Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova set up blockbuster Australian Open quarter-final showdown
- Williams and Sharapova set up 21st career meeting
- Both through to Australian Open quarter-finals after straight set victories on Sunday
- Williams won the last 17 encounters
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have set up a mouth-watering quarter-final showdown at the Australian Open after both won their fourth round matches in straight sets on Sunday.
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It will be a rematch of last year’s final at Melbourne Park after Williams easily accounted for rising Russian Margarita Gasparyan 6–2 6–1, while Sharapova was made to work a lot harder in her 7–5 7–5 triumph over 12th seed Belinda Bencic.
Immediately after her win over Bencic — in which she blasted 21 aces and 58 winners — Sharapova said she relished the chance to exact revenge in the last eight after falling 6–3 7–6 to Williams in the 2015 final.
“It was a great final last year, I came close in the second set but not close enough,” the No. 5 seed said. “I’ll look forward to playing the best in the world and it’ll be a great match.”
Speaking about her career-high ace count against Bencic, Sharapova said:
“I feel like that’s something I have been working on a lot since I had shoulder surgery. I have gone through many different motions to try to find my groove again and something that would hold up over many matches.”
Williams meanwhile wasn’t aware she was once again playing Sharapova after hitting 19 winners in her win over Gasparyan.
When asked about her thoughts on the match-up in her on-court interview, No. 1 seed Williams laughed:
“I actually had no idea I was playing her. I’ll be ready. I have nothing to lose so I’ll just prepare the best I can.”
Williams and Sharapova have met on 20 previous occasions, with the American holding a dominant 18–2 record over her Russian rival.
Sharapova posted two huge victories as a teenager over Williams back in 2004 — famously at Wimbledon and also the year-end WTA Championships.
However it’s been all Williams since then, with the 34-year-old winning the last 17 encounters and 34 out of the 38 sets played.
Williams is playing in her 10th Australian Open quarter-final and her 43rd overall, while Sharapova is making her eighth appearance in the last eight in Melbourne and her 24th grand slam quarter-final overall.
The pair have met three times at the Australian Open with Williams winning all three contests, including a comprehensive 6–1 6–2 win in the 2007 final.
Sharapova and Williams will meet in the 2016 Australian Open quarter-finals on Tuesday.
Originally published at www.live-tennis.com on January 24, 2016.