After an easier match this time around, Maria Sharapova finds herself in the fourth round of the Australian Open, where she will now meet Shuai Peng for the fifth time on the professional tour. Sharapova leads the head-to-head series 4-1, and has won the last three encounters dating back to 2011.
After being forced to save match points in her second round match, Maria Sharapova rebounded in sublime fashion on Friday evening, as she defeated rising prospect Zarina Diyas to reach the fourth round of the tournament. She hit 22 winners, converted 6 break points and won 78% of her first service points to finish the match 6-1, 6-1, in 61 minutes.
“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. Yeah, she can be a tough, tough player to play against if you give her the time to change down the line like she likes to do, step down and hit flat, low. So she has that capability, and if you give her the time, she’ll do it.”
Chinese No. 1 Shuai Peng looked sharp in her straight sets victory over Yaroslava Shvedova. She defeated her 7-6(9), 6-3 to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open. Peng struck 25 winners, 52% of her first service points and converted 5 break points to close out the match in 2 hours and 3 minutes.
Sharapova has won the last three consecutive meetings against Peng and only lost to her in a 2009 meeting in Beijing. However, the two are actually tied 1-1 in hard court matches, but that is unlikely to affect Sharapova – the Russian should have little difficulty reaching the quarter-final round in Melbourne.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova in Straight Sets