(January 25, 2015) Maria Sharapova and Eugenie Bouchard will face off for a place in the Australian Open semifinals after reaching the quarterfinals in Melbourne on Sunday.
No. 2 seed Sharapova won the last 8 games of the match in her 6-3, 6-0 dismissal of No. 21 seed Peng Shuai in the fourth round.
Seventh seed Bouchard won nine of the first 10 games against No. 42 Irina-Camelia Begu, but was pushed to win her first three-setter of the tournament in her 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 win.
On the road to the round of 16, the Romanian Begu defeated No. 9-seeded Angelique Kerber in the first round.
Bouchard, advanced to semifinals or better at the first three major tournament in 2014, took a break after the second set.
“I gave myself a good, long hard look in the mirror,” Bouchard said post-match in regard to going off court. “I said, `Genie, this is unacceptable.’ I really kind of kicked myself in the butt a little bit.”
The Canadian spoke about how the match switched momentum to her opponent in the second set. “It’s disappointing for me because I want to play so well and I want to be perfect. That’s not possible. It happens. Yeah, I think I started being a bit less aggressive, a bit too passive, and you know, that’s not my game at all. I don’t do well when that happens. She could string together a few good points here and there, hit some good shots and serves and got some confidence in the second set. You know, that helped her. So definitely disappointing. But I learned a lot from it and I’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen next time. I’m happy that I could regroup and, yeah, play a bit better tennis in the third. I want to build on that for the next match”
“Clearly I need more practice!” she said.
The 20-year-old Bouchard will play Sharapova next. The Russian has a 3-0 career record against Bouchard. Sharapova fell in the fourth round at Melbourne Park last year, while Bouchard reached the semifinals in her Australian Open debut.
Sharapova said, “Last year I lost in the fourth round here, getting to the quarters is really special.”
Asked about what she expects in her match with Bouchard, Sharapova responded: “She’s been playing really well in this tournament and also in the slams the last year. Really confident tennis and inspired form. I expect her to come out and play a really good match. I think we only played each other one time last year, which was at the French. That was a really tough match for me. I had to come back from being down one set to Love. Yeah, I’m sure she’ll come out and play extremely well.”
“She’s a pretty aggressive player. She stays really close to the line, she likes to dictate the points. Yeah, I feel that’s where she’s hurt a lot of players and been really successful.
“I would definitely look forward to that match,” Bouchard said. “I think it’s always great to play the best players in the world. We’ve had a couple matches, and a good match last year. You know, I think I was close. It was just a tough battle. But I think I’ve progressed a lot since then, and, you know, I definitely want to keep playing my game no matter what. Really kind of take it to her, go for my shots. That’s what I want to do on the court. And it’s more fun when I play that way, too. I had more fun in the third set today. So I want to try to do that.”
Sharapova was asked about Bouchard being compared to her. “I think we all want to go through our own paths and we all want to — when I was coming up, I was compared to Kournikova for many years in my career and still occasionally name always comes up in interviews and articles. That’s just part of it, part of the game, part of the business. It’s understandable. It is what it is. As I have said, I believe I was still a teenager, I don’t want to be the next anyone. I want to be the first Maria Sharapova. And that’s how I’ve been throughout my whole career. And we all want to create our own path and go through our own career. And we’re all destined for some sort of thing. We work extremely hard at a sport, and that’s what we want to be known for.”
Asked about if she sees Bouchard in her, Sharapova responded:
“I personally don’t know Genie very well. As a tennis player she’s a big competitor. She’s an aggressive player as well that likes to take the ball early and dictate points. From that perspective, yeah, definitely.”
In another fourth round match, No. 10 Ekaterina Makarova of Russia won 6-3, 6-2 over Germany’s Julia Goerges to reach the elite eight, where she’ll face off against No. 3 Simona Halep.
Halep is in the Australian Open quarterfinals for the second straight year with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Yanina Wickmayer.
For Makarova it’s her third trip to the Australian Open quarterfinals.
“A lot of confidence I have now because I didn’t lose a set,” Halep said. “I had good matches here in first week, so I’m really happy that I’m in second week now like last year. Here I started to play my best tennis in Grand Slams. So means a lot for me. I really have more confidence now to play the quarterfinals.”
“I’m so happy, yeah, that I’m showing my good tennis here and already in the quarter; third time here in Australian Open,” said the Russian. So I’m so happy that I beat today Julia. She’s tough opponent. She’s in great shape. She played great her matches. So I’m happy that I came through.”
Makarova upset Serena Williams at the Australian Open in 2012.
On playing Halep next, Makarova said: “Well, we played once in New Haven I think not the last year, the year before. I lost 6-1, 7-6, something like that. She’s one of the greatest player now, and I’m really looking forward. If she wins today, depends, yeah. I will want to forward and forward step by step.”
Halep on matching up against Makarova: “I know her. I play a few times against her. She serves pretty well; she’s moving well; she’s playing aggressive. I have my chance. I believe in my chance next round. So I have to make my game again to be aggressive and to serve well like today.”