Serena Williams threw down the gauntlet to Maria Sharapova on Tuesday, equalling the Russian's first round double bagel with a minute to spare. But Sharapova does not roll over easily. The second seed and world No.2 produced her second double bagel of Australian Open 2013 with a 6-0 6-0 beatdown of Japan’s Misaki Doi in their second round match-up on Wednesday.
“I was just really trying to be focused,” Sharapova said. “I didn't know too much about my opponent; just knew she was a few inches shorter than I was.
“But it's always tough, especially when you're up a set and a couple of breaks to keep that momentum. You know, I really forced myself to concentrate and just get the job done today.”
Sharapova consequently becomes the first female to produce consecutive double bagels at a Grand Slam since Wendy Turnbull in Australia in 1985. The closest anyone has got since then was Steffi Graf in 1988, with a double bagel in the first round of the French Open, and another in the first round of Wimbledon.
Not that she was necessarily aware of the score. Or so she maintained.
“Without looking at the scoreboard, I don't want anyone to know what score it is on the scoreboard just by looking at my face or my attitude,” Sharapova said.
“I try to play every single point like I really need to win it.
“It's not really the statistic I want to be known for,” she said about the double double bagel. I want to be known for winning Grand Slam titles, not that I won two matches 6-0 6-0.”
Sharapova, seeking what would be her fifth Grand Slam singles title, and the first time she has won a second Slam title at the same event, was ruthlessly imperious, despite less than startling match statistics. She needed just 16 winners, was aided by Doi's 20 unforced errors, but did, admittedly, win 89 per cent of points on her first serve.
“In any single match, you give a person a little opportunity and they can run with it, so ... ,” she said about the possibility that she has not yet been truly tested.
That is sure to change in the third round - the winner of Venus Williams and Alize Cornet is next for Sugarpova's creator. A third double bagel? Surely unfathomable. Sharapova knows, especially if it’s Venus, she will have her work cut out.
“There are certainly no secrets coming into that matchup,” she said about the elder Williams.
“We've played against each other many times. You know, despite the fact that she might not be seeded high or didn't play for a little bit, she's still a very experienced player and a tremendous athlete. I hope for it to be a great match.”
Back to Twitter then, for Maria, who admits she is very much on a learning curve after only joining the micro-blogging site at the start of the tournament.
“I'm a rookie,” she admitted freely. “There are a lot of things I'm still learning about. I'm just starting to follow things and people. Now I'm learning how to, is it hashtag things, right? That was a new one for me.
“But it's interesting. I won't be doing it like every single minute. I won't be telling people what I'm eating. I think that's very non-interesting. But when I do have things to say, I'm sure I will.”