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Sweet maker Sharapova doles out double-bagel

Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a return to compatriot Olga Puchkova during their women's singles match at the Australian Open tennis tournam
Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a return to compatriot Olga Puchkova during their women's singles match at the Australian Open tennis tournam

By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova has put a small fortune into her sweet making business but she might consider a sideline in baked treats after serving up fellow Russian Olga Puchkova a double-bagel to cruise into the second round of the Australian Open on Monday.

Sharapova's 6-0 6-0 demolition of the hapless Puchkova at the Rod Laver Arena completed a 'bagel slam', having left opponents scoreless at the French Open, Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows.

The second seeded Russian launched her premium-priced range of "Sugarpova" lollies in Melbourne on Friday, bringing her fledgling business Down Under after successfully introducing it to the United States.

But there was precious little sweetness on display on center court as Sharapova crushed the 107th-ranked Puchkova in 55 minutes to stay on track for a mouth-watering third round clash with Venus Williams.

"I didn't want to focus on the fact I hadn't played a lot of matches," Sharapova, the 2008 champion, told reporters.

"(I) just wanted to focus on just what was ahead of me and really concentrate and, you know, be aggressive.

"So it was just one of those matches where I didn't try to worry about her too much. I just tried to, you know, think about what I had to do."

After saving two break-points in the opening game, Sharapova needed to do precious little thinking, with her opponent committing 19 unforced errors, including one to bring up three match points.

Sharapova had pulled out of all of her warm-up tournaments after suffering pain in her neck and collarbone, but showed little discomfort as she blasted six aces and 18 winners in bright morning sunshine.

Puchkova surrendered the match with a forehand that floated long. While undoubtedly leaving her a bitter taste, the score gave Sharapova little extra satisfaction.

"When you're out there and playing, you're just focusing on every point and every game and trying to win as many as you can, and today was just a good scoreline," she said.

"If you win 7‑6 in the third, you still won the match."

Already one of the most marketable figures in women's tennis, Sharapova won the French Open last year to complete a career grand slam at the age of 25.

Despite barely approaching middle-age in tennis career terms, the glamorous Russian is already thinking about how to keep busy when she inevitably puts away her racquet.

"I think this is a business that will go beyond my tennis career and I've never really been the type of person that likes to sit still for a very long time," Sharapova said at the launch of her 'Sugarpova' concern.

"When I'm done on the court, I'm brainstorming about different things.

"It gives me a really nice balance in life, I feel like it's helped me so much in my career. I see this going in many other directions as well but I really want to establish myself in the candy business as Sugarpova first and then see where it can take me."

(Editing by Patrick Johnston)

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