria Azarenka to withdraw with a knee injury, Sharapova was outplayed by the world No 131, who sealed victory on her fifth match point when her opponent netted a forehand.

Sharapova's exit came hours after the withdrawal of Belarusian Azarenka, who called for Wimbledon officials to investigate why the courts were so slippery after several players suffered falls, and their departure opens up the bottom half of the draw.

After claiming victory the De Brito, 20, clearly had some sympathy for her opponent.

"There's lot of grass that's been cut and not been swept up, so there's a lot of dead grass, so it's not been easy," she told the BBC.

"It's a tough court to play on."

Former world No 1 Sharapova never looked happy on Court Two against a tenacious opponent, who shares the same noisy style of play as the four-time grand slam champion and also hails from the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida.

While being treated in the second set after the tumble that left her clutching her hip, Sharapova appeared to complain to the umpire that the surface was "dangerous".

She went off court to continue treatment and resumed after a near 10-minute stoppage but the Russian, who seemed to struggle with her serve in an all-round error-ridden performance, could not avoid one of her worst results at the All England Club.

With ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki and 12th seed Ana Ivanovic both losing as well, the lower half of the women's draw is now seriously short of big names.


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