MELBOURNE: Maria Sharapova Wednesday said she expects to be playing for years to come in her quest for Grand Slam glory after sweeping past Aliaksandra Sasnovich and into the Australian Open third round.
The on-song Russian, 28, shook off any early-season rust in the opening round and continued her impressive form against Sasnovich, crushing the 105th-ranked Belarusian 6-2, 6-1 with the roof shut on Rod Laver Arena as rain came down.
A winner here in 2008 and a three-time runner-up, she was always heavily favoured, although the departure of second seed Simona Halep to a qualifier on Tuesday showed there are no guarantees.
The win keeps the five-time Grand Slam champion on track for a potential last-eight clash against her nemesis Serena Williams, who beat her in the final last year and has won all their matches since 2004.
“It’s great to be back on this court after such a good run (to the final) last year,” said Sharapova. “It was an opponent I had never faced before which is always tricky and I’m happy I got there.”
Sharapova, the world’s highest earning female athlete last year, according to Forbes, has been a fixture on the tour since 2002 and she still loves what she does.
Despite now being a major force in the business world with a series of successful ventures, any talk of retirement is dismissed with her focus still firmly on winning.
“When I was a late teenager, I probably didn’t think that I’d be playing in my late 20s. Here I am at 28, and feeling like I still have many more years ahead of me,” she said.
“I think your perspective changes; the game also develops and it becomes — I don’t know, you just have a different attitude about it.”