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August 19, 2009

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Sharapova too good for Petrova

RUSSIAN Maria Sharapova signalled she might be close to a return to top form by dismissing 10th seeded Nadia Petrova 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the US$2 million Rogers Cup in Toronto on Monday.

While her current ranking of 49th in the world suggests Sharapova provided a big upset, in reality it was a routine victory for the three-time grand slam winner as she improved her record against Petrova to 8-1.

Sharapova has made steady progress since returning to action in May after nine months on the sidelines recovering from shoulder surgery. She is seeking her first title since April 2008.

"It's tough to think about the winner's circle because you have to take it one match at a time," the 22-year-old Russian said.

"Coming back trying to get use to the situation again and the match you just hope you move forward and get better-and-better every match. That's my goal right now.

"Obviously when I come into a tournament I want to win it but the mind set is to focus on every match."

Sharapova needed a few games to find her range on a muggy night but quickly had Petrova on the run, breaking her compatriot to go up 3-2 and again to close out the first set. Petrova responded with a break to open the second but did little to slow Sharapova, who swept through the next four games to take control.

If there was fault to be found in Sharapova's performance, it was her failure to finish off her opponent, who broke the former world No. 1 as she served for the match at 5-3. Sharapova made sure there would be no third set, however, by immediately breaking back and finally clinching victory on her third match point when Petrova's return sailed long.

13th seed Marion Bartoli, who was the first scalp taken by Kim Clijsters when the Belgian launched her comeback last week in Cincinnati, again made an early exit losing 4-6, 3-6 to Ukraine's Alona Bondarenko. Twice champion and 15th seed Amelie Mauresmo, playing her first event since a fourth round loss to Dinara Safina at Wimbledon, displayed plenty of rust in falling 2-6, 6-3, 1-6 to 27th ranked Italian Francesca Schiavone.

Fourteenth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland was the only seeded player to survive the opening day after she stopped Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 6-3.

In other matches, Japan's Ai Sugiyama defeated Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4; Aravane Rezai beat fellow Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 6-4, 7-5; Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine topped Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer 7-6 (4) 6-2; Austrian Sybille Bammer eliminated Russian Anna Chakvetadze 3-6, 6-4, 6-2; and Switzerland's Patty Schnyder defeated Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-2, 6-1.


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