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Tennis

Sharapova sweeps Venus Williams at Australian Open

Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

No. 2 Maria Sharapova will face Belgian Kirsten Flipkens in the fourth round.

Maria Sharapova defeated Venus Williams 6-1, 6-3 in a lopsided match-up between Grand Slam champions on Friday night to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Sharapova and Williams have 11 majors combined - four for the Russian, and seven for Williams.

The 32-year-old Williams broke Sharapova as the Russian was serving for the victory at 6-1, 5-1 to keep the match alive. But Sharapova was able to close it out on her next service game.

Williams has only advanced past the third round once in the past two years - at Wimbledon in 2011.

Sharapova lost the 2012 Australian Open final before going on to win at the French Open.

Three matches into this tournament, and Sharapova, who pumped her arms six or seven times after she served out with an ace, has lost just four games heading into her fourth-round match against unseeded Belgian Kirsten Flipkens.

"I think when we both looked at the draw, it was a matchup we were both looking forward to,'' Sharapova said of Williams, a seven-time major winner. "I was a really determined player out there because I knew the tennis that she's capable of producing and playing. She's a tremendous athlete and a great champion.''

Williams didn't feel like a great player on Friday.

"Definitely not my best today, but there's always other days to play better,'' she said. "I just had a lot of errors (26) ... that never helps.''

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