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Last Updated: Friday, 20 January 2006, 01:25 GMT
Sharapova brushes aside Kostanic
Maria Sharapova
Sharapova needed little over an hour to see off Kostanic
Maria Sharapova ensured she spent as little time as possible under the scorching Melbourne sun as she cruised into the Australian Open fourth round.

The Russian's 6-0 6-1 win over Croatia's Jelena Kostanic set up a possible meeting with Serena Williams.

The American defending champion later faces Daniela Hantuchova.

Sharapova, who lost to Williams in last year's semi-finals, spent only 68 minutes on Rod Laver Arena in temperatures reaching 31C (88F).

Kostanic only managed to avoid the dreaded 'double bagel' by holding her opening service game in the second set but Sharapova reeled off the next five games to complete a comprehensive win.

The Russian said the win was not as easy as the scoreline suggests.

"I wouldn't say that was really easy," said the former Wimbledon champion.

"Mentally it is pretty tough when you know you've got a very patient opponent and you know that it's really hot."

Later in the day, top seed Lindsay Davenport had to contend with even higher temperatures and a gutsy opponent in Maria Kirilenko.

In 40C (104F) heat, Davenport prevailed 6-4 4-6 6-2 despite hitting 42 unforced errors.

Davenport now faces Svetlana Kuznetsova and said: "It doesn't get any easier. I will have to be more consistent."

Eighth seed Justine Henin-Hardenne made a slow start before seeing off France's Virginie Razzano 6-4 6-1.

The Belgian was 3-0 down in the first set but recovered to book a meeting with Spain's Virginia Ruano Pascual, who beat Laura Granville 6-3 6-3.

Russian pair Kuznetsova and Nadia Petrova had little difficulty booking their places in the fourth round.

Kuznetsova crushed Italy's Mara Santangelo 6-3 6-1.

Petrova, the sixth seed, beat another Italian, Maria Elena Camerin, 6-1 6-2.

Petrova goes on to face fellow Russian Elena Vesnina, who reached the last 16 on her debut by beating Ukraine's Olga Savchuk 5-7 6-2 6-4.

News conference: Justine Henin-Hardenne


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