Saturday, January 19, 2013
Maria Sharapova eases into quarters
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Maria Sharapova beat Kirsten Flipkens 6-1, 6-0 on Sunday to continue a dominant and unparalleled run to the Australian Open quarterfinals.
The No. 2-ranked Sharapova has conceded only five games en route to the quarterfinals, a record at the season's first major.
"Well I'm certainly happy to be playing this well but ... it only gets tougher from here," said Sharapova, who is playing her first tournament of 2013 after not playing an exhibition match in South Korea and a warmup event at Brisbane because of an injured right collarbone.
The reigning French Open champion is showing no signs of trouble with the collarbone in Melbourne.
Steffi Graf conceded only eight games in her opening four matches in 1989, when she won the second of her three straight titles in Melbourne. Monica Seles matched that number twice.
Sharapova had a pair of 6-0, 6-0 wins in her first two rounds -- the first time that has happened at a major since 1985 -- and then beat seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams 6-1, 6-3 in the third round.
She next plays fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, who ousted fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-4 in a rematch of their quarterfinal here last year.
"Actually I really want to play against Maria because I lost here last year in the quarters," Makarova said. "Now I'm pretty confident and I like my game."
"Last year I was so surprised ... and I had so many thoughts in my mind. This year I'm a little bit used to it, so I think I'll be ready to play a good game."
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No. 19-seeded Makarova took out the highest seed to tumble so far at the season's first major, repeating her fourth-round success here last year when she beat Serena Williams.
Kerber and Makarova were two of only four women in 2012 to beat Williams, who lost only one match in the second half of last season as she collected titles at Wimbledon, the London Olympics, the U.S. Open and the WTA Championships.
"Seems like it was the same this year and last year. Unbelievable feeling," Makarova said. "I really like to play here. The crowd is so perfect."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.