MONTREAL, Canada -- In the first-ever meeting between the two currently top-ranked Russians on the WTA, former World No.1 Maria Sharapova outplayed No.12 seed Daria Kasatkina, 6-0, 6-2, in the second round of the Rogers Cup on Wednesday.
31-year-old veteran Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion and 2009 Rogers Cup finalist, used her world-beating power game and veteran experience to overwhelm the rising 21-year-old, currently ranked World No.12, in just an hour and 16 minutes.
"I came in with a similar mindset [to yesterday], just a focused mindset that I needed to carry on to today's match," Sharapova told the press afterwards. "I came into the match with a lot of respect for my opponent. She's had really good results. She's No. 12 in the world. You can't take that very lightly, especially for a second round. I thought, yeah, with everything, I took that and I made good use of it."
A relentless Sharapova was brilliant off her forehand side as she posted 25 winners in the match, while Kasatkina only had three. The younger Russian had six break points in two games, but was never able to convert, and was only able to claim 51 percent of points on her first serve.
"I certainly play an aggressive game, but I also have to be consistently aggressive," Sharapova said. "If that means making a few more errors, which I usually do maybe compared to other players, if that brings me more advantage in the other points, I see that as a benefit."
Sharapova moves into the round of 16 where she will face World No.6 Caroline Garcia of France. Garcia entered the third round on Tuesday after she defeated Magdalena Rybarikova in three sets. Sharapova leads the head-to-head against Garcia by 4-1, but the Frenchwoman won their only meeting in the last three years, a three-set epic in Stuttgart this year.
"I felt it was certainly a tough match coming in as my first match on clay," Sharapova said about her Stuttgart encounter with Garcia. "I had a fair share of opportunities I didn't use and didn't take. But I look forward to that matchup. We've played against each other a few times. I always enjoy that battle."
"You kind of know what to expect from [Garcia]: big serves, big groundstrokes," Sharapova continued. "Just attack, move forward. Not too many secrets from each other's games."
On Wednesday, Sharapova demonstrated extreme dominance in the opening set. The veteran got up a quick break at 2-0 after Kasatkina double faulted for the second time in the game while down break point, and Sharapova took that immediate advantage and ran with it.
A brief rain delay during her next service game did nothing to dissuade Sharapova’s confidence, and she jumped right back on the court after the sprinkle to slam an ace en route to 3-0. The crafty Kasatkina was even overtaken in all-court rallies at this stage, Sharapova galloping around the court to finish off another break point and take a 4-0 lead.
Kasatkina’s only chance came on Sharapova’s serve at 4-0, where the younger Russian held three break points, but Sharapova clawed her way back to game point and struck a backhand winner crosscourt to hold. Another break gave the bagel to Sharapova, who had 11 winners and 10 unforced errors in the set. Kasatkina could only muster two winners in the first frame.
Sharapova showed no signs of showing at all in the second set, maneuvering through a protracted game on Kasatkina’s serve at 2-1 to claim the critical break on her fourth break point of the game -- with a stunning running forehand winner down the line to boot.
The staggering performance continued in the next game, when the five-time major winner fended off three consecutive break points, the last with an ace, to maintain her single-break advantage when Kasatkina was threatening to find her way back into the set. Instead, Sharapova took the 4-1 lead, inches away from a Top 20 victory.
"I made a few errors to start that game," Sharapova explained. "I was down 0-40. I thought I did a really good job of just serving it out well, being smart in the points. I think it's always a combination. It's not just about one shot. It's always the shot that opens it up for the next one."
Serving at 5-2, Kasatkina had to face double match point after a strong backhand return by Sharapova set up the veteran’s vaunted forehand for a deep winner. Sharapova only needed one chance, crunching a service return crosscourt for a winner, and clinching a statement win.