Serena handles Cibulkova in 2 sets
WIMBLEDON, England -- Defending champion Serena Williams put on a serving clinic Saturday, hitting 19 aces in a straight-sets win over Dominika Cibulkova that sets up a matchup with former champion Maria Sharapova.
Sharapova advanced to the fourth round for the first time since 2007, defeating Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-3. The 23-year-old Russian will play Williams on Monday.
The top-seeded American had at least two aces in each of her nine service games and overpowered the 46th-ranked Slovak 6-0, 7-5 on Centre Court.
"Serving that well feels awesome," Williams said. "I serve well at Wimbledon for some unknown reason. I want to keep doing it. I wish I could serve like this every tournament."
Williams won 37 of 43 service points and held at love five times. She won 19 of her first 20 service points, with Cibulkova putting only four returns in play in that stretch.
The first set lasted just 18 minutes, with Williams winning 25 of 31 points, serving six aces and hitting 12 winners. It was the third match in a row that Williams won the first set 6-0.
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Cibulkova, a semifinalist at the French Open last year, finally got on the scoreboard when she held serve for 1-1 in the second set. From then on, she kept the match competitive by holding serve, although she couldn't cope with Williams' serves.
Cibulkova saved a match point while serving at 4-5 with a crosscourt backhand winner, but Williams broke in the 12th game to close out the match.
Williams credited Cibulkova with raising her game, but was unhappy with her own performance in the second set.
"I just kind of came off the gas a little too much," she said. "Just can't do that in big Grand Slams like this."
Cibulkova -- generously listed at 5-foot-3 -- looked tiny next to the imposing 5-foot-9 Williams.
"It was really hard returning her serve because she was mixing her serve and playing really fast serves to the lines," she said. "I couldn't even get the ball, not even try to hit a return.
"I really doubt if somebody can beat her here if she plays like this."
Williams, chasing her fourth Wimbledon title and 13th Grand Slam crown, will next play Sharapova, who beat Williams in the 2004 final. Sharapova and is coming back into top form after right shoulder surgery in 2008.
Sharapova secured victory with an ace after nearly two hours on court to advance to the final 16 at the All England Club. It was an uneven performance by Sharapova, who overcame 35 unforced errors and six double faults.
Sharapova gained the decisive break in the second set in the sixth game, after wasting five opportunities, then held the following game after saving a break point.
Because Sharapova is seeded 16th, she is meeting Williams in the fourth round rather than the later stages.
"I definitely don't think it's early," Williams said. "It is what it is. You always have to be ready. She's obviously really good, especially on grass."
Recalling the 2004 final, Williams said, "I just remember I was really nervous. I think I put too much pressure on myself. It didn't work out. That was that."
Despite her easy run through the first three rounds this week, Williams doesn't feel as if she's playing as well as last year when she beat sister Venus in the final.
"I definitely have to pick up and play better," she said.
Sharapova said she was looking forward to the showdown with Williams.
"I love playing against her," Sharapova said. "She's the defending champion. She's great on this surface. She's won numerous Grand Slams. If there's a challenge ahead of you, it's definitely playing against her, and I enjoy that."
Also Saturday, third-seeded Caroline Wozniacki made it to the fourth round by beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-4. She'll face unseeded Czech Petra Kvitova, who upset 14th-seeded Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-0. Seventh-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska advanced with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Sara Errani of Italy.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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