Sharapova sets up Kvitova revenge bid
RUSSIA'S Maria Sharapova (pictured) booked her spot in the last four of the Australian Open today with a surprisingly straightforward 6-2 6-3 win over compatriot Ekaterina Makarova.
Makarova had stunned five-time champion Serena Williams in the fourth round but her performance against the world number four was a major let down as Sharapova closed out the win in a little under 90 minutes.
She will now get the chance to avenge last year's Wimbledon final defeat to Petra Kvitova after the Czech bounced Italian Sara Errani out in their earlier quarter-final clash in Melbourne. 6-4 6-4.
"I thought she was going to play really well today coming off a big win, probably her biggest in her career," Sharapova said. "It was just really important for me to not give her much of a look at the open court."
Sharapova, who won the last of her three grand slams at Melbourne Park in 2008, swarmed all over Makarova's weak second serve and routinely swatted them back faster than they came at her.
The Melbourne crowd have given fellow primal screamer Victoria Azarenka a hard time throughout the tournament but they were more forgiving of the Sharapova shrieks, which assaulted eardrums everywhere in the vicinity of Rod Laver Arena.
Sharapova had too much juice on her serve for Makarova to return with any venom and the former number one faced just two break points in the match.
World number one Caroline Wozniacki's exit from the tournament at the hands of Kim Clijsters means Sharapova, Kvitova or Azarenka will claim the top ranking by the end of the year's first grand slam.
Sharapova said winning grand slams was her priority.
"I've been fortunate enough to be in that position before," she said. "The girls that are trying to get that position haven't been in that position before.
"It's a little bit different because I feel like I've experienced both things in my career, winning grand slams and being number one in the world. You can't compare the two.
"I try to improve in order to win grand slams. The more grand slams you win, the better your ranking is going to be."