Defending champion Maria Sharapova reached the last eight of the Stuttgart WTA tournament on Thursday with a convincing 6-4, 6-3 win over fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
The 27-year-old Sharapova needed just 1 hour, 32 minutes to see off Pavlyuchenkova to pick up her 10th straight win in Stuttgart, having won titles in 2012 and last year, and was to face Polish top seed Agnieszka Radwanska in yesterday’s quarter-finals.
“I’m pleased to have won in two sets, but I am never really happy with my performance and always want to improve,” Sharapova said.
Her victory was in stark contrast to her struggles of Tuesday, when she needed three tie breaks and almost three-and-a-half hours to defeat Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in her first-round tie.
Seeded sixth this year, Sharapova is aiming for a third straight title on the red clay of Stuttgart as the preparations for the French Open get fully under way.
The four-time Grand Slam champion looked solid enough on serve, with just five double faults to eight by her opponent, and she had Pavlyuchenkova under constant pressure with her booming returns.
Her opponent in the quarter-finals was scheduled to be Polish top seed Radwanska, who proved too good for Italian doubles specialist Roberta Vinci, defeating her 6-3, 6-2.
“Radwanska is the No. 3 in the world and everyone knows she plays extremely well, but I love challenges like this,” said Sharapova, who leads Radwanska 8-2 in previous meetings.
“There are no secrets to our games, we know each other very well, but have not played each other for a while on clay. It will be interesting and I’ll have to improve in all areas,” she added.
Second-seeded Simona Halep squandered a 5-2 first-set lead and three set points to lose 7-5, 7-6 (7/4) to former US Open and French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Former world No. 1 and Stuttgart champion Jelena Jankovic booked her quarter-final berth as she beat Flavia Pennetta of Italy 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, while Serb ninth seed Ana Ivanovic beat Germany’s Julia Goerges 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Ivanovic was to play Kuznetsova in the quarter-finals.
German fourth seed Angelique Kerber, who played in the Fed Cup in Australia last weekend, went down 7-5, 6-4 to Spanish clay-courter Carla Suarez Navarro.