Williams sets up Sharapova showdown

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova won the Australian Open in 2008

Defending champion Serena Williams will face Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open quarter-finals after both won their last-16 matches on Sunday.

Top seed Williams, who beat Sharapova in last year’s final, thrashed Margarita Gasparyan 6-2 6-1.

The 34-year-old American is chasing her 22nd Grand Slam title and has a

Sharapova, the 2008 champion from Russia, hit 21 aces as she battled to a 7-5 7-5 win over Swiss Belinda Bencic.

Sharapova, seeded fifth, served seven double faults and made 46 unforced errors in an erratic display, but came through to win after two hours and six minutes.

“It was a great final last year, I came close in the second set but not close enough,” said the 28-year-old about last year’s final defeat.

“I’ll look forward to playing the best in the world and it’ll be a great match.”

Williams said: “I had no idea who I was playing. She had a really good match earlier but I’ve got nothing to lose and will just do my best.”

Elsewhere, Japan’s seventh seed Kei Nishikori saw off Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with ease, beating the ninth seed 6-4 6-2 6-4.

The 2014 US Open finalist will face Novak Djokovic or Gilles Simon in the last eight.

Nishikori had plenty of autographs to sign after his victory

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