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Kerber too strong for Sharapova in Mallorca

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(Reuters) – Top seed Angelique Kerber won the battle of current and former Wimbledon champions as she beat Maria Sharapova 6-2 6-3 in a heavyweight second-round clash at the Mallorca Open on Thursday.

Germany’s Kerber, who will arrive at Wimbledon as reigning champion, proved too solid for Sharapova as her comeback from yet more shoulder problems was cut short.

Kerber’s claycourt season was hampered by an ankle injury and she bowed out in the first round of the French Open.

But the 31-year-old left-hander looked sharp as she dominated Sharapova on the Santa Ponsa grass, setting up a quarter-final against either France’s Caroline Garcia or Spanish wildcard Paula Badosa.

“It was a good match and I felt good from the first point on the court,” Kerber, who now has four consecutive wins over Sharapova, told reporters.

“I trusted my game today and just wanted to be aggressive.”

Sharapova, who returned to action this week ranked 85th after undergoing shoulder surgery in February, has spent a fortnight on the Mallorca lawns sharpening her game for her comeback but said her lack of match play showed.

“I made a few too many unforced errors,” said the 32-year-old Russian, who won Wimbledon in 2004.

Despite having only two matches under her belt, Sharapova said it would not be “too smart for my shoulder” to add another warm-up tournament to her schedule ahead of Wimbledon.

“These two matches were very important, for my arm, putting pressure on my arm and seeing how it does and it’s done pretty well so I will take that optimism to London,” she said.

“Right now I have to take it one tournament at a time.”

American teenager Amanda Anisimova, who reached the French Open semi-finals this month, eased past Alize Cornet 6-2 6-4.

She will next face third seed Belinda Bencic, who also sealed her place in the quarter-finals.

She was leading 5-7 6-3 3-1 when American opponent Shelby Rogers had to retire with an injury.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman,; Editing by Toby Davis and Ed Osmond)

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