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Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova Lose Claycourt Openers
By Ken Miller, Lawn Tennis Analyst, Posted: Saturday, May 9, 2015 10:02pm PST USA
Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova Lose Claycourt Openers BARCELONA--Last month in April two of the toughest clay court players in recent years, the fourth ranked Rafael Nadal of Spain and the third ranked Maria Sharapova of Russia, both posted surprise claycourt losses in French Open warmup tournaments.

Nadal as well as Sharapova took championship titles in Paris at last yearís French Open, the second of four of tennisí grand slams.

In third round action at the Barcelona Open Banc

Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova
Lawn Tennis
Nadal as well as Sharapova took championship titles in Paris at last yearís French Open, the second of four of tennisí grand slams.

Sabadell, the 13th seeded Fabio Fognini of Italy raced to a 6-4, 4-4 lead over the 2nd seeded Rafael Nadal with his unique mix of offensive and defensive skills.

With Fognini serving at 4 all 30-40, Nadal struck a down the line forehand winner to break serve and take a second set lead at 5-4.

However Nadal was unable to maintain his lead as he lost the following two games to trail 5-6.

Serving at 40-15, the Spaniard struck a crosscourt backhand winner to hold serve and reach the tiebreaker.

In the tiebreaker, Fognini took leads of 4-1 and 6-3 before Nadal fought back to level the score at 6 all after striking an inside out crosscourt forehand winner.

However Nadal framed a backhand return to trail 6-7 in the tiebreaker and face match point.

A Nadal inside out crosscourt forehand which landed long ended the match after two hours of play 6-3, 7-6(8-6).

For the day Nadal had converted only 3 of 14 breakpoints.

In her opening match at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix at Stuttgart, Germany, the top seeded Maria Sharapova of Russia went ahead a set and a break against the unseeded Angelique Kerber of Germany before dropping set two and splitting the first two games of set three.

Sharapova had won the Stuttgart title three times and had never lost a match at the tournament but was unable to cope with Kerberís mix of offensive and defense as the German broke serve, held serve, then broke serve again to lead 4-1.

On gamepoint, Sharapova netted a forehand down the line as Kerber held serve to reach 5-1.

Serving to stay in the match, the Russian struck a forehand down the line long before hitting an ace out wide to reach 15 all.

Kerber then struck a down the line backhand drop shot winner to reach 15-30.

A crosscourt backhand winning passing shot from Kerber then put the German at 15-40 with Sharapova facing double match point.

Sharapova struck an ace down the tee to reach 30-40 before netting a crosscourt forehand to end the match 2-6, 7-5, 6-1.

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