Maria Sharapova eased into the semi-finals of WTA Brisbane with a hugely-convincing win over Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro.
The Russian took an hour and eight minutes to beat the seventh seed 6-1 6-3, breaking serve five times as she did so, and earning a spot in the last four against up-and-coming Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, who knocked out Angelique Kerber.
Top seed Sharapova was relieved to have cruised past an opponent who has given her problems in the past.
“We went back and forth with our victories in 2014 so I’m always a little bit aware of girls that I lose to,” Sharapova said.
“I certainly know that she’s capable of playing really well, though. She plays defence great and makes you hit a lot of balls.
“Especially on a slower court like here, you just don’t want to give her that much time to play her game. I thought I did a good job of that today.
“Maybe I made a little too many unforced errors in the beginning, but I finished strong.”
Svitolina, who had come from 6-3 3-0 down to stun Kerber in a 4-6 7-5 6-3 victory, sounded thrilled to be facing Sharapova.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Svitolina said. “It’s always great to compete against these players. You see what you need to improve. I’ll try and fight as I did today, and hopefully I can win tomorrow.”
Sharapova was also keenly anticipating the match.
“She’s a young girl that’s already in the Top 30 with a tremendous amount of potential, and someone you’ll be seeing in the top very soon,” Sharapova said.
“She definitely has a good game. She’s an all-around player. It’ll be a tough match-up for me, but one that I’m looking forward to, actually.”
WTA BRISBANE RESULTS
1-Maria Sharapova (Russia) beat 7-Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain) 6-1 6-3
Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) beat 3-Angelique Kerber (Germany) 4-6 7-5 6-3
Varvara Lepchenko (U.S.) beat Alla Kudryavtseva (Russia) 7-5 7-5