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Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams reach Australian Open quarterfinals

By The Sports Xchange   |   Jan. 24, 2016 at 12:16 AM
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Defending women's champion Serena Williams made quick work of Margarita Gasparyan on Sunday with a straight-set victory as she continues her quest to win her seventh Australian Open singles title.

Williams needed just 55 minutes to complete the 6-2, 6-1 win over her Russian opponent at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. The 34-year-old American will face fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova in Tuesday's quarterfinals.

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"I had no that I was playing her next," Williams said. "It'll be a good match. She had a good win today."

Sharapova reached the Australian Open quarterfinals for the eighth time in her career by defeating Belinda Bencic 7-5, 7-5.

Sharapova smacked a career-high 21 aces during the two-hour, five-minute afternoon match that was played under a closed roof because of rain.

Sharapova will attempt to end a 17-match losing streak against Williams, the world No. 1 player. Sharapova is 2-18 against Williams, with her last victory occurring in 2004.

The 12th-seeded Bencic, of Switzerland, put up a fierce challenge against Sharapova and neither player landed a service break until Sharapova won the decisive game.

The final point came on a backhand by Sharapova that was initially ruled out. A review displayed the ball was in and Sharapova began celebrating her victory.

Her postmatch request was to get to face her next opponent with the roof open.

"I've played more matches indoor than outdoor so far this tournament," Sharapova said. "It's the first time in my career at the Australian Open where I've played three times in a row under the roof. I would like to play outdoors, since this is an outdoor tournament, but I'll do whatever is necessary."

Williams played her match in sunlight as the roof was opened after the weather improved.

She is looking for her 22nd major title. The record of 24 is held by Margaret Court.

"Twenty-four is close, but it's still far away," Williams said. "I never play thinking that I want to be with the great Margaret Court. I'm playing just playing for me. I'm focusing on just one game at a time and that I want to win another Grand Slam."

On the men's side, Kei Nishikori advanced to the quarterfinals for the third time with a three-set victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The seventh-seeded Nishikori drilled 31 winners during the 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 victory. Tsonga, seeded ninth, had 13 aces but made 36 unforced errors during the two-hour, two-minute match.

Nishikori, of Japan, secured the victory when Tsonga, of France, hit a forehand wide.

"One match at a time. I focus on what I have to," Nishikori said. "I felt very good. Especially against a player like Jo, it's great to win in straight sets and I thought I played a good match."

Nishikori faces defending champion Novak Djokovic or Gilles Simon in the quarters. He lost both of his previous quarterfinal matches.

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