Published January 22, 2013
| Sports Network
Melbourne, Australia – Former champion Maria Sharapova and former runner-up Li Na were a pair of quarterfinal winners Tuesday at the Australian Open.
The second-seeded former world No. 1 Sharapova eased past 19th-seeded fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-2 to set up a semifinal match with the 2011 Aussie finalist Li.
With the first set tied at 2-2, Sharapova earned her second break of the match following a Makarova double fault and powered her way through the next three games to take the set with a second-serve ace.
The career Grand Slam winner then dominated the second set with 10 winners before finishing off the left-handed Makarova with another emphatic ace.
"She's beaten quality players over the course of last week, and I know that she's capable of playing really good, with deep hitting," Sharapova said of Makarova, who toppled fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber and 11th-seeded Marion Bartoli in her previous two matches.
"Also a lefty, which is a bit tricky and I thought I handled that pretty good and was able to keep my focus all the way through the match."
The 25-year-old Sharapova, who has been dominant through her first five matches of this fortnight, is the reigning Roland Garros champion who lost to Victoria Azarenka in last year's Aussie finale. The Russian superstar titled here in 2008, and was also a Melbourne runner-up in 2007.
The sixth-seeded Li lost to Agnieszka Radwanska in a semifinal in Sydney two weeks ago, but the former French Open champion from China avenged that defeat on Tuesday by ousting the fourth-seeded Radwanska, who had not lost a set in 2013 until succumbing to Li 7-5, 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday.
Li broke Radwanska's serve four times in the opening set. Radwanska, who earned three breaks herself, saved one set point at 5-6, but misfired wide left on the next point and hit the final ball of the 66-minute first set into the net.
The 30-year-old Li, who has not lost a set this tournament, broke at love to take a 4-2 lead in the second set, and saved two break points leading 5-3 in the second before Radwanska was long on a match point.
Radwanska was seeking her third title in three events this season.
"I really don't know what it is here," Li said. "It seems whenever I come down here my results are always quite consistent, no big setbacks or anything.
"I'm not sure whether it's the winter training but it does seem like I'm just better at this tournament."
Li will meet Sharapova for a 13th time, with the Russian bomber leading their lifetime series 8-4, including a third-round Aussie Open win back in 2005.
Wednesday's quarterfinals will pit the world No. 1 and defending champion Azarenka against two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and third-seeded former No. 1 Serena Williams versus 19-year-old 29th-seeded fellow American Sloane Stephens.
Williams owns 15 major singles titles, including last year's Wimbledon and U.S. Open championships, and she's an Open Era-record five-time Aussie Open titlist.