No comeback victory for Maria Sharapova in Toronto tournament
Anett Kontaveit spoiled Maria Sharapova's return from injury yesterday morning (Singapore time), rallying to beat the five-time Grand Slam champion 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 at the WTA tournament in Toronto.
Sharapova, competing for the first time since retiring from her first-round match at Wimbledon, appeared to be on course for just a fourth match win since January when she went up a set and an early break on the 16th seed from Estonia.
Having forced the third set, Kontaveit gave herself a chance to serve for the match with a break of serve in an epic ninth game.
Sharapova hung on through nine deuces, before Kontaveit converted her third break chance in a game that lasted more than 15 minutes.
"I was just trying to take it point by point and not think about the score that much. It worked in the end," said Kontaveit.
She converted her first match-point in the following game when Sharapova sent a service return long.
While Kontaveit readies herself for a second-round match against either Venus Williams or Carla Suarez Navarro - who open play on Centre Court this morning - Sharapova will set her sights on next week's tournament in Cincinnati, where she has received a wild card just as she did in Toronto.
"I don't think this is the time to take a break," she said.
The 32-year-old has slipped to 81st in the world rankings after another season marred by injury.
She had missed more than four months in the wake of shoulder surgery when she returned for the grass-court season.
She was forced out of Wimbledon by a left-forearm injury. Sharapova said the physical battle showed she'd made progress since Wimbledon.
"I put a lot of work in to get to this stage, so to finish off this match is good," she said.
"Definitely not the result I would have liked, but overall feeling pretty good about it.
"I'm still building the confidence and my form - and that's something that's just going to come with time and with match play.
"Unfortunately, I just haven't had that yet, so will just hopefully try to build on it."
German 12th seed Angelique Kerber was also unable to make the second round. The three-time Grand Slam champion was defeated 6-0, 2-6, 4-6 by Russian Daria Kasatkina.
British 13th seed Johanna Konta bowed out as well, losing 6-3, 6-2 to Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska. - AFP