Wimbledon 2018: Sharapova upset in opening round
Maria Sharapova suffered a shocking defeat at the championships at Wimbledon Tuesday night. Key errors and double faults made it a topsy-turvy competition for Sharapova as she lost in three sets against Vitalia Diatchenko who took the win 6-7(3), 7-6(3), 6-4 on Court Two at the All England Club. It was the first time the former 2004 champion lost in the opening round since 2015 when she last played there.
The Russian has a one up on her Russian counterpart dating back to Roland Garros in 2015 where she held her off in straight sets. While that was on clay, the style of Sharapova’s grass court would be put to the test as she got no time in competition the last 26 days. Diatchenko carried a three-game winning streak from qualifications and would try to keep it up to earn her first top 25 win ever.
The match began with both Diatchenko and Sharapova trading breaks on one another. It was a true show of challenging moments for the players as they kept neck and neck all the way to the end. Sharapova was forced to go to a tiebreak where she managed to overtake her Russian countrywoman and win things 7-3.
It took 65 minutes in what was an even show of force from both players who averaged 50-60 percent of points won on the first serve and struggles from the second. The double faults from Diatchenko were the big difference to her losing out on getting a foot against the former champion.
She kept with the former number one even after losing the first three games straight in the second set. Her moment came slowly gaining a footing on the score before the eighth game arrived. Diatchenko fought to win three leveling back just in time to force Sharapova into further gameplay.
The 24th seed served in the 11th to get the lead but Diatchenko got into the game with unforced errors creeping in. She somehow found a way to hold it together and lead 6-5 forcing Diatchenko into another tight spot. She got through it landing a solid crosscourt winner that kept her ahead of the score. A final error on the return from Sharapova made it six-all sending them to a second tiebreak.
Diatchenko checked up and kept ahead of Sharapova keeping more than a point or more between the two of them. Errors were beginning to rack up for the former number one who was falling out of contention to her Russian opponent.
The 27-year-old opened the gap to four points before she reached it to force a decider after 1 hour and 13 minutes. The first serves improved through the 13 games and 89 points played in the set, but the double faults running in Sharapova’s end were the point to giving Diatchenko a chance to really make an upset possible.
She led the way holding serve in the opening game of the third with Sharapova following her tail. They kept on serve through six games when in that one, Diatchenko called for the trainer to check back on a back and thigh strain. It bothered her just enough on serve to let Sharapova break her and take a 4-3 lead. When nothing could be done to remedy the situation on the changeover, she returned to play on trying to keep Sharapova at bay.
Diatchenko leveled the score in a huge break of serve just as the three-hour mark surpassed. The unseeded Russian held in the ninth that put her in a great spot at pulling together an upset against Sharapova. On a returned hit into the net, Diatchenko got match point where a double fault from Sharapova took her down in a bad ending. The match lasted three hours and seven minutes.
A total of 228 were won between the two players with Diatchenko winning more points in front of the net while having a lower serve percentage than her counterpart. Both tallied 19 double faults in their marathon match with the 30-year-old having one too many that ultimately cost her. While she tries to recover from the early defeat, Diatchenko will prepare to take on American Sofia Kenin in the second round Thursday.
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