Another double bagel unlikely as Sharapova meets Venus

Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:07am EST
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By Greg Stutchbury

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - After serving up a 'double, double bagel', second seed Maria Sharapova could find herself packing her bags for her next tournament on Friday after she meets Venus Williams in the third round of the Australian Open.

Sharapova has barely been pushed in her successive 6-0 6-0 victories over Olga Puchkova and Misaki Doi at Melbourne Park and while Williams has slipped down the rankings due to injuries and a fatigue-inducing illness, the Russian is not expecting anything other than a taut battle on Rod Laver Arena.

"There are certainly no secrets coming into that matchup. We've played against each other many times," Sharapova said of the clash against the seven-times grand slam champion.

"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.

"You certainly know what she's capable of. But when you're out on the court, you're not thinking how many titles she's won or how experienced she is.

"You're thinking about what you need to do to step it up in a certain situation and win as many points as you can."

Men's champion Novak Djokovic, who has been almost as ruthlessly efficient as Sharapova in his first two matches in his quest for his third successive titles, will play Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic for a place in the fourth round.

Djokovic destroyed up and coming American Ryan Harrison in the second round on Wednesday, making the game look ridiculously easy, and in kind of form should extend his lifetime record against Stepanek to 8-1.   Continued...

Maria Sharapova of Russia blows kisses to the crowd after defeating Misaki Doi of Japan during their women's singles match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 16, 2013. REUTERS/David Gray