Sharapova has serve meltdown, but wins easily

LONDON: A routine second-round Wimbledon victory would not normally live long in the memory of Maria Sharapova but she might preserve a small space for a bizarre cameo in Wednesday's match when she served three successive double faults to lose serve to love.

Though she was never troubled by Dutch world number 123 Richel Hogenkamp in her 6-3 6-1 victory, Sharapova's serve was ragged all day as she sprinkled eight double faults and repeated re-tosses among crushing forehand winners.

The issue reached its nadir as she served at 4-2 in the first set and sent seven of her eight attempted serves wide or into the net, throwing in a wide forehand for good measure on the opening point to lose to love.

Hogenkamp looked slightly embarrassed to walk to her chair a game better off after barely laying a racket on the ball but her pleasure was shortlived as Sharapova broke back in the next game and served out successfully for the set.

Still somewhat our of sorts, Sharapova did at least eventually find her range with a series thunderous ground strokes that left Hogenkamp's racket flailing and her face reddening as she struggled for any sort of foothold in hot, humid conditions.

For 2004 champion Sharapova it was another match on grass under her belt as she continues her rehabilitation from the virus that struck her down at the French Open.

And while the double faults will bother her, she still managed to win 87 percent of points when her first serve found the mark.

She was never likely to be troubled by Hogenkamp, who made her grand slam debut in the Australian Open this year, losing in the first round.

The 23-year-old's first-round victory over Quiang Wang at Wimbledon this week represented a high point in a career which even she seems to think will not come to much as she describes her long-term goal as "being in the top 100 for many years".

Fourth seed Sharapova, who won her Wimbledon title as a 17-year-old, has, of course, been right at the top of the game ever since and with the draw looking very favourable she will expect to be right in the mix at the sharp end of next week.