Australian Open: Maria Sharapova eases by Anastasija Sevastova

Anastasija Sevastova and Maria Sharapova met twice last year, once at the US Open and the other at the China Open. Both matches went the distance and were up their for match of the tournament. Their Australian Open match was unlike their previous two matches as the Russian dominated the Latvian, winning 6-1, 7-6(4).

She will now face the winner of the Donna Vekic and Angelique Kerber  match. 

Sharapova Cruises In Opener

It was the Russian who struck with the break first in the fourth game of the set. Sharapova opened up the game with a net cord going her way but then pounced on the Latvian's second serve and groundstrokes to get the early lead. She carried her momentum through to her next service game, holding at love to move up 4-1.

Sharapova was relentless in attacking Sevastova's second serve. The 2008 Australian Open champion won eight of nine points on the Latvian's second serve, capping off another break with a volley winner. A return backhand long for Sevastova set up double set point for Sharapova in just 21 minutes. She was able to close out the set on her second opportunity after Sevastova dumped a forehand into the net. 

Sharapova's groundstrokes were exceptional in the opening set (Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Sharapova's groundstrokes were exceptional in the opening set (Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Second Set

If Sevastova was going to make this match competitive, she was going to need to hit more first serves in. The opening game saw more playable first serves from the Latvian but unfortunately, a number of them were right in Sharapova's strike zone. At 30-30, the Russian fired a return winner to set up break point and then fired off another one to go up the quick break.

Sevastova would get her chance to get the break right back after a net cord left the ball hanging in the middle of the court for the 14th seed to go up 30-40. Sharapova hit a backhand long to give the break right back as the Latvian held for 2-1 in a small turning point for this match. Sharapova got right back on track, holding her serve for 2-2. 

The second serve was a problem for Sevastova all match long (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
The second serve was a problem for Sevastova all match long (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Despite leading 40-0, Sevastova faced break points in the fifth game. The Russian shanked a forehand to send it back to deuce, but another wide serve was easily crushed for a forehand return winner by the Russian. The backhand wing did the damage on break point as Sharapova stepped well inside the baseline to smack a cross-court return winner.

The five-time Grand Slam champion consolidated with ease as she moved within two games of closing out the match. Sevastova was able to get the break back off a double-fault from the Russian. The match saw a third consecutive break as the Russian broke Sevastova for a second straight service game. A forehand cross-court winner set up the break point, and a backhand winner put her a game away from victory.

Sevastova would not back down though, with two break points on hand to extend the match. Sharapova would only save one of them as the match continued. The Latvian held to love to put the pressure on Sharapova to force a second set tiebreak. Sharapova did just that by holding to 15.

Sevastova would get the first mini-break of the tiebreak after a forehand winner down the line but then lost her two points on serve to give Sharapova the upper hand. The Russian continued to assert her aggressiveness, putting her up 6-2 in the breaker as she looked to close out the match. Despite a bit of shakiness from Sharapova, she would close out the tiebreaker 7-4.