The battle lived up to the billing as Eugenie Bouchard collected her first career win over Maria Sharapova beating the Russian 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in the second round at Madrid.
Bouchard, who entered the event having not won a match since January, was down early but recovered to take the opener. Sharapova fought back to push to a decider, which the Canadian took breaking the former No. 1 in the 10th game.
Bouchard was 0-4 previously against Sharapova. And she had been outspoken on her return from a 15-month ban.
“I was actually quite inspired before the match because I had a lot of players coming up to me privately wishing me good luck,” said Bouchard.
“Players I don’t normally speak to, getting a lot of texts from people in the tennis world that were just rooting for me.
“I wanted to do it for myself, but also all these people. I really felt support.
“It showed me that most people have my opinion, and they were just maybe scared to speak out.”
Despite the loss, Sharapova remains confident of her return.
“I think I would be worried about myself if I sat here and said I’m pretty happy with losing a tennis match, no matter who I face, no matter what round it is, whether it’s the first round or final of a Grand Slam,” Sharapova said. “I’m a big competitor. What you work for so many hours every single day is to be on the winning end of matches.
“Today was just not that day. Of course, I’m disappointed. That’s what’s going to make me a better player. That’s what’s going to win me more tournaments and more Grand Slams.”
Another former No. 1 nearly joined Sharapova at the exit. Angelique Kerber had to fight back to beat Katerina Siniakova 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 after the Czech served for the match at 5-4 in the third set.
Top seed Angelique Kerber won the last four games to deny Katerina Siniakova’s determined upset bid in the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open.
May 8, 2017
MADRID, Spain – Trailing 5-3 in the final set, top seed Angelique Kerber dug in to defeat Katerina Siniakova, 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 in just over two hours to advance to the round of 16 at the Mutua Madrid Open.
After the pair split sets, it was the 20-year-old Czech who earned the first break of the decider to move ahead 4-3 and served for the match at 5-4. Nonetheless, she never earned a match point as the World No.2 ran off the last four games to ensure the tournament wouldn’t see both its top two seeds fall on Monday, after Karolina Pliskova’s exit at the hands of Anastasija Sevastova.
“I think she played one of the best matches in this year,” Kerber said. “I was trying at the end coming back. I know that I can come back and win matches like that when I’m down, so that was actually what was going on in my mind in the third set.
“I think it was from my side a really up-and-down match. I played really good in the first set; in the second set, the first few games at the beginning of the second set, it was really close, then she started playing better. She started moving good,a lot of balls back. In the third set, I was just trying to find my game back.”
But Caroline Wozniacki wasn’t so fortunate falling to Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
Karolina Pliskova struggles continued as the Czech loss to Anastasia Sevastova 6-3, 6-3. The World No. 3 is just 2-4 in her last six matches.
Svetlana Kuznetsova and Kristina Mladenovic were also winners, both over Americans.
On Tuesday, Simona Halep, Dominika Cibulkova and Sam Stosur headline the action in the women’s draw.
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