US Open: Maria Sharapova beats veteran Patty Schnyder 6-2 7-6 at Flushing Meadow

MARIA Sharapova had to overcome an amazing fightback from veteran Patty Schnyder to win 6-2 7-6 in the first round of the US Open this morning.

The 39-year-old Schnyder was attempting an unlikely comeback, having retired from tennis after being beaten in the first round of the French Open in 2011.

 Maria Sharapova blows a kiss to the crowd after defeating Patty Schnyder

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Maria Sharapova blows a kiss to the crowd after defeating Patty Schnyder
 Maria Sharapova returns the ball during her women's singles first round match against Patty Schnyder

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Maria Sharapova returns the ball during her women's singles first round match against Patty Schnyder

Left-hander Schnyder made her US Open bow in 1997 — the year of the deaths of Princess Diana in Paris and Mother Teresa in Kolkata.

It was the year that Mike Tyson infamously nibbled on Evander Holyfield’s ear while Twitter was still nine years away.

The Swiss star returned in 2015 and last week became the oldest woman qualifier to reach the main draw of a Grand Slam at the age of 39 years and eight months.

Schnyder is ranked 186th, so she had to go through qualifying rounds to make it into the main draw.

She also was the oldest member of this year's 128-woman singles field, and the third-oldest in US Open history.

Schnyder bravely battled back from 1-5 down to 6-6, showing the sort of ability and court-craft which won her 11 titles and once took her to seven in the world rankings.

 Patty Schnyder was playing in the US Open 21 years after her first appearance

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Patty Schnyder was playing in the US Open 21 years after her first appearance
 Maria Sharapova fires in a serve in New York

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Maria Sharapova fires in a serve in New York

She even saved three match points in the tie-breaker before Sharapova’s 23rd winner of the night sealed victory shortly before midnight in New York.

Sharapova, 31, said: "I knew I was in for a battle no matter what her story or my story.

“Just go out on court and relieve the memories of all the times we've played each other.

"For her to come back and have the desire is really admirable. I'm just really happy I was able to win that last point."

Sharapova returned last year from a 15-month drugs ban, which was reduced from 24 months after an appeal.

The former world No1 tested positive for heart disease drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

It was still very hot when the pair took to Louis Armstrong Stadium just before 10pm but they at least avoided the extreme conditions of the day session.

Caroline Wozniacki used imaginary margaritas to keep her cool, saying after her 6-3 6-2 victory over former champion Sam Stosur: "I just pretend I'm on the beach with a margarita in hand, life is good."

Bikini-clad Maria Sharapova cools off in the sea after a hard workout at the gym

 Russian beauty Maria Sharapova celebrates victory at Flushing Meadow

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Russian beauty Maria Sharapova celebrates victory at Flushing Meadow

Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber had a tougher time against Margarita Gasparyan but came through 7-6 6-3 while fifth seed Petra Kvitova was relieved to have a speedy 6-1 6-4 victory over Yanina Wickmayer.

On a good day for the seeds, there were also wins for Caroline Garcia, Jelena Ostapenko, Daria Kasatkina, Madison Keys and Naomi Osaka as well as in-form duo Kiki Bertens and Aryna Sabalenka, but last year's semi-finalist Coco Vandeweghe is out.

The Russian, who hit 22 winners but made 46 unforced errors, needed four match points to end Schnyder's resistance as the match went to a tie-break, eventually sealing victory with a powerful forehand winner.

 

MARIA Sharapova had to overcome an amazing fightback from veteran Patty Schnyder to win 6-2 7-6 in the first round of the US Open this morning.