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Sharapova wins late-night affair at Open

Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates after defeating Anastasiya

Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates after defeating Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus in the second round of the U.S. Open. (Aug. 31, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty

The 10:59 p.m. start of a match between Maria Sharapova and Anastasiya Yakimova on Wednesday night at the national Tennis Center was the latest in the history of the U.S.Open by 24 minutes.

But the third-seeded Sharapova made quick work of her Belarussian opponent, taking just 70 minutes to win, 6-1, 6-1, and advance to the third round.

"It's past my bedtime," Sharapova told ESPN courtside reporter Pam Shriver when the match ended at 12:09 a.m. Thursday. "I'm normally on my 10th dream by now."

Sharapova was utterly dominant, breaking Yakimova's serve five of seven times in the match. She hit 28 winners to a mere two for Yakimova, who also had 25 forced errors as Sharapova ran her all over the court.

Sharapova described Yakimova as a "tricky" opponent because of all the sliced balls and high balls she hit, but she had no problem adjusting and maintaining her focus despite the late hour.

"I got really steady and was aggressive," she said. "I improved my intensity a lot and was moving and better and hitting a lot freer. When you start the match, you're not thinking about what time it is or, 'I want to get off the court.'"

Sharapova, who faces 26th-seeded Flavia Pannetta next, is on the same side of the bracket as Venus Williams, who withdrew with Sjogren's Syndrome, which causes fatigue and joint pain and is said to be incurable. Asked for her reaction, Sharapova called Williams "one of the fittest players and one of the most dangerous when she's playing well" and added, "I hope it's not the end of her career."

On a lighter note, the 2006 U.S. Open champion expressed surprise that so many fans stayed to watch women's tennis at midnight. Asked if she would ever consider watching women's tennis at midnight, you know, if she weren't playing at midnight, Sharapova said, "I mean, at 10:30, I'm under the covers; at 11, I'm out. I don't think I'd watch anything at midnight."
 

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