WTA Stanford - Sharapova struggles but advances!She will face Tsurenko next

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WTA Stanford - Sharapova struggles but advances!She will face Tsurenko next

Maria Sharapova didn't play a brilliant first round match in Stanford but still managed to advance. The Russian player, who was playing her first match since May in Rome, defeated Jennifer Brady by 6-1 4-6 6-0 after two hours and two minutes.

In the first set Sharapova struggled only in the sixth game where she saved three break points. In the second set the former World No. 1 was broken twice in a row, she managed to break her opponent once but Brady took it to a decider.

In the third set Brady didn't win any game, but she didn't convert one break point in the first game and two in the third. The five-time Grand Slam champion, who reached the final in Stanford in 2010 losing to Victoria Azarenka, hit five aces and nine double faults, saved ten break points on 14 faced and won 64% first serve points.

With this win Sharapova earns 24 Places and will be World No. 147. She will break into the top 80 by winning the title. In the second round Sharapova will face the seventh seeded player Lesia Tsurenko, who defeated Lara Arruabarrena 6-3 6-3.

'I had a bit of a letdown but that's the way it is', Sharapova said of the second set. 'I feel like I face a lot of things: not competing for a long time, (and) an opponent who's able to play some great tennis.

I feel like I'm playing catch-up against everyone. All that matters is that I keep playing. The more I play, the better I'll do. That's the goal.' 'I feel like I just want to hug everyone and say thank you', Sharapova told an on-court interview.

'It's my first match in the States in a really long time, and it's the closest thing to home for me. The welcome has been incredible and finally playing so close to home was really special.' Marina Erakovic retired down one set to Ana Konjuh. Nicole Gibbs, Kalya Day, Natalia Vikhliantseva Advanced. Round 1 matches on Monday: