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Tennis | Australian Open

Sharapova pumped as Stosur flops

A dominant Maria Sharapova routed another hapless opponent on Wednesday as ninth seed Samantha Stosur flopped out of the Australian Open, amid increasing speculation about Serena Williams' fitness.

The world No 2 Russian handed a tennis lesson to young Japanese Misaki Doi in a one-sided 6-0, 6-0 rout to book a blockbuster third round clash with seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams.

Sharapova also thrashed her first round challenger 6-0, 6-0 to become the first woman since Wendy Turnbull at the Australian Open in 1985 to bag two double bagel Grand Slam wins in a row.

"I was just really trying to be focused. I didn't know too much about my opponent; just knew she was a few inches shorter than I was," she said.

"But it's always tough, especially when you're up a set and a couple of breaks to keep that momentum."

Next up is Venus Williams, who disposed of France's Alize Cornet in straight sets.

Williams has been battling injury and illness in the past two years and her ranking has dropped, but she has clawed her way back to be 26.

She knows she will have to dig deep against Sharapova.

"I look at the draw, I'm not superstitious. I play Maria and I better bring my best game against her," she said.

Venus's sister Serena is due on court Thursday against Spain's Garbine Muguruza and she held a closed indoor training session, fuelling speculation about her fitness after she painfully rolled her ankle on court Tuesday.

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The defiant 15-time Grand Slam champion, a hot tournament favourite, claimed only a "fatal" injury would prevent her contesting the second round.

But she chose to move her scheduled session from court 17 to the indoor training facility and closed it to the media and public, disappointing hundreds of spectators who wanted to watch.

Australia's Stosur threw away the last five games to hand China's Zheng Jie passage in her match, admitting she choked.

Stosur, who suffered first-round flops at WTA events in Brisbane and Sydney this year, was leading 5-2 in the third set but collapsed and double faulted to hand Zheng victory 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.

"Whatever word you want to put on it, at 5-2 up in the third, double break probably is a bit of a choke, yeah," she said.

Elsewhere, fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska built on her sizzling start to the season to progress along with Chinese star Li Na and fifth seed Angelique Kerber.

Radwanska stormed to her 11th straight victory of the year as she carried the form shown in winning titles at Auckland and Sydney in the lead-up to the year's opening Grand Slam.

The Pole beat Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-3 and now faces Britain's Heather Watson.

While Radwanska had no dramas in overcoming the Romanian, former French Open champion Li was erratic in her 6-2, 7-5 victory over Olga Govortsova of Belarus.

Li sailed through the first set but struggled in the second, before finally knuckling down to claw back four games in a row to progress.

"She started the second set much better so I'm just happy to win," said Li, adding that she was confident of adding to her solitary Grand Slam title in 2011. "Australia for me – I really believe I can win this Grand Slam."

In contrast to Li's struggle, Germany's Kerber, who broke through last year with WTA titles in Paris and Copenhagen which pushed her to her current rank of five, looked comfortable in her 6-3, 6-1 win over Czech Lucie Hradecka.


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