Maria can't shoulder load

DENIS POISSANT, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

Wilbledon, England -- Maria Sharapova was right -- she wasn't a contender at Wimbledon.

Feeling the effects of shoulder surgery, Sharapova couldn't keep up with the inspired play of Argentina's Gisela Dulko, who bounced the 2004 Wimbledon champion 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 in the second round yesterday.

The 24th-seeded Sharapova said her shoulder -- which was operated on last October and caused her to miss nine months -- didn't hinder her play. But it did hinder her focus.

Before Wimbledon began, she acknowledged she wouldn't contend.

Even in the middle of yesterday's match, she was 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.' "

Even though Sharapova wasn't at the top of her game, she once again showed her strong character, fighting off four match points before succumbing to the 45th-ranked Dulko.

It was only Sharapova's 12th match since returning to the court in May, but it was the second straight year she was eliminated in the second round at Wimbledon.

All things considered, she was happy with her play at Wimbledon and in the weeks leading up to it, including making the quarter-finals at the French Open.

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

Sharapova's next goal is to return to top shape by the U.S. Open in August.

Around the courts

Top-seeded Roger Federer easily beat Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ranked No. 42) in three sets, 6-2, 6-2 and 6-4. Also winning handily was fourth seed Novak Djokovic, who ousted Germany's Simon Greul (ranked 106), 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 ... French Open finalist Robin Soderling of Sweden was tested by Spain's Marcel Granollers, but managed a 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4, 7-5 victory. Soderling, seeded 13th, is on track to meet Federer in the fourth round.

Hear, hear, Miss Decibels

Michelle Larcher de Brito not only makes a lot of noise, she can also belt out some pretty good tennis. The 16-year-old from Portugal -- nicknamed Miss 109 Decibels for her ear-splitting shrieks -- took Italy's Francesca Schiavone to tie-breakers before losing 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4). The shrieks are "terrible," fan Christina Lamb said while grimacing during an intense second set. "But we have to support her, my son is half-Portuguese."


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