Brutal Sharapova causes total eclipse of Venus

Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:51am EST
 

By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A merciless Maria Sharapova continued her serene progress through the Australian Open draw on Friday, obliterating third-round opponent Venus Williams 6-1 6-3 and throwing down the gauntlet to her younger sister Serena.

The second seeded Russian cannot meet the tournament favorite until the final, but the 79-minute slaughter filled with blood-curdling shrieks is sure to provide food for thought for the 15-times grand slam champion.

With her two prior opponents left scoreless and humbled, Sharapova appeared set for a third successive 'double bagel' when she scorched to a 4-0 lead.

Mercifully, for herself and a stunned centre court crowd, 25th-seed Williams held serve to stave off another humiliation.

"I was a really determined player out there because I knew the tennis that she's capable of producing and playing," Sharapova told reporters of the seven-times grand slam champion.

"Despite what she's ranked or seeded, it doesn't matter when you go out on the court. She's been there. She's experienced enough to know no matter if you're playing the third round, the quarters, or the final, you have to be ready.

"I certainly was."

A much-hyped match-up was reduced to a one-sided rout, as Sharapova burned to a 5-1 lead in the second set.   Continued...

 
Maria Sharapova of Russia (L) celebrates defeating Venus Williams of the U.S. (R) in their women's singles match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 18, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville