/

Sharapova, Serena advance in Doha

by Jack Gallagher

Staff Writer

Third seed Maria Sharapova advanced to the third round of the Qatar Total Open on Tuesday night with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over qualifier Caroline Garcia of France.

Sharapova, who had a first-round bye, broke Garcia’s serve in the opening game of the match and cruised to the win behind her powerful baseline game.

The Russian broke again in the third game to go up 3-0, but Garcia broke right back. The Frenchwoman was undone by her poor serve, committing six double faults in the first set.

The second set was on serve until the sixth game, when Sharapova broke to go up 4-2. After holding serve, Sharapova closed it out with another break.

Garcia, ranked 172nd in the world, fought valiantly but was no match for the four-time Grand Slam champion, who wrapped up the contest in 1 hour, 17 minutes.

Sharapova, a two-time champion in this event, was pleased with her performance in her first match since losing to Li Na in the semifinals of the Australian Open.

“I was quite happy with the way I played, because my opponent has already played a few matches here,” she said. “She’s been able to get in that match atmosphere. Sometimes that’s kind of a benefit.”

Sharapova remembered that Garcia had given her a battle in their only previous meeting at the 2011 French Open.

“I wanted to start strong,” she stated. “I had a tough match against her in my previous encounter where I played three sets. I really wanted to start better this time.”

Serena Williams, seeded second, made short work of unseeded Russian Daria Gavrilova 6-2, 6-1 in 54 minutes in a second-round match.

“I have been just trying to play smooth and avoid problems, and do the things I have worked on,” she said.

Williams played on a sore right ankle, which she originally hurt in Melbourne.

“It held up good,” she noted. “I have it heavily taped. As long as the tape doesn’t get loose, it feels really good.”

Unseeded Mona Barthel of Germany upset fifth-seeded compatriot Angelique Kerber 6-1, 6-2 to move into the third round.

In first-round action, ninth seed Marion Bartoli of France downed Italy’s Francesca Schiavone 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 11th seed Nadia Petrova of Russia beat Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-3 and 12th seed Maria Kirilenko of Russia retired due to a right shoulder injury while trailing 3-0 in the first set against compatriot Ekaterina Bychkova.

Roberta Vinci of Italy, the 15th seed, won her match 6-2, 2-1 after her opponent, Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer, retired with a lower back injury.

Sixteenth seed Sloane Stephens of the United States, who beat Williams in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, bested Georgia’s Anna Tatishvili 6-2, 6-2.