The five-time Grand Slam champion and former world no. 1 Maria Sharapova had played just three tournaments so far in 2019 before this week, losing in the quarter-final of Shenzhen and the fourth round in Melbourne. Maria was forced to withdraw from St.
Petersburg Ladies Trophy at the end of January due to a right shoulder injury, seeking different options and deciding to undergo a small procedure in February, announcing the withdrawal from both Indian Wells and Miami. Returning to the practice court, Maria worked hard on physical strength and had to skip all the action on clay, heading to Mallorca where she trained on grass and accepted a wild card to join Angelique Kerber, Victoria Azarenka, Belinda Bencic, Elise Mertens, Caroline Garcia, Sofia Kenin and Amanda Anisimova.
In the first match in almost five months, Sharapova defeated Viktoria Kuzmova 7-6, 6-0 in an hour and 29 minutes, delivering the seventh victory in 2019 and the first on grass in four years! The opening set lasted for more than an hour and they traded early breaks to stay locked up until game 11 when Kuzmova broke again, moving 6-5 up and serving for the first set in the next game.
With no room for errors, Maria broke back to level the score at 6-6 and set up a tie break that went down to the wire, with the Slovak creating two set points at 6-5 and 8-7. Sharapova kept her focus, saving them both and closing the breaker 10-8 to gain the momentum ahead of the second set.
That was all we saw from Viktoria in this match, taking only six points in set number two and suffering a bagel in 25 minutes to propel Sharapova into the second round where she will face Angelique Kerber or Ysaline Bonaventure.