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Emphatic Maria sets li na date

Record-setting world number two Maria Sharapova reached the Australian Open semifinals for the loss of just nine games as she blitzed fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova on Tuesday.

Sharapova, seeking her fifth Grand Slam title and her second in Melbourne, smashed Makarova 6-2, 6-2 in 1hr 6min to set up a semi-final with China’s sixth seed Li Na.

Sharapova, who ‘double-bagelled’ her first two matches 6-0, 6-0, and then beat Venus Williams 6-1, 6-3 and Kirsten Flipkens 6-1, 6-0, betters Monica Seles’ Australian Open record of losing only 12 games before the semis. Despite the scoreline, she insisted it had been close against Makarova, against whom she has never lost in five matches.

‘No matter what our record is, we always have close matches,’ she said.

‘It was quite close in the beginning today, we exchanged breaks of serves, but I think I ended up being the more aggressive player.

‘Today was a matter of staying focused because I know how excited she was to play me.’

Former French Open champion Li Na knocked out fourth-seeded Polish Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets to reach her third Australian Open semifinals here Tuesday.

“Radwanska is a tough player. I was feeling (like playing) against a wall today. She can hit everywhere, but without a mistake. I was feeling very tough. I have to focus on every shot. Not every point, every shot. If I hit like slow or short, she’ll attack,” said Li.

Novak Djokovic bounced back from a marathon five-setter just 48 hours earlier as he skated into the Australian Open semifinals with a comfortable win over Tomas Berdych on Tuesday.

The Serbian world number one, chasing a hat-trick of Australian crowns, showed no ill-effects of his torrid five-hour dogfight with Stanislas Wawrinka as he beat the Czech fifth seed, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in 2hr 31min.

Djokovic now faces a semifinal on Thursday against Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer, who beat countryman Nicolas Almagro in five sets earlier Tuesday.

 David Ferrer clawed back from two sets down to overhaul his Spanish Davis Cup team-mate Nicolas Almagro in five sets and reach the semifinals of the Australian Open on Tuesday.

Almagro, the 10th seed, served for the match three times in the third set only to blow his chance to reach his first ever Grand Slam semi-final as fourth seed Ferrer charged back to win the 3hr 44min rollercoaster.

Ferrer finished too strongly for Almagro with two more service breaks in the fifth set to win 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2.


ITALIAN DUO OUST WILLIAMS SISTERS


Italian top seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci ousted Venus Williams and her hobbling sister Serena in the Australian Open women’s doubles quarterfinals on Tuesday. Venus lost her serve in the 11th game of the final set and the Italians closed out a 3-6, 7-6 (7/1), 7-5 victory that put them into a semifinal against Russia’s number four seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina. The Australian duo of Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua defeated Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyunchenkova and Czech Lucie Safarova 6-2, 6-3 to move into the semifinals against Varvara Lepchenko and China’s Saisai Zheng.


BHUPATHI-PETROVA IN LAST EIGHT

Veteran Mahesh Bhupathi entered the mixed doubles quarterfinals with partner Nadia Petrova of Russia after coming back from a set down to register a 3-6 6-2 10-5 win over Katarina Srebotnik of Slovakia and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia at the Australian Open on Tuesday. The Indo-Russian pair suffered a scare in the first set before they got their act together to win the next two sets to advance. (PTI)
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