Paris, Feb 9: Maria Sharapova beat Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa 6-3, 6-1 Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals of the Open GDF Suez.
The top-seeded Russian said the court was faster than expected after hitting 19 winners to 10 for Scheepers, who struggled with her serve and made eight double-faults.
"It's just faster than what we played on the last couple of months. In Fed Cup, it was fairly slow," said Sharapova, who won her singles match in Russia's 3-2 win over Spain last weekend.
"I just did all right. Just a couple of breaks back to back in the beginning of the first set, but after that I felt like I started playing much better."
Sharapova hit a forehand winner to take a first set in which Scheepers dropped serve four times. She then broke twice in the second, clinching victory when Scheepers sent a backhand into the net.
Sharapova is set to rise to No. 2 in the world when the WTA releases the rankings on Monday, as current No. 2 Petra Kvitova failed to return to defend her Paris title.
"It's a goal of mine to get to No. 1," Sharapova said. "But having been in that position before, I think my main goal is more the Grand Slams."
Sharapova was playing for the first time at this tournament and was agreeably surprised by the arena's layout and atmosphere.
"I love that type of atmosphere where it seems like the fans are very close to you," Sharapova said. "It is much more intimate because the stands kind of go much higher instead of going out. But I personally like that. When we play around so many big stadiums, it seems like the people are really spread out."
Julia Goerges also moved into the quarterfinals by defeating Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-4.
The sixth-seeded German went a set up with a service winner, and fired a backhand winner down the line on match point.
In first-round matches, American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands finished off Kristina Barrois of Germany with her 10th ace to secure a 7-6 (3), 6-2 win.
Barrois rallied from a 4-1 deficit to force a tiebreaker. But Mattek-Sands won six straight points to take the first set and then broke Barrois twice in the second.
Mattek-Sands will next play seventh-seeded Roberta Vinci, who beat Simona Halep of Romania 6-4, 6-4.
Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic and Monica Niculescu of Romania also advanced, along with French wild card Pauline Parmentier and American teenager Christina McHale.
Parmentier jumped out to 3-0 in the final set and hit a backhand cross-court winner to edge eighth-seeded Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.
The Frenchwoman had 31 winners to only 15 for Medina Garrigues.
Niculescu outlasted Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 in an erratic match of 14 service breaks.
Zakopalova cruised past French wild card Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-1 by winning eight straight games to lead 5-0 in the second set.
McHale beat lucky loser Varvara Lepchenko 6-4, 7-5 in an all-American match and will face Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium.
Wickmayer led 6-1 in her first-round match when American veteran Jill Craybas retired because of a right leg injury.