Maria Sharapova advanced to play Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the Australian Open semifinals after defeating Ekaterina Makarova on Wednesday.
Sharapova maintained her undefeated Australian Open streak by taking Makarova down, 6-2, 6-3, in the quarterfinals. The 24-year old will take on Kvitova, who defeated Sara Errani 6-4, 6-4 in another quarterfinal match.
The run to the semifinals is a redeeming moment for the Russian, who has recently struggled in Melbourne. She hasn't advanced beyond the fourth round since 2008 when she won the title and appeared relieved to finally advance to the semifinals.
It's been a long road back to this stage, Sharapova told reporters after the match. But after winning those points (today) you never forget how difficult it was and you remember all that you went through to get back.
The arduous trip back would make an Australian Open trophy extra satisfying for Sharapova, but it won't be easy. Sharapova has lost her last two matches to Kvirova, including in the Wimbeldon semifinals.
Sharapova seems to fully understand how difficult the match could be, but remains confident in her chances.
She's the one to beat right now, Sharapova said. She's full of confidence and playing the best tennis on tour right now. I'll look forward to it it's grand slam semis.
The winner of the Australian Open would likely become the world's No. 1 player after Caroline Wozniacki lost to Kim Clijsters in the quarterfinals. Kvitova is currently the world's No. 2 player and Sharapova is the No. 4 player in the world.
Kvitova is currently playing some of the best tennis of her life, but fully expects her match against Sharapova to be a difficult one - even if she has had the upper hand of late.
I expected it to be very tough, Kvitova said. She played very well today and the days before.