LONDON (Reuters) - A cheerful Maria Sharapova hit top gear under a closed Center Court roof at Wimbledon, comfortably winning 11 games on the trot to keep her bid for a second title on track, 10 years after she won her first.
The 27-year-old Russian, whose notorious shriek drowned out the patter of the rain on the court’s sail-like roof, said she was pleased with her performance after defeating American Alison Riske 6-3 6-0 to advance to the fourth round.
“I‘m quite happy with the way I’ve gone about things so far,” she told reporters after her match.
“I‘m happy I’ve gone further than last year, erasing those memories and trying to form new ones,” she added, referring to her shock second-round exit last year.
The fifth seed, bidding for a rare French Open-Wimbledon double, said her transition from clay to grass was going according to plan, but it was not just her game that was making her happy.
Asked whether she could credit her personal life - she is dating fellow tennis player Grigor Dimitrov - with her current form, she said having a balance helped.
“It’s definitely nice to feel like you’re mentally happy out there when you’re on the court,” she said.
Dimitrov, the 11th-seeded seed Bulgarian, who has been nicknamed “Mr Sharapova”, also made it to the fourth round after overcoming dangerous Ukrainian Alexandr Dologopolov in five sets.
Watched by David Beckham in the Royal Box, Sharapova showed her class in the hour and 10-minute match against Riske, producing scorching passing shots against the net-charging American.
The world’s highest-earning sportswoman, who has now lost only seven games in three matches, will face either German ninth seed Angelique Kerber or Belgian Kirsten Flipkens in the next round.
Tennis is not Sharapova’s only project in Wimbledon. Over the two weeks of the tournament she has opened a “pop up” shop for her candy brand Sugarpova, just up the road from the All England Club.
“It makes me happy, makes me smile. I enjoy seeing my fans for a little bit of time there, see who pops in,” she said.
Reporting by Sarah Young, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Clare Lovell