Revived Sharapova eases into Wimbledon 3rd round

LONDON (Reuters) Former champion Maria Sharapova continued her steady improvement since undergoing shoulder surgery with a clinical 6-1 6-4 victory over Romanias Ioana Raluca Olaru in the second round at Wimbledon on Thursday. The 2004 champion, seeded 17 this year, made frequent forays to the net to punish anything short from the world number 114 and raced to the opener in 32 minutes. Olaru, beaten 6-0 6-0 by Victoria Azarenka at this stage last year, offered stiffer resistance in the second but the Russian wrapped it up after an 82 minutes. She will play Slovakian 24th seed Daniela Hantuchova or Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova for a place in the fourth round. Memories of successive second-round defeats at Wimbledon continue to provide the inspiration for rejuvenated former champion Maria Sharapova who cruised into the third round on Thursday. A 6-1 6-4 victory over Romanias Ioana Raluca Olaru underlined Sharapovas wellbeing as she stayed on course for a probable fourth-round showdown with champion Serena Williams. The former world number one had not long returned from a nine-month lay-off following shoulder surgery when she lost to Gisela Dulko last year. The Russian also exited at the same stage in 2008, a huge letdown for a player who won the title as a 17-year-old in 2004. I knew that coming into this match that last year, I was on the plane the next day after I lost, Sharapova reflected after comfortably overpowering world number 114 Olaru. The 23-year-old dropped just one game in the opening round and had little difficulty in subduing Olaru, who lacked the penetrating serve needed to threaten the Russians all-court dominance. Olaru briefly offered some resistance when breaking to level at 4-4 in the second set, only to hand Sharapova the advantage again when double faulting at break point on her own serve. I just kind of stopped in the middle of the second set and let her back in. But, fortunately, I was able to get that break back, said Sharapova, who now takes on Slovak Daniela Hantuchova or Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

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