Maria Sharapova only let four winners past her and blasted 22 of her own to beat Christina McHale at the Mutua Madrid Open on Tuesday. Ana Ivanovic set up a clash with the world's No.1 teenager.
WTA Staff

MADRID, Spain - Maria Sharapova was a study in speed and power at the Mutua Madrid Open on Tuesday, out-hitting and out-running Christina McHale to run her clay court win streak to 18 matches.

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The No.2-seeded Sharapova was just too good in every department against McHale in the feature night match, hitting more than five times as many winners (22 to 4) and fewer unforced errors (16 to 19) to beat the American qualifier, 61 62. She didn't let a single winner past her in the first set.

"It was important to be ready and start quickly, especially since we started so late," Sharapova said. "I knew I had to be focused from the very beginning, and I think I did a good job with that today."

Sharapova has now won 18 clay court matches in a row, a streak that dates back to a quarterfinal loss to Serena Williams right here in Madrid last year. Since that loss she has won all three clay court tournaments she has played - Rome and the French Open last year, and Stuttgart so far this year.

Next up is Sabine Lisicki, who fired seven aces during a tight 76(4) 76(3) victory against No.15 seed Dominika Cibulkova. Sharapova leads Lisicki in their head-to-head series, 4-1, though their last two matches, which came during last year's grass court season, were very tough for Sharapova - Lisicki won in the fourth round of Wimbledon and Sharapova won a tight three-setter at the Olympics.

"We've always had difficult encounters," Sharapova said of her rivalry with Lisicki. "She's a tough opponent and plays extremely well against top players - I expect a really tough match from her."

Cibulkova wasn't the only seed to fall, with Svetlana Kuznetsova edging No.11 seed Nadia Petrova, 76(2) 46 64. Other winners were No.14 seed Marion Bartoli, who regrouped just in time to beat Spanish qualifier María-Teresa Torró-Flor, 64 26 64; No.16 seed Ana Ivanovic, who beat South African qualifier Chanelle Scheepers, 62 62; and Yaroslava Shvedova, who outlasted Kirsten Flipkens, 62 46 64.

"I played well today - I served really well, especially," Ivanovic said. "Scheepers is a dangerous player, beating Jankovic first round, so I have a lot of respect for her and knew I had to play well."

Next up for Ivanovic is Laura Robson, who pulled off the biggest upset of the week so far on Monday, beating the No.4 seed, Agnieszka Radwanska. Ivanovic beat Robson in their only previous meeting.

"It's definitely going to be a very tough match - we played once before in Tokyo and it was very close," Ivanovic said. "She has a big game, a big serve, lefty - we don't face many players like that out there. And she had a great win yesterday, so she has a lot of confidence right now. I'll just talk to my coach and we'll make a plan -  I know I'll have to take time away from her and put her under pressure."

Ivanovic was asked about Robson's potential. "She has great potential, I think, and she was already showing that before these big wins, a few times on Centre Court at Wimbledon," Ivanovic said. "She has a bright future ahead of her, for sure. I think we will be seeing a lot of her in the future."

And on her favorite surface, clay? "I really enjoy playing on clay - it's like home for me," she commented. "You can build the points and it's more fun, more exciting and more interesting for me.

"I definitely don't get bored."