Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova will face countrywomen Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Cincinnati Masters.Reuters

World number one Serena Williams is set to face Italian Flavia Pennetta, while Maria Sharapova will lock horns with fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the third round of the Cincinnati Masters in Mason.

Williams, surprisingly, faced a stiff challenge from Samantha Stosur in the second round but managed to register her second win over the Australian in as many weeks. On the other hand, Pennetta registered an easy straight-set victory in her last match.

The American has defeated the Italian in all four previous clashes and is heading into this tie as the favourite. Serena's last victory over Pennetta came last year, when she thrashed her in straight sets in Miami.

Meanwhile, Sharapova bounced back from her third round exit in Montreal and defeated Madison Keys in the second round to book a third round clash with Pavlyuchenkova.

"I didn't have a great week last week," Sharapova said. "No matter who is across the net, it's never easy going out in the first round because you want to change that result around. You want to change your attitude and your performance and obviously the result."

It was not an easy outing for the former world number one against Keys, as she was made to work hard for a three-set victory. Sharapova won the opening set but the American used her effective service quite well to force the decider, which the Russian won.

"Against Madison, someone who serves really well, it's always one or two moments that are really crucial in the match," Sharapova pointed out. "In the first set I returned quite well and broke her a few times.

"She got a bit more consistent on her ground strokes in the second set and there were some moments at the beginning of that second set where I felt that I could have taken the lead and broken her. I didn't do that, and she stepped it up and was able to break me a couple more times. But ultimately I was happy with the beginning of the third set. That was really crucial."

The Russian has had mixed results in Mason, as in 2011 she won the title but lost her opening match last year. On the other hand, her opponent made it to the semifinals in 2010 but lost her first round encounter last season.

Sharapova edges Pavlyuchenkova 2-1 in head-to-head series and this is their third meeting this year. The former champion has won their most recent clash in Stuttgart in straight sets but Pavlyuchenkova won a three-set thriller in Paris.

Schedule of Play

Serena Williams vs Flavia Pennetta starts 10:30 pm IST

Maria Sharapova vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova starts 12:30 am IST

Where to Watch Live

The day's action is scheduled for an 8:00 pm IST (10:30 am ET, 3:30 pm BST and 2:30 pm GMT) start with live coverage on Ten Sports in India. Cincinnati Masters will also be streamed live HERE and HERE or catch the live updates HERE. ESPN 2 will telecast the matches live in the United States with an online streaming option HERE. In South Africa and sub-Sahara region the tournament will be available live on Super Sport with live online viewing option HERE.

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