Tennis: Merciless Sharapova eclipses Venus to reach fourth round

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Maria Sharapova missed out on a third successive "double-bagel" but humbled Venus Williams 6-1, 6-3 to charge into the fourth round of the Australian Open on Friday.

The centre court crowd was left stunned as the second seeded Russian scorched to a 4-0 lead in the first set to rattle her American opponent, and charged on in the second to wrap up the match in 79 minutes on a chilly evening at Rod Laver Arena.

The 25th seed Williams sparked raucous cheers by breaking Sharapova and holding her serve late in the second set, but the Russian sealed the match with an ace and unleashed a fist-pumping shriek.

Sharapova will next play Belgian Kirsten Flipkens as she continues her bid for a fifth grand slam title and second at Melbourne Park.

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