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Sharapova knocked out of Qatar opener by Niculescu

(Reuters) – Maria Sharapova seemed out of types after surrendering an early benefit as she was surprised Four-6 6-Four 6-Three by Romanian qualifier Monica Niculescu within the Qatar Open first spherical on Monday.

Wild card Sharapova, enjoying in Doha for the primary time since 2013, seemed heading in the right direction for victory after taking the primary set however struggled to hold ahead the momentum in opposition to a decided opponent and crashed out after two hours 38 minutes.

Five-times grand slam winner Sharapova was not helped by 11 double faults and 52 unforced errors whereas her opponent, who fired 12 winners, grew in confidence as the competition went on.

Qualifier Niculescu, who used her slices to good impact and transformed six out of seven break factors within the match to oust Russian Sharapova, will tackle Wimbledon semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova or native wild card Fatma Al Nabhani subsequent.

Earlier, Dominika Cibulkova rallied previous Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-6(eight) 6-Four as she progressed to a second spherical assembly with France’s seventh seed Caroline Garcia.

Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu eased previous Lesia Tsurenko to arrange a conflict with sixth-seeded French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, whereas American qualifier CiCi Bellis superior after Daria Kasatkina pulled out of their opener with an damage.

Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Anna Blinkova aslo reached the second spherical.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris

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