Swift Serena into Australian Open quarter-finals

Sun Jan 24, 2016 1:06am EST
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By Greg Stutchbury

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - World number one Serena Williams set up a rematch of last year's Australian Open final against Maria Sharapova after she comfortably accounted for Russian Margarita Gasparyan 6-2 6-1 in the fourth round on Sunday.

The victory for Williams, who is seeking a seventh Australian Open title and 22nd grand slam trophy overall, could not have been in sharper contrast to that of Sharapova, who preceded her onto Rod Laver Arena.

Sharapova was made to work hard for her 7-5 7-5 victory over 12th seeded Swiss Belinda Bencic before eventually sealing a place in the eagerly anticipated quarter-final in two hours, five minutes.

Williams then swept aside Sharapova's Russian compatriot in 55 minutes with little fuss.

Her only hiccup came in the first game of the match when the 21-year-old raced out to a 0-40 lead and then achieved the second break of the powerful American's serve this tournament to take a surprising 1-0 lead.

Unfortunately for Gasparyan, that was as good as it got against the 34-year-old, who rattled off the next four games on her way to sealing the set in 30 minutes and then breezed through the second in 25 minutes.

The victory was the third successive straight forward win for the American, who has not been pushed in Melbourne since her first round clash with Italy's Camila Giorgi.

She has spent a total of just two hours, 39 minutes on court since beating Giorgi and sounded a coded warning to Sharapova ahead of their clash on Tuesday.   Continued...

Serena Williams of the U.S. celebrates during her fourth round match against Russia's Margarita Gasparyan at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 24, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter