Sharapova wins comeback match

Warsaw: Maria Sharapova played her first tour singles match in nearly 10 months on Monday, and needed nine match points to finish off Tathiana Garbin of Italy 6-1, 6-7 (6), 6-3 in the first round of the Warsaw Open.

Sharapova, who last played a singles match in July after being sidelined with a torn rotator cuff in her right shoulder, wore a bandage on the arm but said the shoulder didn’t bother her. She cruised through the first set and grabbed a quick 4-0 lead in the second before her serve started to falter. Serving at 5-3, she wasted four match points — double faulting on two of them — and then failed to convert two more in the tie-break before netting a forehand to give the set to Garbin.

In the third, the Russian dropped an early break before rallying with her trademark groundstrokes to overpower the Italian. Sharapova held serve to go up 5-3, then converted her third match point when Garbin knocked a backhand long.

Once ranked No 1 in the world, Sharapova’s ranking has slid to No 126 since her injury forced her to miss the last two Grand Slams. Sharapova refused to speculate about next week’s French Open, saying she was only thinking about Warsaw this week. But she stressed that playing matches was the only way to return to her championship form.

In other first round action, Marta Domachowska of Poland beat Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan, 6-2, 6-1; Anne Keothavong of Britain downed Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States, 6-2, 7-6 (4); Jie Zheng of China beat Olga Govortsova of Belarus, 4-6, 7-6 (0), 6-3; Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine beat Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, 7-5, 6-2; Julia Goerges of Germany downed Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada 7-6 (5), 6-3; and Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine eliminated Katarzyna Piter of Poland 6-0, 6-0.

Austrian Open

KITZBUEHEL: Third-seeded Victor Hanescu of Romania rallied to beat Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador 6-7 (6), 6-3, 7-5 in the first round of the Austrian Open on Monday.

The 32nd-ranked Hanescu broke four times and will play Marcel Granollers of Spain, who defeated Teimuraz Gabahsvili of Russia 7-6 (11), 6-3. Seventh-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia defeated Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain 6-2, 7-6 (7). German wild card Andreas Beck rallied to beat Jan Hernych of the Czech Republic 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, while Nicolas Massu of Chile defeated Robin Vik of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-2.

Also advancing to the second round was Daniel Koellerer of Austria, who downed Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 6-4, 6-4. Agustin Calleri of Argentina, who won the event in 2006, reached the second round after Yen-hsun Lu of Taiwan quit the match due to illness at 3-6, 7-5, 0-1.

The Austrian Open, a warmup event for next week’s French Open, was initially scheduled for July but moved to May after the Hypo Group tournament in Poertschach, Austria, was dropped from the ATP Tour calendar. — AP