Ruthless Sharapova storms into last 16

Rome: Former world number one Maria Sharapova sounded out a warning to her rivals after demolishing fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-1, 6-1 in 54 minutes to advance to the third round of the Italian Open.

The seventh seed was in irrepressible form ahead of Roland Garros, breaking her ragged opponent`s serve in the first game and then at will as she hit 19 winners to flatten Makarova.

"I started with two three set matches in Madrid, so I wanted to get the job done faster today," said Sharapova, who had defeated Makarova in three sets in last week`s Madrid Open. "My energy was up and I didn`t have as many let downs."

Sharapova has often struggled with her serve since undergoing shoulder surgery in 2008 but on Tuesday she was virtually unplayable as she bullied her opponent with a high first service percentage.

"I`ve been working on my serve and especially placement," she said. "I was happy with it today and with my stats, especially on clay."

Sharapova will be joined in the third round by French Open champion Francesca Schiavone.

Schiavone, 12 years older than McHale who turns 19 on Wednesday, used her far greater experience to defeat American upstart Christina McHale 6-3, 6-1 in sweltering conditions and said she was pleased with her form as Roland Garros approaches.

Cheered on by the local crowd, the second seed broke the New Jersey qualifier`s serve midway through the first set and never looked back, racing to victory in 71 minutes.

"Everything went according to plan today and it`s given me confidence," said Schiavone, who suffered a third round loss to American Bethanie Mattek-Sands at the Madrid Open last week.

"It was nice and hot with the court playing very fast so your reactions have to be sharp. It wasn`t a great game for the crowd to shout for every point but the encouragement still helped a lot."

There was more Italian success in the first round when wildcard Alberta Brianti beat China`s Zheng Jie 6-4, 7-5 and Sara Errani went through against compatriot Roberta Vinci who retired injured after losing the first set 6-2.

Brianti will face Hungary`s Greta Arn, who defeated defending champion Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez on Monday, while Errani faces third seed Victoria Azarenka in the second round.

Australia`s Anastasia Rodionova beat Kazakhstan`s Yaroslava Shvedova 6-4, 6-4 to set up a second round clash against top seed Caroline Wozniacki.

Bureau Report

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