SONY ERICSSON OPEN
Maria Marches On
by Matt Fitzgerald|
World No. 2 Maria Sharapova dismissed American qualifier Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-2 to reach the fourth round of the Sony Ericsson Open for the sixth time in seven appearances on Saturday.
"I just love coming back to the event. I have come here since I was a junior because it was like a four hour drive for my family and I," Sharapova said. "We would just get in the car and go watch the matches and be a spectator. So I just hoped that one day I would play on that court. I have been fortunate to get the opportunity to play on it many times and get in the finals a few times, as well."
The Russian saved eight of the nine break points she faced, and converted two breaks of serve in each set against the 19-year-old Stephens to wrap up the victory in 90 minutes.
"I did a good job of hanging in there even when she started playing a lot better," said Sharapova. "In the second set, I played much better than the first. That was good."
Sharapova, who reached her third final at Crandon Park last year (l. to Azarenka), is aiming to lift her first trophy of the season. She finished runner-up to Azarenka at the Australian Open and BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
In the round of 16, Sharapova will square off against countrywoman Ekaterina Makarova. The Australian Open quarter-finalist also cruised in her third-round match, defeating Mona Barthel 6-2, 6-4 in 77 minutes. Makarova won 63 per cent of her second serve return points to break the German five times.
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