Sharapova can't keep up with Dulko

Denis Poissant, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:03 PM ET

Wimbledon, England – Everyone thought Maria Sharapova was being modest when she said, prior to the start of Wimbledon competition, that she shouldn’t be considered a favourite in the tournament. And, despite her top-16 finish at Roland-Garros, Sharapova proved herself right.

On centre court yesterday, the 2004 Wimbledon champ Sharapova couldn’t keep up with the inspired play of Argentina’s Gisela Dulko. The 45th ranked Dulko knocked Sharapova out of the tournament in the second round with a 6-2, 3-6 and 6-4 win in front of a crowd seemingly cheering equally for both players.

You couldn’t blame the fans for not being able to pick a player to root for; on one side you had the underdog, while on the other you had the poster girl for women’s tennis.

Despite a struggling second serve, the 24th ranked Sharapova said after the match that her troublesome shoulder had not hindered her play, though she admitted that her focus was not what it had been prior to initially suffering the injury. Sharapova said that even in the middle of the match she was still focusing too much on the surgery and rehabilitation she had gone through.

“Sometimes I said to myself, ‘wow, here I am playing after all that I’ve been through’,” she said.

Even though Sharapova wasn’t at the top of her game, she once again showed her strong character when the end of the match was near, fighting off four match points before eventually being beaten for the final time by Dulko.

The match got interesting in the second set and Sharapova seemed to have Dulko on her heels. Trailing 2-6 and 0-3, Sharapova stormed back to win the set.

But Dulko regained her composure and put the game away on the fifth match point of the final set.

This was only Sharapova’s 12th match since returning from her injury and marked the second straight year she was eliminated in the second round. All things considered, she said she was happy with her play at Wimbledon and in the weeks leading up to it.

“I would have liked to have had a longer season before coming here,” she said. “But just to participate in the tournament in a huge accomplishment.”

Sharapova said her next goal was to arrive at the US Open in top shape at the end of August.


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