MELBOURNE: Australian Open dark horse Ekaterina Makarova of Russia raced into the semi-finals on Tuesday as opponent Simona Halep admitted she was stressed and froze on the big stage.
Makarova, seeded 10, easily overcame the Romanian third seed 6-4, 6-0 to set up an all-Russian final four showdown with world number two Maria Sharapova.
The 26-year-old has made the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park twice previously but never before advanced to the semis in seven attempts.
“I love it, it’s a great feeling that I came through,” she said.
“She’s a tough opponent. I lost to her two years ago (in New Haven). I’m used to being in the quarters, so now I have to get used to being in the semis.”
Halep, renowned as one of the toughest fighters on tour, admitted she froze when it mattered most, allowing Makarova to serve up a dreaded 6-0 “bagel” to the world number three.
In contrast, Makarova said she was uncomfortable with the media hype that surrounds some players but felt at home on centre court.
“I’m not shy on the tennis court. It’s a big stage,” she said told reporters. “It’s a different situation, maybe, to when I’m sitting here and you’re asking me questions.
“But over there, yeah, I’m showing my best tennis. That’s what I’m really love to do and for what I’m living actually. It’s really enjoyable time out there.” (AFP)