Sharapova Repeats Shutout as Stosur Stumbles in Australia

Maria Sharapova moved to the third round of the Australian Open with the first back-to-back shutouts in a major in almost three decades. Former U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur extended a run of flops at her home Grand Slam.

Sharapova will next face No. 25 Venus Williams, winner of seven major singles championships, after the American beat Alize Cornet of France 6-3, 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena yesterday. Novak Djokovic of Serbia, seeking a third straight championship in Melbourne, closed play on the main showcourt by sweeping past Ryan Harrison of the U.S. in straight sets.

The second-seeded Sharapova, 25, from Russia, beat Japan’s Misaki Doi 6-0, 6-0 and became the first woman in 28 years to make it through two rounds at a Grand Slam tournament without losing a game. Wendy Turnbull of Australia did it at the 1985 Australian Open.

“It’s not really the statistic I want to be known for,” Sharapova told reporters after her 47-minute victory. “I want to be known for winning Grand Slam titles, not that I won two matches 6-0, 6-0.”

With temperatures forecast to rise to as high as 39 degrees Celsius in Melbourne today, women’s top seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus faces Greece’s Eleni Daniilidou in the first match of the day on Rod Laver Arena. That’s followed by reigning U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion Serena Williams of the U.S. against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza. U.S. Open champion Andy Murray of Britain plays Portugal’s Joao Sousa while Wimbledon champion Roger Federer of Switzerland faces Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko in the evening session.

Stosur ‘Choke’

Ninth-seeded Stosur fought back to lead Zheng Jie of China 5-2 in the third set and twice served for the match on Rod Laver Arena before losing 6-4, 1-6, 7-5. The 28-year-old lost in the first round 12 months ago after breaking through for her first major title at the 2011 U.S. Open. She’s never gotten past the fourth round in 11 appearances at Melbourne Park.

“It’s a pretty hard one to take when you get yourself well and truly into a winning position,” Stosur, who gifted Zheng the match-clinching point with her ninth double fault, said in a news conference. “At 5-2 up in the third, double break, probably is a bit of a choke.”

Sharapova, who didn’t play a tuneup after withdrawing from the Brisbane International because of a collarbone injury, completed a career sweep of the four majors at last year’s French Open. She won more than three times as many points as Doi, who only struck one winner.

Radwanska’s Run

Women’s No. 6 seed Li Na, a finalist in 2011, earlier advanced along with men’s No. 4 David Ferrer and fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych. Former top-ranked women Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic set up an all-Serbian matchup in the third round by winning in three sets.

Agnieszka Radwanska, the No. 4 seed from Poland who tuned up by winning titles in Auckland and Sydney, beat Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 6-3, 6-3 to extend her win streak this year to 11 matches. Five other women also have won two lead-up events since the Australian Open moved permanently to its January slot in 1987. None of them advanced past the semifinals.

“I’m very happy I’ve been able to play my best tennis since the beginning of the year,” the 23-year-old Radwanska, who’s yet to drop a set this season, said in a televised courtside interview. “It’s always great to win in two sets.”

Djokovic Cruises

Djokovic set up a third-round match with Davis Cup winner Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic by beating Harrison 6-1, 6-2, 6-3. Fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic, the No. 8 seed, won in five sets.

“This was definitely a better performance than the first round,” Djokovic said in a news conference. “I managed to play in a very high level already in the second round of a Grand Slam, which is very encouraging for the next challenge.”

No. 5 Angelique Kerber of Germany also was a straight-set winner and will next face Madison Keys, a 17-year-old American who upset No. 30 Tamira Paszek of Austria 6-2, 6-1. Keys won a U.S. Tennis Association playoff last month to earn a wild-card berth at the tournament.

“She’s been around and she’s done well the last couple years,” Keys said of her matchup with Kerber. “If I just focus on what I’m doing, then it doesn’t really matter.”

Slovakia’s 15th seed Dominika Cibulkova lost to 159th-ranked Russian qualifier Valeria Savinykh. Li, who followed her 2011 runner-up finish in Melbourne by securing China’s first Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, beat Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-2, 7-5.

Ferrer in Four

Spain’s Ferrer, who led the men’s tour with seven titles last season, needed four sets to defeat Tim Smyczek of the U.S. That set up a clash with 2006 runner-up Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus who ousted Tatsuma Ito of Japan.

Berdych, playing with a career-high fifth seeding at a major, beat France’s Guillaume Rufin in straight sets. The Czech reached the quarterfinals in Melbourne the past two years and could play Djokovic in this year’s last eight.

Sixteenth-seeded Kei Nishikori, who reached the quarterfinals 12 months ago in the best Grand Slam performance by a Japanese man, beat Carlos Berlocq of Argentina. No. 20 Sam Querrey, the highest-ranked U.S. player in the men’s draw, will meet No. 15 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in the third round after both their opponents quit their matches injured.

“He said he kind of just felt his knee almost buckle and kind of heard like a pop or a snap,” Querrey told reporters after compatriot Brian Baker retired following two games of the second set in their match.

Jerzy Janowicz, the No. 24 seed, dropped a first-set tiebreaker 12-10 to India’s Somdev Devvarman and fell behind by two sets before winning in five sets in exactly four hours. The Pole will next play 10th-seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain.

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