Serena Williams bounced the ball at the baseline, eager to serve. Maria Sharapova stood with her back to the court, frowning at her racket and in no hurry to continue. Sharapova finally took her position, and the rout resumed. There was no slowing Williams on Tuesday. In a result reminiscent of the Australian Open final, she beat the top-seeded Sharapova 6-1, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals of the SonyEricsson Open.
"Once she gets up in the set or in the match, she seems to steamroll," Sharapova said.
The match was only the third for Williams since she defeated Sharapova 6-1, 6-2 in Melbourne two months ago. Williams bristled when asked if she expected such an easy rematch.
"Haven't you learned that I expect the best of myself?" she said. "If I'm playing well, then anything can happen. I believe there could be a similar score if I'm playing well."
Ranked No. 1 in 2002-03, Williams has played only six tournaments in the past 18 months and has slipped to 18th. But when she hit a forehand winner on match point, she raised her index finger and shouted "No. 1" to the cheering crowd.
After shaking hands with Sharapova, a jubilant Williams raised her finger again.
"Every time I do that I win, so I'm a little superstitious," she said. "I'm working toward getting to be the best. It's an uphill battle."
Seeking her fourth Key Biscayne title, No. 13-seeded Williams will play No. 8 Nicole Vaidisova in the quarterfinals Wednesday.
Sharapova, who lost the No. 1 ranking last week to Justine Henin, has yet to win a tournament this year. Her biggest problem is Williams, who has won 24 of the 29 sets they've played in 2006, the AP reports.
As Williams polished off her opponent with a forehand winner, she raised her hand and shouted "number one" as she skipped to the net to shake hands.
Despite playing a limited number of tournaments, Williams's ruthless display sparked talk that the American may again be ready to return to the top of the rankings after years battling injuries and personal problems.
Following her second emphatic win over Sharapova in two months, Williams believes she may have earned back some respect and admitted she would like to stamp her authority on women's tennis in the same way as Roger Federer has on the men's game, Reuters reports.
Speaking of her previous defeat of Sharapova, she said: "I think a lot of people might have thought it was a one off. I don't know anyone who's won eight grand slams and had so many doubters."
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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