Maria wins and serves only 4 double faults.

masha 44It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t scintilating tennis, but Maria Sharapova defeated Nadia Petrova 6-3, 6-4 to move on to the next round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto where she will meet Sybille Bammer.

She did serve a whole lot better, in fact Petrova had more double faults than Maria, and her first serve percentage was the highest of any game since her comeback. So she is making progress.

With Sunday’s final between Jankovic and Safina still fresh in my mind, it was difficult to imagine Sharapova competing at the top level yet.

Her service motion been shortened to include a more compact back swing, and hasn’t been trustworthy during the six previous tournaments this year. In losing a semifinal match in Los Angeles two weeks ago, the Russian-born Sharapova double-faulted 16 times.

Last night, however, for the most part she was solid on serve and was broken only once. There were a handful of double-faults, but Petrova was worse, three times double-faulting on game point. Sharapova fired a slew of aces, once hitting 182 km/h on the radar gun.

Sharapova has indicated she’s happy with her progress, and is less focused on this year’s U.S. Open than making sure she’s back in peak form to start 2010 in Australia.

Once, she was one of the most effective servers on tour before her shoulder gave out. She romped to victory in the 2008 Australian Open, but by the conclusion of last year’s Rogers Cup was done because of her wonky wing.

Last night, she showed glimpses of her formerly sizzling self, but only glimpses, and she struggled to put Petrova away in the second set despite having owned her countrywoman for years, winning seven of eight previous confrontations.

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