Melbourne: Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova scorched into the third round of the Australian Open with displays of ruthless dominance on Wednesday to bring some much-needed pizzazz to the main showcourts.
Djokovic remained on course for a third successive title with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 demolition of Ryan Harrison, while Sharapova pummelled Misaki Doi 6-0, 6-0 to become the first player in 28 years to hand out consecutive ‘double-bagels’ at a Grand Slam.
Returning with venom and lacerating the court with his forehands, Djokovic took just 91 minutes to whip past the American and set up a meeting with Radek Stepanek, rating it among his best performances in the early rounds of a major.
“You’re trying to perform your best in every match that you play in and this was definitely a better performance than the first round,” the 25-year-old said.
Agnieszka Radwanska extended her winning streak this year to 11 matches with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Irina-Camelia Begu in the opening match on Rod Laver Arena, while Zheng Jie wrapped up the day session with a 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 upset of local hope Sam Stosur.
American Brian Baker could have been forgiven for letting out a scream of frustration after his tournament ended in a wheelchair when he sustained a serious knee injury. “He said he kind of just felt his knee almost buckle and kind of heard like a pop or a snap,” said the 20th seed Querrey. “He didn’t know if it was bones or a tear, but he couldn’t straighten it, couldn’t walk. I feel awful for him.”
Women’s second seed and 2008 champion Sharapova was in absolutely no mood for sympathy as she dismissed Japan’s Doi in just 47 minutes on Hisense Arena. “I didn’t offer candy today,” Sharapova, who has just launched a confectionary business. “It’s not really the statistic I want to be known for. I want to be known for winning Grand Slam titles, not that I won two matches 6-0, 6-0.”
The Russian is unlikely to make it through the third round without dropping a game, though, after Venus Williams beat Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-3 in the match to decide her next opponent. Djokovic is likely to meet Berdych in the quarter finals, while Ferrer is seeded to play the Serbian world No. 1 in the semi-finals.
The fifth-seeded Czech Berdych wrapped up a 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 hammering of Frenchman Guillaume Rufin with his eighth ace after exactly two hours on Rod Laver Arena.
Ferrer, seeded fourth in the absence of Nadal, was playing out on Margaret Court Arena and required 38 minutes longer to despatch American lucky loser Tim Smyczek 6-0, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
There was Asian success on Hisense Arena when China’s Li Na battled back from 4-2 down in the second set to secure a 6-2, 7-5 win over Olga Govortsova, but for once she was outshone by compatriot Zheng.
The 2010 semi-finalist recorded a 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 win over Stosur but, in truth, the former US Open champion handed her opponent the victory after leading comfortably in the deciding set. (Reuters)