US Open: Serena Williams blasts Maria Sharapova out with emphatic victory

Williams, the 23-time grand slam champion, has now won 20 of their 22 meetings following a thumping 6-1 6-1 victory.

It was the pair’s first encounter since January 2016 and was all the more eagerly-anticipated after Williams pulled out of a scheduled meeting at last year’s French Open through injury.

Sharapova is nowhere near the player who beat Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final – and also won their next match the same year – but despite the scoreline, she did not play at all badly.

The Russian, 32, got a healthy 73 percent of her first serves in. One fierce cross-court winner on the run even had Williams applauding.

Sharapova was on the wrong end of a 6-1 6-1 loss to Williams

But Sharapova could barely lay a glove on Williams, who turns 38 this month and remains tantalisingly within touching distance of Margaret Court’s record of 24 major titles.

Victory was wrapped up when a Sharapova return floated long after only 59 minutes.

Williams said: “Obviously I was going against a player who has won five grand slams so it was never going to be easy, and every practice after that was super intense because it was such a tough draw.

“She’s such a good player, and you have to be super focused, so every time I come up against her I have to play my best tennis.”

Williams, who has now won 19 matches in a row against Sharapova, added: “I just feel like her game really matches up well against mine.

“I always said her ball somehow lands in my strike zone. I don’t know. It’s just perfect for me.”

Sharapova, US Open champion in 2006, was philosophical in defeat.

“I thought she played well, I thought she served really well and found her spots really well,” she said.

“It didn’t feel like we got into too many long rallies. I think the one-two punch, she won a majority of those points.”

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