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Tennis

Sharapova and Ferrer defeat compatriots

David Ferrer battles back hard to earn semi against Djokovic as Maria Sharapova continues superb form at Aussie Open.
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2013 13:37
Statistically speaking Sharapova is in the best form at Aussie Open but the Russian knows stats don't win titles [GETTY]

Maria Sharapova has lost only nine games in five matches on the way to the semifinals at the Australian Open. Always the perfectionist, she sees room for improvement.

Sharapova beat fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-2 Tuesday and was asked afterward if she'd lost focus in only a few games this tournament.

"No, I'd probably say more," she said, "but that's probably because I'm critical."

"To be honest, those are not the stats you want to be known for"

Maria Sharapova

If that's the case, she's a pretty tough taskmaster.

After opening with pair of 6-0, 6-0 wins, Sharapova beat seven-time major winner Venus Williams 6-1, 6-3 in the third round and Belgian Kristen Flipkens 6-0, 6-1 in the fourth.

Nobody has conceded fewer games on the way to the semifinals at the Australian Open, and her impressive streak comes after having played in no warm-up tournaments due to a right collarbone injury.

But after having advanced to the final here last year, losing to Victoria Azarenka in lopsided fashion, Sharapova is taking nothing for granted.

"To be honest, those are not the stats you want to be known for," Sharapova said, adding that she was more concerned about adding a fifth Grand Slam title and had spent plenty of time on the practice court.

Sharapova's semifinal opponent will be Li Na, who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 6-3 in the first of Tuesday's quarterfinals, breaking the Polish player's 13-match winning streak to start the season.

Ferrer v Djokovic

Novak Djokovec spent half the time on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday night than he did in his previous round, beating Tomas Berdych 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 to advance to a semifinal against David Ferrer.

Djokovic needed five sets and 5 hours, 2 minutes to beat Stanislas Warwinka in a fourth-round match on Sunday, but showed little rustiness from that late finish to complete the win over Berdych - albeit on his fourth match point - in 2:31.

It was two-time defending champion Djokovic's 19th consecutive win at Melbourne Park.

"It was a great performance," said Djokovic.

            Ferrer survived a gruelling three hour and 44 minute epic to progress to semis [GETTY]

"I was hoping to have a shorter match."

The No. 4-seeded Ferrer survived once in the third set and twice in the fourth when No. 10 Nicolas Almagro was serving for the match, holding firm to finally advance to his fourth semifinal in six Grand Slam events with a 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4), 6-2 win.

It was the second straight year that Makarova has lost to Sharapova after knocking out a seeded player in the third round.

Last year, she beat Serena Williams in the fourth round. Last weekend, it was No. 5-ranked Angelique Kerber.

Sixth-seeded Li didn't overly tax herself, either, in the quarterfinals. The 30-year-old Li advanced to her third semifinal in four years at Melbourne Park.

"She's a tough player. I was feeling today against a wall," said Li, who lost the 2011 Australian Open final to Kim Clijsters only months before her Grand Slam breakthrough at the French Open.

The quarterfinals on the other half of the women's draw will be held Wednesday, with American teenager Sloane Stephens taking on Serena Williams, who is aiming for a third consecutive major title, and defending champion Azarenka playing two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The first man through to the semifinals at Melbourne Park had a difficult time.

"It was (a) miracle I won this match, I think,'' Ferrer said.

"I tried to fight every point, that's my game. I always fight."

Almagro dominated the first two sets and was serving for the match in the third when Ferrer bounced back, breaking in the crucial 10th game and then breaking his Davis Cup teammate again.

The fourth set featured eight service breaks, and Ferrer finally took control in a tiebreaker to force a fifth set.

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Source:
AP
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