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Maria Masters Venus; Ana & Aga Into Fourth Round

In a pair of anticipated women's matches, Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic came out victorious on Day Five of the Australian Open

By Erik Gudris

Maria Sharapova (January 18, 2013) -- Much like her victory celebration, Maria Sharapova put on a loud and emphatic command performance against Venus Williams in their much anticipated third round encounter.

Despite only getting 8 of 18 first serves in the opening set, Sharapova attacked Williams's own serve with a vengeance while also ripping groundstroke winners from every angle. Though she dropped her first game of the tournament mid-way through the set, it was only a blip as she took it easily 6-1.

Trying to avoid a rout, Williams managed another game in the second set and started pressuring Sharapova better in their rallies. Up two breaks, Sharapova served for the match at 5-1 but faltered and gave Williams a brief moment of hope. Williams began finding success up at net, but that strategy proved too little to late as Sharapova served for the match again at 5-3.

This time the Russian made no mistake as she closed out the comprehensive 6-1, 6-3 win and let out a massive victory yell in celebration.

"I was a really determined player out there because I knew the tennis that she's capable of producing and playing," Sharapova said afterwards about playing the elder Williams sister. "Despite what she's ranked or seeded, it doesn't matter when you go out on the court.  She's been there. She's experienced enough to know no matter if you're playing the third round, the quarters, or the final, you have to be ready."

Sharapova will now face Belgian Kristen Flipkens who advanced to the fourth round of a Major for the first time in her career.

Ivanovic Wins; Radwanska, Li Advance into Round of 16

The anticipated all-Serbian encounter between Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic was short on any real drama but instead featured plenty of entertaining rallies between the two former No.1's. It was Ivanovic, thanks to her aggressive play, that jumped out to an early lead in the first set and soon found herself up 5-2.

But after Jankovic smiled upon winning a lengthy point in the next game, she relaxed and soon reeled off 14 points in a row to level things at 5-all. Ivanovic recovered by taking the next six points and soon enough she closed out the set 7-5 win an ace.

Ivanovic resumed her control with an early break in the second set and never really let Jankovic feel like she could find a way back into the match. A final netted backhand from Jankovic gave Ivanovic the 7-5, 6-3 win that sends her into the fourth round where she'll face No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska who took out Heather Watson 6-3, 6-1.

"We haven't played each other in a Grand Slam for a while, but it's always tough," Ivanovic said of Jankovic. "She's still very good player, and even though we are different opponents now than we were then, still it's a battle, and every match you want to win."

Young American Madison Keys got off to an error-filled start against No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber that allowed the German to take the first set rather easily 6-2.

But Keys settled down in the second set and soon found the range on her powerful groundstrokes especially on the backhand side. At 4-5, Keys thought she had 0-40 on Kerber's serve when the German sent a forehand wide. But a Hawk-Eye review showed the ball to be in and that reprieve allowed Kerber to hold serve for 5-all. Kerber soon broke and went on to close out a 6-2, 7-5 win, a perfect present to celebrate her 25th birthday.

Li Na beat Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-1 and will now face Julia Goerges who survived being down 4-5 in the final set to Zheng Jie before rallying to win 6-3, 1-6, 7-5. Ekaterina Makarova returned to the fourth round of Melbourne for a third straight year after she upset No. 11 seed Marion Bartoli 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4.

(Photo Credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve)


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