Sharapova opens with a win but Errani beaten

Italian defeated by 19-year-old Puerto Rican Monica Puig, Azarenka recovers from injury to progress

 

Maria Sharapova battled through a tough Centre Court opener against fast-rising French player Kristina Mladenovic on the opening day of Wimbledon.

Twenty-year-old Mladenovic put former champion Sharapova under intense pressure in the opening set before the class of the world number three began to tell, resulting in a 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 victory for the Russian.

Sharapova said: “I’m pleased with this performance. The first matches on grass at Wimbledon are always really difficult and my opponent played extremely well. I’m really happy to be in the second round now.”

Fifth seed Sara Errani became the first major casualty as she was upset by teenager Monica Puig.

Italian Errani, who reached the semi-finals of the recent French Open before losing to eventual winner Serena Williams, went down 6-3 6-2 to her 19-year-old Puerto Rican opponent.

Victoria Azarenka had an injury scare after hurting her knee in a fall on Court One. The second seed, who has been a losing semi-finalist in each of the last two years, was a set and a break ahead of Portugal’s Maria Joao Koehler when she fell awkwardly at the back of the court.

It appeared she had suffered a knee injury that might end her involvement in the tournament, but after a long period of treatment the Belarusian ploughed on and clinched a 6-1 6-2 win.

Serbian 12th seed Ana Ivanovic rode out a testing opening set against France’s Virginie Razzano before tying up a 7-6 (7/1) 6-0 win.

Uzbekistan-born American Varvara Lepchenko, seeded 26th, was a casualty as she tumbled to a 6-2 4-6 6-4 loss at the hands of Czech player Eva Birnerova.

Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko was the first player to reach the second round, posting an early 6-1 6-3 victory against Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino.

Among the lower-ranked seeds to go through on the first afternoon of the tournament were Czech Lucia Safarova, France’s Alize Cornet, Spaniard Carla Suarez-Navarro and Romanian Sorana Cirstea.

Italian Flavia Pennetta awaits Azarenka in the second round after beating Britain’s Elena Baltacha 6-4 6-1, while Serbian 16th seed Jelena Jankovic ousted another of the home nation’s hopes as she defeated Johanna Konta 6-2 7-5.