Sharapova Dismisses Open Mismatches


Former world number one Maria Sharapova dismissed concerns over a series of mismatches at the Australian Open Thursday despite dropping just two games in her first two matches.

The 2008 champion blasted her way into the third round with a 6-0, 6-1 demolition of U.S. qualifier Jamie Hampton, in one of a number of crushing victories from the top women's players at this year's Open.

It followed a similarly emphatic first round win by the fourth-seeded Russian over Argentina's Gisela Dulko, whom she also beat 6-0, 6-1.

Third seed Victoria Azarenka is also into the third round for the loss of just two games, while defending champion Kim Clijsters and Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues both relinquished only one game in the second round.

But Sharapova said she wasn't concerned at the number of lopsided results in the tournament's opening days.

"You never know what you're going to get," she said. "Sometimes we come out and we play three-set matches from the beginning, and then it's a question of: 'Well, you're top five in the world, why is someone challenging you to three sets from the beginning?'

"I think it's just an excuse to make another story. That's really what it all comes down to.

"I think personally, my goal is to go into a match and play my game. If I do it well enough and come out winning 6-0, 6-1, then I've done a good job."

Sharapova, 24, dominated Hampton in all areas, hitting 23 winners to six and making 77 percent of her first serves to her opponent's 50 percent, although she said the match was tougher than the score indicated.

"In the first five or six games, I think four of those went to deuce," Sharapova said.

"We went back and forth. A few of those games she was up 40-15 and I came back. Those are tough games because you put yourself in a position where you have to pull through.

"I didn't know too much about her, but saw a little bit on video," she added.

"When you haven't played someone before, it's more a matter of how you're playing and how you're figuring out about her game from the beginning rather than thinking too much of what is she going to do."

The Russian is one of four players left in the tournament who can leave the Australian Open with the number one ranking, along with current number one Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka.

However, Sharapova said becoming world number one was no longer her primary aim.

"My goal is to be ready for the important ones, for the big ones (tournaments)," she said. "That's what matters at this stage in my career to me. I try to prepare as best as I can for them."