Sharapova sets up mouthwatering clash with Williams
MARIA Sharapova today breezed into the third round of the Australian Open without dropping a game to set up a third-round blockbuster with Venus Williams.
Sharapova thrashed hapless Japanese Misaki Doi 6-0 6-0 - repeating the scoreline she enjoyed against Olga Puchkova in her Melbourne opener.
The Russian became the third woman to record successive 'double-bagels' in a grand slam tournament and the first since Wendy Turnbull in 1985.
Turnbull then lost her next match and Sharapova will be determined not to suffer the same fate when she takes on Williams, a 6-3 6-3 winner against Alize Cornet.
The second seed has won four of their previous seven encounters and knows what she will be facing on Friday.
"There are certainly no secrets in that match-up," said Sharapova.
"We've played against each other so many times. Despite the fact she might not be seeded high or didn't play for a little bit, she's still a very experienced player and a tremendous athlete."
Williams was at least pushed by Cornet on Rod Laver Arena although the seven-time major winner, seeded 25th as she continues her comeback from illness, had too much know-how for the Frenchwoman.
She insists she will not be intimidated by Sharapova's results so far.
She said: "I will need to bring my best game against her.
"But most people feel if they bring their best game they'll win.
"It's about bringing the best game and winning under any circumstances."
While two grand slam champions looked ahead to a mouthwatering encounter, another was lamenting the end of another disappointing Melbourne campaign.
Ninth seed and former French Open winner Sam Stosur endured more misery at her home major with a dismal 6-4 1-6 7-5 loss to Zheng Jie.
At 5-2 up in the third Stosur looked odds on to advance only to choke, allowing Zheng to win five games on the trot and set up a third-round clash with Julia Goerges.
"It's a pretty hard one to take when you get yourself well and truly into a winning position," said the Australian, who admitted her lapse had been entirely psychological.
"It was 100 per cent mental," she said.
"I got tight and then you start missing some balls. You do it over and over again and then start wanting not to miss rather than wanting to make the winner.
"At 5-2 up in the third and with a double-break it is a bit of a choke."
Agnieszka Radwanska powered through to a third-round meeting with Heather Watson after notching her 11th successive win in 2013. The Pole was too strong for Irina-Camelia Begu, easing through 6-3 6-3.
Watson had to save three match points before edging out Ksenia Pervak 4-6 7-6 (9/7) 6-2.
Fifth seed Angelique Kerber was hardly troubled as she breezed past Lucie Hradecka 6-3 6-1.
The German, however, claimed the match was harder than the scoreline suggested.
"She's a tough opponent and you need to be ready for the whole match because she's playing the ball very hard and deep in the court," said Kerber.
"I was just trying to move well and play my game.
"I'm happy that I won in two sets."
Li Na, a finalist here two years ago, hit back from 3-5 down in the second set to complete a 6-2 7-5 success against Olga Govortsova, Marion Bartoli defeated Vesna Dolonc 7-5 6-0 while Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic set up an all-Serbian tussle with wins today.
Ivanovic beat Chan Yung-jan 7-5 1-6 6-4, while Jankovic also required three sets to see off Portuguese qualifier Maria Joao Koehler 2-6 7-6 (7/5) 6-2.
Three more seeds did go out, however. Dominika Cibulkova, the 15th-seeded Slovakian, was stunned 7-6 (8/6) 6-4 by Russian qualifier Valeria Savinykh, number 23 Klara Zakopalova won just one game against Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens and Tamira Paszek, seeded 30, was ousted by Madison Keys.