Sharapova batters Henin

Russian Maria Sharapova produced a blistering performance to overpower world number one Justine Henin 6-4 6-0 in the Australian Open quarterfinals on Tuesday.

The fifth seed was in ebullient mood, smashing 30 winners as she took a tight first set and ripped through the second to line up a semifinal against Serbian third seed Jelena Jankovic.

”It’s funny because I felt like I was in my own bubble today [Tuesday],” Sharapova said in a courtside interview.

”It’s amazing when you go out on the court and feel you’re doing the right things to beat such an amazing player as her. It’s just incredible.”

Sharapova, runner-up in Melbourne last year, had lost six of her eight meetings with top seed Henin but she came out firing on all cylinders, storming to a 5-2 lead.

Targeting the Belgian’s backhand, considered to be her strength, Sharapova was able to dictate the majority of rallies, keeping Henin pinned to the baseline and never allowing her to take control.

Her one moment of concern came when she failed to serve out the set at 5-3, but the Russian broke again to win it and left the Belgian helpless in the second set to reach the last four for the fourth successive year.

It was Henin’s first defeat since last year’s Wimbledon, ending a winning streak of 32 matches, and the first time she has lost a set 6-0 since 2002.

Sharapova has won three of her four matches with Jankovic, but said it would be tough to play the Serbian because the two had known each other since the juniors.

”We kind of grew up together, practising at the same academy,” she said.

”It’s a bit strange, we were always in the same groups, playing matches against each other. I think it was both our dreams to play in a Grand Slam semifinal against each other.” — Reuters

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