at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – French Open champion Maria Sharapova booked her place in the Wimbledon third round with a crushing 6-2, 6-1 win against Swiss qualifier Timea Bacsinszky on Thursday.
Sharapova lost just one game in her first round victory against Samantha Murray and the 2004 Wimbledon winner was almost as dominant in her second outing at the All England Club.
The 27-year-old needed only an hour to see off Bacsinszky on Court One, and will face Alison Riske, the American world number 44, for a place in the last 16.
“We had a few close games and I was happy with the way I stepped it up a little more than the first round,” Sharapova said.
“I was a bit nervous in the first round and I knew I needed to step up my game this time. Starting off a Grand Slam is never easy, especially on grass.
“You always get a few butterflies stepping onto a court where you've had so many good matches, but I'm happy with the way I'm playing.”
Most French Open champions find it difficult to succeed at the grasscourt Grand Slam so soon after winning on clay in Paris and Serena Williams is the last woman to achieve the Roland Garros-Wimbledon in 2002.
But world number five 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 two rounds with the minimum fuss.
Bacsinszky is back up to 85th in the world rankings after a 2011 foot injury caused her to plummet out of the top 500.
The 25-year-old also showed grasscourt potential by reaching the final of a second-tier event in Nottingham last month, but she had never been past the Wimbledon second round in five attempts and she was soon in trouble against Sharapova.
Quickly establishing a vice-like grip on proceedings, Sharapova broke in Bacsinszky's first service game and again in the sixth to take the opening set with a brutal display of power hitting.
It was more of the same in the second set and Sharapova was soon celebrating the most routine of victories. – Sapa-AFP