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Tennis: Sharapova battles into second round

Third seed Maria Sharapova clawed her way into the Australian Open second round Tuesday with a straight-sets win over Bethanie Mattek-Sands as she seeks her first Grand Slam title since the 2012 French Open. The glamorous Russian, on the comeback trail from a shoulder injury that forced her off the tour in August, battled past the tough American 6-3, 6-4 but her game was marred by too many errors and a serve that failed to fire. "After (missing) my last Grand Slam in New York I have been so looking forward to this one and I was really happy to start," she said.

Tennis: Mattek-Sands, girl from Neenah who drove Li Gaga

She's the girl from Neenah, Wisconsin, who sports garish leopard print dresses, knee-high football socks and cowboy hats on court while slapping thick, black paint beneath her eyes. Brash American Bethanie Mattek-Sands is the self-styled Lady Gaga of tennis and on Thursday at a rain-deluged French Open, she sent Chinese star Li Na completely loco. Mattek-Sands, who hails from America's Midwest, but lives in Arizona with her accountant husband, stunned the 2011 champion, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, to reach the third round at Roland Garros and add a little colour to a drab Paris day.

Tennis: Mattek-Sands sends Li Na out of French Open

China's Li Na crashed out of the French Open on Thursday losing 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 to Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States in a second round tie badly disrupted by rain. It was the first time the 2011 champion had gone out at such an early stage of the tournament in seven appearances and wrecked her hopes of a second straight Grand Slam final appearance after Australia in January. As she did in the first round against Anabel Medina Garrigues, sixth-seeded Li got off to a strong start winning the first four games before the stocky American rallied to win the next four.

Tennis: Vekic first seeded casualty at Malaysian Open

Sixth-seed Donna Vekic of Croatia was the first seeded player to be knocked out of the BMW Malaysian Open Tuesday after she lost 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to American Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the first round. The 16-year-old, who is ranked world number 93 and only turned professional in September, was outmanoeuvred in the match against an opponent who is better known for her doubles play. The 27-year-old Mattek-Sands, who is world number 197, arrived in Kuala Lumpur to participate in the rain-lashed tournament after winning a doubles title with India's Sania Mirza in Dubai last week.
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