TENNIS

Italian Open: Sharapova battles through rain, defending champ Svitolina, Ostapenko advance

Sharapova needed two and a half hours to master 18th-ranked Ashleigh Barty 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 in their first round match.

Defending champion Elina Svitolina eased into the third round of the WTA Italian Open on Tuesday as three-time winner Maria Sharapova needed a marathon three sets to get past Australian Ashleigh Barty.

Svitolina, the fourth seed, received a first round bye and dropped just three games in a dominant 6-1, 6-2 victory over 35th-ranked Petra Martic.

The 23-year-old Ukrainian won the biggest clay court title of her career last year at the Foro Italico. And she continued where she left off despite the rainy conditions, needing just over an hour to peg back her Croatian rival.

By contrast, Sharapova needed two and a half hours to master 18th-ranked Barty 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 in their first round match.

“It was tough, tough conditions,” said 40th-ranked Sharapova, who reached the quarter-finals in Madrid last week. “It felt like I was playing three different matches.

“There was a long wait and the way the court played, the way she played, the shadows, the little bit of a breeze out there. So, a lot going on.

“I think it was a really good way to end the match, to get that win.”

Sharapova’s victory, her 34th on clay in the Italian capital, came in her first meeting with Barty, who was making her Rome debut.

Barty pushed the five-time Grand Slam winner to a third set as she did against Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki last week in Madrid.

The game swung the Russian’s direction in the final set when Sharapova held serve in a crucial 1-1 game from 0-40 down after having failed to convert three break points in the previous game.

Barty, ranked 18, saved two match points in the final game against the 2011, 2012 and 2015 winner but two unforced errors in a row handed Sharapova a second round berth.

Sharapova next meets Dominika Cibulkova in the second round. The pair have not played each other since the Slovak won in the fourth round of the 2014 Australian Open on her way to the final.

“It’s been a while since I played her, she’s always been a tough opponent especially on clay,” said the Russian of the Slovak who leads 2-1 in clay court meetings.

Fifth seed Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia advanced to the third round past China’s Zhang Shuai 6-2, 7-5.

Svetlana Kuznetsova made light work of Slovenian Polona Hercog 6-2, 6-4 in her first round match as the Russian warms up for the French Open which she won in 2009.

But there were uncontrollable tears for France’s Kristina Mladenovic as dizziness forced her to call it a day while trailing Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 3-0.

Results

2nd rd

Jelena Ostapenko (LAT x5) bt Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-2, 7-5

Elina Svitolina (UKR x4) bt Petra Martic (CRO) 6-1, 6-2

1st rd

Maria Sharapova (RUS) bt Ashleigh Barty (AUS x16) 7-5, 3-6, 6-2

Timea Babos (HUN) bt Sara Errani (ITA) 6-3, 7-6 (8/6)

Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) bt Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 6-2, 6-4

Maria Sakkari (GRE) bt Kiki Bertens (NED) 6-2, 4-6, 6-3

Irina Begu (ROU) bt Shuai Peng (CHN) 4-6, 6-4, 6-1

Angelique Kerber (GER x11) bt Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 6-2, 7-6 (8/6)

Darya Kasatkina (RUS x14) bt Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-0, 6-4

Danielle Collins (USA) bt Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4

Elena Vesnina (RUS) bt Laura Siegemund (GER) 7-6 (7/5), 6-2

Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) bt Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-2, 6-4

Anastasija Sevastova (LAT x15) bt Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-3, 3-0 retired

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Tracing the formation of Al Qaeda and its path to 9/11

A new show looks at some of the crucial moments leading up to the attack.

“The end of the world war had bought America victory but not security” - this quote from Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer-Prize winning book, ‘The Looming Tower’, gives a sense of the growing threat to America from Al Qaeda and the series of events that led to 9/11. Based on extensive interviews, including with Bin Laden’s best friend in college and the former White House counterterrorism chief, ‘The Looming Tower’ provides an intimate perspective of the 9/11 attack.

Lawrence Wright chronicles the formative years of Al Qaeda, giving an insight in to Bin Laden’s war against America. The book covers in detail, the radicalisation of Osama Bin Laden and his association with Ayman Al Zawahri, an Egyptian doctor who preached that only violence could change history. In an interview with Amazon, Wright shared, “I talked to 600-something people, but many of those people I talked to again and again for a period of five years, some of them dozens of times.” Wright’s book was selected by TIME as one of the all-time 100 best nonfiction books for its “thoroughly researched and incisively written” account of the road to 9/11 and is considered an essential read for understanding Islam’s war on the West as it developed in the Middle East.

‘The Looming Tower’ also dwells on the response of key US officials to the rising Al Qaeda threat, particularly exploring the turf wars between the FBI and the CIA. This has now been dramatized in a 10-part mini-series of the same name. Adapted by Dan Futterman (of Foxcatcher fame), the series mainly focuses on the hostilities between the FBI and the CIA. Some major characters are based on real people - such as John O’ Neill (FBI’s foul-mouthed counterterrorism chief played by Jeff Daniels) and Ali Soufan (O’ Neill’s Arabic-speaking mentee who successfully interrogated captured Islamic terrorists after 9/11, played by Tahar Rahim). Some are composite characters, such as Martin Schmidt (O’Neill’s CIA counterpart, played by Peter Sarsgaard).

The series, most crucially, captures just how close US intelligence agencies had come to foiling Al Qaeda’s plans, just to come up short due to internal turf wars. It follows the FBI and the CIA as they independently follow intelligence leads in the crises leading up to 9/11 – the US Embassy bombings in East Africa and the attack on US warship USS Cole in Yemen – but fail to update each other. The most glaring example is of how the CIA withheld critical information – Al Qaeda operatives being hunted by the FBI had entered the United States - under the misguided notion that the CIA was the only government agency authorised to deal with terrorism threats.

The depth of information in the book has translated into a realistic recreation of the pre-9/11 years on screen. The drama is even interspersed with actual footage from the 9/11 conspiracy, attack and the 2004 Commission Hearing, linking together the myriad developments leading up to 9/11 with chilling hindsight. Watch the trailer of this gripping show below.

Play

The Looming Tower is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video, along with a host of Amazon originals and popular movies and TV shows. To enjoy unlimited ad free streaming anytime, anywhere, subscribe to Amazon Prime Video.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Amazon Prime Video and not by the Scroll editorial team.