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Sharapova stunned by Kudryavtseva

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Matchpoint and interviews

Russian Alla Kudryavtseva claimed a massive Wimbledon upset by knocking out number three seed and 2004 champion Maria Sharapova in the second round.

Sharapova, 21, was way off colour on Court One, losing 2-6 4-6 to record her worst Wimbledon performance.

The 20-year-old Kudryavtseva, ranked 154th in the world, has never won a WTA tournament and is now in the third round at Wimbledon for the first time.

Kudryavtseva will play China's Peng Shuai for a place in the last 16.

"Maybe it will sound a little too much for me, but I did expect to win," she said. "I did think about winning, not just going and playing. For sure beating her is a big deal for me. The best day of my tennis life? Yes.

Maria Sharapova cut a frustrated figure against Kudryavtseva
Sharapova had previously never failed to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon

"I think what helped is last year's match with Venus Williams (in the Wimbledon first round last year). I was so close to winning and then just played a little too passive in the end. Today, there was no way I'm going to do the same mistake again, so I went for my shots."

And Kudryavtseva revealed that Sharapova's much-publicised Wimbledon tuxedo-style top and shorts outfit helped spur her to victory.

"It's very pleasant to beat Maria," she added. "Why? I don't like her outfit. She experiments, and I give her credit for that. She's brave enough to experiment.

"But it's a little too much of everything. It was one of the motivations to beat her."

Sharapova, who dropped only five games in her first-round win over Stephanie Foretz, was odds-on for another simple victory against an opponent she defeated 6-1 6-4 at last year's French Open.

But this year's Australian Open winner never got into her stride and was unable to cope with Kudryavtseva's powerful groundstrokes.

The pressure led to Sharapova collecting a total of 22 unforced errors and eight double faults.

"I guess it wasn't my day," said Sharapova. "She just did everything better than I did. She played much better, she hit the ball harder.

"She served and returned better. On grass, those are two important elements. Once you don't have a lot on the ball then your opponent can take advantage of that.

"Obviously, she had nothing to lose. She went for her shots. I was just pretty tentative. I can't really be happy about anything today."

And Sharapova said she was determined not to let the disappointment of defeat get to her.

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"I still have many years ahead of me," she added. "I've had to deal with a lot of ups and a lot of downs on and off the court, and I have the experience behind me. The number one thing is not be discouraged by losses or by negative things.

"You have to find a way to keep your head up, even though it's pretty tough, because you put the effort in and you work hard and you dedicate yourself every single day to be a better player and a better professional.

"Sometimes the work doesn't pay off till you never know when. I don't know when that work's going to pay off.

"I had a great off-season, came into Australia and played really great tennis. Sometimes I've had experiences where I've done the same thing and the results just don't come. It's not just for me. Everybody goes through it.

"But I'm experienced enough to know that that there are a lot worse things in life that can happen than losing a tennis match, even if it means a lot to me.

"I still have the desire to go back on court and to get better, because that's the only thing that's going to get me to hold that plate again."

Alla Kudryavtseva celebrates her victory
Kudryavtseva lost in the first round of her Wimbledon debut last year

Kudryavtseva started the match well, holding her serve twice while forcing Sharapova to save a break point in her opening service game.

The breakthrough came in the sixth game, Sharapova double-faulting three times to help give Kudryavtseva the break.

Kudryavtseva, whose father Alexander was a Greco-Roman wrestling world champion in the 1980s, broke again in the eighth to seal the first set in just 32 minutes.

There was a hint of nerves from Kudryavtseva at the start of the second set as she double-faulted three times to lose serve from 40-15 ahead.

But Sharapova could not take advantage of the slip, losing serve in the fourth and sixth games, the second break coming with a wonderful Kudryavtseva forehand winner.

Sharapova did battle back to 4-4 but she double-faulted again when serving at 4-5 down with the score poised at 40-40 and Kudryavtseva sealed the famous victory with another crunching forehand to the corner.

Sharapova's exit comes a day after number one seed Ana Ivanovic narrowly avoided a shock defeat at the hands of Nathalie Dechy.




see also
Venus ends Keothavong challenge
26 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Davenport drops retirement hint
26 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Wimbledon photos
26 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Serena through to face Mauresmo
25 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Sharapova safely into round two
24 Jun 08 |  Tennis


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