Sharapova eases into fourth roundComment on this story
Maria Sharapova remains on course for a rare French Open and Wimbledon double after moving into the fourth round at the All England Club with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over American Alison Riske.
Sharapova is bidding to become the first woman since Serena Williams in 2002 to follow victory at Roland Garros with Wimbledon glory just weeks later.
The 27-year-old was pushed harder than the scoreline suggested, but the 2004 Wimbledon winner eventually over-powered world number 44 Riske in 69 minutes under the roof on Centre Court.
Sharapova, the world number five, is yet to drop a set in this year's tournament and will play German ninth seed Angelique Kerber or Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens, a 2013 semi-finalist, for a place in the quarter-finals.
“I had a little bit of a slow start but otherwise I'm thankful to get through,” Sharapova said.
“Alison is a great grasscourt player and had some of her best results on the surface, but I felt better as the match went on.”
With heavy rain causing long delays and cancellations on the outside courts, including for top seed Serena -- Sharapova's scheduled quarter-final opponent -- the Russian admitted she was relieved to get her match finished while her rivals could be made to play a hectic programme next week.
“I don't look at the forecast so I didn't know it was going to rain. You don't know how the schedule will go but I'm happy to get my match finished,” she said.
Sharapova has struggled at Wimbledon for the past two years, with a shock second round loss to Michelle Larcher de Brito in 2013 an especially painful experience.
Making amends for that exit seems to be Sharapova's driving force this year and she said: “After last year's result I wasn't satisfied.
“I was looking forward to coming back and here I am giving myself another chance.”
Most French Open champions find it difficult to succeed at the grasscourt Grand Slam so soon after winning on clay in Paris.
But Sharapova, bidding to win Wimbledon for the first time since her famous final victory against Serena as a teenager 10 years ago, has swept through the first three rounds in dominant style.
She lost just one game in her first round victory against Samantha Murray and was almost as dominant in her second outing against Timea Bacsinszky.
For one set at least she got a tougher examination from Riske, who has enjoyed more success on grass than any other surface.
Her first 11 Tour-level wins all came on grass in Birmingham and she has 17 wins on the surface and only 14 on clay and hardcourts combined.
She also thrashed former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova at the US Open and showed some of that form as she broke Sharapova in the opening game.
Riske was giving a good account of herself, but Sharapova gradually found her range and broke back for 3-3.
Hammering Riske's defences with some blistering forehands, Sharapova broke again for a 5-3 lead and made it five games in a row to serve out the set.
Sharapova had the scent of blood now and Riske was swept aside as the Russian stormed through the second set in emphatic fashion. – AFP