Both looking for matches, Kerber brushes aside Sharapova in Mallorca

Both looking for matches, Kerber brushes aside Sharapova in Mallorca

The reigning Wimbledon champion hit 18 winners to just five unforced errors in the second-round victory.

In a clash of two former Wimbledon champions seeking match fitness, Angelique Kerber defeated Maria Sharapova, 6-2, 6-3, in the second round of the Mallorca Open on Thursday.

"If you have a lot of wins before Wimbledon, this is the goal. I'm here to play good matches against the best players in the world," Kerber said on-court afterwards. "I need a bit more matches but I'm on a good way. This is the most important thing."

The top-seeded Kerber, who triumphed over Serena Williams at the All England Club a year ago, is aiming to win her third grass-court trophy. The 31-year-old played just four matches during the 2019 European clay season after struggling with a right ankle injury and viral illness. She improved to 5-4 against Sharapova and has now taken their past four meetings. Sharapova was playing her first tournament since the end of January, following surgery on her right shoulder.

Kerber broke Sharapova at love to open proceedings and erased four break points in her first two service games to maintain her advantage. The world No. 6 lined up a forehand down the line winner to grab her second break for a 5-2 lead, and continued marching forward. 

The German utilized her defense to offense instincts to keep the aggressive-hitting Russian at bay. Kerber was clean off the ground, hitting 18 winners to 5 unforced errors, and pressed her opponent's serve, winning 40 of her 75 points on return. Her only blip came when serving for the match at 5-2 in the second, when Sharapova rocketed a cross-court backhand return winner to claim one break back. 

Kerber immediately regrouped, bookending the encounter with another break at love to advance in one hour and 31 minutes. She awaits the winner of Nottingham champion Caroline Garcia and wild card Paula Badosa in the quarterfinals.