Maria Sharapova has stormed her way into the third round of the Australian open after an emphatic 6-1, 7-6(4) win over 14th seed Anastasija Sevastova. Sharapova has now made the third round at the Australian Open in 12 of her past 14 appearances and will look to continue her good run of form as she moves deeper into the tournament.
Sharapova and Sevastova have split their past two meetings, with the Russian prevailing in their most recent matchup. The pairs previous meetings have both been three-set-thrillers, so this second-round clash promised to be an enticing affair. This as a bit of an unfortunate draw for Sevastova, as no top seed wanted the Russian in their section of the draw.
Sharapova started strong and appeared to have a sound game plan against the 27-year-old. The Russian was opening up the court, using sharp angles and even coming to net in the initial stages of this match. She was also aggressive on return, which paid dividends for the Russian as she was able to break twice in the opening set before taking it 6-1.
The 2008 Australian Open Champion was relentless, breaking immediately in the second set to move to a 1-0 lead. However, some uncharacteristic errors from Sharapova and incredible retrieval skills from Sevastova turned the momentum with the Latvian breaking back straight away. The second set was levelled up at 2-2 before Sharapova regrouped to once again break the Sevastova serve.
The 30-year-old continued to hit Sevastova off the court with her accurate groundstrokes and powerful serve. Sharapova had a chance to serve for the match leading 5-4 however was unable to capitalise on this golden opportunity. Sevastova sensed her opponent tightening up and took advantage, moving ahead 6-5 to force Sharapova to serve to stay in the set, but the Russian stood strong and forced a second set tiebreak. A more focussed Sharapova stuck to her game plan and was able to prevail 7-4 in the breaker to capture the match 6-1, 7-6(4).
With this impressive win Sharapova looks very capable of making another deep run at this year’s Australian Open. The win was only her third over a Top 20 player since returning from her well-publicized ban about eight months ago. The Russian will now face the winner of Angelique Kerber and Donna Vekic in what will be an attractive third-round encounter, regardless of whoever the opponent will be.
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