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By Gokul Pillai
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Sharapova had her first round encounter with lucky loser Alberta Brianti as Carla Suarez Navarro withdrew from the tournament due to an injury. Sharapova entered the courts of Auckland to face Brianti. Brianti had a shaky start as she struggled to hold her service games in the match. Sharapova broke her more than once to take the first set 6-2.
Brianti could not do much in the second set also as Sharapova was quick to get to a 4-0 lead in the second set. The Russian smacked forehand winners from the back of the court to which Brianti had no answer. Brianti then mustered all her strength to take 3 games and close the gap at 3-5, but could do only that much as Sharapova wasted no time to hold her last service game of the match. The Russian raced to a victory in straight sets 6-2, 6-3 to proceed further in the tournament. In other matches at the ASB Classic, Renata Voracova defeated Lourdes Dominguezlino in three sets, 6-4, 6-7, 6-0. Experiened Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Sacha Jones in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2 to march ahead in the tournament.
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