MONTREAL, Canada -- Former World No.1 Maria Sharapova of Russia was in fine form as she opened her 2018 Rogers Cup campaign, dispatching Bulgarian qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva, 6-1, 6-2 in the first round in Montreal on Tuesday, completing a rain-delayed match from Monday.
"I was aggressive, I served well throughout the match," Sharapova told the press, after her victory. "I think I did everything a little bit better, especially towards the end of the match. I haven't played in a few weeks. No matter what tournament or who you're playing against, you have to figure things out as you go. I think I did a good job of that today."
Sharapova, a Rogers Cup finalist in 2009, was in clinical mode throughout both days of the match, defeating Karatantcheva for the fifth time in their five meetings, which date back to when they were both teenagers in Indian Wells in 2004.
World No.229 Karatantcheva should be pleased with reaching her first WTA main draw of the season, but she was unable to get a handle on Sharapova's game throughout the match, failing to reach a break point during the encounter. Sharapova won 85 percent of points on her first serve and nearly 70 percent of points on her second serve as well.
"After getting a good, quick start, maybe the [rain] delay wasn't exactly in my favor coming out on the court and having to wait for a long time," said Sharapova. "I would have loved to finish last night to get a break today, but that's not how things work. You have to adjust. I think I did a good job of finishing the job today."
An intriguing second-round opponent waits for Sharapova -- either her compatriot, top-ranked Russian and World No.12 Daria Kasatkina, or Greek Maria Sakkari, coming off a run to the final of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose last week.
Sharapova called her potential opponents "both great players." The former top-ranked WTA player continued by saying that "either way it's going to be a tough match. I haven't played Kasatkina that much; Sakkari in an exhibition match a few weeks ago. Either way, a great opportunity. I guess these are the kids, you'd like to say, I'll be playing against in the next few years, as they're much younger."
The match resumed on Tuesday with Karatantcheva staring down a 1-4 deficit and serving at deuce. Sharapova quickly leapt to break point with a scorching return winner, and while Karatantcheva brought the game back to deuce, the Russian eventually took hold of the game on her third break point of the day to lead 5-1.
In the next game, Sharapova reached her first set point with a stunning backhand down the line for a winner. The Russian quickly converted it for the one-set lead after a forehand forced a long error from the qualifier. Sharapova had 10 winners in the set to Karatantcheva’s two, and the Bulgarian was undone by seven unforced errors.
Karatantcheva tried to rebound in the second set, but had to struggle through a nine-minute game on her serve to start. The Bulgarian fended off four break points, but Sharapova was resilient, and converted her fifth opportunity when Karatantcheva sent a forehand miscue wide.
Sharapova grabbed the set from that point and refused to let go, breaking Karatantcheva for 3-0 after the qualifier hit multiple double faults in the game, then holding with ease for 4-0. Karatantcheva finally found some solid serves to get on the board for 4-1, but the damage had been done.
Serving for the match at 5-2, Sharapova was pristine, racing to triple match point after more solid deliveries were too much for Karatantcheva to handle. On her first match point, a powerful forehand by the Russian led to Karatantcheva sending a backhand reply into the net, and Sharapova reached the second round at the Rogers Cup once more.