Australian Open 2015: Maria Sharapova breezes past Eugenie Bouchard to set-up semi-final clash with Ekaterina Makarova

Sharapova needed just 78 minutes to beat Bouchard 6-3, 6-2 while Makarova knocked out Simona Halep 6-4, 6-0

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The Independent Online

Maria Sharapova and Ekaterina Makarova will contest an all-Russian semi-final here at the Australian Open after both women won their quarter-finals in straight sets with something to spare. Sharapova beat Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-2 in just 78 minutes, which was nine minutes longer than Makarova needed to beat Simona Halep 6-4, 6-0.

Sharapova has now beaten Bouchard in all four of their meetings, including three in Grand Slam tournaments. Bouchard never recovered from dropping her serve in the opening game. The 20-year-old Canadian made 20 unforced errors in the first set, which Sharapova won in just 41 minutes. Bouchard held on grimly at the start of the second set but the writing was on the wall when she dropped serve in the fourth game.

“I felt pretty good from the start,” Sharapova said afterwards. “I thought I had a really good start. I kept my focus throughout the whole match. I didn't feel that I had too many let-downs, which is important. When I did have a few slips I was able to come out with great first serves or really powerful returns. But overall I was really happy with the way the match went.”

 

Bouchard said she had not felt particularly nervous but added: “I felt under pressure the whole time, a bit on my back foot. That's not how I want to play. I feel like I didn't start well, and it kind of all went downhill from there. It's definitely easier when you have a good start to the match.”

Makarova, who has reached the fourth round or better here for the last five years in a row, has been a consistent performer at Grand Slam level for several years but did not reach her first semi-final until last season’s US Open. She is immediately through to a second after taking advantage of a lacklustre performance by Halep, who was swept aside by an impressive display of ball-striking.

Eugenie-Bouchard.jpgTwo breaks of serve helped Makarova into a 3-0 lead as Halep struggled to find her game from the start. The Romanian recovered to trail 4-2, but Makarova went on to take the set.

With Halep continuing to make too many unforced errors and Makarova dominating with her serve, the second set went by in a flash. Like Makarova, Halep had not dropped a set in her first four matches, but the world No 3 offered little resistance in the closing stages. Her serve was broken five times in the match.

“It's a great feeling, I'm so happy that I came through,” Makarova said afterwards.  “She never gives up, she is always fighting and every point is long. It was really tough and I am happy that I stayed solid and in my game. I was used to being in quarter-finals so now I have to get used to being in semi-finals.”

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Sharapova and Bouchard shake hands after their quarter-final clash

The semi-final line-up in the top half of the draw will be decided tomorrow. In the quarter-finals Serena Williams faces Dominika Cibulkova, while Venus Williams will meet Madison Keys. It is the first time that both Williams sisters are in the quarter-finals of a Grand slam tournament for five years.

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