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Maria Sharapova’s comeback continued as she qualified for the third round of the 2018 Italian Open by beating Ashleigh Barty in three sets in Rome on Tuesday.
Sharapova, who served a 15-month drugs ban after an appeal reduced her initial sentence, built on her performance at the recent Madrid Open, where she reached the last eight.
A match against Dominika Cibulkova awaits Sharapova in the third round. The day also saw Angelique Kerber and reigning champion Elina Svitolina win in the WTA bracket.
In the men’s bracket, Denis Shapovalov stunned Tomas Berdych. Meanwhile, David Goffin and Lucas Pouille were taken to three sets by home players before both edged through.
Here are the results from Tuesday’s matches:
- (16) Lucas Pouille bt. Andreas Seppi: 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(3)
- Denis Shapovalov bt. (15) Tomas Berdych: 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(5)
- Nikoloz Basilashvili bt. Filippo Baldi: 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
- Damir Dzumhur bt. Fernando Verdasco: 6-3, 6-1
- (14) Diego Schwartzman bt. Nicolas Jarry: 6-4, 6-1
- Stefanos Tsitsipas bt. Borna Coric: 4-1 (Coric retired)
- (9) David Goffin bt. Marco Cecchinato: 5-7, 6-2, 6-2
- Peter Gojowczyk bt. Lorenzo Sonego: 6-3, 6-4
- Philipp Kohlschreiber bt. Jack Sock: 6-4, 6-3
- Ryan Harrison vs. Marin Cilic: 3-3, 6-6 (play suspended due to rain)
- Maria Sharapova bt. Ashleigh Barty: 7-5, 3-6, 6-2
- Elina Svitolina bt. Petra Martic: 6-1, 6-2
- Angelique Kerber bt. Zarina Diyas: 6-2, 7-6(6)
- Jelena Ostapenko bt. Shuai Zhang: 6-2, 7-5
- Timea Babos bt. Sara Errani: 6-3, 7-6(6)
- Danielle Collins bt. Sorana Cirstea: 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
- (14) Daria Kasatkina bt. Ajla Tomljanovic: 6-0, 6-4
- Svetlana Kuznetsova bt. Polona Hercog: 6-2, 6-4
- Maria Sakkari bt. Kiki Bertens: 6-2, 4-6, 6-3
- Elena Vesnina bt. Laura Siegemund: 7-6(5), 6-2
- Su-Wei Hsieh bt. Aryna Sabalenka: 6-2, 6-4
- Irina-Camelia Begu bt. Shuai Peng: 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
- Anastasija Sevastova bt. Kristina Mladenovic: 6-3, 3-0 (Mladenovic retired)
Sharapova edged a close-fought first set, holding serve when down 0-40 in the final game. However, she soon struggled in the second.
A third set was needed, but Sharapova, who is a three-time winner in Rome, leaned on her experience to play controlled tennis and go through.
Afterwards, the 31-year-old described how she faced a battle against the erratic weather, per WTA Insider:
WTA Insider @WTA_insider
Sharapova says she felt like she played three different matches today due to the changing conditions, happy she was able to make adustments. Felt her forearm a bit. #ibi18
Kerber had recovered from a thigh injury sustained at the Stuttgart Open last month to produce an impressive performance on the clay at Pietrangeli. The German controlled the first set, keeping Zarina Diyas at bay with a powerful serve.
However, the latter fought back in the second, eventually pushing the set into a tiebreak. It meant Kerber had to hold her nerve, something the 30-year-old managed well as she booked safe passage through to Round 3.
Kerber manufactured some excellent shots, including this one relayed by the WTA official Twitter account:
Drop shot perfection from @AngeliqueKerber’s shot of the day.
Things were easier for Svitolina, who made short work of Petra Martic on Court Centrale. It took the champion just over an hour to seal a straight-sets win.
Elsewhere, Danielle Collins needed a third set to get past Sorana Cirstea. Collins, who reached the last four at the Miami Open, proved her credentials to do even better on Rome clay after a skilled and determined performance.
Daria Kasatkina is also into the next round after seeing off Ajla Tomljanovic. Meanwhile, Timea Babos, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sakkari also progressed.
Julian Finney/Getty Images
The latter entered Round 3 after beating Kiki Bertens. Despite reaching the final of the Madrid Open earlier this month, Bertens never settled in the Italian capital.
Instead, Sakkari won seventy percent of her break points. It was enough to send Bertens to a surprise early exit.
Jelena Ostapenko also progressed after an excellent win over Shuai Zhang. Ostapenko built her victory on an awesome forehand, like this one from early in the second set:
The notable result in the men’s bracket came from Shapovalov beating Berdych. It took him three sets to do it, but Canadian Shapovalov stayed focused, despite losing three break points.
Berdych was able to break the Shapovalov serve, but also yielded eight aces to his opponents’ power. Having cruised to an opening-set victory, Berdych appeared to lose his intensity somewhat, as 19-year-old Shapovalov excelled on his Rome debut.
After winning 6-3 in the second, the teenager kept cool during the tiebreak in the third. In the process, Shapovalov achieved an early career milestone, per TSN’s Mark Masters:
Mark Masters @markhmasters
🇨🇦 (29) @denis_shapo defeats 🇨🇿 (17) Tomas Berdych 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) to advance to the 2nd round of the Italian Open #IBI18
Shapovalov, 19, will pass Milos Raonic in the next @ATPWorldTour rankings & become the top-ranked 🍁 player
The reaction to his win proved Shapovalov’s growing popularity, according to Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times:
Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg
Gosh do crowds enjoy Denis Shapovalov. He beats Tomas Berdych in a third set tiebreak, much to the delight of the crowd on Centrale in Rome. #ibi18
Fellow Times writer Christopher Clarey echoed those sentiments:
Christopher Clarey @christophclarey
Remarkable rise for Shapovalov, but then he has a remarkable game. Fun to watch, too https://t.co/LK7TgIOu98
There was also a worthy win for ninth seed Goffin. The Belgian stumbled early against Marco Cecchinato, but composed himself enough to power through the next two sets.
Goffin won the second and third 6-2 on a day defined by his ability to wreck the Cecchinato serve. In all, Goffin converted seven of 14 break points to frustrate his plucky opponent.
There was disappointment for Borna Coric, though, after the talented Croatian was forced to retire against Stefanos Tsitsipas. The 21-year-old had fallen behind 4-1 in the opening set.
Tsitsipas is now set to face Juan Martin del Potro in the third round, while Del Potro’s fellow Argentinian Diego Schwartzman will face Benoit Paire after beating Nicolas Jarry in straight sets.
Julian Finney/Getty Images
There’s a dubious reward for Nikoloz Basilashvili after he beat Filippo Baldi. Basilashvili now gets to face last year’s runner up Novak Djokovic.
One of the day’s more exciting matches involved Lucas Pouille surviving a scare against Andreas Seppi. The wild-card entrant rocked Pouille by winning the second set with room to spare, before pushing the third to a tiebreak.
Pouille held firm, though, seeing off Seppi despite the latter having the complete support of the crowd.
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
A later match saw Jack Sock beaten by Philipp Kohlschreiber. The German toppled the 13th seed in straight sets because of the way he both held and broke serve.
Kohlschreiber held all eight break points he faced, while successfully converting each of the three he forced.
Defending champion Alexander Zverev will be in action on Day 5, as will Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Grigor Dimitrov. The women’s bracket will feature Simona Halep, Sharapova and Venus Williams.
All statistics, per the ATP and WTA official websites.