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Page last updated at 18:07 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 19:07 UK

Sharapova battles past Kutuzova

WIMBLEDON
Date: 22 June - 5 July
Coverage: BBC One, BBC Two, BBC HD, Red Button, website streaming (UK only) and text commentary, 5 Live, 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC iPlayer
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Maria Sharapova

Highlights - Sharapova overcomes Kutuzova (UK users only)


Russia's Maria Sharapova fought hard to see off Viktoriya Kutuzova 7-5 6-4 in a lively first-round match at Wimbledon.

The 2004 champion, still regaining her best form following shoulder surgery, trailed 4-1 and 5-3 in the opener, but hit back strongly to take the set.

Ukraine's 20-year-old Kutuzova broke back immediately, only to see the 24th seed recover and wrap up the victory.

Fourth seed Elena Dementieva overcame early wobbles against fellow-Russian Alla Kudryavtseva to win 6-4 6-1.

It was an entertaining match between two players from Moscow that turned completely on its head after Kudryavtseva, aged 21 and seeded 70 in the world, had cruised into a 4-2 lead.

The 26-year-old Dementieva grabbed a vital break to level at 4-4 and soon won the first set without dropping another game.

Despite a slightly unpredictable serve, Dementieva had enough power and skill when it mattered to cruise through the second set and set up a second-round clash with France's Aravane Rezai.

Sharapova produced a brave and battling performance on Court One, especially considering she has only recently returned to action after a nine-month absence with a shoulder injury.

"It's wonderful after not playing tennis for so long. It's unbelievable and I'm so glad I pulled it out against such a strong opponent," Sharapova told BBC Sport.

"Kutuzova's a very aggressive player and played very freely. I was just trying to hold on there and told myself 'it wasn't over until it's over'."

606: DEBATE

Kutuzova, ranked 79 in the world, started the match in dominant fashion and raced to a 4-1 lead in the opening set.

However, with both players increasing their grunting levels, the lively Sharapova finally found her range with her powerful ground strokes and recovered to take the first set 7-5.

The Ukrainian strangely wasted opportunities to challenge two calls that TV replays showed may have gone her way, but to Kutuzova's credit, she continued to go for her shots and was rewarded with a break of serve at the start of the second set.

Sharapova broke back immediately and soon found herself with a two-game breathing space at 4-2.

Again, Kutuzova refused to lie down and grabbed another service break when Sharapova was serving for the match but the Russian was not to be denied as she soon completed victory and was waving emotionally to her adoring fans.

Regarding the medical status on her shoulder, Sharapova added: "It's really good. This is my fourth tournament back and my body has responded really well."

The scalp of 23rd seed Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak was taken by Francesca Schiavone with the Italian winning 6-4 4-6 6-4.

Indian Sania Mirza came through a three-set encounter to beat Germany's Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-2 2-6 6-2, while eighth seed Victoria Azarenka took the first set 6-2, before France's Severine Bremond Beltrame retired hurt.

China's Jie Zheng, 16th seed, survived two tie-breaks to beat Germany's Kristina Barrois 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-4) and Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (31 seed) defeated Petra Cetkovska 6-2 6-2.

Nadia Petrova, the 10th seed from Russia, had few problems in beating Bulgarian Anastasiya Yakimova6-1 6-1 and Portugal's 16-year-old Michelle Larcher De Brito beat Klara Zakopalova 6-2 7-5.

In a surprise late defeat as day one came to a close Patty Schnyder, the number 21 seed from Switzerland, was beaten by 33-year-old Ai Sugiyama, the world number 38 from Japan.

"I'm really happy, especially as I haven't won for a long time in singles, and playing against Patty in the first round is tough," said Sugiyama.



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Wimbledon day one as it happened
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Results
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Women's singles draw
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