Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Sharapova too strong for Makarova, Kvitova next

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova beat Ekaterina Makarova, 6-2 6-3 on day 10 of the Australian Open to progress to the semi-finals.  It was a relatively routine victory for Sharapova who hit 26 winners through the course of the match and was more solid on serve than her previous match with Lisicki losing just one service game.  Makarova has had a terrific tournament but seemed to run out of steam today.  She has shown what a dangerous player she can be when in form but I cannot see her progressing into the top 25 of the ranking unless she can smooth out the inconsistencies in her game.

Sharapova will play Petra Kvitova in the semi-finals, which will be a rematch of last year's Wimbledon final.  Kvitova fought off an admirable challenge by Sara Errani in a 6-4 6-4 victory.  The match looked to be heading to a third set as Errani played some of her best tennis to take a 4-1 second set lead; however Kvitova found her game to reel off five games in a row and reach her first Grand Slam semi-final away from the grass courts of Wimbledon.  Kvitova did not play great against Errani as she had a -8 differential of winners to unforced errors and was broken on 4 occasions.  She has however improved her ability to grind out victories when she is below her best, which she could not do this time last year.

In the mens quarter-finals, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic both won in straight sets to set up a show-stopping semi-final.  Murray was first to win with a comfortable 6-3 6-3 6-1 victory over Kei Nishikori.  Djokovic fought off a leg injury to defeat David Ferrer, 6-4 7-6 6-1.  The first two sets were dominated by some pulsating rallies as Ferrer went toe-to-toe with the Serb.  However his level dropped in a one-sided third set.  Djokovic admitted afterwards that he had suffered from breathing problems, but is confident of being fully fit for the semi-final with Murray.

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