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Tennis: Error-prone Sharapova falls to Garcia in Stuttgart opener

Reuters , Tuesday 24 Apr 2018
Sharapova
Russia's Maria Sharapova returns the ball to France's Caroline Garcia during their tennis match at the WTA Tennis Grand Prix on April 24, 2018 in Stuttgart, southwestern Germany AFP
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Maria Sharapova's claycourt season got off to a poor start on Tuesday as she lost in three sets to Caroline Garcia in the first round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

France's Garcia staged a strong fightback to prevail 3-6 7-6(6) 6-4 in two hours and 44 minutes for her first victory over the former world number one in her fifth attempt.

"It was a very close match. I know she is a fighter and it would be difficult until the end," sixth seed Garcia, who saved two match points in the second set, said.

Sharapova, who came back from a 15-month doping ban at this tournament last April, won the first set with ease but the 31-year-old could not prevent a determined Garcia from dragging herself back into the contest through a tiebreak.

A 10th double fault by Sharapova at 4-4 handed Garcia the crucial break in the decider and the world number seven clinched the contest on her serve in the next game.

"I was a little more aggressive today and I returned a bit better. Finally I can say that after seven years I have beaten her... it's an important win," Garcia added.

Up next for Garcia is Ukrainian teenager Marta Kostyuk who beat Antonia Lottner 6-4 6-1. The 15-year-old qualified for the main draw by overcoming France's Alize Cornet on Monday.

"I can't say I'm super surprised, because that's what I work for, and I know I can play at this level," Kostyuk said.

World number six Karolina Pliskova also advanced with a 6-2 6-2 win over Kiki Bertens while Magdalena Rybarikova dumped out Russia's Daria Kasatkina 6-2 6-2.

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