The Maria Sharapova Express steams on as victories and earnings pile up

Ruthless world No 2 has dropped only five games in her four matches and now faces compatriot Makarova in quarter-final

If there is one player in the women's draw here at the Australian Open who will not be paying too much attention to her prize money it is Maria Sharapova. The world's highest-earning sportswoman banks an estimated $28m (more than £17m) a year, of which the money she earns on the court is all but insignificant.

The 25-year-old Russian has a smart eye for business, however, and the rate at which she has been earning here over the past week is probably matching any of her other commercial interests, including the "Sugarpova" sweets – selling at a handsome $5.99 (£3.70) a bag – which she launched three days before the tournament started.

Sharapova has been on court for just 249 minutes in her first four matches and by reaching the quarter-finals has already guaranteed she will leave Melbourne Park with a cheque for $Aus250,000 (£166,000). Or to put it another way, she has been earning at the rate of $Aus1,000 (£660) a minute.

The Sharapova Express showed no sign of slowing down yesterday as the world No 2 reached the quarter-finals with a crushing 6-1, 6-0 victory over Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens. She has dropped just five games in her four matches, a record for the Australian Open. The only player who has bettered that at any Grand Slam tournament is Mary Pierce, who lost just four games en route to the quarter-finals of the French Open in 1994.

Sharapova's progress is all the more remarkable considering that she arrived here without any competitive matches under her belt, having had to withdraw from two build-up tournaments because of a sore collar- bone.

Despite her lack of on-court time, Sharapova said she saw no need to step up her work on the practice court. "I'm horrible in practice most of the time," she said. "I'm like 'that's a great sign', because I come to the matches and my expectations are quite low. But it depends. Every Grand Slam that I've won or done well at, I've always felt different actually.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm not playing my best tennis in the beginning, but I start playing better. And then a couple that I've won, I felt like I was playing great from the beginning and I was able to carry that through the whole tournament."

Sharapova believes that the work she did in the off-season was more important than anything she might have done in a warm-up event.

"The work that you put in before the tournament is the most important," she said. "What you do in the off-season, you're not going to put this work in during the tournaments. I actually love coming to tournaments. You practise less and just go and play matches. It's like the best-case scenario."

Sharapova has an excellent record in the Australian Open. She has reached the semi-finals or better in five of her last seven appearances and lost in the final in 2007 (to Serena Williams) and in 2012 (to Victoria Azarenka). When she won the title in 2008 she won every match in straight sets despite a draw that she describes as the toughest of her career, having had to beat Lindsay Davenport, Elena Dementieva, Justine Henin, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic.

Sharapova now plays Ekaterina Makarova, the world No 19, in the quarter-finals for the second year in a row, having beaten her fellow Russian for the loss of only five games 12 months ago. Makarova, who saves her best Grand Slam performances for Melbourne, reached the last eight with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Angelique Kerber, the world No 5.

The winner of the all-Russian contest will meet Li Na or Agnieszka Radwanska in the semi-finals. Li, who beat Germany's Julia Goerges 7-6, 6-1, also has a good record here, having reached the last four in 2010 and the final in 2011.

However, there has been no player in better form this year than Radwanska, who beat Ivanovic 6-2, 6-4. Radwanska has won all 13 matches she has played in 2013 without dropping a set. The world No 4, who has reached three quarter-finals here but never gone any further, won both her warm-up tournaments, in Sydney and Auckland.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee