Maria Sharapova’s last grass court match on the Tour was the semi-final loss to Serena Williams at 2015 Wimbledon, 1,090 days ago. She lost to Vitalia Diatchenko 6-7 7-6 6-4 today, double-faulting on the match point to hit the exit door after the opening round. On this day in 2004, the 17-year-old Sharapova had upset the two-time defending champion Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final to lift her maiden major title but she will hardly remember that after such a tough loss against the fellow Russian qualifier ranked 132nd after three hours and seven minutes of an epic battle! After an exchange of breaks, Diatchenko forced Sharapova to the tiebreak in the opening set, but she opened it with a double-fault.
The former world No.1 gifted Diatchenko her first point to 2-1 with an overworked backhand. Sharapova overpowered her opponent with massive serves and relied on a terrific second serve to go 5-2 up. Diatchenko tried to defend deep in the next point but Sharapova showed a solid defense and sealed the set with her first ace after 65 minutes.
Sharapova broke to open the second but failed to register her 30th victory against the Russian opponents at Grand Slam level, squandering a 5-2 lead to drop the set in the tie break 7-3 after three mini-breaks from Diatchenko.
Maria had lead in the deciding set twice, fighting against her rival and the darkness, but Diatchenko would fight back both times, leveling the score at 2-2 and 4-4 before she made a crucial break in game 10 after Sharapova's double fault to seal the deal and claim one of her biggest wins ever.
Caroline Garcia, enjoying her highest seed ever in a major, suffered her first Grand Slam first-round defeat since 2016 Australian Open. Belinda Bencic, who missed last year’s Wimbledon with a wrist injury, completed a 7-6(2) 6-3 win Making her fourth main draw appearance at Wimbledon, hoping to breach the Top 50 for the first time since January, Bencic maintained a perfect 4-0 run in first-round matches at Wimbledon.
In her first meeting against Garcia, she claimed her 13th victory against Top 10 opponents. The Swiss broke immediately to open her 23rd grasscourt win at WTA level. Garcia came to the net and used the whole court to level at 3-3.
The Frenchwoman showed a bit more consistency on serve but her unforced errors grew during the rallies. The Swiss looked more assured and solid from the back. Garcia, evidently tenser than her opponent, lost her serve crucially in the sixth game of the second set and the perspective of a fourth defeat this season to opponents ranked outside Top 50 became concrete.
More patient, Bencic had to wait for Garcia's errors and converted her second match point. Bencic will meet Alison Riske who beat 6-1 6-1 Duque-Marino, a Real Madrid fan, just in time to make the Colombian watch the Cafeteros face England in the World Cup rond 16.
Katie Boulter, who recently beat Sam Stosur in Nottingham, defeated 64 57 64 Veronica Cepede Royg and celebrated her maiden Grand Slam main draw victory. "I'm a little lost of words. I don't know what to say. I put my heart out there and luckily got the win" she said in the post-match interview to BBC.
"I came in wanting to play my game and do my best and was happy to get the win. There's one thing about me that will never go away and it is it that I never give up, no matter the score or where I am. I appreciate the support so much, but want to go and see my team." Boulter, a former junior Top 10, hit 11 winners and four aces in the first set and missed a match point at 5-4 in the second netting a forehand.