Sharapova hands old friend U.S. Open tennis lesson

Tue Aug 26, 2014 12:44am EDT
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(Reuters) - Maria Sharapova found no room for sentiment on Monday to give her old friend Maria Kirilenko a tennis lesson and roll to a 6-4 6-0 win and into the second round of the U.S. Open.

Returning to Arthur Ashe stadium for the first time in two years after she missed last year's tournament with injury, a ruthless Sharapova made it crystal clear she was not going to let friendship stand in her way of a second title at Flushing Meadows.

She made an unsteady start to the year's final grand slam falling behind 2-4 in the opening set, before she switched into top gear storming through the next 10 games.

"We spent a lot of time in the juniors away from the courts practicing a lot together, competing against each other," Sharapova said of her long-standing relationship with Kirilenko. "We certainly have a big history together.

"But when you go out on the court, it's always that fine line between; of course you want to be the winner, you have to face that person as a competitor, not someone that you've known for years and developed a friendship with.

"It's always a tricky balance, I guess."

The similarities between the two Russian right handers is striking.

Both are tall, though Sharapova still stands about six inches (15 cms) taller than Kirilenko, they are both 27 and made their professional debuts within months of each other in 2001.

Their careers, however, have taken vastly disparate paths.   Continued...

Maria Kirilenko (RUS) hits to Maria Sharapova on opening night in Ashe Stadium 
at the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Aug 25, 2014; New York, NY, USA;Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports