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Sharapova focus on last-eight opponent
Maria Sharapova refused to look beyond her quarter-final opponent Ekaterina Makarova despite another lop-sided win at the Australian Open.
Sharapova thrashed Kirsten Flipkens 6-1 6-0 in 68 minutes to move into the last eight and maintain her impressive run in Melbourne. The Russian has dropped just five games in four matches - including the third-round thrashing of Venus Williams - a tournament record since the 128-player draw was introduced in 1988.
With fellow big guns Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams in the top half of the draw the expectation is Sharapova will cruise through to Saturday's final but the second seed does not see it that way. She said: "It's not about waiting to see where you are in the semis or finals, it's about who is ahead of you."
She continued: "And my next match is against Makarova and I have to do the right things to beat her. If I win that, it's about moving on to the next one. That's how I go about a tournament, a grand slam. Obviously I want to be playing my best tennis towards the end of the second week."
Sharapova 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 set up a rematch of last year's quarter-final against countrywoman Makarova - a match she won 6-2 6-3.
Makarova's love affair with Melbourne continued as she made it through with an impressive defeat of fifth seed Angelique Kerber. The 24-year-old equalled her best-ever run at a major by downing the German 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."
Li Na, a finalist in 2011, overcame some nervy moments before seeing off Julia Goerges 7-6 (8/6) 6-1. Li will next meet Agnieszka Radwanska, who maintained her remarkable form in 2013 with a 6-2 6-4 win over Ana Ivanovic. Fourth seed Radwanska has won all 13 matches she has played this year in straight sets, incorporating title wins in Auckland and Sydney.