An interesting match featuring a former champion and a rising American takes on place Centre Court in Maria Sharapova Vs Christina McHale. A lot is riding for Sharapova as she comes into the event with a place in the Wimbledon main draw at stake.
Sharapova has started her comeback to professional tennis with some mixed results, reaching the semi-finals at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and a shock defeat in the 2nd round in Mutua Madrid Open. The Russian, receiving a wild card into the 3rd tournament after the end of her suspension, would try and secure a good result here in the ancient city especially after her poor performance in Madrid last week.
The last time she appeared in this tournament she managed to win the title. Also, she would know if she’d been granted a wild card into the French Open as she failed to make the qualifying stages owing to her low ranking of 262 after her semi-final appearance in Stuttgart.
Coming to Cristina McHale, who is currently on a 4-match losing streak with her last win secured at the Miami Open, would have to come up with some real tricks up her sleeves in order to even create the slightest chance of an “upset” at the 1st round. The 210th ranked player in the world is yet to win a single clay court match this year as she lost against lower-ranked players, even in Madrid last week. McHale has managed to reach the quarterfinal only once back in 2015 in her last 6 appearances in Rome.
Sharapova and McHale have met for a total of 4 times in their careers, with Sharapova securing the triumph in all their meetings. Coincidental or not, their last 3 meetings have been on clay courts, with their last match being a thriller in Madrid in 2014 where Sharapova fought back from 1-4 down in the final set to beat McHale 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.
Given all this, Sharapova would walk into her 1st round match with some serious “mental edge” against McHale, with the later trying to earn her 1st victory against the former World No.1.