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Tennis: Sharapova to meet Makarova in Australian Open semis

AP , Tuesday 27 Jan 2015
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova of Russia serves to Eugenie Bouchard of Canada during their women's singles quarter-final match at the Australian Open 2015 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 27, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)
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Maria Sharapova moved closer to another Australian Open title on Tuesday after beating Eugenie Bouchard and will next face a fellow Russian in the semifinals who has never beaten her.

Sharapova made all the big points look easy in defeating 20-year-old Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-2 - her fourth consecutive win over the Canadian - and advance to a semifinal against Ekaterina Makarova, who earlier beat third-seeded Simona Halep 6-4, 6-0.

"I felt pretty good from the start, didn't feel I had too many letdowns," Sharapova said, adding that her close call in the second round - facing two match points against a qualifier - sharpened her focus for the rest of the tournament.

"When you are down and out in the second match, I don't want to face that call with my father too many times during a tournament," she said.

The last time Sharapova and Bouchard met - in the semifinals at the French Open last year - Bouchard won the first set before Sharapova came back to take the next two. The Russian then won the title at Roland Garros.

This time, Bouchard, who made the finals of Wimbledon and two other Grand Slam semis last year, didn't come close to taking a set, looking flat from the outset while being broken in her opening service game. The Genie Army, a group of young Australian men who croon about the Canadian player, was left to sing another day.

Bouchard had 30 unforced errors and had her service broken four times.

"She didn't give me many chances, and against the great players you have to take any chances you can get," Bouchard said. If you don't have time, you have to go for riskier shots, and I made a few too many unforced errors because I was under pressure."

Bouchard said she plans to go back to Canada to see her family, reflect on some possible coaching changes and decide whether she'll play Fed Cup for Canada against the Czech Republic in Quebec City on February 7-8.

Sharapova, the 2008 Australian Open champion and a two-time finalist, has a 5-0 record against Makarova, including wins in the quarterfinals here in 2012 and 2013. In four of those losses, Makarova failed to win a set.

"She is going to come into that match free and happy to be in that situation," Sharapova said. "And that's dangerous. She uses that left-handed serve really well. It's always tricky playing a lefty and your compatriot, as well, but one of us will be in the final and that makes me happy."

It will be Makarova's second consecutive Grand Slam semifinal. She made her first major semi at last year's US Open, losing to Serena Williams after beating Bouchard in the fourth round.

"I'm so comfortable here, it's all the atmosphere and maybe memories from New York that I bring here," said Makarova.

The other women's semifinalists will be determined on Wednesday when No 1-ranked Williams plays last year's finalist, Dominika Cibulkova, and Venus Williams, playing in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal in nearly five years, takes on 19-year-old American Madison Keys.

If the Williams sisters play each other in the semifinals, it would be their first meeting in a Grand Slam tournament since the Wimbledon final in 2009 - won by Serena.

The 26-year-old Makarova has had her best Grand Slam results at Melbourne Park, advancing to fourth round twice as well as those quarterfinal losses to Sharapova. Last year, she lost to eventual champion Li Na in the fourth round.

Halep said her nerves got to her.

"I was just I was a little bit stressed, I don't know why," the 23-year-old Halep said. "I had experience from last year to play quarterfinals, so it doesn't mean that I felt pressure. I just I didn't feel the game, the ball. It was a very bad day for me."

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