Garcia dumps fit-again Sharapova out in Stuttgart

Maria Sharapova has won only two matches this year, her latest setback coming at the hands of Caroline Garcia on clay in Stuttgart.

Caroline Garcia shakes hands with Maria Sharapova after knocking her out in Stuttgart   -  Getty Images

Caroline Garcia inflicted more misery on Maria Sharapova by consigning the former world number one to a first-round defeat at the Stuttgart Open on Tuesday.

Sharapova split with long-time coach Sven Groeneveld after losing to Naomi Osaka in the opening round at Indian Wells last month and withdrew from the Miami Open due to a forearm injury.

The fit-again 31-year-old this week spoke of her desire to add to her tally of five grand slam titles, but has not won a match since the Australian Open after Garcia consigned the Russian to a 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 defeat in her first clay-court match of the season.

Sixth seed Garcia had never beaten Sharapova in their previous four encounters, but finally got the better of the world number 41 - a three-time champion in Stuttgart - seven years after their first meeting at the French Open.

Wildcard entry Sharapova blasted down 17 aces and won 76 per cent of points on her first serve, but squandered a 2-0 lead in the final set to suffer an early exit.

Garcia was jumping for joy when Sharapova drilled a forehand wide and the world number seven can now look forward to a second-round clash with Marta Kostyuk, who defeated Antonia Lottner 6-4 6-1.

For Sharapova, the result represents only the second time she has lost four matches in a row.

Fifth seed Karolina Pliskova eased to a 6-2 6-2 victory over Kiki Bertens and will be up against either Veronika Kudermetova or Carla Suarez Navarro in round two. 

Defending champion Laura Siegemund kicked off her campaign with a straight-sets win against Barbora Strycova, while Marketa Vondrousova upset Julia Goerges 6-2 6-2.

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