Sharapova cruises into Warsaw Open quarterfinals | sports | Hindustan Times
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Sharapova cruises into Warsaw Open quarterfinals

sports Updated: May 20, 2009 19:20 IST

AFP
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Maria Sharapova continued her successful return to the WTA circuit on Wednesday with a confident 6-2, 6-0 victory over Darya Kustova of Belarus, which took her into the quarterfinals.

The former world No.1 is playing her first singles tournament in nine and a half months after taking time off to recover from a persistent shoulder injury and was pleased with her showing.

"I thought I did the right things at the right time. I played a solid game and I did everything I had to do to win today," she said.

Despite the doubts over her fitness, the 22-year-old showed glimpses of her glory days when she won three Grand Slams including Wimbledon as a 17-year-old.

The Russian pin-up cruised through the first set in a much improved showing from her inconsistent three-set first round win over Italy's Tathiana Garbin 6-1, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3.

With her right shoulder still strapped up, the Russian used crisp baseline shots and strong serving to keep Kustova pinned to the baseline.

She raced through the second set and won 13 straight points to take her to 5-0, 40-0 before Kustova delayed the inevitable with a forehand winner.

The Russian then closed out the match when Kustova hit long and Sharapova's unbeaten return was assured for at least another match.

She now plays Ukrainian eighth seed Alona Bondarenko for a place in the semi-finals. Bonderenko, who defeated Poland's Marta Domachowska 6-3, 6-1, promises to provide a stiffer test for Sharapova.

"I've played her a few times before... I played her on clay last year in the States, and in it was a pretty tough match.

"I think she's in good form. She plays a really good defensive game but she can step in and hit the ball. So I'm looking forward to it." added Sharapova.

Sharapova's return to the spotlight will please organisers at Roland Garros in Paris where the French Open will get underway on Sunday as she is still one of the biggest draws in the women's game.

In other matches, British number one Anne Keothavong came back from a set down to book her quarter-final spot with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over American Jill Craybas.
The 25-year-old Londoner is certain to improve on her world ranking of 56 as she chases what would be a first ever WTA tournament victory.

She awaits the winner of the match between Germany's Julia George and Romanian Ioana Raluca Olaru to know her opponent for a place in the semi-finals.

Romanian qualifier Alexandra Dulgheru continued her good run with her second straight sets win in two days.

The 20-year-old claycourt specialist overpowered Italy's Sara Errani 6-4, 6-3 and will play either Alona's sister Kateryna Bondarenko or Kazakhstan's Galina Voskoboeva in the last eight.