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Sharapova too good for Hantuchova

By Sam Lienert 23/01/2006 05:37:54 AM Comments (0)

Russian glamour girl Maria Sharapova continued her smooth ride through the Australian Open with a straight sets victory over Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova.

The fourth seed won the fourth round match on Rod Laver Arena 6-4 6-4, and is still yet to drop a set in the tournament.

In a battle of two of the beauties of the tennis world, the Russian proved she had plenty of substance as well.

After tight tussles early in each of the two sets, Sharapova was able to keep her fine array of attacking strokes flowing at the business end of each, while the Slovakian 17th seed faltered.

Hantuchova was not helped by an upper left leg injury midway through the second set, which required her to leave the court for treatment.

Sharapova broke serve in the fifth game of the first set, with Hantuchova breaking back in the eighth game to level at 4-4.

But the fourth seed then lifted to break Hantuchova to 15 in the following game and serve for the set.

She went down a break point at 30-40, but showed great composure to produce an ace and then quickly won the next two points to take a one-set lead.

Hantuchova raced to a 3-0 lead with an early break in the second set, but again it was Sharapova who shone at the end.

She peeled off six of the next seven games, interspersed by a long break when Hantuchova left the court.

Sharapova said she was moving into top form, after having had concerns before the tournament that a shoulder injury might prevent her from competing.

"Little by little I am (hitting form)," she said.

"I kept my composure when I was down at the beginning of both of the sets.

"I kept calm, tried to get my momentum back and I got there in the end."

After enduring Melbourne's 40-plus degree temperatures, Sharapova said she would spend Monday trying to keep cool before her quarter-final against fellow Russian Nadia Petrova, likely to be on Tuesday.

"Today was one of the hottest days I have ever experienced in my life," she said.

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