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Sharapova insists she's made 'a lot of progress' after shock first round Wimbledon exit

The 31-year-old tasted defeat in the opening round of a Grand Slam for the first time since 2010.

WHILE THE REST of England was enthralled by events in Russia, the All England Club watched Maria Sharapova crash out of Wimbledon at the hands of her compatriot Vitalia Diatchenko last night.

The 2004 champion — making her first Wimbledon appearance since the 2015 semi-finals due to a doping ban and injury — was beaten 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 by the qualifier but believes she has made “a lot of progress” in the last 12 months.

Wimbledon 2018 - Day Two - The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club Diatchenko celebrates victory last night. Source: John Walton

“Tennis is a process. I’ve certainly made a lot of progress despite this result today,” Sharapova said after her first opening round exit at SW19.

“I’ve made a lot of progress in the last few months. I find myself in a much better position than at this time last year.”

Pressed on what positives she could take from her defeat, Sharapova continued: “I think the fight, the motivation, obviously the health. That’s crucial, to be able to keep putting the work in.

“In a matter of a couple points, maybe the situation could have been different. I would have been here saying, ‘I didn’t play my best tennis, I’m giving myself another chance,’ but I’m not.

“I have to take away the things that didn’t work well for me and get back and work through those and look for my next opportunities.

“I definitely had several chances, although I was not playing my best tennis,” she added.

Wimbledon 2018 - Day Two - The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club Source: John Walton

“I opened up a few doors and was a couple points away from winning this match. But, you know, sometimes you put yourself in winning position and you don’t finish through. That was the case today.”

As for 27-year-old Diatchenko, who will face American Sofia Kenin in round two, Sharapova credited the qualifier with chasing the win.

“She played all-or-nothing. She swung away. She played extremely aggressive. I was playing a little bit too defensively for what I should have been doing. She was there to win it, and she did.”

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