Sharapova can't explain Williams dominance

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Maria Sharapova has now lost 19 out of her 21 matches against Serena Williams.

Maria Sharapova may never be able to make sense of her horrendous losing streak to Serena Williams but you have to applaud the Russian for trying.

Williams posted her 18th consecutive victory over Sharapova on Tuesday, 6-4, 6-1 in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open to take her overall record against the world No5 to a mind-blowing 19-2.

Time and again, Sharapova stepped on court to face Williams, and time and again she walked off the loser then bravely faced the media to discuss her winless streak against the American.

She used different words to describe how it felt to continuously fall short against Williams: frustrating, inspiring, motivating… but her face reflected one emotion – disappointment.

Sharapova stats

  • Five-time Grand Slam wins.
  • Silver medallist at 2012 Olympics.
  • First Russian female to become World No.1.
  • 35 WTA tournament wins.

“It’s obviously always frustrating. 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,” said Sharapova, who lost to Williams 12 months ago in the final of the Australian Open as well as the Wimbledon semi-finals last July.

“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.”

Williams entered her seventh Australian Open semi-final, where she will face No4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, a 6-1, 6-3 winner over 10th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro.

Each time Williams has made it past the quarter-finals in Melbourne, she has gone on to win the title – a face that could give the world No1 even more confidence.

Williams understandably likes to face Sharapova and she tries to explain her complete dominance over the Russian.

“Something about her game. 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,” said the 34-year-old Williams.

The match started in warm and sunny conditions under an open roof on Rod Laver Arena and Williams played an uncomfortable first game, bothered every time she threw her ball toss into the sun and her errors gifted Sharapova an early break.

The Russian world No5 repackaged it and gave it back three games later though, double-faulting twice to lose the advantage and the set was on level terms at 2-all.

A sixth double fault from Sharapova saw her go down 0-40 in game eight but she steadied the ship with five consecutive points to get out of trouble and hold for 4-4.

Williams needed almost eight minutes to hold in her next game, saving two break points before she aced and gave out a huge ‘come on’.

Serving to stay in the set, Sharapova saved three set points before faltering on the fourth as Williams edged ahead with a clean volley winner.

Williams got a visit from the trainer between sets, and it appears she wasn’t feeling well.

Her coach Patrick Mouratoglou later revealed she was dizzy in the first set but managed to pull through.

“I was a little lethargic,” Williams said later. “I was just dealing with some food poisoning issues from a few days ago. That was it.”

Williams raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set and another visit from the doctor followed by another break of serve saw the top seed go up 4-0.

The 21-grand slam champion struck her 12th ace for 5-0 before Sharapova stopped the bleeding.

Serving for the match, Williams faced a break point as Sharapova unleashed a forehand return winner down the line. Williams saved it, and another before sealing the match with a big serve-forehand drive combo to glide into her 30th grand slam semi-final.

Sharapova had fired 21 aces in her previous round against Belinda Bencic. Against Williams, she could only muster three in the whole match.

The Russian described Williams as explosive while the top seed called her opponent an “incredibly intense focused player”.

Looking ahead to her semi-final with Radwanska, whom she leads 8-0 head-to-head, Williams said: “She got the better of me at Hopman Cup last year. 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 know Aga really well. She’s a really nice girl. She goes out of her way to say hi. It’s really cool. We always get along. Whoever wins, we both deserve to be in the final. If she wins, I’ll be very happy for her. I’m sure she’ll feel the same way.”

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