DOHA: Maria Sharapova easily reached the third round of the Qatar Open yesterday, dispatching French qualifier Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-2.
The third-ranked Russian, who won the tournament in her two previous appearances, broke Garcia twice go up 3-0 in the first set. Garcia won the next two games but Sharapova then broke for a third time. The second set went with serve through the first five games until Sharapova broke to go up 4-2, and she clinched the victory when the Frenchwoman hit a forehand long.
Sharapova was joined in the third round by 11th-ranked Marion Bartoli, who downed former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 7-6 (5), 6-3.
Frenchman Julien Benneteau joined compatriot Gilles Simon in the second round of the Rotterdam World Tennis yesterday as he beat lucky loser Tobias Kamke of Germany 6-3, 6-2.
Their progress — Simon eased through on Monday — offset the disappointment of their No. 1 Jo-Wilfrid Tsonga going out on Monday to unheralded Dutchman Igor Sijsling 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-4.
The victory over Kamke, who was drafted in to the tournament proper when another Frenchman Michael Llodra pulled out through illness, sets Benneteau up nicely to reach the quarterfinals for the third time here.
He next faces Romanian Victor Hanescu.
Dutch players enjoyed mixed fortunes yesterday, with Thiemo de Bakker moving into the second round as Russian opponent Mikhail Youzhny was forced to retire in the third set with a hip problem.
De Bakker will await the winner from Wednesday’s match between top seed and holder Roger Federer and Grega Zemlja of Slovenia.
Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis admitted he had little to lose in his comprehensive defeat of Dutchman Robin Haase 6-2, 6-1, which took just 50 minutes with the winner breaking four times.
Gulbis, who reached a career-high ranking of 21st two years ago, now stands 132 and finished out of the ranking top 100 last season for the first time since 2006.
“I’m sorry Holland for beating a local,” joked the Latvian. “I played well and had almost perfect timing. I really didn’t give him any chances.
“I don’t have many expectations, my ranking is so low I barely got into qualifying anyway.”
Nadal renews attack on hard courts
In Sao Paulo, Former world No. 1 Rafa Nadal has renewed his attack on hard courts as he prepares for the second tournament on his comeback trail at the Brazil Open.
The 26-year-old Spaniard, who returned to competitive action at the Chile Open last week after a left knee condition sidelined him for seven months, said the number of tournaments played on hard surfaces would limit players’ careers.
He also criticized a move to speed up matches by strictly enforcing the 20-second rule between points at grand slams.
“Hard courts are aggressive on the knees, back and ankles,” the 11-times grand slam champion, told reporters in Sao Paulo.
“That is a theme among the players and doctors. To make a change like that (reduce the amount of hard court events) it won’t be possible in this generation but I think that the ATP has to work to think of how to lengthen tennis players’ careers.
“Can you imagine football players playing on cement?” Nadal has often been criticized for the length of time he takes between points but warnings for slow play have been few and far between.
ATP chiefs recently agreed that umpires would be expected to enforce the 20-seconds between points rule at grand slams, prompting criticism from leading players.
“Rule changes should be made to improve the sport,” he said.
“I don’t think the players in the dressing room are happy with the new rule and we’d like it to be modified and that the referee interpret when you can take longer rather than it be something mathematical.