Maria Sharapova put up a comprehensive display to send Lindsay Davenport crashing out of the Australian Open today.
The fifth-seeded Russian dominated the blockbuster second-round clash from the outset, cruising to a 6-1, 6-3 win in front of a packed house at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
More than 17,000 fans crammed into the indoor arena for the clash between two former world number ones – but far from witnessing a titanic battle, they saw a first set that lasted just 26 minutes.
American Davenport, on the comeback trail after giving birth to her first child last year, struggled to hold her serve in the early exchanges as she fell 5-0 behind.
The second set was an improvement for Davenport, the champion in 2000, but she was unable to force a decider.
Sharapova improved her head-to-head record against the 31-year-old Davenport to 5-1.
The Russian, who will now face her compatriot Elena Vesnina in the third round, was glad to get a solid workout under her belt.
“I just took my opportunities,” she said.
“I fought really hard, got a challenge – and I challenged myself.”
After a season hampered by injury in 2007, Sharapova is fighting fit in the early stages of the current campaign.
“It’s nice to be able to serve without worrying about my shoulder or worrying about it getting injured more,” she said.
“Ever since my shoulder got better, I was able to spend more time on the court - not just on the serve, but hitting groundstrokes and just working on the court.”
Davenport, who had won 19 of 20 matches on her return to the court before succumbing to Sharapova, paid tribute to her opponent’s powerful serve.
“I felt like I never really hit the ball that well, and I’m in trouble when I’m not hitting the ball well,” she admitted.
“She did a great job of serving very well in both sets. But she got off to a really good start, and I thought I played really well all the way through.”
In other second-round action today, defending champion Serena Williams overcame a poor serving performance to record a 6-3 6-1 win over China’s Meng Yuan - while world number one Justine Henin and 2006 champion Amelie Mauresmo also advanced.
Henin, eyeing her second Australian Open crown, beat Russia’s Olga Poutchkova 6-1 7-5 and will now meet Italy’s Francesca Schiavone – who overcame German Angelique Kerber 6-2 6-3.
Mauresmo, the number 18 seed following her injury-riddled 2007, needed 10 match points before finally subduing Russian Yaroslav Shvedova 6-4 7-6 (7/5).
There were also a raft of upsets today.
French 13th seed Tatiana Golovin was dumped out by compatriot Aravane Rezai, while 15th-seeded Patty Schnyder of Switzerland is also on her way home after losing to Australia’s Casey Dellacqua.
Austrian Sybille Bammer, the 19th seed, fell to Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan 6-2 6-0 - but 11th-seeded Russian Elena Dementieva secured a ticket into the next round.
Also advancing to the third round was Czech 12th seed Nicole Vaidisova, who ousted Australia’s Alicia Molik in straight sets.
Another Australian, Jessica Moore, fell to Israel’s Shahar Peer.
Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic advanced with a 6-2 7-5 win over Edina Gallovits - while France’s Virginie Razzano, Russian Elena Vesnina and Japanese veteran Ai Sugiyama also progressed to the last 32.