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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sharapova's Form Ominous for Rivals

APSharapova keeping her eye on the ball as she serves to Belgium's Kim Clijsters during their WTA Championships round-robin match in Madrid on Wednesday.
MADRID -- World No. 2 Maria Sharapova racked up her 18th win in a row with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Kim Clijsters in the round-robin stage of the season-ending WTA Championships on Wednesday.

The U.S. Open champion tops the red group after two straight sets victories and has one foot in the semifinals of a tournament she won in 2004.

"I'm definitely playing some really good tennis," Sharapova, 19, told reporters.

Swiss Martina Hingis, who won the WTA Championships in 1998 and 2000 before injury problems set in, bounced back after her opening-day defeat to Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Nadia Petrova in the yellow group.

Svetlana Kuznetsova, ranked fourth in the world, got off to a winning start with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Yelena Dementyeva in the all-Russian clash and moves into second place behind Sharapova in the red group.

Former world No. 1 Clijsters made an impressive return to action after a two-month lay-off with a wrist injury by winning in Hasselt at the weekend, but there was little the Belgian could do to counter Sharapova's power play at the Madrid Arena.

Backed by her heavy serve and pin-point ground strokes, Sharapova kept Clijsters under pressure to take the opening set 6-4.

The teenager turned the screw to break once again in the fifth and seventh games of the second set, but Clijsters, who won back-to-back Championship titles in 2002 and 2003, refused to give up without a fight.

She broke back in the eighth game and had 2 more break points in the 10th, but the determined Sharapova held firm and won through with an ace.

Hingis got off to a flying start against Petrova as she raced into a 4-0 lead.

The Russian, who beat defending champion Mauresmo in her opener, eventually stopped the rot in the fifth game, but was unable to prevent her opponent from mopping up 6-4.

Petrova found her rhythm in the second set but Hingis raised her game to clinch a victory that kept her in the running for a place in the semifinals.

Kuznetsova, who beat Dementyeva in the final of the 2004 U.S. Open, condemned her compatriot to a second straight sets defeat despite not playing at her best.

Dementyeva is now almost certain to exit the tournament after losing to Sharapova in her opening match.