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Sharapova, Belgians Winners in Berlin

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has come another step closer to taking the world No. 1 ranking by winning her second round match at the German Open clay court tennis tournament in Berlin.

Sharapova, the top seed, scored a straight-set win over Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany (6-2, 6-2). The Russian next faces China's Shuai Peng. Sharapova can take the top ranking from American Lindsay Davenport if she wins this tournament.

Meanwhile, reigning French Open champion Anastasia Myskina of Russia lost in three sets Wednesday to Julia Schruff of Germany (6-2, 1-6, 6-4). Schruff takes on Serbia-Montenegro's Jelena Jankovic, a three-set winner over Flavia Pennetta of Italy (2-6, 6-4, 7-6).

Second-seeded Amelie Mauresmo of France defeated Anna Smashnova of Israel in straight sets (6-4, 6-1). Mauresmo plays countrywoman Virginie Razzano, a three-set winner over American Jill Craybas (7-6, 3-6, 7-5).

U. S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia ousted Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria in straight sets (6-2, 6-1). Kuznetsova faces Spanish veteran Conchita Martinez, who beat Argentine Gisela Dulko (6-1, 6-3).

Two former world No. 1 players from Belgium -- Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne -- also advanced to the third round. Clijsters scored a straight-set win over Dinara Safina of Russia (7-5, 6-2). Henin-Hardenne won two matches -- over Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic in the first round (7-5, 4-6, 6-1) and then over Maria Kirilenko of Russia in the second round (2-6, 6-1, 6-3).

Clijsters will face Switzerland's Patty Schnyder, who beat Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain (7-6, 6-4). Henin-Hardenne takes on Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic.

Mary Pierce of France scored an upset win over 10th seeded Elena Likhovtseva of Russia (6-2, 6-2). The 2000 French Open champion plays Russia's Nadia Petrova in the third round.

Elena Bovina of Russia ousted Greek player Eleni Daniilidou in three sets (7-5, 5-7, 6-1). Bovina plays American Meghann Shaughnessy, a straight-set winner over Dally Randriantefy of Madagascar (7-5, 6-3).

The tournament is one of several key warm-ups for the second major tournament of the year, the French Open, which gets under way May 23 in Paris.