Sharapova overcomes shaky start to beat McHale in Rome

Maria Sharapova hits a strong backhand

Sharapova, who has now played in three tournaments since returning from her 15-month doping ban last month, will learn on Tuesday if she will be granted a wild card for the French Open, which begins May 28.

Sharapova's WTA ranking will move up to around 170 in the win, and can go higher if she passes her second-round test against No.16-seeded Mirjana-Lucic Baroni.

However the 2004 Wimbledon champion will have her sights on at least the semi-finals on the Rome clay, as that would guarantee a spot in the main SW19 draw.

Tournament organisers had previously claimed they could cope with the demands of the former world No. 1 playing in qualifying, although it still remains more than possible that she will earn qualification to the main draw.

The five-time Grand Slam victor will play the second round against Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who defeated Czech Lucie Safarova earlier on Monday. The fact that I'm back and playing three weeks in a row now and three events in a row for me is a big deal.

McHale, ranked 58th, faded badly in the second set as Sharapova hit her stride, producing glimpses of the talent that took her to world number one.

Maria Sharapova on her way to victory over Christina McHale in the first round of the US Open in Rome.

After being told in her post-match press conference that she will be returning to Wimbledon this summer, Sharapova said:"I don't know how the Wimbledon qualifying works or the rankings".

Berdych matched his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, with 599 career victories. The qualifying tournament is held the week before in the quaint surroundings of Roehampton - potentially creating a security headache if Sharapova plays. The day before was more lighthearted (with a win over Christina Mchale).

In the men's draw, Belgian ninth seed David Goffin stopped Thomaz Bellucci 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-4 and American Sam Querrey spring a surprise on French 11th seed Lucas Pouille 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (10-8).

The Russian, who is a three-time victor of this event, will take on Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the second round. Kasatkina had taken the first set but was unable to continue. "It's a tremendous opportunity and I'm really looking forward to being part of this unique team competition", Raonic said in a statement on Monday.

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