Melbourne: Russian second seed Maria Sharapova bundled out Canada's Eugenie Bouchard in straight sets on Tuesday to cruise into the Australian Open semi-finals for the seventh time.
The five-time Grand Slam champion crushed the seventh seed 6-3, 6-2 to set up an all-Russian final four clash with Ekaterina Makarova, the 10th seed. Sharapova, 27, won the Australian title in 2008 and can seize the world number one ranking off arch-rival Serena Williams if she repeats the feat this year.
Maria Sharapova. Pic/ AFP
She took her career record to 4-0 against Bouchard -- a 20-year-old rising star who has been repeatedly compared to the Russian veteran -- including another Grand semi-final win at the French Open last year. For Bouchard, it was a second semi-final defeat at Melbourne Park.
"I just tried to keep my ground, I knew she was going to go at it and be aggressive," Sharapova said. She drew first blood with a break in the opening game as Bouchard fired a backhand wide, with the Russian going on to easily hold serve. Bouchard, playing against her childhood idol, looked nervous and was in danger of conceding another break when she double faulted in the fifth game before steadying and forcing a mistake from Sharapova.
The Canadian went into the match vowing to play her shots and was true to her word, putting the pressure on with two break points in the next, only to overcook her backhand both times and send both chances long. Sharapova's composure never wavered and she brought up two set points on Bouchard's serve at 5-3, hitting the first in the net but clinching the second when the Canadian's attempt to go down the line went wide.
Bouchard's error rate continued to climb as she went for big winners in the second set and Sharapova seized a decisive break in the fourth game. The world number seven never recovered, burying her head in her hands at the changeover before her misery ended when she went down another break after one hour 17 minutes.
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