Sharapova primed for Wimbledon after Williams exit

Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:53am EDT
 
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London (Reuters) - The shock losses suffered by top two seeds Serena Williams and Li Na have left Maria Sharapova with a smooth passage and the Russian is primed to win her second Wimbledon title, 10 years after winning her first as a 17-year-old.

Sharapova has dropped just seven games in her three matches thus far and the imperious Russian will be confident of winning her sixth grand slam in the absence of her nemesis Williams.

The 27-year-old is on the wrong end of a 16-2 head-to-head record against the American with her only two triumphs coming in 2004, the first of which saw her crowned Wimbledon champion.

Williams crashed out 6-1 3-6 4-6 against France's Alize Cornet in the third round on Saturday, her earliest exit at Wimbledon since losing in the same round in 2005.

Her defeat came a day after Chinese two-times grand slam winner Na was dumped out 6-7(5) 6-7(5) by the Czech Republic's Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

Their defeats have opened the door for a host of women, but the top of that list is Sharapova.

Players have long talked about the difficulty of adapting to the grasscourts of Wimbledon so soon after a long claycourt season and nobody has backed up winning the French Open with Wimbledon triumph since Williams in 2002.

Sharapova's form, however, suggests she can match that achievement and win her sixth grand slam in the process.

"Well, this is only my second time trying to do that. Of course, the transition, it's no secret, it's very difficult," she said after reeling off 11 consecutive games to beat Alison Riske 6-3 6-0 in the third round on Saturday.   Continued...

 
Jun 28, 2014; London, United Kingdom; Maria Sharapova (RUS) waves to the crowd after her match against Alison Riske (USA) on day six of the 2014 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club. Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports