18th time lucky? Sharapova takes aim at Serena streak
published : 26 Jan 2016 at 04:44
MELBOURNE - Maria Sharapova will take aim at her 17-match losing streak against Serena Williams on Tuesday as she bids to torpedo the American world number one's title defence in the Australian Open quarter-finals.
Russia's Maria Sharapova (L) and Serena Williams of the US plays during the 2016 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne
Sharapova has not beaten Williams, holder of 21 Grand Slam titles, since 2004, meaning it's high time the Russian fifth seed pulled one back in their head to head.
"You're always trying to -- always trying to improve. I got myself into the quarter-final of a Grand Slam," said Sharapova, who has five major titles of her own.
"There is no reason I shouldn't be looking to improve and to getting my game in a better position than any other previous round. It's only going to be tougher, especially against Serena."
The signs are not brilliant for Sharapova, as Williams has played her way into the tournament and has looked increasingly impressive in each match.
"I just feel like I'm really confident in my game right now, not against her or against any other opponent, I'm just really looking at me right now," Williams said, after thrashing Margarita Gasparyan in the last round.
"And I feel like if I can just continue to play well, then it could be good. But every match is new. You know, she (Sharapova) always brings in something new and something special. She's very consistent as well."
In the men's draw, top seed Novak Djokovic is up against Kei Nishikori, the Japanese world number seven who stunned the Serb to reach the 2014 US Open final.
Djokovic is smarting after his five-set struggle against Gilles Simon, in which he dished out 100 unforced errors, and he will be keen to assert himself against an opponent who has won two of their last four matches.
Elsewhere Roger Federer takes on an increasingly confident world number six Tomas Berdych, who fancies his chances of an upset as he tries to reach his third Melbourne Park semi-final in a row.
"It's Roger, so it's always going to be a huge challenge to play him. It's the quarter-final of a Slam," Berdych said. "Yeah, I like it. I like my chances. I'm just looking forward to that match."
Elsewhere on the women's side, Agnieszka Radwanska will start as favourite when she takes on Spain's Carla Suarez for a place in the last four.