MELBOURNE, Australia - Maria Sharapova has a habit of winning Grand Slam quarterfinals and that was the case again on Tuesday evening, as she powered past Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open - improving to 16-3 lifetime in Grand Slam quarterfinals.
The No.2-seeded Sharapova, who is actually 13-0 in Grand Slam quarterfinals outside the French Open now - she is 3-3 in Paris - hit 22 winners, including 11 off the forehand and five aces, to completely dominate the No.19-seeded Makarova as the shadows crept across Rod Laver Arena, 62 62.
"I thought today was going to be a really good test," Sharapova said in her post-match presser. "She's beaten quality players over the course of the last week, and I know she's capable of playing really well, with some deep hitting. Also she's a lefty, which is a bit tricky. But I thought I handled that pretty well and was able to keep my focus all the way through the match, which was very important."
Makarova was playing in her second Grand Slam quarterfinal, her first actually coming right here too, a year ago - and she lost to Sharapova again. "She's playing unbelievable," Makarova said of Sharapova. "So aggressive, in the right spots of the court - it's really tough to play against her right now.
"In the end I just fought for the games, because I already thought it would be tough to beat her.
"I just tried to get more games."
"We just played in Beijing," Sharapova said of the Chinese. "I've beaten her the last few times we've played, but they've always been really good matches, really tough matches. I certainly expect it in the next one too. She's had a great start to the year and is playing really well - she was the most improved player towards the end of last year as well so hopefully it will be a high quality semi."
Though she had to get through the likes of fellow former World No.1 Venus Williams and giant-killer Makarova, Sharapova was also asked about not having a "big test" going into the semifinals.
"Well, going into the match, my goal isn't really to be tested," Sharapova said. "If I do come into a situation where I feel like I have to pull through or I'm not playing my best tennis or she's up and I have to find a way to win, that's what you have on that day. Do I want to be in that position? Absolutely not.
"If I start the match well, I want to follow through with that along the whole way and keep that motivation and the way I'm playing, doing the right things and keeping that focus. That's the important thing. It's not to give away a few games. That's not really the mentality of a winner, I think."