Sharapova armed and dangerous at Melbourne Park

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 19, 2016 11:25 PM

By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova declared herself free from the worry of a forearm injury after charging into the Australian Open third round on Wednesday.

The fifth seeded Russian had to pull out of the leadup Brisbane International with a sore left forearm but was in full flight in a 6-2 6-1 rout of unseeded Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich, the early match at the Rod Laver Arena.

"Yeah, I feel pretty good. I felt I was more confident with my left hand today," Sharapova, runnerup last year to Serena Williams, told reporters.

"That's always something that -- especially when it's like in the hand-wrist area -- it's in the back of your mind even though you're feeling it.

"I felt really good and confident today about it."

Long a baseline blaster rather than an all-court player with a delicate touch, the five-times grand slam champion had enough comfort against Sasnovich to launch a few drop-shots from the baseline, with mixed results.

Sharapova said she had been working on mixing up her game, which some pundits have seen as too one-dimensional to beat top seed Williams, who has long dominated the Russian.

"When I'm aggressive and I have depth on my shots, it's just good to have that variety to bring (players) in, to move forward myself," said Sharapova, who next faces American Lauren Davis.

"I mean, I had a couple of good (drop-shots), I had a couple of really crappy ones. I'd say it was pretty mediocre today.

"It's actually something that I had to add, because I was getting really frustrated losing to my hitting partner all the time.

"He just stood so far back behind the baseline, I was

like, just can't handle him beating me so often.

"I have to just change things around. That's kind of when I started getting into that a little bit.

"He was a little surprised (laughter). But it started working, so that was good."

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)