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Wimbledon: Sharapova beaten by qualifier

Maria Sharapova was dumped out of Wimbledon by world number 131 Michelle Larcher de Brito on Wednesday.

Staff Reporter
27 June 2013, 12:00am


The former champion fumed about the grass surface on Court Two at the All England Club as she slid - almost literally - out of the tournament.

Sharapova regularly struggled to keep her footing as Portuguese qualifier Larcher de Brito won the 'battle of the shriekers' 6-3 6-4.

At one point the Russian, a winner of the title back in 2004 and well fancied at this year's event, told the umpire: "This court is dangerous".

Sharapova called for the trainer after one of her falls in the second set.

De Brito remained fully focused though and held on to complete the biggest win of her career.

Asked later about her "dangerous" comment, she said: "Well, after I buckled my knee three times, that's obviously my first reaction.

"And because I've just never fallen that many times in a match before.

"Those are the conditions that are there for my opponent, as well. I just took a lot more falls than she did today.

"I don't think I've ever fallen three times in a match before in my career, so that was a little strange.

"But that's certainly not an excuse. I think today I've seen a lot of players fall and take a few hits and a few injuries.

"I think that's just part of the game, part of what we have to deal with.

"It was a bit slippery on the outside.''

Sharapova's exit, combined with the withdrawal of Victoria Azarenka, leaves the bottom half of the draw wide open. Petra Kvitova will now be the favourite to reach the final.

With few giving Larcher de Brito a chance, much of the build-up surrounded the potential noise level.

Larcher de Brito was once reportedly recorded screeching at 109 decibels - equivalent to the noise produced by a motorbike - while Sharapova is not known for being quiet herself.

The Russian had reached as high as 84 decibels by the time she was broken by the Portuguese in the fourth game.

Sharapova was looking rusty and only just managed to hold serve as Larcher de Brito threatened to go 5-1 up in the set.

The 20-year-old qualifier would not be denied for long, though, and took the first set in just 34 minutes to the astonishment of most in attendance.

Larcher de Brito continued strongly when play resumed, displaying an impressive array of shots that again saw her break the four-time grand slam champion in the third game.

A double fault proved decisive for Sharapova, who went down particularly awkwardly midway through the set after slipping near the baseline.

It was not the first time the Russian had taken a tumble and led an irked spectator to shout "sort the court out''.

The trainer was called out by Sharapova and, while she was worked on courtside and then away from the public glare, there were audible gasps from the crowd as they saw the number of injuries in other matches on the day.

Sharapova bravely returned despite what appeared to be a hip complaint but the match continued in the same vein.

Larcher de Brito held serve and, despite wasting a flurry of match points, secured a famous win, setting up a third-round tie with Italy's Karin Knapp.

Larcher de Brito was touted for big things a few years ago but had failed to convert her potential into results.

Still only 20, she saud that had simply been down to her.

"I'm not one of those players who is going to make up excuses like I was sick or injured, none of that,'' Larcher de Brito said.

"I just simply wasn't playing well. I had no motivation.

"I'm just lucky that I had my parents next to me, supporting me, helping me to keep going. It was really tough for me at one stage.

"The only people I had left was my mum, my dad, my brothers. They were the only ones there for me supporting me through this really tough time.

"Now they're here with me again when I'm succeeding.

"I'm not going to lie, I did drop off the radar a little bit. That's just why it makes the wins that much more sweeter. Makes me happier that I'm here.

"I'm really grateful to have such a wonderful family that supported me through all these years.''
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