Sharapova out, Radwanska in… As Serena chases 22nd Grand Slam, Federer through

•    Serena Williams

• Serena Williams

Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova yesterday for the 18th time in a row to reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

The defending champion, seeded number one and chasing a 22nd Grand Slam title, saw off fifth seed Sharapova 6-4 6-1 at Melbourne Park.

The world number one, who has not lost to Sharapova in 12 years, moves on to face fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the last four.

In the men’s draw, Roger Federer beat Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-4.

The Swiss 17-time Grand Slam champion will play top seed Novak Djokovic or seventh seed Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals tomorrow.

The four-time Australian Open champion claimed his 80th match win at Melbourne Park, taking him into a record 12th semi-final and 39th Grand Slam semi-final at the year’s first major tournament.

Sharapova made it a real contest for almost an hour but eventually buckled under the American’s power.

Williams, 34, appeared to struggle with her ball toss in the morning sunshine on Rod Laver Arena as she fell 2-0 down.

Sharapova, 28, held on valiantly in an eight-minute game to claw her way back to 4-4, but the pressure told in game 10 and Williams clinched the set at the fourth opportunity with a volley.

The world number one called for the doctor at the changeover but powered on stronger than ever in the second set, making it 12 games out of 15 as she sealed victory after one hour and 32 minutes.

“It was super intense,” said Williams. “She’s an incredibly intense and focused player who was world number one.

“When you’re playing someone so great you have to come out with a lot of fire and intensity.”

Sharapova was equally effusive about Williams. “She’s at a different level. She makes you work. That’s inspiring.”

Radwanska earlier beat Spanish 10th seed Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-3 to reach her second Melbourne semi-final in three years.

Federer had been beaten by Berdych in their past two meetings at Grand Slams, but had won their past four matches.

The Swiss fell behind early in the first and third sets but hit back immediately both times and was dominant for the most part on serve.


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