STUTTGART - Defending champion Maria Sharapova reached the last eight of the Stuttgart WTA tournament on Thursday with a convincing 6-4, 6-3 win over fellow-Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The 27-year-old Sharapova needed just one hour, 32 minutes to see off Pavlyuchenkova to pick up her tenth straight win in Stuttgart , having won the 2012 and 2013 titles, and faces Polish top seed Agnieszka Radwanska in Friday's quarter-finals.
"I'm pleased to have won in two sets, but I am never really happy with my performance and always want to improve," said Sharapova. Her victory was in stark contrast to her struggles of Tuesday when she needed three tie-breaks and almost three-and-a-half hours to defeat Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in her first-round tie.
Seeded sixth this year, Sharapova is aiming for a third straight title on the red clay of Stuttgart as the preparations for the French Open get fully underway. The four-time Grand Slam champion looked solid enough on serve, with just five double-faults to eight by her opponent and she had Pavlyuchenkova under constant pressure with her booming returns.
Her opponent in the quarter-finals will be Polish top seed Agnieszka Radwanska who proved too good for Italian doubles specialist Roberta Vinci, winning 6-3, 6-2. "Radwanska is the number three in the world and everyone knows she plays extremely well, but I love challenges like this," said Sharapova, who leads Radwanska 8-2 in previous meetings.
"There are no secrets to our games, we know each other very well, but have not played each other for a while on clay. It will be interesting and I'll have to improve in all areas." Former world number one and Stuttgart champion Jelena Jankovic booked her quarter-final berth as she beat Flavia Pennetta of Italy 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, while Serb ninth seed Ana Ivanovic beat Germany's Julia Goerges 1-6, 6-2, 6-3. "At the end I missed the power in my game, but the positive thing is that I was able to play some good tennis despite all the travel," said 2011 Stuttgart champion Goerges, who had played in Germany's Fed Cup semi-final win in Australia last weekend.