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Serena Williams targets a showdown with ace Sharapova

By Tom Allnutt

Published 21/01/2016

Will power: Serena Williams after yesterday’s victory
Will power: Serena Williams after yesterday’s victory

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova both shook off recent injury problems to sail into the Australian Open third round with straight-set victories.

Williams had pulled out of the Hopman Cup with a knee injury a fortnight ago and the problem looked to be lingering when she was pictured taking treatment in practice last week.

The American, however, showed few signs of weakness as she dispatched Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei 6-1 6-2 in Rod Laver Arena, hitting 26 winners and wrapping up victory in just one hour.

Russia's Daria Kasatkina now waits in the third round and Williams said she feels fit and raring to go.

"No it (her knee) hasn't been bothering me in a long time. So it's been okay. It's totally fine," Williams said.

"I don't think I made that many errors. Something I was hopefully trying to get back into.

"And I moved much better I think, so slowly but surely feeling a little bit better."

Williams has never faced Kasatkina in a competitive match before, but she might do well to glean some tips from her sister Venus, who lost to the 18-year-old world number 69 in Auckland earlier this month.

"I don't think it's going to be easy," Serena said.

"Any time someone is beating Venus they are more than likely playing really good. So I definitely will be ready for that.

"I obviously will ask Venus what she thought of the match, and I'm sure (coach) Patrick (Mouratoglou) will know everything about her match. He's really good at studying."

Sharapova, seeded fifth in Melbourne, is due to meet Williams as early as the quarter-finals and the Russian was ruthless in beating Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-2 6-1.

Injury problems have hampered Sharapova for the best part of a year and she was forced to withdraw from the Brisbane International with a pain in her left forearm two weeks ago.

"I feel pretty good," said Sharapova, who will face American Lauren Davis in round three.

"I felt I was more confident with my left hand. Especially when it's in the hand and wrist area, it's in the back of your mind. I felt really good and confident about it."

The biggest shock came in Margaret Court Arena, where sixth seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was knocked out by Australian Daria Gavrilova.

Gavrilova, who was born in Moscow but switched nationality last year, beat the Czech 6-4 6-4 to book a third round match-up with world number 28 Kristina Mladenovic.

"Coming into this match I was pretty confident that I could beat Petra," Gavrilova said.

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