Sharapova, Halep cruise in Opening matches at Shenzhen open

 Sharapova, Halep cruise in Opening matches at Shenzhen open

SHENZHEN, China (AP) — Maria Sharapova and top-ranked Simona Halep opened their 2018 seasons with straight sets wins on Monday at the Shenzhen Open.

Sharapova finished off a 6-3, 6-0 win over Mihaela Buzarnescu with a powerful forehand winner, and Halep started her bid for a second Shenzhen title with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Nicole Gibbs.

“It’s my first victory this year as No. 1 in the world, so I’m just happy and enjoying the time,” said 2015 champion Halep, who will play China’s Duan Yingying in the next round.

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Sharapova dropped an early service game but recovered quickly to dominate her match.

“It’s always nice to start off the year with a victory. Overall I thought, besides a few breaks in the beginning, I really stepped up and finished the match off well,” Sharapova said.

The five-time major winner will next play 2017 Shenzhen finalist Alison Riske, who opened beat fifth-seeded Wang Qiang on Sunday.

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“She beat a crowd favorite yesterday, so I know I have a tough match ahead,” Sharapova said. “But I just want to keep playing better, and keep improving no matter who is across the net.”

No. 8-seeded Tima Babos had a 6-1, 6-1 win over Wang Xiyu.

 



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