Williams sees off Sharapova again

Serena Williams

Williams is closing in on a seventh Australian Open title

Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova for the 18th time in a row to reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

The American defending champion, seeded number one and chasing a 22nd Grand Slam title, saw off fifth seed Sharapova 6-4 6-1 at Melbourne Park.

It is 12 years since Williams last lost to the Russian, and the world number one moves on to face fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the last four.

The Pole earlier beat Spanish 10th seed Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-3.

In the men’s draw, Roger Federer plays Tomas Berdych later on Tuesday before Novak Djokovic takes on Kei Nishikori.

Williams extends her dominance

Sharapova made it a real contest for almost an hour but eventually buckled under the American’s power and the second set was a one-sided affair.

Williams, 34, appeared to struggle with her ball toss in the morning sunshine on Rod Laver Arena as she fell 2-0 down and was not at her best in the opening stages.

The intensity ratcheted up as the set progressed with both players repeatedly yelling “Come on!” as they tried to grab the initiative.

Sharapova, 28, held on valiantly in an eight-minute game to claw her way back to 4-4, but the pressure told in game 10 and Williams clinched the set at the fourth opportunity with a volley.

Williams needed attention from the tournament doctor at the end of the first set

The world number one called for a brief visit from the doctor at the changeover, but powered on stronger than ever in the second set, making it 12 games out of 15 as she sealed victory after one hour and 32 minutes.

“It was super intense,” said Williams. “She’s an incredibly intense and focused player who was world number one.

“When you’re playing someone so great you have to come out with a lot of fire and intensity.

“I’ve been playing this whole week aggressive and I don’t think I started out playing that way. At the start of the second set I wanted to play the way I have been doing to get to the quarter-finals.”

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