INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - Former champion Maria Sharapova stormed into the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Open with a commanding 7-5 6-0 victory over Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino on Tuesday.
After winning a tight opening set under a blazing sun, the Russian world number three swept through the second in only 22 minutes to reach the last eight at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for a third consecutive year.
Second seed Sharapova will next meet Italy’s Sara Errani, a 6-3 6-2 winner against Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli earlier in the day, in a re-match of last year’s French Open final clinched by the Russian.
“I stepped up my game in the second set,” Sharapova, who was champion here in 2006 and a losing finalist last year, said courtside after wrapping up victory in one hour 18 minutes.
“The first set was so up and down I had to buckle down, stepping into the returns and getting in a few more first serves.”
There were five breaks of serve in an erratic opening set but the Russian earned the crucial break in the 11th game when her opponent pushed a forehand wide.
Sharapova needed three set points before serving out, then broke Arruabarrena-Vecino’s serve three more times in the second set to advance.
Sixth seed Errani became the first player to reach the last eight with a ruthless display against Bartoli, the ninth seed.
The 25-year-old Italian, who is known for her doubles prowess, converted seven of 12 break points to triumph in 88 minutes and improve her win-loss record for the year to 21-7.
Fifth-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova also stormed into the quarter-finals, crushing compatriot Klara Zakopalova 6-2 6-3.
The left-handed Kvitova will next meet either third seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland or Russian Maria Kirilenko, who were playing later on Tuesday.
Australian Open champion and top seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus was also scheduled to be in action later in the day, facing Poland’s Urszula Radwanska.
Editing by Frank Pingue