Australian Open: Serena Williams makes it 18th straight victory over Maria Sharapova
Serena Williams extended her winning run over Maria Sharapova to 18 matches with a straight-sets victory in their Australian Open quarter-final.
The American 21-time grand slam champion last lost to Sharapova in 2004 and she maintained that extraordinary record with a 6-4 6-1 victory on Rod Laver Arena on a warm Tuesday.
Williams, a six-time winner at Melbourne Park, stepped up when she needed to as the two power-hitters went head to head from the baseline.
But Russian fifth seed Sharapova endured problems with her serve and it proved costly as she failed to capitalise on a slow start from Williams, who seemed to be struggling in the heat.
Williams’ win sends her into a seventh Australian Open semi-final – where she will face Agnieszka Radwanska – and she has won the title every time she has reached this stage in Melbourne.
The points were kept short against five-time grand slam winner Sharapova and that was what both wanted, but Williams crushed 31 winners to her rival’s 11.
After a tough 55-minute first set, the second was all Williams as she lost just 15 points to brush Sharapova aside once more.
The pair traded early breaks as Williams made a loose start – her forehand particularly off – and Sharapova was punished for two double faults.
Sharapova was struggling with her serve and the double faults continued, but she crucially held from 0-40 down in the eighth game.
Williams held in an eight-minute ninth game and from the end where the sun was causing the server problems, and she would capitalise on that.
After a lucky net cord helped her stay in the 10th game, Williams converted her fourth set point with a forehand volley.
Williams required a trainer at the end of the set due to what appeared to be illness, but she was having few problems on the court as she broke for 2-0 in the second.
Sharapova, rueing her missed opportunities in the first set, was no match for Williams in the second as the American completed her win.
Williams  bt Sharapova  6-4 6-1
Williams – 13
Sharapova – 3
Williams – 31/20
Sharapova – 11/12
BREAK POINTS WON
Williams – 4/10
Sharapova – 1/5
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Williams – 58
Sharapova – 55
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Williams – 73/52
Sharapova – 59/38
Williams – 70
Sharapova – 52