Maria Sharapova has reached the third round of Wimbledon having dropped just four games following a second straight convincing win, this time over Timea Bacsinszky, 6-2, 6-1.
Sharapova is coming off a triumph in the French Open, which marked her second time winning at Roland Garros in the past three years. She hasn't won another major since 2008, however. Her championship at Wimbledon is now a decade in the rear-view mirror.
She's still one of the top contenders at the All England Club despite that drought. It's a status that was solidified by her dominant showing in the opening round against Samantha Murray, who won just a single game in the match.
Michael Hann of Reuters passed along comments from Sharapova after that routine win. She made it clear that adapting to the changing conditions was crucial in the early going of the event:
Each court is quite different. On the Aorangi courts I think two meters of the baseline is pretty much claycourt right now, which is quite different.
When you go out and play on a show court, the grass is new. That's why I think it's so important to really take care in those first few days when the grass is fresh.
The conditions didn't seem to bother the No. 5 seed in the early going. She won the first three games of the first set, including a break, before Bacsinszky was able to get on the board. It was a continuation of her strong showing to cruise past Murray.
Sharapova was able to maintain control for the duration of the first set. The only hiccup was dropping serve with a chance to close it out with a 5-1 lead. She struggled to defend her second serve (2-of-7 in the set) but won 70 percent of points on her first serve to make up for it.
She ended up breaking Bacsinszky in the next game, making the dropped service game a moot point. It's something she'll have to improve as she gets deeper in the tournament, though.
Live Tennis provided a shot of Sharapova after she closed out the set:
Not much changed in the second set. Bacsinszky simply didn't have enough weapons at her disposal to turn the match into a serious challenge for Sharapova. That's especially true because the Russian superstar was terrific on serve, winning all 13 points when she got her first serve in during the set.
Add in a couple breaks and it wasn't long before she was on cruise control for the second straight match. She proceeded to close it out at 6-1 in just 24 minutes. The entire match took less than an hour, which should help in terms of conserving energy moving forward.
Wimbledon pointed out Sharapova's strong form in the early going:
The WTA noted it was her 40th win at the season's third major:
Up next, Sharapova will face off with 23-year-old American Alison Riske. It will mark the pair's second meeting with the five-time major champion winning the first in three sets. That match also took place on grass, but it took place back in 2010.
Even though Riske has improved since that point, it's still a match Sharapova should win. Assuming she does, things will get a lot more tricky starting in the round of 16. She would face off with Angelique Kerber or Kirsten Flipkens before a potentially massive quarterfinal meeting with Serena Williams.
The early signs from Sharapova have been very positive, but the more serious tests are on the horizon.
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