Melbourne: Maria Sharapova's Australian Open campaign kicked into overdrive yesterday as young guns Eugenie Bouchard and Simona Halep scraped into the quarter-finals.
Russia's Maria Sharapova celebrates her 6-3, 6-0 win over China’s Peng Shuai in the women's singles of the Australian Open in Melbourne yesterday. Pic/AFP
Five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova demolished China's Peng Shuai to set up a glamour final eight showdown with Canada's Bouchard, whose form continues to blow hot and cold as she chases a maiden major.
Third seed Halep of Romania ground out a tough straight set win over unseeded Belgian Yanina Wickmayer and will face Russian Ekaterina Makarova, who went through almost unnoticed.
However, it was a fired-up Sharapova, wounded and determined to make a point after almost bombing out in the early rounds, who stamped her authority on the bottom half of the draw.
The 27-year-old routed 21st seed Peng 6-3, 6-0, looking tense and aggressive as she wore down some early resistance from China's top-ranked player to storm into the quarters at Melbourne Park for the eighth time.
The Russian, who won the Australian title in 2008, can snatch the World No 1 ranking off arch-rival Serena Williams if she repeats the feat this year.