Sharapova, Li advance to semis
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Maria Sharapova continued her dominating form at the Australian Open with a straight-sets win over Ekatrina Makarova on Tuesday, conceding only nine games in five matches en route to a semifinal against Li Na.
No 2-ranked Sharapova had a 6-2, 6-2 quarterfinal win over fellow Russian Makarova on Rod Laver Arena and has spent just 5 hours, 15 minutes on court so far in the tournament. That’s an unprecedented run in Australia.
“To be honest, those are not the stats you want to be known for,” Sharapova said, adding that she was more concerned about adding to her four Grand Slam titles and had spent plenty of time on the practice court. After opening with pair of 6-0, 6-0 wins, Sharapova trounced seven-time major winner Venus Williams 6-1, 6-3 in the third round and Belgian Kristen Flipkens 6-0, 6-1 in the fourth. Nobody has conceded fewer games on the way to the semifinals at the Australian Open.
Sharapova lost in the final here last year before winning the French Open to complete a career Grand Slam of the majors. She is playing her first tournament of the 2013, after withdrawing from the Brisbane International earlier this month with a sore right collarbone. She hasn’t shown any signs of injury so far at Melbourne Park.
It was the second year in succession that Makarova has lost to Sharapova after knocking out a seeded player in the third round. Last year, she beat Serena Williams in the fourth round, on the weekend it was No 5-ranked Angelique Kerber.
Sixth-seeded Li didn’t overly tax herself, either, in the quarterfinals.
The 30-year-old Li advanced to her third semifinal in four years at Melbourne Park with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Agnieszka Radwanska, ending the Polish player’s 13-match winning streak.
“She’s a tough player. I was feeling today against a wall,” said Li, who lost the 2011 Australian Open final to Kim Clijsters only months before her Grand Slam breakthrough at the French Open.
The quarterfinals on the other half of the women’s draw will be held Wednesday, with American teenager Sloane Stephens against Serena Williams, who is aiming for a third consecutive major title, and defending champion Victoria Azarenka against two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.