(January 27, 2015) It will be an all-Russian semifinal in the bottom half of the women’s draw at the Australian Open. 2008 champion Maria Sharapova and No. 10 seed Ekaterina Makarova advanced in Melbourne with easy victories on Tuesday.
No. 2 Sharapova took down 20-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-2 to keep her record perfect against the world No. 7 at 4-0. Earlier in the day Ekaterina Makarova upset No. 3 Simona Halep 6-4, 6-0 in 69 minutes.
“I had to produce a really good performance against Genie,” Sharapova said after the match. “She’s been playing so confidently and aggressively.”
Sharapova rallied past Bouchard the last time they played each other, in the semifinals of the French Open where the Russian went on to win her second Roland Garros title, her fifth major.
“I felt under pressure the whole time, a bit on my back foot,” Bouchard said. I mean, that’s not how I want to play. I feel like I didn’t start well, and it kind of all went downhill from there. It’s definitely easier when you have a good start to the match.”
“I’m never happy with losing. I wanted to obviously win today, win the tournament. But, you know, I feel like I dealt with, yeah, pressure, outside expectations well. I wasn’t really focused on the whole defending thing. I really just tried to block that out of my mind. So I think, you know, that helped me get through the first week, get through some, you know, matches that could have been tricky. But, yeah, you know, I always want to do better, especially than the year before. I’m always trying to aim for that.”
“I knew I had to play a really complete match,” Sharapova said. “She’s someone who really goes after it and goes after her strokes, so I knew that the second and third balls would be really important. I knew I had to take time away from her and be aggressive – I wanted to get in the rallies a little bit, but I also wanted to something on my own first few shots today.”
“I felt pretty good from the start,” said the Russian. “I thought I had a really good start. I kept my focus throughout the whole match. I didn’t feel that I had too many letdowns, which is important. When I did have a few slips I was able to come out with great first serves or really powerful returns. But overall really happy with the way the match went.”
Bouchard hit 30 unforced errors to Sharapova’s 18.
For Makarova, this marks her second straight major semifinal having reached the semifinals of the 2014 US Open.
“I was just I was a little bit stressed, I don’t know why,” last year’s French Open finalist Halep said of her loss. “I had experience from last year to play quarterfinals, so it doesn’t mean that I felt pressure. I just I didn’t feel the game, the ball. It was a very bad day for me.”
“I practiced very well in the morning, but maybe I was a little bit too stressed before I started the match. Wasn’t my good day. I had a bad day. But she played well and everything was in for her. So she deserves this winning. I’m really sad a little bit now that I could not play my tennis, my game, but that’s tennis and I have to look forward to the next tournament.”
“I have experience. I had experience to play quarterfinals in Grand Slams. But sometimes you cannot manage the situation. I tried. I did everything I could this match. But, you know, just mentally because during the points maybe I didn’t fight very well today. I just lost my concentrate to win the points, to win the match. So I didn’t believe any more in second set, and that’s maybe why I lost 6-0.”
Makarova talked about her strategy in the match; “I just tried to stay solid and to play my game. She’s a tough opponent, and I lost to her already two years ago. She doesn’t miss a lot, so every point we had really tough one and really long one. I tried to be more aggressive more to win this point because she never miss and she never give up. So I tried to stay solid and to keep my game.”
“I was playing my good tennis, so maybe in the second set she was a little bit upset. She, like, didn’t understand what to do. But she’s a great player. She had a great season last year. She always like sometimes can turn around the game, doesn’t matter what’s the score, so I was so concentrate.”
Makarova goes into the semifinal against Sharapova with and 0-5 record, having never won a set.
“Well, I never beat her,” said the 26-year-old on playing Sharapova, “so it will be tough. Definitely she’s a great fighter. Like here on the second round, she almost lost, but she turned around. I’m looking forward. I’m want to enjoy this time and want to rest and we’ll see what happen in semis.”
“She likes playing here,” Sharapova said of next opponent. “She uses that left-handed serve really well. It’s always tricky playing a lefty and your compatriot, as well, but one of us will be in the final and that makes me happy.”
“Well, besides playing another Russian, I’m also facing an opponent that wasn’t necessarily a favorite coming into that stage,” Sharapova said. “That’s always a tricky situation because she’s going to come into that match free and almost happy to be in that situation, and that’s dangerous. You know, I haven’t faced a lefty in this tournament yet. She’s been using her lefty serve extremely well from what I’ve seen. But, yeah, I’ll be looking out for that, work on a few things tomorrow, and be ready for that match.”
“I’m so comfortable here, it’s all the atmosphere and maybe memories from New York that I bring here,” said Makarova.
AUSTRALIAN – MELBOURNE, AUS
19-31 JANUARY, 2015
Results – Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Singles – Quarterfinals
(2) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. (7) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 63 62
(10) Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. (3) Simona Halep (ROU) 64 60
Doubles – Quarterfinals
Mattek-Sands/Safarova (USA/CZE) d. (3) Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS) 76(5) 46 62
(13) Krajicek/Zahlavova Strycova (NED/CZE) d. (5) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) 36 63 76(3)
(14) Chan/Zheng (TPE/CHN) d. Jans-Ignacik/Klepac (POL/SLO) 61 62
(16) Goerges/Groenefeld (GER/GER) d. Bertens/Larsson (NED/SWE) 62 75