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Sharapova Manages Riske On Centre

Maria Sharapova struck 25 winners to move past Alison Riske and into the second week of Wimbledon. Another famous athlete was in the Royal Box - who was it?

Published June 28, 2014 12:15

Sharapova Manages Riske On Centre
Maria Sharapova

LONDON, England - With the rain falling hard on the All-England Club, and after a slow start, too, Maria Sharapova stormed past Alison Riske under the roof to make Wimbledon's second week.

The Plot
Maria Sharapova certainly didn't underestimate Alison Riske going into their third round match - not only had Riske been a standout throughout her career at one of the grass court lead-up events in Birmingham, but she had also taken out a seed en route, No.26 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to be exact. And on top of that, she had pushed Sharapova to three sets in their only previous encounter.

But Sharapova has been playing very well lately. Not only did she dominate the clay court season, going 19-1 and picking up titles at Stuttgart, Madrid and the French Open, but she also cruised through her first two rounds here in straight sets, an impressive feat given this is generally considered one of the toughest transitions in tennis - going from the clay of Roland Garros to the grass of Wimbledon.

The Turning Point
After a slow start - Riske jumped out to a 3-1 lead off the bat - there was a very clear turning point, as Sharapova held for 2-3, broke in a long game for 3-3, and then kept going from strength to strength, eventually reeling off 11 games in a row to complete a 6-3, 6-0 victory against the American.

Sharapova blasted a forehand passing shot down the line on match point, her 25th winner of the match (to just 12 unforced errors). Riske had eight winners to 12 unforced errors during the match.

Sharapova was near-perfect in the second set - 13 winners to just three unforced errors.

Quotes
"I didn't want to get broken in the first game, but besides that break point I lost on my serve I didn't face another one throughout the match, so I was quite pleased about that," Sharapova commented.

"Overall she can be a dangerous player on grass. She has proved that before. Even though we played a long time ago, it was a three set match, and going into this one I knew that I had to be there.

"I thought I did a good job of maintaining my focus until the end."

Among those in the Royal Box for the match was David Beckham - Sharapova was asked about that.

"I've actually met him a couple times at different events in LA and in London," Sharapova said. "He's a great guy. Besides being an incredible football player, he has so much that he's done in his career, having a family, maintaining so many things off the court. He's a really nice person to chat to."

Sharapova also talked about the special respect she has for other athletes like Beckham.

"I respect so many athletes in different sports," Sharapova added. "I think we can all really relate to each other's profession, even though all the sports are quite different in terms of the training. But at the end of the day the commitments and sacrifices in terms of being an athlete are pretty similar.

"I always feel like I really understand and actually get star struck more when I'm around athletes that have done incredible things in their career, rather than maybe musicians or other professions."

What's Next
Awaiting Sharapova in the fourth round will be No.9 seed Angelique Kerber, who rallied from a set down to beat No.24 seed and fellow Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Sharapova leads Kerber in their head-to-head series, 4-1.

"It will be a nice match," Kerber said. "I have nothing to lose. I will go out there, try to enjoy the match and try to focus just on myself. I will not focus on her. I will just focus on my way.

"I need to play on a high level to beat her."

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