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Sharapova, Nadal march ahead in Open

By The Assam Tribune

MELBOURNE, Jan 25 (AFP): Maria Sharapova was all business as she raced into the Australian Open quarter-finals today to set up a glamour showdown with Eugenie Bouchard, as Rafael Nadal continued his unrelenting Grand Slam march.

The Russian world number two ended Chinese hopes by swatting aside 21st seed Peng Shuai 6-3, 6-0 as she lifts her game the deeper she gets in the tournament.

It hands organisers a dream last eight clash between two of the most marketable players on tour with Canadian seventh seed Bouchard surviving a mid-match slump to defeat unseeded Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania in three sets.

Nadal, a 14-time Grand Slam champion, was dominant after a tight first set against power-hitting South African Kevin Anderson, running out a 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 winner and will next play Czech Tomas Berdych for a place in the semi-finals.

The consistent Berdych, who made the final four last year, ended Australian Bernard Tomic�s tournament with a comfortable 6-2, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 hit-out.

�After a tough period of time for me it�s a fantastic result and I�m very happy with the way I played today,� said Spain�s Nadal, who came into the tournament after a three-month injury layoff.

�It was probably my best match here this year so that�s very important for me and very special.�

Berdych admitted he would have to be at the top of his game to beat Nadal.

�I�m going to have to sit down with my team and prepare the right tactics,� he said

�Whatever I need to do I�m going to be ready for it and will try to fight until the last point.�

Another Australian, Nick Kyrgios, will attempt to down Roger Federer�s shock conquerer Andreas Seppi of Italy later Saturday while Britain�s Andy Murray has a tough task against 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov.

Sharapova, gunning for a sixth Grand Slam title and her first in Australia since 2008, said her match against Peng was tougher than the score suggested.

�I�ve always had a little trouble against Peng Shuai, she�s a really tough competitor,� she said.

The Russian added that Bouchard, the tour�s most consistent performer at Grand Slams last year who pushed her in their French Open semi-final, would be another big challenge.

�She�s been playing incredibly well, confident aggressive tennis. I have a tough match ahead of me.�

The popular Bouchard is widely seen as a future major champion after her semi-final appearance at Melbourne Park last year, a feat she matched in Paris before making the Wimbledon final.

It didn�t go all her way against Begu, who sparked to life in the second set to push the ambitious 20-year-old to a third before winning 6-1, 5-7, 6-2.

She was disappointed by her mini slump.

�I learned a lot from it and I�ll try to make sure it doesn�t happen next time,� she said.

Bouchard has met Sharapova three times before and lost each one, a statistic that doesn�t sit well with her.

�I think I�ve progressed a lot since then and I definitely want to keep playing my game no matter what,� she said.

�Really take it to her, go for my shots. That�s what I want to do on the court. And it�s more fun when I play that way too.�

Russian 10th seed Ekaterina Makarova also progressed, blitzing unseeded German Julia Goerges 6-3, 6-2 to maintain her no-nonsense form.

She is yet to drop a set and will next play the winner of the night match between third seeded Romanian Simona Halep and unseeded Belgian Yanina Wickmayer.

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