The beginning of the contest looked promising for the world No. 5 Sharapova when she opened the match with a 2-0 lead. The defending and six-time Australian Open champion Williams won 12 of the next 15 games to seal the win.
“I just started slow,” Williams said. “I missed three or four easy shots. I felt like, All right, I didn’t make those shots, but if I had made those shots I probably would have won that game.
“I just clung onto that and knew I could play better.”
“It was super intense,” Williams said after the match. “You have to come out with a lot of fire and intensity.”
In between sets, the defending champion had a visit from the doctor on-court. “I was just dealing with some food poisoning issues from a few days ago. That was it.”
Each of the six times Williams has reached the semifinal stage of the Australian Open, she has gone on to become the champion.
The 34-year-old Williams hit 31 winners to Sharapova’s 11, winning a total of 70 points during the match to the five-time major winner’s 52.
“She played quite explosive,” Sharapova said. “Thought at times, you know, when I got in the rally I wasn’t moving forward, wasn’t cutting the angles off enough.
“She got herself back in the points.”
Asked about how she can reverse her record against Williams, Sharapova said: “Keep setting opportunities. Keep getting to the point where I have an opportunity to play against her. Keep finding a way to turn that around. If I don’t have that chance then I don’t have the opportunity to try something different.”
“Well, it’s obviously always frustrating,” Sharapova commented on her poor record against Williams, now 2-19. “I mean, it’s motivating. It’s tough to sit here 30 minutes after the match and talk about the match, but that’s part of my job.
“It’s motivating because she’s at a different level. She makes you go back to the drawing board, not just for me, but for many other players. She makes you work. That’s inspiring.”
“Something about her game, ” Williams said of the 18-match streak against Sharapova. “I like the way she hits the ball. Plus, when I play her, I know automatically I have to step up my game. I think that makes me play better. When I play better, when I’m forced to play better, I don’t know, I do well.”
So what’s the Russian’s schedule before the U. S. hardcourt season in March? “I’m going to go and take care of my forearm first. I think that’s really important. I’m going to go to Moscow (for Fed Cup), be part of the team. I don’t think I’ll be playing. Then I’m not sure.
“But I think this will be a time to just get myself ready for a long year. I don’t see myself playing anything before Indian Wells.”
The world No. 1 and 21-time major champion will match up against Agnieszka Radwanska in her semifinal.
Radwanska beat Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-3 in the quarterfinals for her second appearance in the Melbourne final four.
Radwanska who is 0-8 against Williams commented about her next match: “Right now I have nothing to lose. Hopefully (I’ll) play my best tennis, otherwise I’ll be in big trouble.”
“She got the better of me at Hopman Cup,” Williams said. “It will be a good match. She’s been playing really well towards the end of the year, and already this year she’s been very consistent.
“She presents a completely different game, an extremely exciting game. So I think it will be a long match and it will be a good match to see where I am.”
“I didn’t think I’d be playing at this age,” said the 34-year-old. “But I’m still here and I’m doing well. I think that’s the reason I am still playing, because I know that I’m capable, you know, if I play well, of being on top.”