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
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions