Sharapova's majestic progress continues
7:18am Sunday 20th January 2013 in © Press Association 2014
Maria Sharapova continued her blistering form at the Australian Open by brushing aside Kirsten Flipkens to reach the quarter-finals.
The Russian won 6-1 6-0 in 68 minutes and has now dropped just five games in her four matches in Melbourne. Belgian Flipkens was simply outclassed as Sharapova eased into a rematch with countrywoman Ekaterina Makarova. The pair met here at the same stage 12 months ago with Sharapova winning 6-2 6-3.
Sharapova said: "I'm certainly happy to be playing this well but it's the quarter-finals and it only gets tougher from here."
The second seed's progression to her 18th career grand slam quarter-final was never in doubt. She broke for a 2-1 first-set lead and never looked back, further breaks in games five and seven handing her a one-sided first set.
Her intensity did not drop in the second either, denying Flipkens a game as she followed up her thrashing of Venus Williams with another dominant display.
Makarova's love affair with Melbourne continued as she made it through with an impressive defeat of fifth seed Angelique Kerber. Her best effort at a grand slam came here last year with a run which included a stunning upset of Serena Williams.
And she matched that achievement of reaching the last eight by playing the role of giantkiller once again on Rod Laver Arena, knocking out German Kerber 7-5 6-4.
"It's an unbelievable feeling, I really like playing here," the Russian said. "I lost three times to Angelique last year, she is so good so I am very happy."
Makarova also got her wish of a rematch with Sharapova. "Last year I was surprised to reach that stage and I had so many thoughts in my mind," she said. "This year I will be ready to play a good game."
Makarova was the more positive player throughout against Kerber and held herself together after squandering a 5-2 first-set lead. She broke for 6-5 and then served it out to edge ahead. Kerber's chances of finding a route back into the contest were hampered by a back injury and a solitary break in the ninth game proved decisive.