January 20, 2016 / 4:27 AM / 2 years ago

Sharapova armed and dangerous at Melbourne Park

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova declared herself free from the worry of a forearm injury after charging into the Australian Open third round on Wednesday.

Russia's Maria Sharapova celebrates after winning her second round match against Belarus' Aliaksandra Sasnovich at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The fifth seeded Russian had to pull out of the leadup Brisbane International with a sore left forearm but was in full flight in a 6-2 6-1 rout of unseeded Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich, the early match at the Rod Laver Arena.

“Yeah, I feel pretty good. I felt I was more confident with my left hand today,” Sharapova, runnerup last year to Serena Williams, told reporters.

”That’s always something that -- especially when it’s like in the hand-wrist area -- it’s in the back of your mind even though you’re feeling it.

“I felt really good and confident today about it.”

Long a baseline blaster rather than an all-court player with a delicate touch, the five-times grand slam champion had enough comfort against Sasnovich to launch a few drop-shots from the baseline, with mixed results.

Sharapova said she had been working on mixing up her game, which some pundits have seen as too one-dimensional to beat top seed Williams, who has long dominated the Russian.

“When I‘m aggressive and I have depth on my shots, it’s just good to have that variety to bring (players) in, to move forward myself,” said Sharapova, who next faces American Lauren Davis.

”I mean, I had a couple of good (drop-shots), I had a couple of really crappy ones. I’d say it was pretty mediocre today.

”It’s actually something that I had to add, because I was getting really frustrated losing to my hitting partner all the time.

”He just stood so far back behind the baseline, I was

like, just can’t handle him beating me so often.

”I have to just change things around. That’s kind of when I started getting into that a little bit.

“He was a little surprised (laughter). But it started working, so that was good.”

Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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