Monday January 21, 2013
Russian sets record as she breezes past Flipkens to enter q-finals
FLAWLESS Maria Sharapova set a new Australian Open record yesterday in losing just five games en route to the quarter-finals, where she was joined by Agnieszka Radwanska and Li Na.
The irresistible world No. 2 clocked up her fifth 6-0 set score of the first week as she blitzed Kirsten Flipkens 6-1, 6-0 to reach the quarters for the loss of just five games, smashing the tournament record.
Sharapova, the statuesque Russian who clinched the title in 2008, won her first two matches 6-0, 6-0, a double not achieved at a Grand Slam since 1985, and then floored Venus Williams 6-1, 6-3 in the third round.
The Russian will now meet 19th seed Ekaterina Makarova, who beat fifth seed Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-4.
Polish fourth seed Radwanska also powered into the last eight, winning her 13th match in a row without dropping a set by thumping Serbian former world number one Ana Ivanovic 6-2, 6-4.
She now meets Li Na tomorrow for a place in the semi-finals after the Chinese world No. 6 battled past Germany’s Julia Goerges 7-6 (8-6), 6-1.
Sharapova, the 2008 champion, has only dropped five games in four matches so far in her bid for a second Australian title, the fewest games conceded to make the quarters in Melbourne in the Open era.
Monica Seles (1991 and 1993) and Steffi Graf (1989) previously held the record at eight games.
But Sharapova narrowly missed the all-Grand Slam mark held by Mary Pierce, who dropped only four games in making the last eight at the French Open in 1994.
The second seed, who needs to reach the final to have a chance of returning to world No. 1, had beaten Flipkens in both of their previous matches.
She held serve and then, helped by some loose Flipkens shots, got the break for 2-1. Flipkens had two break point chances in the next game but failed to convert as Sharapova held.
The four-time Grand Slam winner was starting to get the measure of her opponent on a hot Melbourne day and raced to the set when Flipkens sent a forehand long.
It was more of the same in the second set as the Belgian lost confidence with the Russian racing through it in just 25 minutes.
Sharapova now plays Makarova in a repeat of their last-eight clash in 2012, when she won and went on to make the final, losing to world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.
But the four-time Grand Slam winner said her thoughts never strayed beyond her next opponent, in this case fellow Russian Makarova, her victim in the quarter-finals on the way to last year’s final.
However, tomorrow Sharapova will meet a challenger gunning for revenge in the form of Makarova, who is still smarting from last year’s comprehensive 6-2, 6-3 defeat.
“She won a lot of matches easily because she is playing so aggressive, staying in the court,” Makarova said of Sharapova, after ousting Germany’s Kerber in straight sets.
“I have a plan against her. We’ve played a lot of times so we know each other. I think we’ll be a good match and I try to show my best tennis.” – AFP