(January 24, 2016) Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will battle it out for a spot in the Australian Open semifinals as both women won fourth round matches on Sunday in Melbourne. The quarterfinals match-up will be a rematch of last year’s final, which Williams won in three sets.
2008 champion and No. 5 seed Sharapova hit 21 aces in holding off No. 12 Belinda Bencic 7-5, 7-5 in the first match of the day in Rod Laver Arena.
Defending champion Serena Williams had no problems defeating Russian Margarita Gasparya 6-2, 6-1 in 55 minutes.
Williams has an 18-2 record against Sharapova, having won the last 17 in a row.
“I got myself into the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam,” Sharapova said. “There is no reason I shouldn’t be looking to improve and to getting my game in a better position than any other previous round. It’s only going to be tougher, especially against Serena.”
“Serena’s obviously a big favorite coming into that match, and what a year she’s had. I expect to play her in the next match, but we’ll see the result.
“It was a great final last year. I came quite close in the second set but not close enough. I look forward to playing the best in the world, and that’s what she has proven to be for the last many years, and it’d be a great match.”
The last time Williams lost a match to Sharapova was in the fall of 2004 at the WTA Finals.
“For my whole career I have been motivated by losses. So that’s just been my thing,” the 21-time major champion said to media. “So each time I take a loss, I feel like I get better.”
The world No. 1, who has a 17-match win streak against Sharapova, was asked about her confidence against the five-time major champion coming into the quarterfinal contest.
“I just feel like I’m really confident in my game right now, not against her or against any other opponent.” Williams said. “I’m just really looking at me right now, and I feel like if I can just continue to play well, then it could be good.”
“I think the person who’s winning could definitely feel the pressure because there is a lot of expectations. The person who is losing, well, I have lost X amount in a row; I don’t have anything to lose.
“But in this situation, I don’t have anything to lose because I’m just here — every tournament for me is just a bonus at this point in my career.
“So it’s an interesting place to be at.”
“I look forward to playing the best in the world and that’s what she’s proven in the last year,” Sharapova said.
Every match is new,” Williams said. “You know, she always brings in something new and something special. She’s very consistent, as well. Yeah, she knows how to be — one player that’s always consistently winning and training and working hard and winning matches.”
The other quarterfinal in the women’s top half of the draw was set. It will be No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska versus 10th seed Carla Suarez Navarro.
Suarez rebounded from losing the first set 6-0 to beat Australian Daria Gavrilova 0-6, 6-3, 6-2. The Spaniard closed out the match by winning the last six games.
“Well, I start obviously not really good,” said Suarez Navarro. “I think I start too much relaxed. Was tough. Even she was playing good, the first set, no mistake.
“But, you know, you have to believe. I try. I fight. I was there. You have to be there for a comeback like this. That’s it.
“I just try. I just believe that I can do it. Until the last point, I fight.”
Agnieszka Radwanska earned a place in the quarterfinals with a 6-7 (6), 6-1, 7-5 win over Anna-Lena Friedsam. A tearful Friedsam was up 5-2 in the final set, suffered from cramps in her legs.