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Tennis: Peng Shuai’s Australian run ends at the hands of Sharapova

Peng Shuai lost to World No. 2 Maria Sharapova in the last 16 of the Australian Open. Photos: AFP.

Peng Shuai lost to World No. 2 Maria Sharapova in the last 16 of the Australian Open on Sunday. Photos: AFP.

January 25, 2015: Peng Shuai, Asia’s top-ranked woman, was bundled out of the Australian Open in the last 16 by a rampant Maria Sharapova.

 

From 4-3 up, Sharapova won eight straight games to run out a 6-3, 6-0 winner against Peng on Sunday, two days after the World No. 2 handed out a 6-1, 6-1 pasting of Kazakhstani youngster Zarina Diyas, Asia’s second-ranked player.

 

Sharapova, the 2008 champion, was in irresistible form against Peng, overwhelming the 29-year-old World No. 22 to set up a quarter-final against Eugenie Bouchard.

 

Peng, who played with both thighs heavily strapped, was comfortable trading blows from the back in the early stages of the contest, but the flat-hitting former doubles World No. 1 faded when Sharapova began skidding drives towards the lines.

 

Peng played with both thighs heavily strapped, but ran out of steam against Sharapova.

Peng played with both thighs heavily strapped, but ran out of steam against Sharapova.

“I feel like something, or someone, gave me another chance,” said Sharapova, who fought back from match point down against Alexandra Panova in the second round.

 

“I played solid. I don’t think I did anything spectacular, but felt that I was consistent. I served smart at times. I returned quite well and I think that really helped me. I think I won the right points at the right time.”

 

Sharapova broke Peng to lead 4-2, but the Chinese responded well, drawing five break points of her own in the next game as Sharapova double-faulted her lead away. However, Peng’s revival was short-lived, as Sharapova broke again to lead 5-3 and held her serve to win the first set in 39 minutes, before steamrolling the second.

 

Although Peng was unable to repeat the heroics of her run to the semis of last year’s US Open, reaching the fourth round matched her best result in the Australian Open, in 2011. It was also her sixth appearance in the last 16 of a Grand Slam, although she has only once progressed beyond that stage.

 

Peng reached the fourth round in Melbourne by beating Kazakhstan No. 2 Yaroslava Shvedova 7-6(7), 6-3, having earlier beaten Germany’s Tatjana Maria (6-4, 7-5) and Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova (6-1, 6-1) in the first and second rounds respectively.

 

Zarina Diyas, Asia’s second-ranked player, was knocked out by Sharapova.

Zarina Diyas, Asia’s second-ranked player, was knocked out by Sharapova.

Diyas, 21, had reached the third round for the fourth time in the last five Grand Slams – going one round further at Wimbledon last year – by coming from behind to beat young Slovakian Anna Schmiedlova 3-6, 6-2, 8-6 after a nail-biting final set.

 

Diyas also had to come from behind in the first round, when she beat Urszula Radwanska of Poland 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Diyas also reached the second round of the doubles with Chanelle Scheepers.

 

Source: Australian Open (www.ausopen.com); Editing by SportAsia

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