Sharapova powers past Venus

Venus Williams was unable to stop the Maria Sharapova juggernaut on Friday as the Russian powered into the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Sharapova, who won her first two matches in Melbourne without dropping a game, was irresistible as she crushed the seven-time major winner 6-1 6-3 in just 79 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

It had been expected Williams would provide the second seed with a stiff challenge but she was unable to match her opponent's power off the ground, not to mention her intensity, until the latter stages.

Sharapova said: "I really wanted this victory. I was 5-1 up (in the second set) and made a couple more errors than I would have liked, so I was very pleased to have served it out."

The 25-year-old admitted the match was one she had been eagerly anticipating.

"When we both looked at the draw this was the match-up that we were both looking forward to," she added. "I was really excited to play Venus again. She is a great athlete and no matter where she is ranked she's always a very tough player to play."

Kirsten Flipkens is the next player to stand in Sharapova's way after the Belgian beat Russian qualifier Valeria Savinykh 6-2 4-6 6-3.

Earlier, Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber and Li Na all moved into round four.

Radwanska eased past British number one Heather Watson, Kerber downed American wild card Madison Keys and Li dropped just five games against Sorana Cirstea.

Fourth seed Radwanska, a 6-3 6-1 winner over Watson, said: "I have played a lot of good matches against top players this year and I must say I am playing well, everything is working. I just hope I can keep going. But now it is going to be harder and harder playing against seeded players. We'll see."

Li will next meet Julia Goerges, who overcame another Chinese player Zheng Jie 6-3 1-6 7-5, while Radwanska will take on Ana Ivanovic, who won the all-Serbian tussle with Jelena Jankovic. Kerber next plays Ekaterina Makarova.

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