World number one Serena Williams destroyed Maria Sharapova for an 18th straight time on Tuesday to inflict more pain on her long-time Russian rival and power into the Australian Open semi-finals.
The six-time Melbourne Park champion out-muscled the fifth seed 6-4, 6-1 and will meet Agnieszka Radwanska for a place in the final as she moves closer to matching Steffi Graf’s Open-era Grand Slam record of 22 titles.
The signs for Radwanska are ominous – every time the American has got past the quarter-final at Melbourne Park she has gone on to win the tournament, including in 2015 when she also beat Sharapova.
For the Russian five-time Grand Slam winner, 28, her demoralising jinx against one of the greatest players ever remains intact. It dates back to 2004 when she last beat Williams in the Wimbledon final. Her downfall started in an epic semi-final at the 2005 Australian Open, with the American scraping home in a 2-6, 7-5, 8-6 thriller.
“Maria is a super-intense player. She is an intense and focused player. She was world number one and has won so many Grand Slams for a reason,” said Williams.