MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova scorched into the third round of the Australian Open with displays of ruthless dominance on Wednesday to bring some much-needed pizzazz to the main showcourts.
Djokovic remained on course for a third successive title with a 6-1 6-2 6-3 demolition of Ryan Harrison, while Sharapova pummelled Misaki Doi 6-0 6-0 to become the first player in 28 years to hand out consecutive ‘double-bagels’ at a grand slam.
Returning with venom and lacerating the court with his forehands, Djokovic took just 91 minutes to whip past the American and set up a meeting with Radek Stepanek, rating it among his best performances in the early rounds of a major.
“You’re trying to perform your best in every match that you play in and this was definitely a better performance than the first round,” the 25-year-old said.
“I managed to play at a very high level already in the second round of a grand slam, which is very encouraging for the next challenge.”
David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych had earlier signally failed to fill the charisma chasm left in the top half of the draw by the absence of the injured Rafa Nadal, but both got through the second round with some ease.
Agnieszka Radwanska extended her winning streak this year to 11 matches with a 6-3 6-3 win over Irina-Camelia Begu in the opening match on Rod Laver Arena, while Zheng Jie wrapped up the day session with a 6-4 1-6 7-5 upset of local hope Sam Stosur.
Anyone looking for real fireworks, though, needed to be out on court eight, where Radwanska’s fellow Pole Jerzy Janowicz exploded in a sensational tantrum before battling back brilliantly to beat Somdev Devvarman 6-7 3-6 6-1 6-0 7-5.
The 24th seed was enraged by a line call during the tiebreak at the end of the 79-minute first set and roared out his displeasure before hitting the umpire’s chair with his racket and throwing his water bottle across court.
“I was really worried about his voice,” said Indian Devvarman. “He was really yelling at the top of his lungs and I said, ‘Dude, calm down!.'”
American Brian Baker could have been forgiven for letting out a scream of frustration of his own after his tournament ended in a wheelchair when he sustained a serious knee injury.
The 27-year-old, who returned to the professional circuit last year after seven injury-plagued years out, had won the first set against compatriot Sam Querrey when he broke down.
“He said he kind of just felt his knee almost buckle and kind of heard like a pop or a snap,” said 20th seed Querrey.
“He didn’t know if it was bones or a tear, but he couldn’t straighten it, couldn’t walk. I feel awful for him.”
Women’s second seed and 2008 champion Sharapova was in absolutely no mood for sympathy as she dismissed Japan’s Doi in just 47 minutes on Hisense Arena.
“I didn’t offer candy today,” Sharapova, who has just launched a confectionary business. “It’s not really the statistic I want to be known for. I want to be known for winning grand slam titles, not that I won two matches 6-0 6-0.”
The Russian is unlikely to make it through the third round without dropping a game, though, after Venus Williams beat Alize Cornet 6-3 6-3 in the match to decide her next opponent.
Djokovic is likely to meet Berdych in the quarter-finals, while Ferrer is seeded to play the Serbian world number one in the semi-finals.
Fifth seeded Czech Berdych wrapped up a 6-2 6-2 6-4 hammering of Frenchman Guillaume Rufin with his eighth ace after exactly two hours on Rod Laver Arena.
Ferrer, seeded fourth in the absence of Nadal, was playing out on Margaret Court Arena and required 38 minutes longer to despatch American lucky loser Tim Smyczek 6-0 7-5 4-6 6-3.
There was Asian success on Hisense Arena when China’s Li Na battled back from 4-2 down in the second set to secure a 6-2 7-5 win over Olga Govortsova, but for once she was outshone by compatriot Zheng.
The 2010 semi-finalist recorded a 6-4 1-6 7-5 win over Stosur but, in truth, the former U.S. Open champion handed her opponent the victory after leading comfortably in the deciding set.
“Obviously it’s a pretty hard one to take when you get yourself well and truly into a winning position,” said ninth seed Stosur, who continued her miserable run at her home grand slam.
“At 5-2 up in the third, double break probably is a bit of a choke.”
Editing by Alison Wildey