WTA Cincinnati: Maria Sharapova tops Alison Riske for winning start

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WTA Cincinnati: Maria Sharapova tops Alison Riske for winning start

Competing in the seventh tournament in 2019, a former Cincinnati champion Maria Sharapova defeated Alison Riske 6-3, 7-6 for the eighth win this season. It was a battle between two players with wild cards and Maria managed to prevail in straight sets despite being 5-3 down in set number two, avoiding the possible fourth straight loss and booking the place in the second round.

Sharapova won all three previous encounters against Riske and played well today too, losing serve three times and delivering four breaks to cross the finish line first after showing great mental strength in the closing stages of the second set.

Playing better behind the second serve, Maria hit 26 winners and 33 unforced errors, leaving Riske on a 15-22 ratio and keeping the points on her racquet. The first break of the match came at 4-3 for Sharapova, moving in front when Riske hit a double fault for a break at love, fending off a break point in the next game and closing the opener on the fifth set point with a forehand crosscourt winner.

From 40-15 up in the second game of the second set, Maria lost four points in a row and suffered a break when her forehand drive-volley landed long, allowing Riske to open a 4-1 gap following two good holds and a service winner in game five.

Sharapova converted the third break chance in game seven to get back on the positive side of the scoreboard, squandering a game point and getting broken again after a forced error, sending Alison 5-3 in front and leaving the American serving for the set.

It wasn't to be for Riske who failed to wrap up the set, handing the break to Sharapova who leveled the score at 5-5 with an excellent hold. They traded breaks in games 11 and 12 (Maria served for the victory) to set up a tie break that the Russian won 7-4 after a forehand error from the American, sealing the deal in just under two hours to set Ashleigh Barty clash.