Maria Sharapova hates to lose, even when it’s just in practice.
But losing in practice may give the Russian fifth seed the edge needed to add an elusive second Australian Open crown to her 2008 title.
Sharapova strolled into the third round at Melbourne Park with a 6-2 6-1 win over Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich; the convincing scoreline allowing her to throw some dropshots into the mix.
Sharapova said she looked to add more variety to her repertoire after repeatedly losing to her male practice partner.
“It’s actually something that I had to add, because I was getting really frustrated losing to my hitting partner all the time,” the fifth seed said.
“He just stood so far back behind the baseline I was like, `I just can’t handle him beating me so often, I have to just change things around’.
“He was a little surprised but it started working, so that was good.”
Sharapova said the shot was still a work in progress and gave a realistic assessment of its effectiveness against the world No.105.
“I had a couple of good ones; I had a couple of really crappy ones.
“I’d say it was pretty mediocre today,” Sharapova said.
A three-time losing finalist, including last year to Serena Williams, Sharapova next faces world No.103 Lauren Davis.
The American’s opponent Magdelena Rybanikova withdrew after losing the first set in a tiebreak.
Sharapova hadn’t played Davis before but said she was only focused on her own game, which she felt was in pretty good shape.
Although her preparation was disrupted by an arm injury, Sharapova said she drew confidence from her performance in Russia’s losing Fed Cup final against the Czech Republic.
Sharapova won both her singles rubbers, beating world No.7 Petra Kvitova in three sets.
“The matches that I did play I thought they were of good intensity,” the 28-year-old said.
“Playing Kvitova in front of 15,000 screaming Czech fans, it felt like there was a lot on the line, and I felt I had to face that myself.
“It was a big win.”