Melbourne: Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams disposed of Alize Cornet in straight sets on Wednesday to set up a tantalising third round clash with Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open.
The 32-year-old, playing her 18th year on tour, drew on all her experience to ease past the Frenchwoman 6-3, 6-3 on centre court in 77 minutes.
Awaiting her next is world No 2 Sharapova, who crushed her second round opponent Misaki Doi of Japan 6-0, 6-0 in a display that followed a previous whitewash in the first round.
Williams has been battling injury and illness in the past two years and her ranking has dropped, but she has clawed her way back to 26th and ended last year by claiming her 44th career title in Luxemburg. She knows she will have to dig deep against Sharapova, who has won 27 titles and is hungry for more.
“I look at the draw, I’m not superstitious. I play Maria and I better bring my best game against her,” Williams said.
Sharapova has the edge in head-to-heads, leading 4-3, with their most recent meeting on clay in Rome last year, when she won 6-4, 6-3.
“There are certainly no secrets coming into that match-up,” said Sharapova, the 2008 Australian champion. ”We’ve played against each other many times.
“Despite the fact that she might not be seeded high or didn’t play for a little bit, she’s still a very experienced player and a tremendous athlete. Going out there, there won’t be too many secrets. I hope for it to be a great match.”
Williams said she was not fazed by Sharapova’s form and her consecutive double bagels. “I don’t think about things that way. I play the ball,” she said. “There’s going to be days when you play great and win, and there’s going to be days when you play not as great and you win.
“Whatever day that is, you have to win. It’s not about for me I have to play perfect every match. I don’t have that mentality.”