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Sharapova powers into fourth round

The Russian's 6-3, 6-1 victory over tournament 30th seed Garbin means she will play either Ana Ivanovic or Vera Zvonareva next.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2007 12:04 IST

Top seed Maria Sharapova overwhelmed Italian Tathiana Garbin to reach the Australian Open fourth round on Saturday, admitting she felt lucky to remain in contention after a horror start to the tournament.

The Russian 19-year-old's 6-3, 6-1 victory over tournament 30th seed Garbin means she will play either Serbian 13th seed Ana Ivanovic or Russian Vera Zvonareva, seeded 22nd, in her next match.

Sharapova wore down Garbin in centre court conditions that were sticky and uncomfortable, rather than the draining extreme heat the world number two endured in her opening match, when she came within two points of elimination.

"I guess I can say I'm lucky to be in the tournament after the first round so I'm happy with every win I get here so I look forward to improving with every match," Sharapova said.

Garbin started strongly, breaking Sharapova's serve in the second game only for the Russian to immediately break back.

They exchanged breaks again with Garbin hoping to repeat her greatest career triumph, when she upset world number one Justine Henin-Hardenne in the second round of the 2004 French Open.

But Sharapova's power and accuracy gave her another break and she took the first set from her tenacious opponent after 39 minutes.

With the air conditioning at the Rod Laver Arena broken and the stadium roof closed due to heavy rain, the humidity took its toll on Garbin in the second set as she faced an opponent 10 years her junior.

Sharapova directed the match from the baseline as Garbin gave her all chasing down the ball, almost crashing into the umpire's chair as she unsuccessfully tried to stop Sharapova breaking her serve in the fourth game.

But it was not enough and Sharapova claimed the second set 6-1 after 30 minutes to advance in the tournament where she has reached the semi-finals in her past two attempts.

First Published: Jan 20, 2007 12:03 IST