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Sharapova charges past American Hampton in Australian Open

By Bill Scott –

MELBOURNE — Maria Sharapova wasted no time in schooling American Jamie Hampton on Thursday, laying down a 6-0, 6-1 win to move into the third round of the Australian Open.

Sharapova, who played her first event of the season after delaying her start by a fortnight because of a lingering ankle injury, required a surprisingly long 64 minutes to score the victory against an opponent who won just a single game.

“When you haven’t played someone before, it’s more a matter of how you’re playing and how you’re figuring out about her game from the beginning rather than thinking too much of what is she going to do,” said Sharapova, whose 2008 title in Melbourne is one of her three Grand Slam wins.

Sharapova next faces German Angelique Kerber, who beat Canada’s Stephanie Dubois 7-5, 6-1.

“Every match is a test,” Sharapova said. “The goal is to get through and keep playing more. … It’s just about taking it one at a time and improving because it’s only going to get tougher from here.”

Russian seventh seed Vera Zvonareva took out Czech Lucie Hradecka 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) while former number one Ana Ivanovic beat Dutchwoman Michaella Krajicek 6-2, 6-3.

Serena Williams, seeded 12th, beat Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-0, 6-4.

There were also wins for Italian Sara Errani over Russia’s Nadia Petrova 6-2, 6-2 and Ekaterina Makarova, who beat this month’s Brisbane champion, Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, 6-2, 7-6.

Ivanovic, the 22nd-ranked French Open champion from four years ago, said the two-set win was tougher than it looked.

“It definitely got tough in the second set in particular,” the Basel-based Serb said. “She was serving really well on first serve. It was tough for me to read it at times.

“I really thought I did well on my serves and stayed calm and held, which is very important, but she gave me a tough match.”

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