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Sharapova seals Wimbledon qualifying spot as Venus also wins through in Rome

Sharapova seals Wimbledon qualifying spot as Venus also wins through in Rome
By PA Sport

16/05/2017 at 00:15Updated 16/05/2017 at 00:21

Maria Sharapova booked her place at next month's Wimbledon qualifying event by beating Christina McHale in the first round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.

Maria Sharapova booked her place at next month's Wimbledon qualifying event by beating Christina McHale in the first round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.

The 30-year-old will move into the top 200 in the world rankings after seeing off American McHale 6-4 6-2 in one hour and 35 minutes on Monday.

And that is enough to earn Sharapova direct entry into Wimbledon qualifying at Roehampton, while she could still earn a place in the main draw if she reaches the semi-finals in Rome this week.

Sharapova, playing at her third WTA Tour event since returning from a 15-month doping ban, found herself 3-1 down in the early stages against McHale but soon hit back, levelling the scores at 4-4 before winning the next two games to claim the first set.

The 2004 Wimbledon champion raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set and had a series of break points in the fourth game, but McHale held to reduce the deficit.

Sharapova won the next two games and although McHale broke back to make it 5-2, Sharapova took the next game to clinch victory.

The Russian, a three-time winner in Rome, will take on 16th seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the second round after her 7-5 4-6 6-3 win over Lucie Safarova.

Ninth seed Venus Williams, who won the title in 1999 and was the beaten finalist a year earlier, booked her place in the second round with a 6-4 7-6 (7/4) triumph over Yaroslava Shvedova.

The 36-year-old was not at her impenetrable best in a back-and-forth contest but secured the important points to move through to a meeting with Lesia Tsurenko.

Chinese qualifier Qiang Wang claimed the scalp of 11th seed Elena Vesnina, breaking serve six times en route to a 6-2 6-4 win, while 14th seed Barbora Strycova was a set down but 4-3 up in the second when Daria Kasatkina retired through injury.

Caroline Garcia and Katarina Siniakova were taken the distance, by Donna Vekic and Shuai Zhang, before securing their places in the next stage and f ormer world number one Jelena Jankovic came through 6-3 6-3 against Alison Riske.

Mona Barthel made good on her progress through the qualifiers to beat Shuai Peng 6-1 3-6 6-3, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Sam Stosur in three sets and Yulia Putinseva, Alize Cornet and Laura Siegemund won their opening matches in straight sets.

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