Maria Sharapova moved into the Brisbane International semi-finals with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Carla Suarez Navarro yesterday, weathering a challenging opening few games before taking the momentum away from her Spanish rival.
Top-seeded Sharapova dropped her opening service game and then needed eight breakpoints before converting for a 2-1 lead. From there, it was straight-forward.
“I lost to her last year. 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. “Maybe made a little bit too many unforced errors in the beginning, but then got a good rhythm and finished strong.”
No. 2-ranked Sharapova has dropped just five games across her opening two matches of the season and next faces Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, who came from a set and a break down to beat third-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Third-seeded Milos Raonic fired 17 aces and didn’t face a break point in a 6-3, 6-4 win over Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan to set up a quarter-final against Australia’s Sam Groth, who beat Lukasz Kubot of Poland 6-4, 6-7 (2/7), 7-6, (7/3).
“Finished last year and we definitely thought I could do a lot better with my serve, so we spent a lot of time this off season on that and I’m happy that it’s going well,” Raonic said.
The 24-year-old Canadian said he is coming off his best off-season ever, and is ready to make his breakthrough at the Grand Slam events.
“That’s the biggest goal I’ve set for myself, is to do much better in specifically one major,” said Raonic, who reached the Wimbledon semi-finals and French Open quarter-finals last year. “I’ve been in a semi-final now, but I can do much better.”