Serena, Sharapova ease into Madrid quarters
Madrid, Spain (Sports Network) - Top seeds Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova were a pair of straight-set third-round winners Thursday at the $4 million Madrid Open, a clay-court French Open tune-up.
The defending champion and world No. 1 Williams clobbered 13th-seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko 6-3, 6-1 in 64 minutes, while the reigning French Open titlist, recent Stuttgart champ and former top-ranked Sharapova handled German Sabine Lisicki 6-2, 7-5 in 1 hour, 42 minutes on Day 6 at The Magic Box.
"I just felt really relaxed, like I was taking my time," Williams said after beating Kirilenko.
Williams beat Victoria Azarenka in last year's marquee finale here in the Spanish capital.
Sharapova avenged a Wimbledon defeat from last year by topping Lisicki on Thursday.
"She is the kind of opponent that plays extremely well against the top players," Sharapova said.
Sharapova's quarterfinal opponent will be Estonian slugger Kaia Kanepi, who dismissed Slovakian veteran and wild card Daniela Hantuchova, 6-3, 6-4.
Seventh-seeded 2012 French Open runner-up Sara Errani advanced by beating American Varvara Lepchenko 7-5, 6-3, while Russian Ekaterina Makarova pulled off an upset by dousing 14th-seeded former Wimbledon runner-up Marion Bartoli of France 6-3, 6-2.
Also on Thursday, Spanish wild card Anabel Medina Garrigues reached the quarters via walkover when Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova pulled out of the draw. Medina Garrigues should have her hands full with the Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Williams on Friday.
Two other quarterfinals will pit sixth-seeded German Angelique Kerber against 16th-seeded former world No. 1 and former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic of Serbia and the gritty Italian Errani versus Makarova.
05/09 16:25:37 ET