Russia's Maria Sharapova lost her first game at this year's Australian Open but still showed scintillating form in a 6-1, 6-3 rout of former No. 1 Venus Williams in third-round action Friday.
The No. 2 seed and 2008 Aussie Open champ needed just an hour and 15 minutes to dismantle the American, who was far from the form that led her to seven Grand Slam titles between 2000 and 2008.
Sharapova defeated her first- and second-round opponents 6-0, 6-0 and got off to a 4-0 start on Friday evening, prompting commentators to speculate whether she might pull off a third consecutive "double bagel" in Melbourne.
Venus, however, finally got on the board and put up a respectable showing in the second set, though she never posed a real threat to the Russian.
Sharapova will next square off in Sunday's round of 16 against Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, who defeated Russia's Valeria Savinykh 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
In men's action on Friday, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia and world No. 5 David Ferrer of Spain each moved comfortably into the fourth round with straight-set wins.
Djokovic nearly went down a break in the first set, but a lucky net cord saved him and he subsequently cruised to a 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 win over crafty Czech Radek Stepanek.
Ferrer was never troubled by 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis in a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 victory under the lights. EFE