Maria and Petra into 3rd round

ROME - Past and present Wimbledon winners Maria Sharapova and Czech Petra Kvitova made straight-set moves into the third round of the Rome Masters yesterday, with the Russian second seed made to work hard.

Defending Rome champion Sharapova, who won her Wimbledon title aged 17 in 2004, needed nearly two-and-a-quarter hours to get past 36th-ranked American Christina McHale 7-5 7-5.

Kvitova, the fourth seed who claimed the grass honours last summer, accounted for Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5 6-4 in sunny conditions at the Foro Italico. The shy Kvitova admitted that she was still trying to find her feet on clay despite making a Stuttgart semifinal last month against Sharapova, the tournament champion.

Sharapova won on five of eight break point chances against McHale, who broke three times. In the first round, two seeds went out as Sorona Cirstea of Romania upset ex-No1 Jelena Jankovic 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7/4). Italy's Flavia Pennetta beat Russian 16th seed Maria Kirilenko 6-1 7-6 (7/2).

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