Sharapova topples 10th seed Petrova to open Toronto Cup
Toronto: 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 Toronto Cup.
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, but arrives in Toronto still 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 told reporters.
"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 number one 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.
"She had an opportunity to make the match 5-5 in the second and it was good that I finished it in two," said Sharapova.
"I think we know each other`s game very well, I have a pretty solid game plan when I play her and the main thing is execution.”
"If I do what I have in mind, I`m going to win the match."
It was rough opening day for the French on the Canadian hardcourts with 13th seed Marion Bartoli and 15th seed Amelie Mauresmo both bowing out.
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 6-4, 6-3 to Ukraine`s Alona Bondarenko.
Twice champion Mauresmo, playing her first event since a fourth round loss to Dinara Safina at Wimbledon, displayed plenty of rust in falling 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 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.