Reigning champion Serena Williams ramped up the power to beat fifth seed Maria Sharapova for the 18th match in a row and reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open 6-4, 6-1 on Tuesday.
Russian Sharapova broke the world number one in the first game and mounted a stiff challenge in the opening set but wilted in the second to extend a losing record against Williams that goes back 12 years.
The 34-year-old American, who twice had treatment during breaks in the rematch of last year’s final, has reached the last four at Melbourne Park on six previous occasions and gone on to win the title every time.
Williams, who is looking for her 22nd major singles title, has a 8-0 head-to-head record against her semi-final opponent Agnieszka Radwanska.
Fourth seed Radwanska advanced to her second Australian Open semi-final after beating Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-3 earlier on at Rod Laver Arena.
The 26-year-old Pole jumped out to a 4-0 lead with two breaks of serve in the first set, and while the Spaniard finally managed to hold in the fifth game, Radwanska broke again on her second set point to seal it in 28 minutes.
Radwanska opened up a 2-0 lead in the second but then neither player held serve for the next three games until 10th seed Suarez Navarro won an 11-minute sixth game to level at 3-3.
Radwanska, who also made the last four in 2014, broke again in the eighth game before serving out for the match.
“I knew it would be a tough one,” Radwanska said. “She is very solid, like most Spanish players and I knew everything would come back to my side. I tried to be aggressive and focus on my serve and I think I did a good job.”