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Sharapova, Venus collide in Round 3

TBO.com
Associated Press
The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2013 at 09:39 AM

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MELBOURNE, Australia -

Maria Sharapova was careful not to show any disrespect to the two women she beat 6-0, 6-0 along the way to a third-round match against Venus Williams at the Australian Open.

As rare as it was, she said, an almost flawless start wasn't entirely what she'd come to Melbourne to achieve.

The No. 2-ranked Sharapova overwhelmed Japan's Misaki Doi in 47 minutes Wednesday, even less time than she'd needed to beat fellow Russian Olga Puchkova two days earlier in her first competitive match of 2013.

No woman had posted back-to-back 6-0, 6-0 wins at a Grand Slam since 1985.

Yet it didn't excite the 25-year-old Sharapova, who wasn't even alive when Wendy Turnbull did it at the Australian Open.

"It's not really the statistic I want to be known for," Sharapova said in her most matter-of-fact way. "I want to be known for winning Grand Slam titles, not that I won two matches 6-0, 6-0."

Tennis is all about Grand Slam titles for Sharapova who, with her drought-breaking win at the French Open last year, now has a complete set of four major titles. And she knows it won't be easy against the 32-year-old Williams. Sharapova leads the head-to-head series 4-3, but Williams has won both of their Grand Slam meetings.

Williams is still on the comeback trail from missing seven months after the 2011 U.S. Open to deal with Sjogren's Syndrome. Now seeded 25th, she dropped only one game in her first-round win and then went down a break early to Alize Cornet of France before winning 6-3, 6-3.

Williams hasn't been in a Grand Slam final since 2009 and often jokes about her age, laughing as she told the crowd: "I'm fighting the wrinkles. I'm fighting the battle of the bulge!"

One thing 17 years in Grand Slam tournaments have taught her is the value of knowing who stands in your way.

"Yeah, I look at the draw. I'm not superstitious," she said. "I'm playing against Maria, I know. I'm going to have to be at my best against her."

Somebody who won't be in her way is No. 9 Sam Stosur, the big upset Wednesday. The 2011 U.S. Open champ led 5-2 in the third set and twice served for the match before losing 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 to China's Zheng Jie.

Among today's early results on the women's side, defending champion Victoria Azarenka and five-time champ Serena Williams lost a combined three games to move into the third round. Azarenka beat Eleni Daniilidou 6-1, 6-0, which was followed by Williams' 6-2, 6-0 win over Garbine Muguruza.

On the men's side Wednesday, No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic is already into the third round, extending his winning streak at Melbourne Park to 16 with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 win over 20-year-old American Ryan Harrison. Fourth-ranked David Ferrer beat American Tim Smyczek 6-0, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. No. 5 Tomas Berdych defeated Guillaume Rufin of France 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.

No. 20 Sam Querrey moved on when fellow American Brian Baker retired in the second set. Baker, who returned to the tour last year after missing almost six seasons with various injuries, was pushed from Court 6 in a wheelchair with torn ligaments in his right knee.

No. 3 seed Andy Murray was the first men's player of note to advance today. He dispatched Joao Sousa 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.

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