Sharapova outclasses Bouchard to reach Australian Open semis


MELBOURNE: Maria Sharapova showcased all of her canny experience and brutal efficiency as she gave Eugenie Bouchard a 78-minute tennis lesson to advance to the Australian Open semi-finals on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old Bouchard reached the last four in Australia and France as well as the Wimbledon final in 2014 but was no match for Sharapova, who showed she was not ready to be usurped by the younger generation just yet in a 6-3 6-2 victory.

The 27-year-old has now beaten the Canadian in each of their four meetings, three of which have been at grand slams, and set up a meeting with 10th-seeded compatriot Ekaterina Makarova for a place in the final.

“I felt pretty good from the start (and) I kept my focus throughout the whole match,” Sharapova told reporters. “I didn’t feel that I had too many letdowns, which is important.

“When I did have a few slips I was able to come out with great first serves or really powerful returns.

“But overall really happy with the way the match went.”

The Russian second seed jumped on a clearly nervous Bouchard from the first game of the match by breaking serve and did not allow her opponent to settle, which short-fused the Canadian’s attacking ground game.

The Russian also controlled the baseline and pressured the Canadian’s second serve, winning 15-of-21 points when Bouchard served a fault.

Her relentless attack also affected the Canadian’s timing as she made 30 unforced errors, 20 in the first set alone as Sharapova broke again in the ninth game to take it in 41 minutes.

The five-times grand slam winner made another fast start in the second set, racing through her first service game and breaking again in the fourth to give her the opening she needed.

She applied the coup-de-grace when she drove her 15th forehand winner into the empty backhand side of the court and let out a massive yelp in celebration.

“I felt under pressure the whole time… and it kind of all went downhill from there,” Bouchard said. “That’s not how I want to play.

“It’s definitely easier when you have a good start to the match.” (Reuters)