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By Erik Gudris | Wednesday, January 17, 2018


With a wide open women’s draw at this year’s Australian Open, any number of players could well take home the title. Including unseeded Maria Sharapova.

Australian Open: Three Burning Questions for Day Four

That, of course, depends on which Sharapova shows up in her matches. The former 2008 champion who we are used to seeing blaze through opponents with stellar form. Or a less polished version, showing signs of rust due to her long time spent away from the game early last year due to a doping suspension.

In her second round match, we got a bit of both from Sharapova. She faced off against No. 14 seed Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia. The two women split their meetings last year, both of them grueling battles in New York which the Latvian won and later in the year in Beijing that Sharapova claimed.

Early in the first set, it was nearly vintage Sharapova for 23 minutes. The Russian superstar fired off multiple return winners and soon enjoyed a double service break lead. Sharapova looked so comfortable, she had no qualms coming to net to finish off points. In fact she was six for six on net points including with this big winner.



Soon Sharapova closed out the set 6-1.

The second set wasn’t quite as impressive as some of the lack of matches for Sharapova showed through. Sharapova’s level dropped just enough to allow Sevastova a chance to get into more of the rallies and move the Russian around more on court. Each traded service breaks, before Sharapova edged out to a 4-2 lead.

Sharapova soon served for the match up 5-4. But Sharapova, dealing with the tough side of Rod Laver Arena more prone to sun couldn’t find her serve. Sevastova broke back and eventually they needed a tiebreak.

Sharapova however was in no mood for another protracted battle with the Latvian. Finding the range on both her forehand and backhand, Sharapova again started hitting blistering winners that the Latvian had no answer for. Down match point, Sevastova sent a forehand into the net thus sealing the 6-1, 7-6(4) win for a delighted Sharapova who racked up a total of 30 winners to just six from her opponent.



Sharapova now finds herself in the third round where she could face another former champion in Angelique Kerber. who is riding a ten match win streak.

Earlier in the event, Sharapova said she doesn’t mind playing top seeded players early as she enjoys the challenge. How she plays against Kerber could well indicate if Sharapova is just one of many contenders, or indeed, the only real contender for the title.

(Photo Credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve)


 

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