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Sharapova advances into Bank of West quarterfinals

MARIA Sharapova took what she learned from a clumsy early win and turned it into a sharp, emphatic victory over fellow Russian Nadia Petrova in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic yesterday.

Sharapova needed just over an hour to beat 10th-ranked and fifth-seeded Petrova 6-1, 6-2, after a three-set win over Japan's Ai Sugiyama on Monday.

"I knew what I had to improve upon," Sharapova said. "I started that first match lousy. This time the goal was to get a better start."

Sharapova, who played her 17th match since returning to the court from a nine-month layoff due to right shoulder surgery, also had a pretty finish.

"I was aggressive the whole way through," she said. "I didn't have many letdowns and even when I made unforced errors I stayed with it."

The former world No. 1 player improved to 13-4 on the season and beat Petrova for the seventh time in eight meetings.

Sharapova was pushed to three sets in their last match at the French Open.

"This is the easiest scoreline I've had against her," Sharapova said. "Most of the time we go three sets. She's explosive and always goes for her shot."

Also, Samantha Stosur of Australia downed Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-1, 7-5.

Britain's Anne Keothavong, who left her doubles match after crashing into a fence on Tuesday, was out for the rest of the season. Tests on Wednesday revealed a severe left knee sprain.


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