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Old Nov 12th, 2004, 06:10 AM   #51
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heres an article from eurosport enjoy

Sharapova makes her mark

Playing her debut match at the WTA Championships, Maria Sharapova defeated U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova for the first time in a 6-1 6-4 victory on Thursday. The Wimbledon winner beat her Russian compatriot for the first time in her career at the Round Robin stage in Los Angeles.

Sharapova hit 23 winners in her first match at the Staples Center, home to the L.A. Lakers basketball team.

"I love it here. The atmosphere is great," said Sharapova afterwards. "To be here where the Lakers play, you just feel that excitement. I love basketball."

The 8,500 fee-paying spectators favoured the Siberian, who hit 69% of her first serves to record a first win over her compatriot in three career meetings.

Kuznetsova has previously trounced Sharapova 6-2, 6-2 in Beijing in September. But Thursday's match was a different proposition.

"In Beijing, she was coming off such a big winning streak [14 matches] and she was unstoppable," Sharapova said.

"This time, it was important to start off well and put some pressure on her."

Having won the opening game of the match, Kuznetsova found herself walking to her chair 23-minutes later on the receiving end of some powerful groundstrokes and one set down.

Tied 2-all in the second, Sharapova went on to break Kuznetsova three times and closed out the hour-long match with a backhand winner.

"I didn't serve well," Kuznetsova said. "She was returning pretty good, but I let her do this. She was putting pressure on me all the time."
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