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Triumphant Return For Sharapova

Maria Sharapova was on her game in the first match of her French Open title defense, blasting 25 winners in 54 minutes to beat Hsieh Su-Wei in straight sets. Next up? Eugenie Bouchard.

Published May 27, 2013 12:01

Triumphant Return For Sharapova
Maria Sharapova

PARIS, France - Maria Sharapova made a winning start to her French Open title defense on Monday, blasting 25 winners in 54 minutes to overcome the tricky Hsieh Su-Wei in her first round match.

The No.2-seeded Sharapova had no trouble with Hsieh's mix of spins and angles, compiling a +6 differential - 25 winners, 19 unforced errors - en route to a routine 62 61 win over the Taiwanese.

It was a very impressive display considering she had withdrawn from her last event due to illness.

"The most important thing after Rome was just to get my energy back," Sharapova commented. "Obviously it wasn't fun getting sick and having to pull out of the tournament, so I wanted to come to Paris and just try to get that energy and spark back. When I wasn't feeling well it was tough to be out on the court. It was really nice to recharge again over the last week and get back out there today."

Sharapova was asked how different it feels to be here as the defending champion this time around.

"It does feel different. This morning I went to the park a little early because I knew I had a long day. I was just sitting there and I remember myself sitting in the same position there last year, thinking of where I was in my life and my career. You think back to those moments and go through the changes and the additions and the minuses and all the things you have in your life, and at the end of the day I'm still doing the same thing. And I love it just as much, which puts a big smile on my face.

"And you're not dreading to think about how in a few hours you're going to be on one of the center courts and playing in front of thousands of people. That still just gets me really excited."

Next up for Sharapova will be Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard, who regrouped to beat Tsvetana Pironkova, 61 76(2). Bouchard originally led 61 52 but had to stay out there a little bit longer.

"I might have lost focus a little bit, but she definitely raised her level," Bouchard said. "She started serving much better and was holding a little easier. But I stayed calm. I knew I was playing well. I knew I could close the second set. At 5-all I had a good hold then played pretty well in the tie-break."

Bouchard is coming off her best ever week, having reached her first WTA semifinal in Strasbourg.

"I had a good preparation tournament in Strasbourg," Bouchard said. "I feel like I'm playing really well right now. It's not surprising to me because I know I can play this well. I feel like with the match play last week I got good experience under my belt. I feel really good in competition right now."

Sharapova beat Bouchard in the pair's only previous encounter.

"I played Maria in Miami recently - I definitely plan on doing better this time," Bouchard said. "I hope it's going to be Chatrier court. It's worked all my life just for this, so it's very exciting for me."

"I've met her a few times - we actually did a shoot back in Melbourne together," Sharapova said of Bouchard. "She seems like a very nice girl, and she obviously has a great game and is one to watch.

"We played against each other in Miami. It was a good performance by me, but when you're at that point in your career, every month is a learning experience. I'm sure she's looking forward to it."

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