Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova

Second seed Maria Sharapova is happy with her blistering start to the 2013 Australian Open despite her limited preparation.

The reigning French Open champion has been in devastating form in the first week at Melbourne Park, brushing aside three opponents while conceding just four games.

Her first two victims, Olga Puchkova and Misaki Doi, were each restricted to the dreaded 'double bagel'.

Before the start of the year's first grand slam event, Sharapova hadn't played a competitive match since the WTA Championships in October where she lost the final to Serena Williams.

It's for that reason that the Russian, who crushed Venus Williams 6-1 6-3 on Friday night, is delighted with the manner in which she has reached the fourth round of the Australian Open.

And ominously for the rest of the women still in the main draw, the four-time grand slam champion believes she has room for improvement.

"Considering I didn't play any matches (in the lead-up to the Australian Open), I'm happy with my form," Sharapova said post-match.

"But I'm always looking to improve. That's always my goal.

"There's always things that you want to improve on. I think the reason I started so well in this tournament is because I knew what I had to.

"I knew I was coming in without any match play. It's tough. I hadn't played a match, you know, a professional match, a real match, in over two months.

"Coming into a grand slam, it's not always the best-case scenario. I've been experienced enough to manage that.

"But I was coming into the first round knowing that I was healthy and ready to go.

"I think I was just much more mentally prepared, and I knew maybe I would make a few more mistakes than I would if I had match play.

"But I was just really determined from the start."

Sharapova, who injured her collarbone earlier this year, also draws confidence from knowing what it takes to win a grand slam as she chases her second Australian Open crown.

"It's always the ultimate goal to get to the later stages of the grand slams. That's really where you need to improve, and the matches always get more tougher and more physical," she said.

"In a way, I am quite experienced about how to pace myself mentally and physically throughout these two weeks, because it's a long grind.

"Not one match is the same. Not one day is the same. Of course, it's tough to be as fresh in the finals as you are in the first round."

Sharapova said she did a good job of executing her game plan against Venus Williams on Friday night and was happy she maintained a high level of tennis over both sets.

"A lot of it is about executing from our own sides. I thought I did a good job of what I had in my head and what I wanted to accomplish out there today," she said.

"I try to keep the level that I had in the first set and carry that into the second. I did a good job of maintaining that.

"(I) lost a few closer points. Made a few more errors. She started improving her game towards the end of the second set, so I was really happy I was able to close it out the way I did."

Next up for Sharapova is a fourth-round clash with Belgian Kirsten Flipkens who will play her first ever round-of-16 match at a grand slam.


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