It was deadlocked early on, and things were getting tight at the end, but Maria Sharapova stepped it up at all the right moments to edge a Romanian on the rise at Wimbledon.
WTA Staff

LONDON, England - Things were tight early on - they were on serve, locked at four apiece - but Maria Sharapova won seven games in a row to take complete control against Irina-Camelia Begu, eventually holding off a late surge from the Romanian to win in straight sets and reach the second week.

From 4-all in the first set the No.4-seeded Sharapova went on an absolute tear, those seven games in a row putting her ahead 6-4, 5-0 and seemingly on the verge of a comprehensive straight set win.

The No.29-seeded Begu rallied - she dug out the next three games, and even got to 0-30 in the next game. But Sharapova stepped it up one last time, sneaking out four points in a row to end it, 6-4, 6-3.

"Considering I didn't play a tournament before Wimbledon, with each match I've had a different type of opponent on different courts, and I've been handling it quite well," Sharapova said. "Today was another match against a big server and a big hitter, and on grass that can be quite dangerous.

"I was quite happy that I was able to win the match in a solid two sets."

Next for Sharapova is Zarina Diyas, who made the fourth round at Wimbledon for the second year in a row with a 7-5, 6-4 win over No.14 seed Andrea Petkovic, her second win in their three meetings.

Sharapova beat Diyas in the pair's only previous meeting, at the Australian Open this year.

"I played Diyas in Australia. I think that was our first meeting," the Russian said.

"This one will be a new match, and a chance to get to the quarterfinals, a place where I lost last year."

Diyas, Kazakhstan's No.1 player, is also one of the leading WTA Rising Stars on the tour, and is hoping to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal here - only one Kazakhstani has ever reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam before, and that's Yaroslava Shvedova, who has done it twice in Paris.

One of the big stories of the day was also the all-Williams sister fourth round match-up that was set - Sharapova, a longtime rival of both Serena and Venus, was asked about the blockbuster showdown.

"I started my career playing on the professional tour when they were already Grand Slam champions, rivalries against each other, creating history already," Sharapova said. "For me to still be playing in a time where Serena is No.1 in the world and has won so many Grand Slams, it's just an exciting time."