Maria Sharapova could face Serena Williams in round four after she delivered a strong message to the rest of the draw with a 6-1 6-2 demolition of Karolina Pliskova at the 2018 French Open.
The Russian, who rediscovered some of her best form with good runs in Madrid and Rome, should now be considered a contender for the title at Roland Garros.
Sharapova was outstanding against Pliskova. She served well, hit 18 winners and broke the Czech on five occasions.
By contrast, the World No.6 played poorly. Her serves were slower than usual and she only won 43% of the points in her service games.
Sharapova dominatesEmbed from Getty Images
At the beginning of the match, the two big hitters earned a break apiece. But after Sharapova broke Pliskova again in the fourth game, she began to dominate.
The Russian recorded two comfortable holds and then attacked the Czech’s serve to earn three set points. Pliskova saved two but hit a forehand wide to surrender the third.
The World No.6 actually made a decent start to the second set, but it did not last long. Sharapova broke in the fourth game for the second successive set and the Czech looked beaten.
Although she battled hard to try and hold serve when she was 4-1 down, it would only have delayed the inevitable if she managed it. Instead, Sharapova eventually took it and then served out the match with ease.
Sharapova pleased to deliver at a Grand SlamEmbed from Getty Images
“I think I improved quite a lot in this match from my first two rounds,” Sharapova said in her press conference. “I had to. I didn’t really have a choice against a player like her.”
The Russian continued, “These are the types of occasions where you want to play really good, solid tennis against a top 10 player who’s been playing extremely well.”
“When you’re able to deliver that on a Grand Slam stage, I think it makes it extra special.”
Sharapova will face Serena in the last 16 if the American beats Julia Goerges. The Russian has lost her last 18 matches against the 23-time Grand Slam champion and she is under no illusions about how difficult that match could be.
“Any time you play against Serena you know what you’re up against. You know the challenge that is upon you.”
“Despite the record that I have against her, I always look forward to coming out on the court and competing against the best player. I will look forward to doing that if she wins this one.”
[Originially published on ubitennis.com]