Sun, Jan 03, 2010 - Page 18 News List

Sharapova beats Venus in Thai exhibition match

AP , HUA HIN, THAILAND

Maria Sharapova outplayed an error-prone Venus Williams on the key points to take a 6-3, 6-4 win in an exhibition match yesterday.

In a warm-up ahead of this month’s Australian Open, Sharapova converted 75 per cent of her break points, against just 13 per cent by Williams.

HEAT TROUBLE

Both players appeared in trouble in the baking heat and low sun at this beachside resort, with Williams particularly struggling to keep the ball on the court.

Sharapova, the world No. 14, displayed a solid and fierce baseline game to put Williams away in just one hour and 34 minutes, and record her first win over the American since 2007.

Sharapova broke Williams three times to take the first set, which was over in 49 minutes. The second set was on serve ­until the final game when Williams missed two forehands to lose the match.

BACK IN THE SWING

“It’s good to be back. I’m glad to play against Venus in my first match of the year,” the 22-year-old Russian said. “I still remember when I first came here [in 2005]. I was still young and had a great match with Venus.”

Williams, who will still be chasing her first Australian Open title when she goes to Melbourne, acknowledged she was a little off the pace after the offseason.

FIRST MATCH

“Maria played so well,” Williams said. “I was slow in my first match of the season. It’s good to be here hitting the ball.”

Sharapova won the Australian Open in 2008, but was not able to defend her title last year because of a shoulder injury.

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