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MOSCOW, August 29. /TASS/. Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova’s victory in the opening round of the US Open, which is her first Grand Slam tournament following her comeback, came as no surprise, Russia’s tennis chief told TASS on Tuesday.
The 2006 US Open Champion Sharapova is back playing in the Grand Slam competitions after she was granted a wildcard from the organizers of the prestigious tournament in the United States. The Russian tennis ace faced one of the toughest players in the first round, namely the World’s No. 2 Simona Halep of Romania.
Clinching a win in the first set, Sharapova failed to secure the straight sets victory but later rebounded confidently defeating US Open 2nd-seed Halep with the final score of 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
"Sharapova’s victory over Halep was not surprising," Shamil Tarpishchev, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF), said in an interview with TASS. "Sharapova is indeed unseeded at the tournament, but she is under much less psychological strain. She was not subjected to the same pressure as was her opponent, whose ratings status obliges to victories only."
"Maria is now faced with a comfortable net of possible opponents and it could allow her to advance very far (on the way to the final)," Tarpishchev pointed out. "However, it is a different question about how far she would go."
"It should be taken into account that it had been a long time since she last played at any Grand Slam tournaments, which first of all require strong psychological and physical preparedness by tennis players," the president of the Russian Tennis Federation added.
The US Open, which put $24 million in prize money up for grabs, is being held between August 28 and September 10 at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York.
Sharapova’s victory on Monday extended her streak of Grand Slam first-round wins to 23, including 11 at US Open tournaments, where she is currently remaining to be the only tennis player undefeated in the opening rounds.
"You never really know what you're going to feel until you win that match point and you can't control what's going to go through your mind," the official website of the Women Tennis Association (WTA) quoted Sharapova as saying in her on-court interview after she had won the match.
"It's all worth it," she said. "You sometimes wonder why you put in all the work. And this is exactly why."
New York, WOW!! How can I sleep after this! @usopen pic.twitter.com/mtIbMEW24f— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) 29 August 2017
Speaking about her opponent Halep, Sharapova said: "We respect each other so much and I know when we both saw the draw there was something extra for that."
Sharapova’s record of head-to-head with Romania’s Halep stands at six encounters with the Russia’s former World No. 1 winning all of them.
"The hype was because of the quality of the matches we've played before," the Russian said. "No matter what my record against her, it's always been tough."
The WTA quoted 25-year-old Halep commenting on Monday’s encounter against Sharapova at the Arthur Ashe Stadium that "It was very was very tough, not like first-round matches."
"But this is the draw," Halep said. "I think I give everything I had. She was better."
After a 15-month long suspension for violating anti-doping regulations, Sharapova made her tour return in April at Stuttgart, reaching the semi-finals. She also participated in the Madrid Open where she lost in the second round, and retired injured from her second round match at the Rome Masters.
Backhand and forehand practice for @MariaSharapova at @BOTWClassic! pic.twitter.com/2a3tlu8Y0r— WTA (@WTA) 30 July 2017
On July 31, Sharapova played her first match on the US soil at the WTA tennis tournament in Stanford, California, where she was also invited with a wildcard.
In her first round encounter Sharapova clinched the victory from home favorite Jennifer Brady edging the American in three sets 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 at the tennis court of the Stanford University. It was also the first game for Sharapova after she sustained a thigh injury earlier in the year and was forced to pull out from the tennis tournament in Italy.
Sharapova is Russia’s most decorated tennis player having won a total of five Grand Slam tournaments, namely the Australian Open in 2008, the French Open in 2012 and 2014, Wimbledon in 2004 and the US Open in 2006.
She also clinched the silver in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and was the 2008 Federations Cup champion.