Sharapova cruises to 3rd round in Australia

Sharapova cruises to 3rd round in Australia

Sharapova cruises to 3rd round in Australia

Maria Sharapova dropped only one game against US qualifier Jamie Hampton during their women’s singles match at the second round of the Australian Open. REUTERS photo

Former champions Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams swept into the third round of the Australian Open yesterday as rumblings about the lack of depth in the women’s game resurfaced at Melbourne Park.

Sharapova, the 2008 champion, took 64 minutes to crush American qualifier Jamie Hampton 6-0 6-1, while Williams needed two minutes more to defeat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-0 6-4.

The rash of lopsided contests has once again prompted questions about the gap in quality between the best and the rest in women’s tennis.

Sharapova, however, suggested it was all just a media concoction.

“I think it’s just an excuse to make another story,” said Sharapova, who also won her first round contest for the loss of just one game.

“That’s really what it all comes down to. I think personally my goal is to go into a match and play my game. If I do it well enough and come out winning 6-0 6-1, then I’ve done a good job.”

Williams’ victory over Strycova was the 500th win of her career.

“It’s like the ultimate. It’s really, really cool,” she said of the milestone, which only her sister Venus, Clijsters and Thai Tamarine Tanasugarn have reached before her among active players. “Five hundred is a lot of matches to play, let alone to win, so it’s pretty cool.”

In men’s action, defending champion Novak Djokovic eased past Santiago Giraldo 6-3 6-2 6-1 and French sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga recovered from an early deficit to beat Ricardo Mello 7-5 6-4 6-4.
Andy Roddick’s campaign ended in disappointment as he was forced to retire against Lleyton Hewitt when trailing two sets to one.