Li-Sharapova clash in Australian Open

By , 23 Jan 2013

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    Maria Sharapova is quick to set records and quicker still to dismiss them. She was at it again on Tuesday, setting a new mark for the least number of games conceded at the Australian Open en route to the semi-finals.

    The Russian has lost just nine games in five matches, beating the previous record of 12 set by Monica Seles in 1991.

    After her fourth round she had lost only five games – her first two matches were wrapped up 6-0 6-0 – another achievement.

    But the second seed, who will meet China’s Li Na in the semi-finals, professes the figures mean little to her, even if to most people they would signify devastating form.

    “To be honest these are not the sort of statistics I want to be known for…it’s just great to be in the semi-finals of a grand slam,” Sharapova said.

    Little comfort for her latest victim, fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, who fell 6-2 6-2.

    Sharapova also says she is unconcerned that she has not yet been extended.

    “Well, going into the match, my goal is not really to be tested, I don’t know how else to put it,” she said.

    “If I do come into a situation where I feel like I have to pull through or I’m not playing my best tennis or she’s up and I have to find a way to win, then that’s what you have on that given day.

    “Do I want to be in that position? Absolutely not.

    She said the most important factor was that she maintain her focus and motivation and forget the scoreboard.

    “It’s not to think, Oh, well, should I just give away a few games. It’s not really a mentality of a winner, I think.”

    The second seed, Sharapova won the Open in 2008 and was a finalist last year.

    Makarova said that she felt overwhelmed and “in the end I was just fighting for some games.”

    Li ended the winning streak of Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska to reach the last four when she won 7-5 6-3.

    Radwanska went into the clash on the back of a run of 13 consecutive match wins, taking out titles in Auckland and Sydney, where she beat Li.

    Li said the difference in their Open meeting was that she was feeling refreshed.

    “At least this time I’m fit, not like last time,” Li said.

    “I think last time I was a little bit tired of all the travelling. The grand slam, you can play one day and another day have day off.

    But she said she had to concentrate intensely to get past the Pole, something she managed in the deciding set.

    “I was feeling (I was playing ) today against a wall,” Li said.

    “She can hit everywhere, but without a mistake. You have to focus on every shot. Not every point, every shot. If you hit slow or short one, she’ll attack.”

    Radwanska said she felt she had been too slow on the court but Li had played solidly throughout the match.

    “Some of the games she didn’t let me do anything,” Radwanska said. “Very deep balls all the time. Good serve. She was really playing good tennis today.

    “Of course, I had my chances, but when you’re not really taking them, it’s really turning around and it goes away.”

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