Maria Sharapova through to second round in Rome

The 30 year-old Russian defeated American Christina McHale 6-4, 6-2 on Monday to make the second round of the Italian Open in Rome.

Sharapova will learn on Tuesday if she will be granted a wild card for the French Open this month.

Three tournaments into her return from a 15-month doping ban, Maria Sharapova has already gained enough rankings points to enter qualifying for Wimbledon.

Even that could be avoided if she reaches the semi-finals in Rome, which would take her to a ranking of around 100 and get her directly into the main event. Sharapova is still waiting to hear if she will receive a wildcard entry into Roland Garros starting a week from Sunday.

Her second-round opponent will be Croatian veteran Lucic-Baroni who she beat in the Madrid first round last week.

Berdych matched his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, with 599 career victories. "The fact that I'm back and playing three weeks in a row now and three events in a row for me is a big deal".

Sixteenth seed Mirjana Lučić-Baroni of Croatia beat the Czech Republic's Lucie Šafářová 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

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She made a slow start against American McHale, ranked 58th, at the Foro Italico, dropping serve three times before edging through the first set and dominating the second.

Tournament organizers were criticized for giving a wild card to Sharapova instead of former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, an Italian. Also, Sam Querrey eliminated Lucas Pouille, a semifinalist a year ago, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (8). Nadal was last ranked fourth in October past year.

The Laver Cup, a three-day competition modeled on golf's Ryder Cup, will pit a team of six top players from Europe against six of their counterparts from the rest of the world.

The highest ranked qualifier at Wimbledon past year was Serbia's Aleksandra Krunic, at 46th in the world, while the highest was Luksika Kumkhum from Thailand, who is 212th.

"I thought the conditions were tough, I thought the ball was really heavy and it was tough to be aggressive".

"Taking on the Europeans is no easy task".

"Milos is incredibly impressive, both as a player and a person, and I'm very pleased he's committed to playing the Laver Cup in September", McEnroe said in the same statement.

  • Lawrence Cooper