Serena Williams attacked Maria Sharapova’s strength and it helped extend her complete domination of their rivalry, earning the six-time Australian Open champion a place in the semifinals.
Top-ranked Williams beat Sharapova 6-4, 6-1 in the quarterfinals Tuesday, her 18th consecutive victory and 19th in 21 meetings dating to 2004.
“It was super intense,” Williams said. "[Sharapova is] an incredibly intense, focused player who was No. 1 and has won so many Grand Slams for a reason. You have to come out with a lot of fire and intensity.”
In the men’s competition, No. 3 Roger Federer defeated No. 6 Tomas Berdych, 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-4, in a quarterfinal match.
Federer advanced to his 39th Grand Slam event semifinal. At 34 years 176 days, he is the oldest man since 1979 to reach the Australian Open semifinals.
For Williams, winning a quarterfinal match is a good sign. Each of the six previous times she has done it at Melbourne Park, she has won the title.
Up next for her is fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat No. 10 Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-1, 6-3, to reach a Grand Slam event semifinal for the fifth time. She has never won a major.
Sharapova has won five majors, including the 2008 Australian Open, and has been in three other finals at Melbourne Park.
In her fourth-round victory against No. 12 Belinda Bencic, she had a career-high 21 aces. Against Williams, she had three, and seven double-faults.
Sharapova broke to open the match and held for a 2-0 lead.
But Williams held in the third game, closing with an ace after it went to deuce, and then broke to tie it, 2-2.
Williams was able to protect her serve in the ninth game and go on the attack against Sharapova. The aggressive returns finally helped Williams convert on her fourth set point, following a heavy ground stroke to the net and putting away a volley.
She went on a five-game roll until Sharapova held in the second set, and then finished it off in the seventh game after saving break points.
Late Monday, No. 13-seeded Milos Raonic persevered with his serve-and-volley game plan, holding firm even in the deciding set against No. 4 Stan Wawrinka after the 2014 Australian Open men’s champion had rallied from two sets down to force a fifth.
It paid off with 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-3 victory in the fourth round.