Fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova confirmed her status as a title contender at Wimbledon Tuesday by making quick work of Brit Samantha Murray 6-1, 6-0 in a first-round encounter.
With the win, Sharapova added yet another accolade to her already-impressive Grand Slam resume, according to WTA on Twitter:
It was a true David vs. Goliath matchup, but the British underdog didn't have enough stones to hurt one of the greatest female tennis players of all time.
The match looked one-sided on paper and was in execution as well, but Murray may have deserved a slightly better fate than a near whitewash, as Alistair Durden of BBC pointed out:
Samantha Murray beaten 6-1 6-0 by Maria Sharapova. Played some good points but the former champ too strong. #Wimbledon2014— Alistair Durden (@alidurdenBBC) June 24, 2014
Although Sharapova will have to refine her game in order to beat better opponents as the tournament progresses, playing at an elite level wasn't necessary against Murray, per BBC's Iain Carter:
No surprise on No1 Sharapova a class above Samantha Murray without needing to hit top form. She wins 6-1, 6-0 in just 58 mins #bbctennis— Iain Carter (@iaincartergolf) June 24, 2014
On the heels of her second career French Open title and fifth career Grand Slam championship, Sharapova is still hungry for more. She took the Wimbledon title at the age of 17 way back in 2004, but she certainly doesn't feel as though she has been there and done that, per the Associated Press, via ESPN.com.
"I don't care what my results were in the past. You start from a clean slate," Sharapova said. "That's how I go into a Grand Slam. I don't think that I've won it before, because when you have the mentality that you've won it, then it gets boring. You have to go out there hungry and want to compete for more."
If Sharapova's mentality aids her in winning a second Wimbledon championship this year, she will accomplish something that no female player has done in a dozen years, which Wimbledon on Twitter highlights:
Things are obviously going to get much more difficult for Sharapova as the tournament progresses, but the current state of her game suggests that she will most definitely be a factor after a solid showing against Murray.
The atmosphere during Sharapova's opening-round match was an interesting one. Sharapova has been a fan favorite at the All England Club since taking the tennis world by storm there in 2004, but her underdog opponent may have had more support in front of her home fans.
That type of situation was probably good for Sharapova early in the tournament since it created adversity to some degree. From an on-court perspective, though, the British wild card was no match for the French Open champion.
Based on the way Sharapova started the match, it looked as though it might be a battle. It took everything she had to hold serve during the first game as she had three double faults and faced a pair of break points, but she fought them off and settled in thereafter.
Murray leveled things at 1-1 by holding the ensuing service game, but things got messy for the British upstart after that. In fact, Murray didn't win another game for the entire set as she won less than half of her points on serve and dropped the opening set in routine fashion, per Tennis Now:
Maria Sharapova a set to the good on Samantha Murray after taking the opener 6-1.— TennisNow (@Tennis_Now) June 24, 2014
Sharapova struggled on serve in her own right, which is something she was able to overcome at Roland Garros. She ultimately wasn't punished for her shortcomings at the French Open and that carried over to the first set of her first match at Wimbledon.
That was due largely to a lack of firepower on Murray's part, according to Victoria Chiesa of Tennis View Magazine:
Sharapova does not look sharp, but SaMurray has nothing to challenge her with.— Victoria Chiesa (@vrcsports) June 24, 2014
As good as Sharapova was in the first set, she made even quicker work of Murray in the second. With just one unforced error and eight points lost in a 24-minute set, Sharapova enters the second round at Wimbledon with a ton of momentum on her side.
Sharapova wasn't tested much during her first-round romp and there aren't many threats in front of her until the quarterfinals. She will face the relatively unknown Timea Bacsinszky in the second round before things start to get slightly trickier.
Everyone is looking ahead to a quarterfinal clash with Serena Williams, but it certainly isn't a foregone conclusion. That match was supposed to happen at Roland Garros; however, Serena was upset early, which cleared the path for Sharapova to win the tournament.
How will Sharapova ultimately fare at Wimbledon 2014?
It seems more likely that the match will come to fruition this time around, but Sharapova has had her struggles at Wimbledon in recent years. The Russian star has gotten past the fourth round at the All England Club just once over the past seven years, so it's fair to say that her form on grass hasn't been the best.
Perhaps that is changing since Sharapova has momentum on her side and made quick work of Murray, but it is tough to deduce much from what Sharapova did Tuesday. Murray simply isn't anywhere near Sharapova's level, so she never had to sweat over the course of the match.
Things will get tougher for Sharapova moving forward and it will be interesting to see how she handles that. Wimbledon hasn't been kind to her as of late, but Sharapova should have all the confidence in the world.
The potential quarterfinal against Williams may very well be the match that decides who wins this tournament, although Sharapova can't count her chickens before they hatch. There is work to be done before she reaches that point, but she passed her first test with flying colors.
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