Qatar: Sharapova opens strongly in chase of the Diamond Ball trophy

At the 2013 Qatar Total Open, Maria Sharapova has a chance to overtake Victoria Azarenka as the No.1 WTA player and win an extra Diamond Ball trophy if she goes all the way to the title. The Russian started off well, with a comfortable 6-3 6-2 victory over Caroline Garcia in the second round.

Sharapova now has a perfect 10-0 win-loss record at the Qatar Total Open tournament, which she won on both her previous appearances, in 2005 and 2008. The organizers are providing an additional incentive to Sharapova if she wins the title for the third time – the Diamond Ball trophy. One more player in the field shares that opportunity with Sharapova, her fellow Russian Nadia Petrova, who also won her today's match, beating Andrea Hlavackova 6-2 6-3.

The No.1 ranking is up for grabs this week, so let's see the obstacles the three contenders have to face to win/retain the position:

    • SERENA WILLIAMS' PERSPECTIVE: has to reach the semifinals or hope that Azarenka doesn't make the final and Sharapova doesn't clinch the title;
    • VICTORIA AZARENKA'S PERSPECTIVE: has to reach the final for a chance to remain No.1;
    • MARIA SHARAPOVA'S PERSPECTIVE: has to win the title and hope that Serena falls before the semis and Azarenka doesn't reach the final.

Serena was also in action today, testing the recovery level of her back and ankle injuries suffered during the Australian Open, and beat Daria Gavrilova 6-2 6-1 in the second round. Daria was barely born when Serena turned pro in 1995! After a first-round bye, defending champion Victoria Azarenka opens her campaign against Romina Oprandi. (photo: © Neal Trousdale)

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