Sharapova struggles, Serena rolls on
Top seed Maria Sharapova overcame a second-set wobble to beat Tsvetana Pironkova 7-6 6-7 6-0 and reach the Wimbledon third round on Thursday.
The match was halted on Wednesday evening with the Russian leading 3-1 in the second set but she lost the first two games to allow Bulgarian Pironkova, a Wimbledon semifinalist two years ago, a foothold.
Pironkova relied on her powerful serve to cause Sharapova problems and the world No 1 double-faulted three times in the tiebreak on the way to losing it 7-3.
Sharapova, Wimbledon champion in 2004, regrouped quickly, however, and roared through the third set in 29 minutes to set up a match against Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei.
"I started so slowly today and she came out firing today and yesterday," the French Open champion said. "It's always difficult to stop a match especially when you have the momentum.
"I wanted to start strong today but it didn't happen for me," Sharapova added. "My serve let me down in the tiebreaker."
This video is not available in your region
SERENA BREEZES INTO THIRD ROUND
Four-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams sailed effortlessly into the third round with a crisply efficient 6-1 6-4 victory over Hungarian qualifier Melinda Czink.
Serena launched the match with three devastating aces in the first game and then kept firing them down at a demoralised Czink, who could do nothing against the mighty Williams firepower.
Shaking off her disappointing first round loss in the French Open, Serena looked razor sharp this time, moving crosscourt with effortless ease and serving a total of 10 aces.
The second set was more closely fought but one break in the ninth game was enough to secure Serena a clash in the next round with 2008 Wimbledon semifinalist Zheng Jie of China.
Women's ninth seed Marion Bartoli of France, the runner-up to Venus Williams in 2007, was knocked out by Croatian qualifier Mirjana Lucic, 6-4, 6-3.
Lucic was a semifinalist in 1999 before her career and personal life went into a tailspin. But, at 30, she is enjoying a new lease of life on the tour.
Second seed Victoria Azarenka reached the third round with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Switzerland's Romina Oprandi.
CHAMP KVITOVA RACES INTO THIRD ROUND
Defending champion Petra Kvitova fired a warning to her title rivals as the Czech raced into the third round with a 6-0, 6-4 demolition of Britain's Elena Baltacha.
On her arrival at the All England Club last week, Kvitova admitted she wasn't in the best form to retain the Venus Rosewater Dish after losing in the first round of the Wimbledon warm-up at Eastbourne.
But the 22-year-old, who defeated Maria Sharapova in last year's Wimbledon final, erased those doubts in convincing style in the evening sunshine on Court Two.
Includes Sapa-AFP copy