Sharapova keen to renew Serena rivalry

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The prospect of renewing her long rivalry with Serena Williams has provided Maria Sharapova with added incentive to win this week's Bank of the West Classic.

The Russian and the American are both on comebacks from health problems and could meet in the quarterfinals at Stanford as they launch their US hardcourt seasons in California.

"I love playing against her," Sharapova said. "We've had very, very tough matches against each other.

"I don't have a great record against her and I would love to change that. There is no doubt I would love to play her this summer at some point."

The pair have played each other eight times, with Williams winning six and the Russian twice. Sharapova beat Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final but the American has won their last five in a row.

"Rivalries are exciting for me and for the sport," Sharapova said.

Sharapova is also planning to play in Toronto and Cincinnati before heading to New York for the US Open. The three-time grand slam winner made the finals at Stanford and Cincinnati last year but ran out of steam at Flushing Meadows, falling to Caroline Wozniacki after an error-strewn performance.

Sharapova has won four titles since returning from shoulder surgery in 2009 but has not won a grand slam since 2008. However, she showed signs this year she is getting closer to her peak, reaching the semifinals at the French Open then the final at Wimbledon, where she lost to Czech Petra Kvitova.

On court, fifth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska breezed past Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-1, 6-2 in the opening round on Monday.

Poland's Radwanska is seeking her first WTA title in three years, but is enjoying a solid season. She reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and the fourth round of the French Open.

"It was a good match," Radwanska said. "I am very happy to have won my first hardcourt match, and especially under hot conditions."

The win put her into the round-of-16 and she remained on track for a likely clash with fourth-seeded Samantha Stosur in the quarterfinals. Radwanska's next opponent will be Chinese Taipei's Chang Kai-chen, who came back from an early deficit to beat American Hilary Barte 7-5, 6-4.

Dominika Cibulkova won through to the last 16 with a 6-2, 7-6 (7) win over Japanese Kimiko Date-Krumm.

The Slovak was making her first appearance on tour since reaching the quarterfinals in Wimbledon. She has not lost more than two matches in a row all season.

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