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Maria Sharapova advances at Italian Open 2017

Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova waves to the crowds in Rome as she celebrates her victory over Christina Mchale at Italian Open

Rome, May 16 (UITV/IANS)- Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova began the Italian Open with a win over American rival Christina McHale in the first round of the tournament.

Sharapova on Monday achieved a clear 6-4, 6-2 victory over McHale in one hour and 37 minutes, reports Efe.

She had previously beaten McHale at the 2014 Italian Open second round.

The Russian player's last appearance at the Italian Open was in 2015, when she took the title after beating Spanish Carla Suarez.

Sharapova was recently eliminated by Canadian Eugenie Bouchard from the second round of the 2017 Madrid Open.

The five-time Grand Slam winner will play the second round against Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who defeated Czech Lucie Safarova earlier on Monday.