June 28, 2006

Sharapova overpowers Smashnova

LONDON (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova marked her return to her
favorite hunting ground at Wimbledon by thrashing Israel's Anna
Smashnova 6-2 6-0 in the first round on Wednesday.

The 2004 champion signaled her title aspirations by
condemning Smashnova to her 10th first-round exit here in 12

Russian Sharapova, 19, opened her campaign a day later than
expected because of Monday's rain but wasted little time in
outclassing her opponent with bludgeoning groundstrokes and
claimed the first set with a forehand drive volley.

The 29-year-old Israeli wilted in the second set and
succumbed in 52 minutes by dumping a backhand into the net.

Sharapova, seeded four, will next meet either American
Ashley Harkleroad or Jelena Kostanic of Croatia.