Sharapova, Williams Battle In Third Round

Sharapova, Williams Battle In Third Round

The No. 2-ranked Sharapova overwhelmed Japan’s Misaki Doi in 47 minutes on Wednesday, even less time than she’d needed to beat fellow Russian Olga Puchkova two days earlier in her first competitive match of 2013.

Sharapova, Williams Battle In Third Round

As rare as it was, she said, an almost flawless start wasn’t entirely what she’d come to Melbourne to achieve.

No woman had posted back-to-back 6-0, 6-0 wins at a Grand Slam since 1985.

Yet it didn’t excite the 25-year-old Sharapova, who wasn’t even alive when Wendy Turnbull did it at the Australian Open.

‘’It’s not really the statistic I want to be known for,’’ Sharapova said in her most matter-of-fact way. ‘’I want to be known for winning Grand Slam titles, not that I won two matches 6-0, 6-0.’’

Tennis is all about Grand Slam titles for Sharapova who, with her drought-breaking victory at the French Open last year, now has a complete set of four major championships. And she knows it won’t be easy against the 32-year-old Williams, who has won seven.

‘’Well, you certainly know what she’s capable of,’’ Sharapova said. ‘’But when you’re out on the court, you’re not thinking how many titles she’s won or how experienced she is.’’

To Sharapova, her first two wins have been a matter of ‘’getting the job done.’’ She was recovering from a sore right collarbone that ruled her out of a tune-up event in Brisbane earlier this month. She skipped the Brisbane tournament last year, also due to injury, and went on to reach the Australian Open final.

‘’Knowing what’s ahead of me … there are certainly no secrets coming into that matchup,’’ she said. ‘’You know, despite the fact that 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.’’

Sharapova leads the head-to-head series 4-3, but Williams has won both of their Grand Slam meetings.

Numbers don’t mean much either to Williams, who is making trip No. ‘’Lucky 13’’ to Melbourne Park.

She’s still on the comeback trail from missing seven months after the 2011 U.S. Open to deal with Sjogren’s Syndrome. Now seeded 25th, she dropped only one game in her first-round win and then went down a break early to Alize Cornet of France before winning 6-3, 6-3.

Williams hasn’t been in a Grand Slam final since 2009 and often jokes about her age, laughing as she told the crowd, “I’m fighting the wrinkles. I’m fighting the battle of the bulge!’’

One thing 17 years in Grand Slam tournaments have taught her is the value of knowing who stands in your way.

‘’Yeah, I look at the draw. I’m not superstitious,’’ she said. ‘’I’m playing against Maria, I know. I’m going to have to be at my best against her.

‘’I know I’m not the highest seed, so I realize I’m probably going to have to play someone (highly ranked) and someone is going to have to play me – that’s pretty much what it is.’’

Tournament organizers have spared Roger Federer the worst of Thursday’s expected extreme heat when he takes on Russian former world number three Nikolay Davydenko in the second round of the Australian Open.


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