Melbourne: Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova beat 14th seed Anastasija Sevastova in straight sets to reach the third round of the Australian Open.
The Russian, beaten in three sets by the Latvian at the US Open last year, won 6-1 7-6 (7-4) in one hour and 20 minutes. Sharapova, 30, was broken when serving for the match at 5-4, but recovered to win the tie-break on Rod Laver Arena. “I’m happy to get through on a day like this,” the 2008 champion said. “When she broke back I thought: ‘Oh, it’s going to be three sets again’.” Sharapova will next face Germany’s 2016 Australian Open winner Angelique Kerber, who celebrated her 30th birthday by overcoming Croatia’s Donna Vekic 6-4 6-1.
Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova stormed past Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia, winning 6-1 6-1 in 44 minutes, and next will play fellow Czech Lucie Safarova, who beat Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-4. Madison Keys sailed through against Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova even faster, with the American 17th seed winning 6-0 6-1 in 41 minutes. Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, the 28th seed and 2017 semi-finalist, was defeated 6-3 6-1 by Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
The Belarusian will play Caroline Garcia in the third round after the French eighth seed prevailed 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 8-6 over Czech Marketa Vondrousova. Elena Vesnina became the 10th of the top 16 women’s seeds to go out by the second round, losing 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 to Japanese 20-year-old Naomi Osaka.
Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, a semi-finalist twice in the past four tournaments at Melbourne, needed three sets to see off Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko as she won 2-6 7-5 6-3. Radwanska, the 26th seed, will play Taiwanese Hsieh Su-Wei next after the world number 88 shocked Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza 7-6 (7-1) 6-4.