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Madrid Masters: Sharapova late smash ends Begu in straight sets

Rudy Martinez
ANALYST
Feature
226   //    08 May 2018, 03:13 IST

Mutua Madrid Open - Day Three
Mutua Madrid Open - Day Three

Maria Sharapova got into some early troubles with the double faults but came back to dominate the match in the Mutua Madrid Open on Monday. The Russian handled the second set against Irina Camelia Begu winning 7-5, 6-1 on Manolo Santana Court on the grounds of La Caja Magica. Sharapova gained a 19 point winning streak on the day with the notion that her game was in fine form.

The 2014 champion put together a smart defeat of Begu’s countrywoman in straight sets getting on the right track in a WTA premier mandatory. Sharapova goes into the round of 32 having three wins over Begu with the hope of gaining a fourth.

The Romanian also had a huge victory taking down Jelena Ostapenko who couldn’t get it together. With the chance of building a second major victory in a row, Begu’s offense would require a fast start from her serve.

Begu’s second serve came into play nailing the backhand returns against Sharapova that forced the opening game to deuce. Gaining the early chance proved beneficial for her as Sharapova ended the short rally into the net.

Begu gained a 2-0 lead before Sharapova answered with some difficulty. It led Tomas Högstedt to visit Sharapova during the break to give her suggestions to adjust and steady when trying to attack on the return game.

Begu won the hold in the fourth that gave her a comfortable lead over the Russian whose game was still slow to respond. She got the serve to formulate a better win in the fifth before leveling the score with forehand winners getting her through two breaks on deuce in the sixth. Sharapova accelerated with a third straight win that saw her hold off the double faults holding Begu from forcing deuce.

The Romanian brought an end to her loss of being a break up on the former number one leveling back in the eighth. She couldn’t find the return of serve in the ninth forcing her to try and match the increased skills of Sharapova who stood at 4-5.

Begu achieved her mission on serve that pushed Sharapova to play on in the set. The 31-year-old did just that in the 11th game making her serve do the work to defeat Begu and pressure once again to end the set on her terms.

The 12th game saw Begu doing well on defense but suddenly dropped her guard when she had the chance to end the game her way. Sharapova saw her shot to return some power to her serve, she saved the break on deuce and finished the set with a winner on the line ending 63 minutes.

Despite Begu’s early defeat, she put together the strongest fight ever against Sharapova but remained 0-7 in sets against her.

She put it aside opening the second with a break of the Russian but lost control of her own game. Sharapova had her negative moments which included her seventh double fault but got out of danger going a serve and a break up.

She made it a double from Begu blanking the Romanian, gaining a 3-1 hold in the set. A 12-point winning streak followed Sharapova capturing her first serve to love in the match.

Begu looked defeated with all her intensity disappearing leaving the door wide open for the former number one. Sharapova reached triple break before capturing her 16th consecutive point for the win. While the streak came to an end, Sharapova had match point in her grasp, putting Begu away with one last forehand to end her day in 1 hour and 32 minutes.

She finished with a lower serve percentage than her opponent but holding back her troubles in the first set had her moving into the third round where she’ll face the winner between Shuai Zhang or Kristina Mladenovic.

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Rudy Martinez
ANALYST
A writer with eight years experience in sportswriting. He specializes in the National Hockey League, WTA Tennis and both summer and winter Olympic sports.
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