SAN DIEGO, January 22, 2013 – Maria Sharapova is a woman on a mission. Just winning isn’t good enough; she wants to take every point from her opponents and she’s come very close to it in the 2013 Australian Open. She mowed down fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-2, in barely over an hour. She has won 60 out of 69 games played in the tournament, and won 79% of her first serves.
Sixth ranked Li Na of China won the right to face Sharapova in the semifinals with her defeat of fourth ranked Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, 7-5, 6-3.
The big question of the day: would Novak Djokovic recover from his late night, five hour marathon match in the Round of 16 in time for his match against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic? The answer: of course he did.
Djokovic took just half the time to beat Berdych, 6-1, ,4-6, 6-1, 6-4. He hit 47 winners, twice as many as Berdych, and his serve was on fire. Djokovic fittingly won match point number three with an ace. He has only lost to Berdych one in 12 of their 13 matches, the Wimbledon semifinals in 2010. Djokovic has now reached the semifinals at an 11th consecutive major, second only to Roger Federer’s streak of 23.
Fourth ranked David Ferrer of Spain survived a scare from countryman Nicolas Almagro, coming back from being two sets down and at match point in the third to prevail, 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4), 6-2. “It was (a) miracle I won this match, I think,” Ferrer said. “I tried to fight every point, that’s my game. I always to fight.”
Almagro had never beaten Ferrer in 12 meetings, and the 13th wasn’t any luckier for him. It seemed Almagro beat himself mentally despite his evident skills. To his credit, Ferrer never gave up and it paid off. He will now face Djokovic in the semifinals.
In women’s doubles, the Williams sisters lost to the number one seeded team from Italy, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, 3-6, 7-6 (1), 7-5. Venus Williams had trouble with her serve all night. There is concern about whether the match weakened Serena’s ankle, which has been sore since she twisted it in an earlier match. The team of American Vavar Lepchenko and Zheng Saisai of China advanced with a win over Nuna Lloagostera Vives of Spain and Zheng Jie of China, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.
In today’s remaining quarterfinal matches, it will be an-All American battle as veteran champion Serena Williams and newcomer Sloane Stephens play each other. Williams thinks highly of Stephens, but it doesn’t mean she will take it easy on her. Top seed and reigning Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.
On the men’s side, Roger Federer plays France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. They’ve met 11 times and Federer has won eight times. Andy Murray of Great Britain faces the surprising Jeremy Chardy of France. Can he keep his improbable winning streak going?
The semifinal schedule today (all games broadcast on ESPN2 and online at WatchESPN):
In the Rod Laver Arena at 7 p.m. EST Tuesday:
Victoria Azarenka (1), Belarus, vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia
Not before 8:30 p.m. EST Tuesday:
Serena Williams (1), USA, vs. Sloane Stephens (29), USA
Jeremy Chardy, France, vs. Andy Murray (3), Great Britain
Night Session at 3:30 a.m. EST Wednesday:
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (7), France, vs. Roger Federer (2), Switzerland
Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua, Australia, vs. Varvara Lepchenko, United States, and Zheng Saisai, China
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She writes on professional cycling and covers the Sweet Science for Communities, along with other news in the sports world. Read Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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