June 24, 2014 / 4:34 PM / 5 years ago

Sure-footed Sharapova avoids first round slip-up

LONDON (Reuters) - After crashing out to Portuguese qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito on the “dangerous” Wimbledon courts last year, Maria Sharapova kept her footing to dismantle British wildcard Samantha Murray 6-1 6-0 on Tuesday.

Maria Sharapova of Russia waves after defeating Samantha Murray of Britain in their women's singles tennis match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London June 24, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Sharapova, bidding for a French Open and Wimbledon double after claiming the Roland Garros title this month, cut a cold figure after being wiped out in the second round last year and was one of many players to criticize the condition of the playing surface.

A year on and the Russian fifth seed barely broke a sweat in her opening match against Murray, ranked 247, dominating the rallies in a one-sided contest that lasted 58 minutes.

“I try not to dwell on what happened in the past,” Sharapova told reporters after the match. “This is a new day. It’s not a new tournament, but it’s a new opportunity.”

Sharapova admitted she is still getting used to the lush, green lawns in southwest London after a successful claycourt season.

“Each court is quite different,” Sharapova said. “On the Aorangi courts I think two meters of the baseline is pretty much claycourt right now, which is quite different.

“When you go out and play on a show court, the grass is new. That’s why I think it’s so important to really take care in those first few days when the grass is fresh.”

Sharapova shot to stardom in 2004 when she beat Serena Williams to win the Wimbledon title aged 17. A second Wimbledon title, however, has proved frustratingly elusive.

Though now something of an experienced campaigner at the age of 27, Sharapaova says she still has much the same approach as when she won Wimbledon as a fresh-faced teenager.

“Not many things have changed,” she said. “The mentality changes a little bit ... now you know your way around.”

Reporting by Michael Hann; Editing by David Goodman

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