Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates after defeating Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus in their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016.(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Vincent Thian
January 19, 2016

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Maria Sharapova advanced to the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich, staying on course for a potential quarterfinal meeting with Serena Williams.

Sharapova was finished in 71 minutes Wednesday on Rod Laver Arena, the first match completed on day three after light rain caused delays on outside courts.

The fifth-seeded Sharapova won the 2008 Australian title and has lost three finals at Melbourne Park, including last year's decider against Williams.

Sharapova dropped two service games in the first set, including once when serving at 5-1, but was otherwise consistent except for some over-hit ground strokes.

''It's great to be back on this court after a great run last year. It was an incredible moment to be in the final of this event again,'' said Sharapova, who played her first-round match on Margaret Court Arena, one of three e two other covered stadiums at Melbourne Park. ''To come back here and play my first match on Rod Laver is always very special as you always get those first little jitters out of the way.''

Six-time champion Serena Williams was playing Hsieh Su-wei in the following match on Rod Laver Arena. Her older sister, seven-time major winner Venus Williams, was fined $5,000 on Wednesday for skipping a mandatory news conference following her first-round exit the previous day.

Kateryna Bondarenko earned one of her biggest wins since returning from retirement after having a baby in 2013, beating two-time major winner and No. 23-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 7-5.

The 92nd-ranked Bondarenko is playing only her second Grand Slam tournament since returning to the tour in 2014.

No. 7-seeded Kei Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open finalist, advanced to the third round in the men's draw with a 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over Austin Krajicek of the United States.

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