Sharapova exorcises her demons

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Published: Friday 23rd January 2015 by The News Editor

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Maria Sharapova swiftly banished the memories of almost making an early exit from the Australian Open with a commanding performance in the third round in Melbourne.

Sharapova had to save two match points in the second round against qualifier Alexandra Panova, but needed just 61 minutes to thrash 31st seed Zarina Diyas and reach the last 16 on Friday.

“I think I rebounded really well,” the second seed said. “I had a good hit yesterday, just kind of thought a little bit about what I wanted to try to achieve tonight no matter who I played.

“Of course I focused a little bit on myself more than anything else; j ust tried to be a bit more aggressive, concentrate. I thought I did a good job of focusing well.

“She can be a tough, tough player to play against if you give her the time to change down the line like she likes to do, step down and hit flat, low. She has that capability and if you give her the time, she’ll do it.”

Sharapova will face China’s Shuai Peng in the fourth round and remains on course to come up against seventh seed Eugenie Bouchard in the quarter-finals.

Bouchard beat France’s Caroline Garcia 7-5 6-0 in a match which featured six breaks of serve in the first eight games.

” I wasn’t playing great tennis in the first (set),” Bouchard said. “I feel like she was putting some pressure on me and I really didn’t feel like I got a rhythm. But I’m happy that I just kept going. Even if it wasn’t going so well, I was able to turn it around.

“I loosened up a bit and started going for my shots and playing my game, which is what I need to do more; probably taking a bit of time away from her stepping in.

“She was playing that way as well. It ended up being first-strike tennis and I did that better in the second.”

Bouchard will face Irina-Camelia Begu next after the 24-year-old Romanian beat Germany’s Carina Witthoeft in straight sets to reach the fourth round in a grand slam for the first time.

Third seed Simona Halep will take on Yanina Wickmayer after the Belgian beat 14th seed Sara Errani, with 10th seed Ekaterina Makarova up against Germany’s Julia Goerges.

Halep, who reached the quarter-finals here last year and lost to Sharapova in the French Open final, defeated American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4 7-5 and said: ” I’m okay with my game. I played well today, better than the second round, so this is good.

“She was very strong and I just wanted to play my game, but, you know, it was a great, great match for both of us. I was hitting aggressive and I stayed very close to the baseline. I served well. So I’m happy with my game now.

“Yanina has beat me every time when I played her, but the next round will be a new day. I have my chance to win it. But I expect a very tough match. She’s very tall and she’s very strong. So I have to wait and to prepare myself to be ready before the match.”

Published: Friday 23rd January 2015 by The News Editor

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