Ekaterina Makarova upset Angelique Kerber to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the second straight year - and for the second straight year she'll face Maria Sharapova.
WTA Staff

MELBOURNE, Australia - There was a little bit of déjà vu Down Under on Sunday, as Maria Sharapova and Ekaterina Makarova set up an all-Russian quarterfinal match-up at the Australian Open.

Last year in the fourth round Makarova pulled off a shock win over Serena Williams, and this time the Russian - seeded No.19 - pulled off another shocker in an all-lefty match-up with Angelique Kerber, blasting 32 winners and finishing the No.5 seed off in straight sets with her fifth ace of the match, 75 64.

"I'm really happy I beat Kerber today because I lost three times to her last year," Makarova said. "It was perfect - not all the match, but most of it. So I'm really glad about winning this match today."

"I knew before the match it would be tough because she also played very well here last year," Kerber said. "We've played some matches against each other before and every time was very close. I really tried my best out there but she played too well today, so well done to her. She deserved to win."

Makarova's win over the No.5-ranked Kerber was the second Top 5 win of her career - her first came on the grass courts of Eastbourne last year, taking out then-No.4 Petra Kvitova. The Russian is now through to her second Grand Slam quarterfinal, having gone that far right here last year.

"I don't know why, but I'm so comfortable here - I enjoy the city, stadium, everything," Makarova said. "Maybe I do well here because I've rested a couple of months, it's the beginning of the year and I really want to play again - whatever it is that helps me here, I'm so happy. I really enjoy being here."

And the player she lost to last year - Sharapova - will be waiting for her again. Sharapova, the No.2 seed this fortnight, lost the opening game of her match against Kirsten Flipkens then reeled off 12 in a row, overpowering the crafty Belgian in an hour and eight minutes on Rod Laver Arena, 61 60.

Sharapova has now lost just five games en route to the quarterfinals, the fewest games lost en route to the Australian Open quarterfinals since the introduction of the 128-player draw in 1988 (the previous record was eight games dropped, achieved once by Steffi Graf and twice by Monica Seles).

"It's really about keeping your focus, no matter what the score is, no matter if you're up or down," Sharapova said. "I didn't start today's match really great. I was facing a different type of opponent and I was making a few more mistakes than I would have liked to in the beginning. But I started making her play a little bit more, getting under the ball and being aggressive, and doing it consistently.

"It's easier said than done to keep that focus. All of a sudden, especially in women's tennis, things can change really quickly. It's all about sticking to your gameplan and being consistent."

Sharapova has beaten Makarova in all four of their previous meetings, perhaps the most relevant one coming right here in the quarterfinals a year ago - she won that one in straight sets, 62 63.

"The last few years we've played a lot of times and I never beat her, so I really want to play her again," Makarova said. "She's playing really well. She's playing so aggressive and staying in the court. She's winning a lot of matches. But I have some plans against her. We've played a lot of times so we know each other. I think it'll be a good match and I'll try to show my best tennis against her."

"It's not about waiting to see where you are in the semis or finals, it's about who's ahead of you," Sharapova added. "I have to do the right things to beat her in the quarterfinals. If I win that quarterfinal, it's moving onto the next one - that's how I go about a tournament, a Grand Slam.

"Obviously I want to be playing my best tennis towards the end of the second week."