Australian Open 2015: Sharapova returns to her dominant self and 4th round
Maria Sharapova beats Zarina Diyas in straight sets to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open
The world No2 and 2008 Australian Open champion returned to her dominant best against and the fourth round in Melbourne in beating Zarina Diyas in a scant hour for the loss of just two game, 6-1, 6-1.
Sharapova, who will return to No1 if she goes on to win the title next week, could not have looked more different from the woman who played here two days ago. Then, she survived the Russian qualifier Alexandra Panova, fighting off two match points in the third set to come through a two and a half hour test, 6-1, 4-6, 7-5.
This time, the No31 seed Diyas was unable not contain 22 winners from her famed opponent, managing just three points in the first three games. Things looked up very briefly when the 22-year-old from Kazakhstan broke in the first game of the second set, but she would not win another game.
Sharapova, not surprisingly, was delighted with her resurgent form: “I think I rebounded really well. I had a good hit yesterday. Just kind of thought a little bit about what I wanted to try to achieve tonight no matter who I played. Of course, I focused a little bit on myself more than anything else. Just tried to be a bit more aggressive, concentrate. I thought I did a good job of focusing well.
“She can be a tough, tough player to play against if you give her the time to change down the line, step down and hit flat, low. So she has that capability, and if you give her the time, she’ll do it.”
Sharapova next plays No21 seed Shuai Peng, who reached the US Open semi-finals last year. Sharapova commented: “We’ve always had good matches. She’s had great success in the last few Slams. You know, she’s a bit of an untraditional player with two hands on both sides. That’s a little tricky. But I enjoy playing against her. She hits the ball quite flat as well, and deep. So I just have to be ready for those shots to always come back like that.
“She’s always a tough player to play against because she’s really solid. She’s quite powerful. I know she’s gone through a few injuries in her career… I think she’s someone that actually gets better by playing matches, when she gets a good feeling of her strokes.”
Sharapova’s scheduled quarter-final opponent, Eugenie Bouchard, fought back from a break down three times in the first set to win eight games in a row against Caroline Garcia, 7-5, 6-0.
In the other quarter, No3 seed Simon Halep continued her impressive progress. She has yet to drop a set and reached the fourth round with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Bethanie Mattek-Sands. She will next play Yanina Wickmayer, who scored an upset over No14 seed, Sara Errani, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.