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Sharapova, Djokovic advance to semis

MELBOURNE -- Maria Sharapova continued her dominating form at the Australian Open with a straight-sets win over Ekatrina Makarova on Tuesday, conceding only nine games in five matches en route to a semifinal against Li Na.

No. 2-ranked Sharapova had a 6-2, 6-2 quarterfinal win over fellow Russian Makarova on Rod Laver Arena and has spent just 5 hours, 15 minutes on court so far in the tournament. That's an unprecedented run in Australia.

“To be honest, those are not the stats you want to be known for,” Sharapova said, adding that she was more concerned about adding to her four Grand Slam titles and had spent plenty of time on the practice court.

After opening with pair of 6-0, 6-0 wins, Sharapova trounced seven-time major winner Venus Williams 6-1, 6-3 in the third round and Belgian Kristen Flipkens 6-0, 6-1 in the fourth. Nobody has conceded fewer games on the way to the semifinals at the Australian Open.

Sharapova lost in the final here last year before winning the French Open to complete a career Grand Slam of the majors.

She is playing her first tournament of the 2013, after withdrawing from the Brisbane International earlier this month with a sore right collarbone. She hasn't shown any signs of injury so far at Melbourne Park.

It was the second year in succession that Makarova has lost to Sharapova after knocking out a seeded player in the third round. Last year, she beat Serena Williams in the fourth round, on the weekend it was No. 5-ranked Angelique Kerber.

Novak Djokovic won his 19th consecutive match at Melbourne Park to keep alive his bid for a third successive Australian Open title, beating fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-7 (1), 7-5, 6-4 in the quarterfinals on Tuesday night.

Djokovic needed five sets and 5 hours, 2 minutes to beat Stanislas Warwinka in a fourth-round match on Sunday, but showed little rustiness from that late finish to complete the win over Berdych — albeit on his fourth match point — in 2:31.

“It was a great performance,” said Djokovic. “I was hoping to have a shorter match.”

Djokovic has now reached the semifinals at an 11th consecutive major, second only to Roger Federer's streak of 23.

The top-ranked Djokovic will next play No. 4 David Ferrer, who came back to beat fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in five sets.

Sixth-seeded Li didn't overly tax herself, either, in the quarterfinals.

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Russia's Maria Sharapova plays a return during her women's singles match against compatriot Ekaterina Makarova on the ninth day of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on Tuesday. (AFP)



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